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Sony EXTRA BASS SRS-XB21 Review

The Sony EXTRA BASS SRS-XB21 proved to be a mini party beast during our first tango with it thanks to its premium looks and amazing audio. Now, that we’ve put it through its paces does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out in our full review.

Design and Construction

The SRS-XB21 looks a lot different from its predecessor, the XB20. The previous model looked a lot like a capsule with a surrounding LED light strip. Now, the XB21 takes a different more modern and rugged approach. It still has an overall capsule shape, but is now boxier and covered in a dust and water-resistant mesh. The LED strip is also different as it no longer just surrounds the entire front but runs through almost the entire body of the speaker. What we truly liked about its size though is how portable it is. It easily fit our small and medium-sized bags without adding too much bulk or weight.

As for button layout, we have on top the power/pairing button, volume up and down, and pause and play. Opposite the buttons, is an NFC detection area.

At the back, there are additional buttons and ports protected by a rubber flap. Here you’ll find the micro USB charging input, aux-in, and reset button. Unlike it’s bigger SRS-XB31 brother, the XB21 has no additional USB Type-A port that you can use to charge another device.

There are also additional buttons for checking the battery life (batt), wireless party chain (wpc), and adding in a secondary speaker for left and right channel functions (add).

Audio Quality and Features

Audio-wise, it’s very impressive. Mids and highs are amazing and it can get really loud, enough to fill a small to a slightly medium-sized room. Lows are also present and can be readily felt. Audio is also crisp and clear on any volume level, even at the highest output. Overall quality is slightly lower than that of the XB31 but still very impressive.

Speaking of highest output, we never really had to pump it to the max as the speaker already captured our entire living room at just 70-80%. We did have to raise it to 100% when we also wanted our studio to share the sound.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the “wireless party chain” feature, which is especially helpful for extending music range of the XB21. Sony did a pretty good job with this feature as even the lower, higher, older, and newer models can be synced together.

We paired the speaker with it’s bigger brother, the SRS-XB31, and the two worked together flawlessly in providing us with an enjoyable listening experience. The music was now even loud enough to capture our entire unit, which the XB21 can’t do alone. Despite their audio quality differences, the resulting blend was still very satisfying and really built for party usage.

A Sony party speaker is never complete without lighting. As such, the SRS-XB21 comes with light strips that surround most of its body. Although sadly, only the center of the front panel lights up.

We felt that this is a downgrade to the beautiful halo lighting of the previous SRS-XB20. Still, the lights act as a kind of equalizer and syncs with the music being played, which is still a neat effect to have. Oh and this one is not RGB, so disco like vibes are out the window.

There’s also the Sony Music Center app that you can download from the Google Play Store or Apple App store to wirelessly control your speaker. Although we really don’t see the need for it as the volume control is synced with your device and there’s Spotify compatibility as well.

Perhaps, its only real use is when grouping speakers together but that’s just when you’re gonna use “wireless party chain”. You can control the lighting too but with just a single color and very minimal coverage, there’s really not much you can do. Also, compatibility is a hit or miss for some Android devices.

Battery Life

Sony rated the SRS-XB21’s battery life at up to 12 hours, half of the capability of its XB31 sibling. That’s with standard use and no lighting. We can say that they closely nailed that claim. During our first week of use, we only had to plug it four times, double of what we did with the XB31, which is just about right. That’s with around 4-5 hours of continuous music playback with the party lights on. Unlike its bigger brother, the speaker doesn’t double as a power bank, so its juice is purely dedicated to just audio playback.

There is an indicator for battery life though, accessed by the “batt” button at the back. The only important indicator you’d have to take note of is when it’s slowly flashing and when it flashes three times then turns off. For the first indicator that means it’s running at less than 10%. The other notification means the battery is completely depleted.

Conclusion

The SRS-XB31 certainly lived up to the hype it first gave us during our initial hands-on. It truly is a premium looking rugged speakers with amazing overall audio quality, solid structure, and superb battery life. It’s also small and portable, so that’s a big plus. It felt a bit lacking in lighting and effects, but that’s just a minor hiccup. Other than that there really isn’t anything to complain about. At Php 5,829, we’d say it’s definitely worth it and properly priced.

Sony EXTRA BASS SRS-XB21 Specifications:

  • 42mm sound driver, full range
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • NFC
  • Stereo Mini Port
  • microUSB
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • 12-hour battery life
  • 193 x 72 x 65mm
  • 530g

What we liked about it:

  • Premium build
  • Water and Dust resistance
  • Amazing audio quality
  • Long battery life
  • Wireless Party Chain
  • Portable

What we didn’t like about it:

  • Single Color LED
  • Lights are only at the center front panel


Zen Estacio is a Multimedia Producer for YugaTech. He is the team's laptop guru and one of their resident gamers. He has a monthly column compiling the latest and greatest the Nintendo Switch has to offer. Aside from that, he regularly writes gaming news, reviews, and impressions. You can hit him up at @papanZEN

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