Sony has launched its latest generation of lightweight wireless Bluetooth speakers, the SRS-XB13, also known as XB13 EXTRA BASS, the successor to the SRS-XB12. It features a passive radiator and a full-range mono speaker with a diameter of 46mm.
Despite its compact and portable size, the XB13 incorporates Sony’s exclusive EXTRA BASS technology for enhanced bass performance. Additionally, it is equipped with a unique digital processing technology called “Sound Diffusion Processor” that creates balanced and rich music, surpassing its predecessor in low-frequency performance.
While maintaining the overall cylindrical design, there are a few minor improvements. The SRS-XB13 also continues its predecessor’s IP67 waterproof and dustproof specifications, which means it can be submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. That makes it suitable for use in rainy conditions or even direct washing. You can even take it to pool parties as it can float on the water’s surface without sinking to the bottom.
Let’s start with the appearance. The SRS-XB13 has eight color options: Coral Pink, Orange, Powder Blue, Taupe, Light Blue, Light Gray, Blue, and Black. Apart from Blue and Black, all the other colors are new additions.
The colors of the SRS-XB13 give off a soft and gentle vibe, contrasting with its predecessor, and they blend better with home environments without appearing too flashy. The dual-purpose hanging strap follows a color scheme that combines two shades, creating a woven texture.
It is wider and thicker than before, and the buckle has been redesigned with an S-shaped design, significantly enhancing durability. While the hanging strap uses better materials, it is still recommended to air dry it before use if it gets wet.
The SRS-XB13 has a diameter of 76mm, a height of 95mm, and weighs approximately 253g, making it slightly larger than its predecessor. In terms of appearance, it has slightly less rounded corners compared to the SRS-XB12. The rubber pad on the bottom and the area of the bass reflex port have both been increased, and the button layout has been adjusted.
Additionally, the Sony SRS-XB13 utilizes UV polishing technology to enhance hardness further and reduce surface scratches. I rolled the speaker five times on a gravel surface, and there were no scratches. It meets the demands of outdoor use quite well.
The button layout on the back has also been slightly adjusted. From left to right, you’ll find the power button, Bluetooth pairing button, play/pause (also used for answering calls), volume-, and volume+ buttons. The USB Type-C charging port on the right side is protected by a rubber cover.
Sony provides a USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable, approximately 23cm long, as an accessory. The previous generation’s 3.5mm headphone jack and reset button have been removed.
When you power on the speaker, the top indicator light of the power button will be green. If the battery level drops below 20%, the Charge indicator light below will slowly flash. During charging, the indicator light will be orange. Once paired with a playback device, a blue indicator light will illuminate above the Bluetooth pairing button.
The XB13 supports stereo playback by connecting two speakers, corresponding to the ST PAIR (Stereo Pair, previously known as ADD) function below the Bluetooth pairing button. This feature enhances the overall volume, sound quality and provides a more immersive and prominent listening experience.
To pair two Sony SRS-XB13 speakers, both speakers need to be turned on and placed within 1 meter of each other. Then, press and hold the Bluetooth pairing button on each speaker for 3 seconds. The pairing process will be completed after approximately 2-3 seconds, accompanied by a beep sound. Both ST PAIR indicators will light up, and the blue indicator light above one of the Bluetooth pairing buttons will turn off.
Once the pairing is complete, you can connect them to a Bluetooth device to start playing (or you can connect to the Bluetooth device first). The operation steps are simple. However, it’s important to note that the stereo playback function is only compatible with the SRS-XB13 and cannot be mixed with the previous generation.
To cancel the stereo playback, press and hold the Bluetooth pairing button on one of the speakers for 3 seconds. If you accidentally press the Bluetooth pairing button or the power button on one of the speakers for 1 second, both speakers will disconnect simultaneously.
However, convenient notification prompts will appear on Android phones, and clicking “Confirm” will reconnect to both speakers within approximately 2-3 seconds, allowing you to continue listening to music quickly, even if there was an accidental disconnection. The SRS-XB13 has a built-in microphone to activate hands-free calling or voice assistant (Google Assistant and Siri). During hands-free call tests, the call quality was clear enough.
This speaker uses Bluetooth 4.2 wireless transmission technology, and the pairing process is straightforward. Press and hold the Bluetooth pairing button for 2 seconds to enter Bluetooth pairing mode, then search for and connect to the SRS-XB13 in the Bluetooth menu of your desired device. It also features smart connection capabilities, so once successfully connected, you won’t need to pair again.
With Google Fast Pair technology, an Android smartphone attempting to pair will display a connection prompt window. Notably, it will also show the color of the connected SRS-XB13, which is a thoughtful design, especially if you have multiple speakers. As for stability, I didn’t experience any latency or interruptions while playing YouTube videos or games.
The SRS-XB13 has a maximum communication distance of up to 10 meters. Its frequency response range is 20Hz to 20,000Hz (sample frequency 44.1kHz). It supports Bluetooth audio coding standards such as SBC and advanced audio coding AAC (the default format for iPhone).
Still, it does not support hi-fi, high-resolution audio quality. Regarding the listening experience, I used the Pixel 4 XL paired with the Spotify music streaming app. The SRS-XB13 benefits from the “Sound Diffusion Processor,” based on DSP technology.
The sound is not concentrated in a single direction, resulting in a more natural feel. When played at the same volume, it has better sound diffusion capability in a given space. Even at volumes above 80%, you can still hear the sound from a distance of almost 10 meters. Considering its compact size, similar to a mini soda can, it performs quite well.
To cater to outdoor use, the SRS-XB13 maintains its predecessor’s IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating. It can be directly washed, withstand rain, and submerged in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes. It can even float on water, so you don’t have to worry about sinking to the bottom if it falls into a pool during a pool party.
However, if you want to submerge the speaker in water, ensure the protective cover is tightly closed to prevent water damage to the device. Also, remember not to charge the SRS-XB13 in humid conditions. Instead, wipe it dry with a cloth and ensure it is completely dry before use. The image shows the SRS-XB13 being used in light rain, with no significant difference in sound quality.
In terms of weight, it has been measured at 260g. It hardly becomes a burden even if you carry two of them in your backpack. As for battery life, the official specifications state that it can last up to 16 hours at volume level 26, which is sufficient for a day of outdoor use. However, the maximum volume level 31 decreases battery life to 5 hours.
When the battery runs low, the CHARGE indicator light below the power button will continuously flash, and a notification will appear on the playback device. The SRS-XB13 has a default automatic standby feature that will automatically power off if there is no music playback for 15 minutes to save energy.
Users can also turn off the automatic standby feature by pressing and holding the play/pause button for 5 seconds. However, this feature will be disabled when the speaker is connected via Bluetooth to an iPhone or iPod touch.
The overall sound tuning of the SRS-XB13 still leans towards the mid-low frequencies, with the high frequencies lacking clarity. For example, when playing the electronic hit “Titanium” by Sia, the soprano vocals of the singer may not stand out as much. Still, the low-frequency performance is solid, and the drum beats are impactful.
When playing Ed Sheeran’s latest song, “Bad Habits,” the high-frequency performance returns to an acceptable level. When pairing two SRS-XB13 speakers in stereo mode, you can immediately feel the sound quality getting a boost.
When listening to popular songs like “夜に駆ける” by Japanese indie band YOASOBI, not only does the volume increase, but the vocals also become more clear. It maintains a good balance with the low frequencies. However, regarding rock music like B’z’s “Love Phantom,” the low-frequency impact may feel slightly lacking as if it can’t push through completely, which shows a difference compared to larger speakers.
Since the SRS-XB13 is ultimately a mono speaker, it may sound flat for music that relies on left-right channel separation if you don’t pair two speakers for playback. Additionally, it does not support the Sony Music Center audio system control app, so you cannot make fine adjustments using the EQ equalizer.
Although the Sony SRS-XB13 is an entry-level wireless Bluetooth speaker, the improvements are noticeable after a week of actual usage.
The increased area of the bass reflex port, the new Sound Diffusion Processor, and the combination with the EXTRA BASS tuning give it a mini subwoofer feel. Its ability to deliver sound seems better than its predecessor. However, if you have a higher emphasis on sound quality, you may consider the higher-end models like the XB23, XB33, or XB43, but keep in mind that the size will inevitably increase.
The Sony SRS-XB13 is a compact, lightweight wireless Bluetooth speaker with impressive performance and portability. With its powerful bass, durable build, and convenient features, it is an excellent choice for music enthusiasts on the go.
Featuring Sony’s exclusive EXTRA BASS technology and a passive radiator, the SRS-XB13 produces solid low-frequency performance. Its compact size and IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating make it perfect for outdoor activities, enduring even harsh environments.
WHEN PAIRED WITH ANOTHER SPEAKER, the SRS-XB13 supports stereo playback, enhancing volume and sound quality. Adding the “Sound Diffusion Processor” further improves the listening experience, creating a more immersive soundstage. However, the high frequencies may need more clarity in certain tracks.
With a maximum communication distance of 10 meters and a battery life of up to 16 hours, the SRS-XB13 offers extended wireless freedom and long-lasting playtime. It provides seamless Bluetooth pairing and features smart connection capabilities for added convenience. The automatic standby function helps conserve battery life but can be disabled if desired.
The Sony SRS-XB13 Bluetooth portable speaker is a solid entry-level wireless Bluetooth speaker that excels in its portability, durability, and bass performance. While it may not satisfy audiophiles seeking high-resolution sound, it offers a satisfying audio experience, particularly for bass enthusiasts. Consider exploring higher-end models like the XB23, XB33, or XB43 if sound quality is a top priority, albeit with a larger form factor. Upgrade your portable audio experience with the Sony SRS-XB13 and enjoy powerful sound wherever you go.