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Review: Sony XB-10 Speaker – Get Big Sound On A Budget

What would you get if you crossbreed a grenade with a stress ball? You’ll probably end up with the Sony XB-10 portable speaker, a bomblet of sound in a soft rubber skin.

Build Quality and Design

The Sony XB-10 is fully rubberised and very small, making it rugged and easy to grab. It also comes with its own nice little loop for hanging. Soon I was using it everywhere in my home. Bathroom, kitchen, yard – you name it, it’s been there! I even took it outside for a spin on my bike. Very convenient.

The buttons are all located along the bottom rim and they were quite easy to find and operate.

The rubber surface will attract dust and dirt but nothing a quick rinse couldn’t handle. Yes it’s water resistant so go ahead, rinse with confidence. You don’t have to worry about the micro-USB and Aux ports getting wet either – it’s nicely protected by a thick rubber hatch.

Performance and Features

Sound Quality

The XB-10 is a small speaker but sounds a bit bigger than that. It’s got only one speaker driver and a bass reflex port, but delivered surprisingly decent sound. I thought the mid-range was pretty loud and clear enough for most vocals music, including Shawn Mendes’ ‘Treat You Better’. This speaker could handle his rich and youthful vocals even when he broke into higher chords. The XB-10 also gave decent upper-bass that made music sound more heavy than the speaker looks.

However, this being a small speaker there was very little thump in the bass and the highs were prone to graininess. These limitations are more obvious if you play the XB-10 at a high volume so I will recommend keeping it within the 70-80% volume bracket.

You could wirelessly pair the XB-10s for stereo output. That way you’ll enjoy a wider soundstage and a more relaxed sound signature. In fact, I will recommend getting two of these from the get-go. This zing-ed up performance is worth it!

Battery Life

The Sony XB-10 was touted to have a 16 hour battery life. But since it wasn’t very loud given its size so I kept it at 80% volume. And still, I managed to get out 12.5 hours of use! If the speaker is played at 50% volume, it will likely achieve the 16-hour mark stated by Sony.

Bluetooth

A with most Sony products I had no problems with the Bluetooth connection. The speaker stayed tethered to my phone all around the living room with no drops up to a distance of 10m. While watching videos on YouTube the audio was well synced with the video too.

Price

S$79 is all it takes to own one of these grenades and they make a good starting point for folks who are new to portable speakers. They cost slightly more than competing models from Nakamichi but less than the latest models from X-mini and Ultimate Ears. So I will rate them moderate value for money. However, the stereo pairing feature with improved performance makes them better value if you get two. (Not an advert, just sayin’!)

The Sony XB-10 Portable Bluetooth speaker comes in four different flavours – Red, Blue, White and Black.

So here’s the final tally:

Build Quality and Design (Portable Speaker)

  • Pros: Small and rugged design. Rubberised surface makes it easy to grab and go. Comes with a loop for convenience. Water-resistant design makes this a great speaker to take out. Buttons were easy to find and operate.
  • Cons: The rubber surface is a dust magnet.

Score: 5/6 (27.75%)

Performance and Features

  • Pros: Big sound in a small shell. Clear and loud mid-range makes this speaker suitable for most types of music. Can be paired to another XB-10 for louder, stereo sound. Good battery life of 12.5 hours (at 80% volume) and 16 hours on average. Reliable Bluetooth connection with no Audio/Video sync issues.
  • Cons: Audio was thinner on the bass, and highs were prone to sounding harsh and grainy at high volumes.

Score: 5/6 (27.75%)

Price

Score: 3/5 (19.98%)

Final Score: 7.5/10

Aaron. T.
Aaron's dream is to meet the celestial man in the sky who blessed him with huge ears, and shake his hand with a big smile. His typical day is split between getting Rekt on Battlefield 1 and making exciting YouTube reviews at www.youtube.com/loudwirelesssingapore

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