Sony SRS-XB41 Wireless Speaker Overview:
Holy lights and features, Sony’s SRS-XB41 speaker is quite the portable speaker. The multi-colored LED strips running around the speaker isn’t the only feature making this a true party speaker. Drop it, swim with it, and bury it in the desert, and the Sony SRS-XB41 will keep rocking out with its 24-hour battery.
The SRS-XB41 falls into the category of large portable wireless speakers. It’s not quite boombox-sized, but it can really crank out big sound and big bass. There’s not a lot it’s competing within this category outside of maybe JBL’s Xtreme speaker.
The SRS-XB41 is branded as a party speaker. Look at the website and you’ll see glamorous shots of young people each holding one of the speakers, and rocking outside. This was surprising advertising for two reasons… first, it’s a larger-than-average Bluetooth speaker. Weighing in at 3.3lb and measuring about a foot wide, you can carry it, but you won’t want to dance with it. Secondly, it’s a big, powerful speaker; you don’t need more than one of these per room or within a few feet of one another outside.
The Sony SRS-XB41 has a big prominent stance that makes it a really nice looking permanent speaker to place anywhere in the household. It will fit in most backpacks, but it’s not a backpack-friendly speaker at this size. Thankfully, you can rest assured it will survive most trips no matter how rainy, dusty, or bumpy.
The colors and lights running around the speaker are customizable and you can change them to match whatever mood you’re in. They’ll also pulsate and color to the music. You can shut the lights altogether, but you can also set them up to be pretty relaxing in a non-party setting.
The silliest feature award goes to party booster. You’ll need the app to enable this, but once enabled you can tap on the speaker in 4 different places to create sound effects like a scratch, snare, kick drum, or cowbell.
This is made to be a bass-heavy speaker, and it certainly is. With audio customization, you can make it a lot less bassy, but it will still have a bass-oriented sound signature. It’s not perfectly balanced, but the bass doesn’t completely overshadow the mids and highs.
Most every genre will sound good, but some genres, especially anything dance and pop music, will sound fantastic. By default, the ClearAudio+ sound profile is enabled, which has the bass booster on. With the flatter standard profile, the speaker puts out a very warm and clear sound. The mids and highs are loud and clear too.
The speaker gets very loud, like party loud. It will definitely suffice in a large room of people. Usually, the problem with loud speakers is that they can’t play quiet music very well, this wasn’t the case with XB41. Finally, we found there was virtually no distortion at any volume.
The battery is one of the killer features; it lasts 24 hours! I was concerned when I saw it came with a proprietary AC adapter for the wall, but it turns out it’s just for faster charging. You can charge with micro-USB if that is more convenient for you. There’s even a full USB port so you can conveniently charge your phone or tablet off of it.
While the set up for the Sony SRS-XB41 is a piece of cake and it’s really easy to use, its apps (there are two) could be designed a little more intuitively – but that can easily change in the future. That said, considering the sound for the SRS-XB41 isn’t only big, but rich and clear too, it’s a really fantastic speaker. Overall, looking past the gimmicky party features (which are actually quite fun), you’re left with a powerful sounding and relatively portable Bluetooth speaker that’s ready to handle just about anything. However, if you don’t need big sound or a big battery…or LED lighting… you should consider something smaller.
Update 6/24/18: The Sony SRS-XB41 has dropped in price. It’s now available for just $198 on Amazon.