This Sony SRS-XG500 review is for anyone who needs a powerful portable party speaker to use here, there and everywhere.
It might be pricey but it’s one of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy because the sound will blow you away, and there are loads of cool extra features that will make it worth your while.
If this is over your budget then you might be better off buying one of the best JBL Bluetooth speakers instead because they’re cheaper but they’re still great for parties, even if they won’t shake the walls in the same way as the Sony SRS-XG500 will.
Sony SRS-XG500 review: price and availability
You can buy the Sony SRS-XG500 right now starting from $348 in the US, £299 in the UK and $399 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to find out where you can get one.
Sony SRS-XG500 review: design and battery
A huge portable speaker, the Sony SRS-XG500 measures 460 x 256 x 215mm and weighs 5.6kg so it’s not something you’ll be able to chuck in your bag. Instead, it has a handle to carry it around with but even using that I doubt you’ll want to carry it very far.
Cylindrical in shape with dips in the middle, the Sony SRS-XG500 is a modern-day boombox, you even get circular lights on each end to make it feel like a party.
It will be best suited to your garden or using it around the house but if you do plan to take it elsewhere, like on a camping trip or to the beach, you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s IP66 water-resistant and dustproof. Made largely from plastic with a sturdy mesh fabric around the body, it does seem like a durable piece of kit.
Under a large flap on the back, there are a number of ports worth knowing about including a 3.5mm audio input, a USB port for charging your devices, a USB port to play music from a storage device and there’s even a guitar/microphone input.
Above those, there are buttons that allow you to pair the speaker with other compatible speakers, hear the battery level and change the lighting pattern. You also get a dial to adjust the volume of the guitar or microphone you have plugged in.
You’ll get a huge 30 hours of battery life from this speaker which is a lot more than most other portable devices this size can offer. It will take 3 hours to charge so you will need to have prepared ahead of time but if you do forget then plugging it in for just 10 minutes will give you about 3 hours of music.
Sony SRS-XG500 review: performance and features
Powerful is the best way to describe the sound you get from the Sony SRS-XG500. Roaring through the house, the bass will make the walls shake but you can still hear the highs with crisp detail.
The sound is definitely prepped for a party especially when you press the Mega Bass button. That particular sound setting makes the low end a little over the top and it kind of takes over but it’s not all-engulfing and you can still hear every part of the song clearly. Parties outside will benefit from the audio the most because the sound really travels and delivers a serious punch.
For more control over the audio, you’ll need to download the Sony Music Center smartphone app available for both iOS and Android. In settings, you’ll find a Sound Effect section that lets you switch between default tuning, Mega Bass, Live Sound and Custom. On the custom sound mode, there’s a three-band equaliser to tune the audio to suit your own preferences.
If you wanted to make the sound even bigger you can actually pair two or more compatible Sony speakers together - I'm not sure in what world you would need to do that with this particular speaker but it's great to have the option.
After a more clean, balanced sound? You could be better off considering one of the best Bose Bluetooth speakers instead. They’re a bit more grown-up and will be suitable for more types of music.
Buttons on the speaker allow you to adjust the music without reaching for your phone, you can pause/play the track, change the volume and even skip backwards and forwards through tracks when you double or triple press the play/pause button.
The RGB lighting on each side of the speaker is really cool. You can switch through patterns using the button on the back of the device or through the Sony Music Center smartphone app. The lighting isn’t particularly bright though so don’t expect it to illuminate the whole room, it’s more of a bonus feature rather than something
that should sway you. It’d also be nice if it danced more noticeably along to the music like the JBL Partybox 710, but you can’t have it all.
There are just so many ways to connect to the Sony SRS-XG500 in addition to Bluetooth. You can transform it into a karaoke machine if you own a microphone, hook up your guitar to use it for band practise, connect a device that doesn't have Bluetooth or even plug and play from a USB. You'll also be able to charge your phone from it if you start running out of juice while you’re playing music in the park.
Sony SRS-XG500 review: verdict
Owning the Sony SRS-XG500 will mean you can have a party anywhere, and when I say a party, I mean a proper party.
The sound is powerful and punchy which makes it well suited to listening in big groups of people, and the battery lasts for ages so it won’t die halfway through the day (or night). That’s not to mention its wealth of features, from doubling up as a charger to transforming into a karaoke machine, there are loads of extra perks here.
Realistically it’s too big and too heavy for most people, you won’t want to carry it very far and it won’t fit in your bag either. But if you’re willing to spend this much, and you don’t mind the size, then it’s a really fantastic speaker.
Sony SRS-XG500 review: also consider
Another rugged and powerful speaker to use outside is the JBL Xtreme 3. It’s cheaper, smaller and slightly less powerful than the Sony SRS-XG500 but that’s not to say it’s tame. In fact, quite the opposite. Made for beach trips, camping weekends and pool parties this powerful JBL speaker is waterproof and comes with a strap to carry it around. It even comes with a bottle opener.
If you want something that is small enough to fit in a backpack, but big enough to listen to music in larger groups you should consider the JBL Charge 5. It’s smaller, cheaper and less impressive but for most people, it’ll do exactly what you need it to and the battery lasts for ages.