Sony updates XB wireless speaker range with new X-Balanced drivers

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has just updated its Extra Bass range with three new portable Bluetooth speakers: the XB43, XB33 and XB23, to refresh the current XB41/XB42, XB32 and XB22.

Sony's XB (or Extra Bass) range of Bluetooth speakers has always offered a fun experience, including customisable light shows, daisy-chaining for a beefier sound and optional percussion noises when you strike its surfaces. 

The headline-grabber for the new trio is Sony’s newly developed X-Balanced speaker unit. Sony claims the unit’s non-circular shape maximises the area of the speaker diaphragm, increasing sound pressure for more punchy bass. The new unit also boasts reduced driver excursion while maintaining the same sound pressure, resulting in less distortion. For example, Sony says that the level of the sound pressure on the XB33 has increased by around 30 per cent and distortion rate is reduced by approximately 25 per cent compared to the predecessor model (SRS-XB32). 

Unlike the circular diaphragm in a conventional speaker unit, the X-Balanced speaker unit in the largest of the trio, the XB43, features an almost rectangular diaphragm. Its 2-way speaker system combines a woofer for low to mid frequencies with a dedicated tweeter for the higher range frequencies. 

The X-Balanced speaker unit in the XB33 and XB23 features both that newly-developed non-circular diaphragm and an off-centre design, which Sony says also offers big sound while keeping the speakers compact in size.

The layout of the side passive radiators has also been optimised across all three models to reproduce a clear bass sound – its called the Extra Bass range, after all. 

So let’s get this party started! The new funky fresh XB43 and XB33 speakers feature Live Sound, a sonic presentation seen in the older range and supposedly suited to outdoor gatherings.

The new models have an IP67 rating too, so they should perform no matter how dusty or drenched the surface. The speakers are even saltwater resistant, so the shenanigans can continue in the sea...

Sony's new SRS-XB33 in Taupe

Sony's new SRS-XB33 in Taupe (Image credit: Sony)

You can add a music festival atmosphere with the speakers’ fresh design, which now features a multi-colour LED line plus separate tweeter lighting on the largest model, all of which can be customised in terms of colour and, er, flashiness, via the free Sony Fiestable app.  

Plus, with the new Party Connect feature you can connect up to 100 compatible wireless speakers over Bluetooth, to sync the music and lights so everyone dances to the same beat. Take note though: this particular connect feature isn't compatible with the older XB series, so your options are limited solely to the new XB43, XB33 and XB23 in terms of daisy-chaining to beef up the sound.

The new speaker line-up comes in a wide range of colours with a refreshed design. The smallest newbie, the XB23, fits perfectly into a backpack pocket or the cupholder of your camping chair. It also features a convenient strap to hang it from a tent or tree during your weekend camping trip – and UK campsites are opening soon.... 

You can now charge the speakers via USB-C, and with a battery life of up to 24 hours on the XB43/33 (XB23 has a 12-hour battery life, all specs with lighting turned off) the party can continue all night long. 

The XB43 and XB33 feature NFC quick Bluetooth pairing and the ability to charge your smartphone's battery via USB Type-A too. 

The SRS-XB43 model will be priced at £200 ($250 / AU$399 / €240) and is available from August 2020 in black and blue.

The SRS-XB33 model will be priced at £150 ($150 / AU$299 / €180) and is available from August 2020 in black, blue, red, taupe.

The SRS-XB23 model will be priced at £100 ($100 / AU$199 / €120) and is available from August 2020 in black, blue, red, taupe, green.

As with any new release, expect deals on the older Sony XB models, which can be seen below.

On paper, Sony XB speakers offer quality build and plenty of features at competitive prices. We've yet to thoroughly test that extra bass claim, but the app's EQ functions plus the various light shows represent great value for money in a fun portable speaker – if you like that kind of thing. 

Our best Bluetooth speakers 2020 roundup includes a range of Ultimate Ears speakers. The 2019 Award-winning UE WonderBoom 2 is a cracking performer in terms of both sound and durability. For something in the JBL family that's smaller but still boasts a powerful, gripping sound, you can't do better for just shy of £100 (AU$169) than JBL's latest Flip 5


JBL Charge 4: Is it any good? What are the best alternatives?

Best smart speakers 2020: The best Alexa and Google speakers

Best portable speakers 2020: Brilliant budget Bluetooth speakers

Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.