Which Sony Bluetooth speakers are best?
Sony makes all sorts of electronics, both entry-level and high-end, across a vast range of fields. They’re especially well-known for things like TVs and gaming consoles, and their audio equipment is on-par with the best in the world.
Nonetheless, their Bluetooth speakers don’t get quite as much press as, for example, their consumer-focused wireless headphones or enthusiast-centric wired ones. After in-depth research, the reality is that their current lineup of battery-powered wireless speakers are as good as anything on the market. The best one for most users is the Sony SRS-XB43, which delivers high-quality sound and gets remarkably loud for its size.
What to know before you buy a Sony Bluetooth speaker
Their sound quality is unrivaled for the size
Some of Sony’s best Bluetooth speaker offerings are hardly any larger than the average pill-shaped speaker that’s flooded the market for years now. But while they don’t have a significant footprint, Sony’s portable speakers are consistently known for having some of the best sound quality in the field. This is especially important when so many brands’ speakers have major shortcomings like too low of a peak volume or an overly tinny sound profile. You shouldn’t ever have to worry about the sound profile on a Sony Bluetooth speaker, and some of them have surprising amounts of bass for battery-powered speakers.
They use an optional high-end Sony codec
The codec is the set of instructions that tell your streaming device and speaker how to compress and decompress data (in this case, digital music), so it takes up less bandwidth during wireless transmission. The standard, baseline Bluetooth audio codec for most speakers and headphones is called SBC, while Apple’s AAC codec also sees a lot of use.
Many users claim that the SBC codec noticeably hurts sound quality, and AAC doesn’t always work efficiently on non-Apple devices. In Sony’s case, they’ve developed a proprietary codec called LDAC that boasts significantly higher possible bitrates than SBC and more consistency across platforms (like Android, Windows and iOS) than LDAC. All of Sony’s Bluetooth speakers support LDAC transmission, which in this situation is basically indistinguishable from a wired connection.
They’re not exactly cheap
Sony does have some low-cost Bluetooth speakers, but that’s not where they’ve spent all their time and money developing new products. Sony’s flagship offerings are rarely inexpensive for headphones and speakers, but they are pretty well-known for general quality and long-term reliability. Like other top speaker brands such as JBL and Bose, their reputation is very much warranted. So while you might have to spend a decent amount on the Sony speaker that’s right for you, you can do so with the confidence that it will keep you entertained for years.
What to look for in a quality Sony Bluetooth speaker
Water resistance and waterproofing
Most Sony Bluetooth speakers are at least water-resistant to the tune of IPX4, which means they can withstand some light splashes. If you plan on taking your speaker camping, swimming or near any other potential water hazard, it’s worth considering more robust protection from the elements. Luckily, some of Sony’s top portable speakers offer IP67 ingress protection, which means everyday dust and even the occasional accidental dip in the pool shouldn’t faze them.
Naturally, it’s important to be aware of battery life before buying a battery-powered speaker. This is another area where we were excited to find that much of Sony’s newest lineup of Bluetooth speakers offers roughly 12 hours of battery life at a minimum. The top models clock an entire 24 hours between charges.
It’s also worth noting that some models offer quick charging that can help top off a depleted battery a lot faster than you could just a few years ago.
360-degree vs. directional audio
You can tell from looking at most of Sony’s speakers if they produce directional audio like a traditional speaker or a consistent 360-degree output. The 360-degree speakers are usually shaped like cylinders, while the directional models resemble the common pill-shaped Bluetooth speaker or a large PA speaker. Typically, directional speakers have more bass and a higher peak volume than 360-degree models.
How much you can expect to spend on a Sony Bluetooth speaker
The tiniest Sony Bluetooth speakers cost roughly $30, but they’re not very loud. The best highly portable models are in the $100-$250 range, while the top party speakers can cost several hundred dollars.
Sony Bluetooth speaker FAQ
Can I use a Bluetooth speaker with a TV?
A. You should be able to connect your wireless speaker to any TV with Bluetooth connectivity. You can find the option in your TV’s settings menu.
The only significant drawback to using Bluetooth for watching shows and movies is that it introduces latency, also known as the “lip-sync delay,” that makes the audio noticeably lag behind the video. Few Bluetooth speakers support the codecs needed to avoid this and stream audio with zero lag. If you look through your TV’s settings, though, you might be able to synchronize the audio and video tracks manually.
Do I need a special transmitter for Sony Bluetooth speakers?
A. Any iPhone or Android phone, tablet or PC with Bluetooth connectivity should be able to connect to any of these easily. However, you’ll need to stream from a device that supports the LDAC codec to get the absolute best sound quality. Luckily for many smartphone owners, the Android operating system comes with LDAC support built in, and you shouldn’t have to mess with any settings for it to work right.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit tougher to utilize Sony’s high-end codec if you’re using a Windows PC or Apple device since their software doesn’t support it. In some cases, the physical Bluetooth hardware doesn’t either. Instead, you’ll have to get an adapter.
Like the Fiio BTA30, which accepts an optical or coaxial input and transmits a Bluetooth 5.0 signal with support for multiple premium codecs.
What are the best Sony Bluetooth speakers to buy?
Top Sony Bluetooth speaker
What you need to know: This option is as loud as they get while remaining highly portable.
What you’ll love: The output is great across the entire audio spectrum, with a better bass output than most other Bluetooth speakers this size. A pair of woofers and tweeters deliver real stereo sound with a quicker response than most competition. It’s even fully waterproof and has color-changing LED lights.
What you should consider: The only real complaint about this one is that it’s relatively expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top Sony Bluetooth speaker for the money
What you need to know: It’s the most affordable entry in the Extra Bass lineup and is great for indoor use.
What you’ll love: Its relatively small footprint makes it especially portable and easy to set close by while you’re listening. Its 360-degree output makes it perfect for small spaces, although you can also use it outside as long as it’s not too loud out.
What you should consider: It doesn’t quite get loud enough for high-energy gatherings like pool parties.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is Sony’s biggest and loudest Bluetooth-enabled speaker for consumers.
What you’ll love: It’s loud and proud. Indeed, this is almost certainly the loudest and most bass-friendly Bluetooth speaker Sony has ever produced. It even has inputs for a vocal microphone and a guitar, so you can get more done than just turning on a playlist by the pool.
What you should consider: Buyers report it’s bulky and heavy. It also comes at a higher price point.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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