Sony SRS-XB12 Extra Bass portable Bluetooth speaker review

Small but mighty.
Sony SRS-XB12 Bluetooth speaker in grey
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
It's smaller than a can of Coke, but the Sony SRS-XB12 packs a powerful punch.

Our verdict

This tough, pocket-sized speaker packs a powerful punch, and for less than $90. While the sound quality diminishes very slightly at high volumes, it’s still the best value mini Bluetooth speaker on the market

What we like

  • Deep, powerful bass
  • IP67 water and dust-proof
  • Long battery life
  • Usually on sale

What we don’t like

  • Very slight distortion at high volumes

When we pitted the most popular mini Bluetooth speakers available against one another, we were as surprised as anyone when the affordable and impossibly tiny Sony SRS-XB12 came out on top. Battling against the likes of UE and Bose, this little underdog wowed us with its powerful sound, tough design and unbeatable battery life.

Sony SRS-XB12 price

Small cost, big features.

Inevitably, what put the Sony XB12 above the competition was its price. With an RRP of $89 but some retailers offering it up for around $30 less, it’s easily one of the most affordable speakers of its kind, without sacrificing the specs and features of its more exxy rivals.

For comparison, our runner up, the Bose SoundLink Micro, will set you back up to $149.95, while the popular UE Wonderboom 2 sits around $129.95. The JBL Clip 3 doesn’t boast quite as good sound quality as the XB12, but at an RRP of $89.95, it’s still not a bad deal.

Sony SRS-XB12 sound quality

Powerful bass in a tiny package.

I’ve been using the XB12 for a while, but every time I turn it on I’m blown away by just how powerful it is. I often set it to its maximum volume, and while there’s a tiny bit of distortion, it’s barely noticeable. One thing you will notice, however, is how the speaker wobbles with big, bassy tunes (it can pick up tones as low as 20Hz). It’s not something I hated, but take it from me – don’t put it on the edge of something tall unless you want it to fall (speaking of which, I can confirm it’s drop-proof).

We would’ve liked to see a 360-degree speaker array (similar to the UE Wonderboom 2), but Sony’s monaural setup does a fine job of filling a small space with sound.

Sony SRS-XB12 design

(Almost) unbreakable.

Like any good portable Bluetooth speaker these days, the Sony XB12 is both waterproof (to 1m) and dust-proof, and as I mentioned above, it can handle the odd drop here and there, too.

As tough as it is, it’s also damn cute and comes in five colours: black, blue, grey, green, and red. At a measly 243g, this pocket-sized speaker is smaller than a can of Coke, which means you can take it basically anywhere. There’s also a detachable strap included, enabling you to hook it onto your bag, fence or even a showerhead.

Sony SRS-XB12 Bluetooth speaker clipped onto a bag

Sony SRS-XB12 features

Amazing battery life.

Considering some speakers five times the size can’t manage more than 12 hours of battery life, I was gobsmacked at how long the XB12 lasted without needing some juice. At a low-to-medium volume level, I got close to 16 hours playback time out of it. That figure got a little smaller as I increased the volume, but still impressively long for such a tiny thing.

If, like me, you still love a bit of classic AUX-sharing at parties, you’ll be happy to know the XB12 has an AUX input. You can also pair two XB12 together for when you need that extra sound boost.

Is it worth it?

Yes, but…

If you can nab the Sony SRS-XB12 for under $70, it’s absolutely worth it. Even at its RRP of $89.95, it’s still bloody good value. That said, there are bigger speakers out there that might better suit your purposes. For a small bedroom, study, bathroom or kitchen, the XB12 is the perfect speaker. If you’re trying to fill a bigger space with sweet, sweet music, we recommend considering something a bit larger.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Still looking? Check out the best of the rest.

READ REVIEW

In the market for some wireless earbuds?

READ REVIEW