Sony SRS-XB01 review: Sony's cheap mini Bluetooth speaker is worth buying

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The Good The Sony SRS-XB01 is an attractively designed mini Bluetooth speaker that sounds decent for its size and is relatively inexpensive. It's shower-ready and has speakerphone capabilities.

The Bad Some larger "mini" speakers in this price range deliver fuller sound with higher volume.

The Bottom Line The Sony SRS-XB01 is a likable little speaker that's well designed and sounds decent enough for its budget price.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Typically Sony's entry-level mini Bluetooth speakers have started at $50. But the SRS-XB01 lists for $35 (£30, AU$50) and sometimes gets discounted to $25. That's pretty inexpensive.

While it's lightweight at 5.4 ounces (154 grams), it manages to avoid feeling cheap. The speaker feels solid enough, with a textured finish and a set of rubberized buttons on top that allow you to play and pause your music, or answer and end calls, and adjust volume. A gasket hides the USB charging port and audio input.

The Sony SRS-XB01 in white.

David Carnoy/CNET

I like its clean, simple design -- it's available in blue, red, black and white - and the fact that it's water resistant with an IPX5 rating. Battery life is rated at 6 hours, which is fairly standard for this type of Bluetooth speaker. 

The speaker contains a single driver -- yes, this is a mono speaker -- with a slit for a bass port in the back. While I can't say it sounds much better than a lot of tiny Bluetooth speakers, it does sound decent for its size. It plays just loud enough and has just enough bass to fill a small room, such as an office or dorm. Sony limited its volume to prevent it from distorting: That's a good thing.

Attach the strap to whatever you want.

David Carnoy/CNET

Part of Sony's Extra Bass speaker line, the XB01 also has a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and includes a strap for attaching it to backpacks or hanging it from a tree branch, or anything else you choose to attach it to.

You're going to get more bass and bigger sound from a speaker like Bose's SoundLink Micro, which costs more. Tribit's XSound Go also delivers fuller sound with more volume for around $30 and the Oontz Angle 3 Plus also sounds better. But both those speakers are about twice the size of the Sony.

If you're looking for better sound, I advise you to lean to the Tribit or Oontz, but the Sony is a likable little speaker that seems well designed and sounds decent for the money.

Now playing: Watch this: What you need to know about mini Bluetooth speakers

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