You’d often heard the adage, which says good things do come in small packages. That’s quite true when it comes to audio speakers. Particularly off late. No longer do you really need boombox footprint to generally get room filling sound or a lot of bass, if that is what you prefer instead. That would be relevant to most consumers, and just to clarify before the so-called audiophiles turn up noses and take up matters in a peevish manner. Good things and small packages ringing in our ears leads us neatly to the new Sony XB13 Bluetooth speaker, priced at Rs 3,990. This would be relevant for you, if you’re looking for a compact and portable Bluetooth speaker and does good sound, in which case you’d probably eliminate at least half of the somewhat known and totally unknown options available on Amazon.in and Flipkart.
Is It Really That Small? The answer is a definite yes. The Sony XB13 succeeds the Sony XB12 and while the idea and the size remain largely similar, the XB13 does get a few additional goodies. There’s the sharper design and wider vents on the lower half for the bass to filter through in all its might and glory. There’s a rubberized finish all through which gives it a ruggedness aspect too, and Sony says this has a UV coat finishing too—no, this doesn’t have much to do with sunlight protection, but the idea is to make the XB13 more resistant to scratches and the outer a layer a bit more robust. The integrated strap doesn’t look or feel like an afterthought and can be handy if you fancy hanging this speaker somewhere. Weighs around 252 grams and in my opinion, the Sony XB13 does look really good and when I do hold it up, there is a nice and reassuring heft to it too. A really nice attention to detail is the slightly sticky base ring, which makes the speaker stay secure on most surfaces. It’ll not hop, skip and tumble in case the music is loud and the bass vibrations are making their presence felt.
Do The Upgrades Really Make A Difference? To be fair, there are a bunch of similarities on the spec sheet, and you’d probably wonder how is the Sony XB13 in any way newer than the Sony XB12. The magic lies in the detail. The 46mm speaker and the passive bass radiator are carried forward as is. This really shouldn’t be a problem, because from what I’ve experienced, the Sony XB13 can go really loud and really well detailed, for a speaker that rests comfortably in my palm with a lot of real estate still remaining free. Both would do around 16 hours of battery life on a single charge. This is where the changes surface. The Sony XB13 gets Sony’s Sound Diffusion Processor, which basically is digital sorcery to widen the sound and make it fill the room better—how much you feel it is subjective. It is not for purists, and you folks can stop peeking and giving wise comments. It also supports Android Fast Pair, and it was incredibly simple to get Android phones paired and streaming music in less than a minute. The Sony XB13 also upgrades to USB-C port for charging, which should be useful considering you’d likely have a phone which has the same charging port too.
How Is The Sound? You shouldn’t be expecting a lot from this, but you’d be forgiven if you are. Considering it is a Sony audio product. The Sony XB13 does what most speakers of this size would do as the building blocks—a V-shaped equalizer as default with emphasis on bass and vocals. On the former, this really delivers very nicely indeed. If up-tempo music and remixes fill up your playlists or you need this to pump out some tunes as you prepare a nice dinner after a forgettable day at work, the Sony XB13 will get the job done surprisingly easily. Vocals are crisp for the most part and don’t sound uncomfortably sharp. Yet, as you slide up the volume bar, there is a definite sense that the bass and vocals are jostling for space on what is essentially the physical limitation of the audio hardware at play here. Despite its power, the Sony XB13 is better suited for personal listening and more for medium sized rooms at the outer limit, and not really for providing the soundtrack for a party. And for those of you who have a more positive outlook towards life, the Sony XB13 could just be the right speaker to have when the world becomes a better place and you want to step out for a picnic. I couldn’t test the stereo sound, but if that’s your plan, you can buy two of the Sony XB13 and pair them together for what I expect would be 2X of this fun audio experience that one Sony XB13 has delivered for my listening, thus far.
How Does the Competition Stack Up? There is the Xiaomi Mi Portable Bluetooth speaker (16W) which is priced around Rs 2,499 which has two 8-watt audio drivers and a passive bass radiator, but it is comparatively much larger in size. A more like-for-like competition would be the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom and there are certain variants of this speaker which are on sale on Amazon.in for around Rs 3,990. This has two 40mm audio drivers and two passive bass radiators. More is better? It could very well be, and I have been using one for years now and it still surprises with the sort of power and detailing that it can send your way, while keeping a footprint that is only very slightly larger than the Sony XB13 speaker. You should keep in mind that the UE Wonderboom started out in life at a price point more than 2X the price tag now, but you’ll have to make do with micro-USB charging and a shorter battery life. Still, a steal deal, if you can snare one.
The Last Word: Don’t Buy One Of Those Unknown Options When You Have A Sony!
The Sony XB13 is a speaker for those who simply need good audio out of the box, and in a really compact size. It does that spot on, even more so if you have an Android phone, at first pair. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. There don’t seem to be any pre-set modes to toggle between. This speaker also doesn’t have fast charging, something reserved for Sony’s more expensive speakers at this time. It doesn’t have a companion app for smartphones and speaking of which, don’t expect this to let you tweak the EQ unless your music streaming app allows you to. All that aside, once you again look at the Rs 3,990 price tag, and the Sony XB13 is most definitely a very appealing audio product packaged into a rather compact footprint. Bass lovers will really like its mojo and clarity isn’t compromised either even if you push the volume a bit from time to time. I am absolutely certain that you’d be surprised by its power even after months of using it.