This Sony SRS-XB13 review comes to the conclusion that if you want the perfect portable speaker, you’ll need to spend a bit more cash. In comparison to some of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy, the Sony SRS-XB13 falls down in a number of areas, but it is very cheap so that’s inevitable.
Despite that, this would still make a good gift and it’ll be a good buy if you’re on a tight budget and you want a small wireless speaker. It’s also very easy to carry around with you. It’s also both waterproof and dustproof so you can pretty much use it anywhere.
If you’re not too worried about your budget, take a look at the best JBL Bluetooth speakers, while most of them are a lot pricier than this one, they also sound a lot better.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: price and availability
You can buy the Sony SRS-XB13 now starting from $48 in the US, £38 in the UK and AU$96 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where you can buy it in your region, and the best deals on it from across the web right now.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: design and battery
Small enough to fit in your hand, the Sony SRS-XB13 only weighs about 253g. It’s a tiny wireless speaker that will be very easy to take out and about with you, and it'll
definitely fit in your luggage when you go on holiday. Shaped like a tumbler, it has a speaker grille across the top, gaps in the bottom to let the sound out and a strap to help you carry it around and hang it up.
You can buy it in six colours: if you prefer something more toned down, you could go for the black, taupe or light blue or if you want something more funky it also comes in turquoise, lemon yellow or coral pink. Whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else, one of the colours is bound to be just right.
Made almost entirely from plastic, the Sony SRS-XB13 feels durable and I can't imagine it would get scratched very easily. It should be able to take a few knocks and bumps in your backpack. It’s also IP67 waterproof and dustproof which means you can use it by a pool, at the park or on a beach without needing to worry about damaging it.
Along a rubber strip on the back, there are a few controls for the speaker and for your music including a power button and a Bluetooth button as well as a pause/play button and volume controls. By double or triple pressing the play button you'll also be able to skip forwards and backwards through tracks without needing to reach for your phone.
You’ll get up to 16 hours of music from the Sony SRS-XB13 at a time. That’s pretty good going, it’ll certainly be enough for a day out.
There’s a USB-C port to charge it hidden behind the flap on the back. It’ll take about 4 hours and 30 minutes to get it back up to full battery which is absolutely ages, you’ll probably need to remember to plug it in overnight rather than before you head out.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: performance and features
When it comes to sound quality, you can only expect so much from a speaker that is this cheap, but what the design of the speaker does do well is give you the same sound no matter where you stand in relation to it - it comes from every angle.
When you dial the volume right up to 100%, it’s not actually that loud. It’ll be fine for listening in small groups but it won’t be powerful enough to soundtrack a party. I also noticed that the sound got a little distorted at the highest levels with an audible hiss behind the track.
The Sony SRS-XB13 has a single 43mm driver and despite being labelled as having ‘extra bass’ it won't be shaking any walls, let's put it that way. You do hear a punch in bass-heavy songs and vocals come through very clearly but it’s a long way off some of the very best Bose Bluetooth speakers you can buy, for example.
To make the sound bigger, you can pair two of these speakers together for stereo sound. I only had one so unfortunately I couldn’t test this feature out.
Another handy feature is that the Sony SRS-XB13 has a microphone built-in so you’ll be able to take your calls through it. I wouldn’t expect too much from that though, people on the other end might struggle to hear you clearly, especially if you're somewhere noisy.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: verdict
To sum things up, the Sony SRS-XB13 is far from perfect. In fact, there are a fair few problems with it. The sound isn’t very powerful nor is it particularly accurate, the microphone doesn’t do a very good job when you’re using it as a speakerphone and it takes ages to charge.
But on the flip side, this is still a decent speaker when you consider just how cheap it is. If you’re not an audiophile you won’t be too bothered by the problems with the sound, and it’s great that you can literally use this anywhere and everywhere. That’s not to mention the battery life that will get you through a whole day of music. Up against other similarly-priced speakers, it’s certainly a good option.
Sony SRS-XB13 review: also consider
Another tiny and cheap speaker to consider is the JBL Go 3, it’s even smaller than this and even cheaper. While it does have fewer features and quieter sound, the actual quality of the audio is better.
Willing to push your budget up just a little? You’re better off with the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 which is just under double the price but it is worth it. Or if you can go a little higher than that, the JBL Flip 6 could be worth considering because it will be powerful enough to listen to music in bigger groups.