A few years back outdoor speakers were all the rage. The pandemic has somewhat out paid to the segment. But Sony is pressing on with the new SRS-XB13 a compact Bluetooth wireless speaker you can carry anywhere you want.
The SRS-XB13 is about the size of a regular jam jar and does not weight much more than what you would expect. The cylindrical design has a metal mesh on top while the base has lifts the speaker up from the ground offering space for air to pass through. On the sides are soft buttons that lets power on, pair, pause and adjust volume. A USB-C port is hidden behind a rubber flap underlining that this a water and dust proof speaker. You have a large fabric multi-way strap that lets you hand this anywhere from the shower to the branch of a tree and easily carry it around or attach to the back of your backpack.
I wasn’t all that optimistic about the audio quality given that this is a small speaker. But I was pleasantly surprised by how loud the speaker could get. Also it is loud in a rich kind of the way. This means the audio is layered and you have a bass layer at the base and the sharper notes above. Inside the mesh you can see the diaphragm vibrate, something lot of the new speakers don’t show you.
As I listened to Innum Konya Naeram from Maryan, I could really enjoy the bass-heavy percussion lead to the soulful vocals. Again the audio output is so layered that you enjoy all layers of the music. Usually in smaller speakers all these get mashed together.
I used the speaker also for a lot of my podcasts and the experience was good. Also, struggling with a television which had very bad audio, I used the Sony SRS-XB13 to augment the audio and help me switch off the subtitles.
However, I could not help but notice that the audio is very directional. So if I point the top of the speaker away from me, the experience fades to a large extent. This speaker fires only from the top.
Also, I struggled to get this speaker to show up on some of the iOS devices, which I found a bit odd. And this when it was paired to my iPad.
You can use the speaker to take calls too, and the call quality was quite good on both sides. But I somehow prefer to take these on a earphone now.
The battery life of the SRS-XB13 is quite good and you should be able to squeeze in over 15 hours easily at full volume. That could be a week of play in present circumstances.
At Rs 4,990, the Sony SRS-XB13 does seem a tab bit expensive. But then the audio quality could cover up for that. This is a very functional speaker design too that literally takes it places.