Sony is synonymous with audio, but its reputation for portable Bluetooth speakers is relatively unknown compared to its industry-leading headphones.
We got our hands on their new X-Series lineup of Bluetooth speakers ranging from the backpack portable (the XE200 and the XE300) to the larger boombox (the XG300). The three wireless speakers come packed with a big sound, audio quality, snazzy looks, IP67 water and dust resistance, ultra-long batteries, and more.
Stick around to know how the all-new X-Series speakers fared under our watch.
Sony SRS-XG300 — The contemporary party boombox
The XG300 is our favorite speaker of the bunch. It is a modern boombox of sorts. The speaker is smaller (and considerably rounder) than the boomboxes from the 90s, but it is slightly bigger than a roll of paper towels. Although it is the largest and heaviest, the sound, looks, features, and usability is quite something.
Unlike the other speakers, this one doesn’t stand vertically but lays horizontally instead. The XG300 has a very usable rubber handle that recesses flat with the speaker when you’re not using it. We’re in love with the mesh fabric finish covering the whole unit.
Each end of the XG300 features a powerful woofer surrounded by a ring of LED lighting that knows how to party. There’s an app called Fiestable for controlling the LED colors, but there’s also a button to toggle through different LED presets.
Behind a sealed rubber flap, you’ll find a USB-C charger, auxiliary 3.5mm audio input, and a full-size USB port for charging other devices. We dig the looks and form of the XG300, but we love the sound and audio quality more.
The Sony SRS-XG300 can produce the sound you’d expect from larger bookshelf speakers. There’s a wide soundstage with a bass you can feel. The audio is extremely clear, and you can make it sound even better with the basic tuning available. The bass is pretty heavy out of the box, but there’s a dedicated “Mega Bass mode” for toggling a more balanced audio profile.
Sony SRS-XE200 and SRS-XE300 — Loud, portable speakers
The XG300 ruined these two speakers for us — with a smaller size comes smaller audio. Both speakers are very loud for their size, but the XEs can’t reproduce the XG’s natural bass or sound stage. The SRS-XE200 and the SRS-XE300 are upright-standing cylindrical designs that are IP67 dust, water, and shockproof.
Unlike the XG300, these speakers are mostly wrapped in matte rubber, with one strip of the speaker grill running up and down and around the top and bottom of it. We love the textured woven speaker grill, so we are bummed there’s not more of it on the XE models.
Each speaker hides its USB-C charging port behind a waterproof flap. There are no color-changing LEDs, just a handful of status LEDs indicating battery and pairing status. There’s also no 3.5mm audio input, so these two speakers are Bluetooth only.
Size, volume, and sound quality
The critical difference between the Sony XE200 and XE300 is the size and bass. The XE200 is the perfect-sized portable speaker — not too big or too small. It even has a lanyard loop for easy carrying and hanging.
The XE300 is on the larger side of what we’d consider a classic portable Bluetooth speaker. It can be hard to carry with one hand, especially if you’ve got small hands. But the speaker passes the backpack test quite smoothly and can easily plop itself anywhere around the house.
Both speakers get surprisingly loud for their size. When we put these speakers on max volume in one of the rooms of a large house, we could hear it from every other room, even with the door closed. We realized during this test that the XE200 and the XE300 get as loud as one another, but the further you go, the more you realize how much more low-end audio the XE300 can put out.
The XE300’s larger size gives it a natural bass you feel and hear. The quality of both speakers also holds up at higher volumes. We’re glad Sony included some basic tuning options because the default sound signature is unbalanced, with the mids falling behind the lows.
Once balanced, we became fond of both speakers, even if they lacked the oomph of the much bigger XG300.
The Sony Music Center app
The Sony Music Center app is simplistic, which isn’t necessarily an issue, but we find it to be limited and buggy. It is apparent that the people building the app for Sony’s headphones are different from the ones who work on the app for the portable speakers.
There are a handful of configuration settings in-app for these speakers, but most are power options. There are a few audio settings too, but most notably, it’s missing an equalizer and tuning presets.
“Party Connect” puts the speakers in perfect sync, where they sound great right next to each other when you play music. The function at least offers sliders for adjusting bass, treble, and mids. One nice bonus of the function is sending audio to all the speakers simultaneously.
If you have two of the same speakers, you can use the “stereo pair” option to get a true right and left channel. Party Connect works reasonably well, but the app experience could be more polished. Moreover, we couldn’t adjust the volume of individual speakers from the app.
Sony SRS-XG300 review: final thoughts
The larger Sony SRS-XG300 boombox was our favorite speaker of the bunch — it offered the biggest and best sound with great looks and fun LED lighting. It’s not the speaker we’d take with us room-to-room but works best as a semi-permanent fixture.
The Sony SRS-XE200 is the best portable on-the-go speaker. It can get extremely loud for its size, and with some basic tuning, it sounds very nice. You can find a much smaller party speaker, but you’ll have a hard time matching the volume, quality, and battery.
The Sony SRS-XE300 is your in-between-speaker — it’s on the larger side of “portable,” but you get bigger and clearer sound with an impressive 25-hour battery.
The prices of each speaker vary, but they’re roughly $120 for the XE200, $200 for the XE300, and $350 for the XG300. They’re all pricey but not outrageously so — from our tests and experience with Sony, these speakers should last the test of time. All in all, the best speaker will be the one that suits your portability needs.