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Sony SRS-XG500 Review: A Modern Take On The Classic Boombox From The Yesteryears

The Sony SRS-XG500 has a price tag of Rs 32,990.

The Sony SRS-XG500 has a price tag of Rs 32,990.

The Sony SRS-XG500 is bringing back the visions of boombox stereo systems from the 80s and the 90s. Oh, there is the small matter of the substantial price tag of Rs 32,990.

There is no getting around it. The definition of a “portable” audio speaker may be completely different from what we are about to speak about. You’d expect one which is compact, maybe a speaker that can easily sit inside your handbag or backpack and doesn’t exactly weigh 5.6 kg. The thing is, your definition of a portable music speaker is about to widen. The Sony SRS-XG500 is bringing back the visions of boombox stereo systems from the 80s and the 90s. You can be sure that if powerful sound is what you need, powerful sound is what you will get. There is that nagging feeling that its audience may just be limited, but then again, everyone loves powerful audio, isn’t it? Oh, there is the small matter of the substantial price tag of Rs 32,990 to contend with. Full marks for uniqueness though.

Let us talk about the demographic that would probably splash the cash on the Sony SRS-XG500 wireless speaker. For its size and the audio power it brings along, this would work well for those who will subsequently splash this with water as it sits near their swimming pool. Large rooms and halls as well, and this will be absolutely adequate to provide the soundtrack for house parties. Budding musicians too, who will find the guitar input quite relevant. Karaoke fans too, while at it. Where the Sony SRS-XG500 does feel a bit too much is in a normal home usage scenario—somehow it just doesn’t sit comfortably in most modern apartments and maybe that is also because in a way it is limited in what it does. You wouldn’t of course mind a larger footprint for a home theater system, irrespective of form factor, but this really doesn’t do that flexibility.

Considering there are chances of this being used carelessly, Sony hasn’t gone slow on the ruggedness aspect at all. This is water and dust proof with the IP66 rating.

The Sony SRS-XG500 portable wireless speaker weighs as much as 5.6kg. You’d imagine that isn’t portable, but it is. It is there or thereabouts a piece of cabin baggage. Occasionally, I’ll have to admit, but it is very much possible. Sony has integrated a thick handle into the design which makes things a bit easier on that front. Considering there are chances of this being used carelessly, Sony hasn’t gone slow on the ruggedness aspect at all. This is water and dust proof with the IP66 rating. There’s a rubberized finish on the controls as well as the lid that protects the ports at the back from the environment. The rest of the build is very high-quality plastic, which feels good to touch. Integrated at the base at two large rubber feet, which not only do a good job of keeping it stable when the bass gets dialed up, but also give it a slight elevation off the surface it is kept on.

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The Sony SRS-XG500 portable wireless speaker weighs as much as 5.6kg. You’d imagine that isn’t portable, but it is. It is there or thereabouts a piece of cabin baggage.

It isn’t a surprise that the large Sony SRS-XG500 portable wireless speaker has a lot of physical space in the innards to include two speaker units, two tweeters and a passive radiator. The design may give that illusion, but it isn’t a 360-degree sound implementation—these are front facing speakers. What Sony has tweaked the design of the speaker diaphragm to make it wider, the idea being to allow for more sound pressure by pushing more air out—each of these is now 11cm in size. There are two of these, flanked by tweeters, again front facing and each 2.5cm. These are made with Neodymium magnets. There is also a large battery pack which gives you the ability to run this for up to 30 hours without having to plug in the power source. Oh, and before I forget, there are lights on either side of the speaker which you can customize depending on how much excitement you need in life. Or turn it off completely. The audio codecs supported are SBC, AAC and LDAC.

Budding musicians will find the guitar input quite relevant. Karaoke fans too, while at it.

The sound, as you’d expect after this specifications lowdown, can fill even the largest of indoor spaces. It is loud, it is powerful, and you get a fair response of bass from the outset. Mind you, if this slightly toned-down lower frequency punch surprises you from a speaker that has a personality that indicates something else, wait till you press the Mega Bass button the speaker. That is the indication to start off with window shaking and vibrate the glass off the table sort of bass, which is what some party guests may demand at some point. I’d believe that the audience buying the Sony SRS-XG500 portable wireless speaker would like to keep this activated only, for extracting the maximum fun. You can also connect multiple of Sony SRS-XG500 or compatible speakers from Sony’s audio range, if a multi-speaker system is what you need. The good thing is, the companion app which is the Sony Music Center app for Android phones and the Apple iPhone, allows you to customize a bunch of things about the speaker. If this wasn’t there, the entire experience would feel slightly restrictive.

The good thing is, the companion app which is the Sony Music Center app for Android phones and the Apple iPhone, allows you to customize a bunch of things about the speaker. If this wasn’t there, the entire experience would feel slightly restrictive.

The Last Word: Limited Appeal But That Is Where The Sony SRS-XG500 Flourishes

The thing with the Sony SRS-XG500 portable wireless speaker is that for all the power and the youthfulness that it brings to the table, there is a sense that the demographic which would actually go for this is quite limited. It may not be to everyone’s taste and distinctly feels uncomfortable in a room where a Sony SRS-RA3000 (albeit a different category altogether, but still) would sit very easily. Or a Marshall Stanmore II. Or anything from the Bang & Olufsen BeoLit series. Yet, none of these would equally be able to do what the Sony SRS-XG500 can do. Ideal speaker to have for house parties and pool parties and in general outdoor use. As long as you can come to terms with the price tag it carries.

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first published:August 09, 2021, 12:45 IST