Reviewing the Sony SRS-XB40 Bluetooth speaker: Extra bass and lighting!
With the rise of smartphones and other devices, Bluetooth speakers have become a hot technology item, with many companies delivering all kinds of models, for many different audiences. Sony SRS-XB40 is a large wireless Bluetooth speaker that aims to provide a loud and enjoyable audio and lighting experience, for young audiences worldwide. Read this review to see what you get when buying the Sony SRS-XB40:
What is the Sony SRS-XB40 portable Bluetooth speaker good at?
The Sony SRS-XB40 speaker is an excellent choice:
- For young audiences who love bass and flashy colors
- For listening to electronic music genres and hip-hop, where the bass is more important than the vocals
- For organizing parties and playing the DJ straight from your smartphone
Pros and cons
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The Sony SRS-XB40 Bluetooth speaker has the following strengths:
- A well-made lighting system that young audiences will enjoy
- Extra bass that doesn't get distorted even at high volume levels
- It offers a real-life autonomy somewhere between 15 and 16 hours
- It is splash-proof, and it can work even if it gets a bit wet
- You can customize in detail both the audio and the lighting if you use the mobile apps for this speaker
There are some downsides too:
- It doesn't charge through micro-USB or USB Type C but through a proprietary charger
- The mobile apps accompanying Sony SRS-XB40 are buggy and unpolished
- It has a poor speakerphone
The Sony SRS-XB40 wireless portable Bluetooth speaker is a device with a clear audience in mind: young people, who love bass and flashy colors, who listen to electronic music genres, where the quality of the bass is more important than that of the vocals. If this is what you want, then this Bluetooth speaker delivers. Otherwise, if you are an audiophile or you don't usually listen to the music genres that we mentioned, you should look elsewhere.
Unboxing the Sony SRS-XB40 portable Bluetooth speaker
The Sony SRS-XB40 portable Bluetooth speaker comes in a big white box made of cardboard. On the front, you can see a picture with half of the speaker and, written in big bold letters, "Extra Bass" - one of the main differentiators for this speakers.
On the back side of the box, you can see details of the main specifications of this speaker. We recommend that you read everything carefully because some big statements written in bold are then clarified in the small print, with useful details, which give you a more realistic perspective of what this speaker can offer.
When you unbox everything, you will find the following items: Sony SRS-XB40, its proprietary charger, the warranty, the setup guide and several other leaflets with technical and support information, written in several languages.
Unboxing the Sony SRS-XB40 portable Bluetooth speaker is quick and painless. The packaging doesn't include any extras, only the basics that you need to get the speaker working.
Hardware specifications and design
The Sony SRS-XB40 Bluetooth speaker is quite sturdy, and it comes in three color variants: blue, black and red. We tested the black variant.
It has a size of 10.98" x 3.94" x 4.13" or 279 x 100 x 105 mm in width x height x depth. Also, it weighs 3.31 lbs or 1.5 kg, making it quite heavy and less portable than traditional Bluetooth speakers that we reviewed in the past.
Sony SRS-XB40 can connect to smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices through its Bluetooth 4.2 chip with a range of up 32.81 feet or 10 meters. This speaker also includes NFC support, making it easy to pair with other NFC enabled devices, like your Android smartphone.
Sony SRS-XB40 has a built-in microphone, for hands-free communication, useful when you want to take a quick call while using the speaker.
You can install another Sony SRS-XB40 speaker and use two speakers for a wider stereo sound. Sony also brags that you can connect up to 10 speakers through Bluetooth. However, you must use its mobile apps, synchronize the music and lighting on all of them, so that you get a loud party, with plenty of visual effects.
Regarding sound quality, Sony SRS-XB40 has two full-range speakers built-in, with a frequency transmission range between 20 - 20,000 Hz, at 44.1 kHz sampling. The supported audio codecs are SBC, AAC, and LDAC. Sony SRS-XB40 includes an Extra Bass feature which, when enabled, dual passive radiators work together with the two full-range speakers to enhance low-end tones, giving the bass a boost.
Another highlight of Sony SRS-XB40 is the fact that it has many dynamic lighting effects. By default, its Rave effect is enabled but, with the help of Sony's mobile app, you can choose from more than a dozen effects.
Sony brags about this speaker being IPX5 water resistant. However, this doesn't mean that it is fully water resistant. It is only splash-proof, meaning that it works if it rains a bit on it, or if some water from your pool splashes on top of it. It will not continue to work if you drop it into your pool, for example.
One the back side of the speaker, there is a protective cover. When you take it off, you get access to an Audio In jack, the Reset button, the power jack and a USB 2.0 port for charging other devices like your smartphone.
If you would like to see all the specifications of this wireless Bluetooth speaker, go to this page: Sony SRS-XB40 Full Specifications and Features.
Using the Sony SRS-XB40 wireless portable Bluetooth speaker
Before you use the Sony SRS-XB40 speaker fully, you should charge it. Unfortunately, this wireless speaker doesn't use micro-USB or USB Type C port for charging, but a proprietary Sony charger, meaning that you must take the charger with you if you travel and use this speaker regularly. However, to make things slightly better, you can use the USB port on the back of the speaker, to charge your smartphone or a tablet. This way, you don't need two power sockets to charge two devices.
Once the speaker is charged, you can pair it through Bluetooth or NFC with up to three mobile devices. When pairing the speaker, you should keep in mind that the Power button is the one to use for pairing too. A short press on it turns the speaker on and off. If you press Power and keep the button pressed for a couple of seconds, the speaker enters into pairing mode.
Another button with a double function is the Extra Bass button. A short press on it enables or disables the additional bass feature. A long press on it, turns the lighting system on or off, depending on how it was previously.
We paired the Sony SRS-XB40 speaker with a Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10, a Nexus 6P smartphone with Android 8 Oreo, and a Xiaomi Redmi 4A smartphone with Android 6 Marshmallow. The pairing process worked without issues on all devices, and we were able to use the speaker in no time. However, personalizing the experience you get is done only through Sony's mobile apps, which are available only on Android and iOS.
If you look at the official documentation for the Sony SRS-XB40, it says that you need to install the SongPal and Fiestable mobile apps. However, SongPal has been renamed to Sony Music Center. You can find it on Android here and iOS here. Fiestable is not a standalone app, even though Sony would have you believe otherwise. It is a plug-in for Sony Music Center. You need to install them both, and Fiestable becomes a section of settings inside the Sony Music Center.
With Sony Music Center, you can change the audio and lighting settings of the Sony SRS-XB40, so that you get the experience you want. Also, you can add more speakers and create the audio setup that you want.
Fiestable seems to be mostly a gimmick, as it allows you to manually change the lighting and music effects while listening to music on the Sony SRS-XB40. While it may be fun once or twice, its appeal wears off rather fast, and most users won't use these features.
We tested the Android apps, and we found them rather unpolished. The user interface looks dated, and users have reported all kinds of strange bugs and issues with them. For some odd reason, Sony Music Center is not compatible with the Xiaomi Redmi 4A, and we couldn't utilize all the features of the Sony SRS-XB40 when using this smartphone. It seems that other users have had similar problems with other smartphones too, which is unfortunate.
Regarding battery life, Sony says that Sony SRS-XB40 lasts up to 24 hours. However, if you read the fine print, this happens only if you turn off the lighting. With the lighting turned on, we had an autonomy that varied between 15 and 16 hours. It is more than enough to throw a long pool party. :)
Speaking of lighting effects, there are more than a dozen to choose from, and they are varied. You will surely find one that you enjoy. If you want a demo of the default Rave lighting effect, see the video below.
If you are not into this kind of thing, you can always turn off the lighting system on the Sony SRS-XB40.
The most important feature of any speaker is the sound quality. In this regard, Sony SRS-XB40 has an obvious audience in mind: young people who enjoy hip-hop and electronic dance music genres, like house, trance, techno, dubstep and so on. This wireless speaker delivers good quality audio, but the bass is always at the forefront of everything, especially when turning on the Extra Bass feature. If you are an audiophile, Sony SRS-XB40 is not for you, from a sound quality perspective.
For example, when you add the Extra Bass, you get high-quality bass, but the mid and high sounds are diminished. The volume can get very loud, and the bass won't distort even when at a high volume level. Vocals though have less depth than on other speakers.
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We also used the Sony SRS-XB40 for hands-free calls. We noticed that the microphone on this speaker is rather weak. You can take a quick call and understand the person who you are talking to. However, on the other end, your voice will sound distorted and a lot less clear than when using your smartphone or a Bluetooth headset.
The wireless Sony SRS-XB40 Bluetooth speaker offers a good audio and lighting experience for its intended audience. However, its accompanying mobile apps are unpolished and need several updates before they can be able to provide a pleasant user experience.
What is your opinion about the Sony SRS-XB40 portable Bluetooth speaker?
Now you know our experience with the Sony SRS-XB40 wireless Bluetooth speaker and our view of this audio device. Before you close this article, share with us your thoughts about Sony SRS-XB40: Is this a speaker that you want to buy? Which are its best features? Don't hesitate to comment below.