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A Bluetooth Speaker Ready for Summer Adventures

This Sony speaker packs some serious sound into a small package.

sony srs xb23 extra bass wireless bluetooth portable lightweight travel speaker

Welcome to Talking Points, a series that looks at what makes some products worth talking about, brought to you by Gear Patrol Studios.

Would Radio Raheem trade his giant boombox for a pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker he could carry in the palm of his hand? We’ll never know. (Though if we ever meet Spike, we might ask him).

Truth is, portable Bluetooth speakers are now the standard for bringing your own background music. And when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, we’re spoiled for choice. But many speakers don’t stack up: their sound quality doesn’t match their price, or they aren’t as water-resistant as promised. Often, we learn these things the hard way—you know, once our new speaker has already eaten it in the hot tub.

One Bluetooth speaker we’ve found that does live up to the hype is the Sony SRS-XB23. The entry-level speaker in Sony’s Extra Bass line is the speaker of the summer. Here’s why.

sony speakers

The Backstory

Sony, Synonymous with Sound

It’s almost impossible to imagine Sony as the tiny Tokyo-based electronics shop it once was. It wasn’t until 1958 that founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka changed their company’s name – after the Latin word for sound, “sonus,” and the American slang “sonny” for boy – and started shipping their high-quality electronics to the U.S. Sony quickly became the powerhouse brand it is today.

Sony's current offerings, including the Extra Bass line of portable Bluetooth speakers, boast the same quality that was paramount to their early success. Launched in 2020, the Extra Bass line features four speakers at different price points. In the spirit of Radio Raheem, these are true take-the-party-anywhere speakers. Each one is ruggedly designed and provides an impressive amount of quality sound. For just under $100, the line’s entry-level offering, the SRS-XB23, packs the same quality at an accessible price point.

The Gist

Extra Bass...Always

The key to this compact speaker’s impressive sound is what Sony calls Extra Bass. We’ve all been at a party where that essential bass line was either missing or accompanied by the horrible static of a speaker that just can’t handle those low-end tones. Most speakers that can truly thump are going to cost you – and won’t exactly fit in your backpack. That’s why the SRS-XB23 is truly a gift from the speaker gods. It achieves its low-end capabilities by combining full-range speakers and dual passive radiators. Further enhancing those deep tones and minimizing distortion is the SRS-XB23’s X-Balanced Speaker Unit. A non-circular diaphragm increases sound pressure, ensuring that the thump thump comes in loud and clear. (And that no one has to strain to hear the music.) To make sure your beats fill the entire campsite, backyard or beach spot, the SRS-XB23’s off-center design and weight balance extend the speaker’s reach.

The battery lasts an impressive twelve hours and is easily chargeable through USB-C port. The speaker warns you if it’s running low on juice, so you’ll avoid that awkward moment when the speaker suddenly dies and kills the vibe. We also love how tough the SRS-XB23 is. It’s rated IP67, which means it’s super resistant to both dust and water—even saltwater. You can take this thing to the beach, drop it in the sand and then rinse it off along with your flip flops.


The Speaker Sweet Spot

With the SRS-XB23, Sony has truly hit the sweet spot for portable Bluetooth speakers. We were especially impressed by the consistency of the sound quality at this price, no matter how much we turned up the volume—and this thing can get loud. The Extra Bass is not a marketing gimmick. We maxed out the volume on some Skrillex and awaited that dreaded hiss. But the compact speaker pumped out the bass as promised. Considering its high protective rating, impressive battery life, travel-friendly size, and, of course, its impressive sound, the SRS-XB23 is a Bluetooth speaker for everyone.

If you do feel like splurging, the next two speakers in the Extra Bass line don’t jump too high in price. The SRS-XB33 features on-beat flashing lights for $130, and the SRS-XB43 throws in a tweeter dedicated to higher frequencies for $250. And if your budget’s a bit tighter or you’re looking for something even more compact, the SRS-XB13/B still features extra bass and comes in at $50.

Price: $128


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