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Sony SRS-XB10 review: Sony's tiniest Bluetooth speaker ain't tinny

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The grenade-size SRS-XB10 is the smallest and most basic of the new speakers in Sony's line of Extra Bass Bluetooth speakers. At this size "extra bass" might be a stretch, but it does have a bit more punch than many competitors.

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7.5

Sony SRS-XB10

The Good

The Sony SRS-XB10 is an ultracompact, canister-style Bluetooth speaker that's water-resistant, with good battery life (16 hours) and speakerphone capabilities. The speaker sounds decent enough for its size and its strap converts into a stand to prop the speaker up horizontally.

The Bad

The soft-but-tough finish attracts some dust; should cost less than $50.

The Bottom Line

While it should costs a little less, the Sony SRS-XB10 is an attractively designed mini wireless speaker that outputs more bass than your typical tiny speaker.

Available in multiple colors -- Sony sent us a review sample of the more mundane-looking black version -- the water-resistant speaker's claim to fame is that it has good battery life for a tiny speaker and delivers relatively richer sound than the plethora of other tiny Bluetooth speakers on the market.

The speaker has a few extra features worth noting: The detachable strap, which could be used to hang the speaker from a hook in your shower or from a tree branch, converts into a stand for the speaker when you place it on its side in horizontal mode. You can also pair two of these speakers and use them as stereo speakers for your computer, for instance (you get more directional sound with the speaker on its side).

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The speaker is water-resistant but not waterproof.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The step-up models in the line -- the SRS-XB20, SRS-XB-30 and SRS-XB40 -- have special lighting effects, with the two top-end models delivering "clublike lighting effects with an LED perimeter line-light, a strobe flash and speaker light." The XB10 doesn't light up; it's all about its sound.

As far as that sound goes, for this type of little mono speaker, it doesn't get much better. It's still not great and the speaker distorts at higher volumes and with certain bass frequencies (the Shaun Frank remix of the Chainsmokers' "Closer" track has been rough on little speakers, including this one). But it does have a little punch to it and sounds decent with less complicated tracks and acoustical music. These tiny Bluetooth speakers are strongest in the midrange (vocals), so this would do well with movie dialogue and podcasts.

My only design nitpick is that the speaker's rubberized, soft-to-the touch finish attracts some dust and lint. On the plus side, the base of the XB10 has enough grip to it to keep the speaker from sliding around when you pump up the volume and it vibrates thanks to its built-in passive bass radiator.

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The SRS-XB10 comes in multiple colors.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As I said, there are plenty of little mono speakers out there to compete with this model and a lot of them cost less than the XB10. It's a notch up from many inexpensive generic Chinese speakers you'll find on Amazon, but it's still a little pricey at $60 (those generic speakers can cost $30 or less).

The more expensive UE Wonderboom and JBL Flip 4 do play louder and sound fuller, but they are larger speakers. Ultimately, this speaker has the same allure as Sony's earlier cube-shaped SRS-X11, which I liked and started out at $70 but now costs less than $50 as it's being phased out, that being: The SRS-XB10 is an attractively designed supermini speaker that sounds better than you think it would.

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The strap converts into a stand for the speaker when you place it on its side.

Sarah Tew/CNET



SRS-XB10 key specs:

  • 11.4 ounces or 322g
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Connect and stream music easily with Bluetooth and NFC
  • Add an extra speaker for stereo sound
  • Water-resistant (IPX5)
  • Up 16 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels
  • Strap converts into speaker stand (when speaker is placed on its side)
  • NFC tap-to-pair technology for devices that support it
  • Built-in microphone for speakerphone capabilities
  • Audio input
  • Charges via Micro-USB (cable included)
  • Available in multiple color options
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7.5

Sony SRS-XB10

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7