The Back Story
My friend Peter was looking for cheap portable speakers for home use. I recommended the Logitech X300, but having good experience with his current X-Mini, he went ahead to buy the X-Mini Kai 2 which had additional features, like daisy-chain other X-Mini speakers, acts as Bluetooth transceiver. Then, probably due to post-purchase dissonance (a typical consumer behaviour), he did more research on portable speakers and found this article, which concluded that the Logitech UE Mini Boom is the best.
And since I had the Logitech X300 with me (where I concluded is better than UE Mobile Boombox which was the version before UE Mini Boom), I passed to him for a listen. A week later, he bought the X300.
So what’s this got to do with this review?
Well, during his research for his wireless portable speaker, he came across a review of the Sony SRS-X3 which compares favourably to Bose SoundLink Mini. Now, any speaker that pits favourably against the Mini Bose will pique my interest. Is Sony SRS-X3 that good?
I promptly asked the Sony PR agency, Waggener Edstrom, if there are review units. They responded favourably and managed to get me a review unit, specially for me! Awesome thanks!
Sony SRS-X3 Specs
- Speaker system: 2 speakers + 2 passive radiators
- Frequency: 60-16,000 Hz
- Amplifier Output: 10W x 2
- Speaker diameter: 34mm
- Speaker impedance: 4 ohm
- Sound Technology: ClearAudio+ Virtual Surround Sound
- Wireless Connection: Bluetooth v2.1 +EDR, NFC
- Bluetooth Range: 10m
- Dimension (WHD): 185 x 67 x 66 mm
- Weight: 850g
- Battery Life: 7 hours
- Colours: Red, Black
The Sony SRS-X3 design is unassumingly simple but effectively stylish thanks to the contrasting colour accents around the edges. Like most wireless speakers, the micro USB charging port and 3.5mm audio jack is located at the rear, while all the operating buttons are at the top. You will find the power button, volume buttons, audio (3.5mm) button, Bluetooth button, call answer button, ClearAudio+ button. Wireless pairing can be achieved easily via NFC or the manual Bluetooth method.
The Sony SRS-X3 impresses me with its treble production. It’s bright, clear and controlled. If you enable the ClearAudio+, the treble instantly gets lited off the veil and you can hear more instrumentation. The ClearAudio+ does not work for all songs, all the more reason there is this button to enable or disable easily. The mid range could be slightly elevated to improve the presence. Compared to Bose SoundLink Mini, the X3 delivers brighter louder treble. Compared to the Creative ROAR, the X3 treble is crispier and cleaner.
As for the bass, the X3 can produce audible deep bass! But when the treble gets prominent, the bass loses the sub-woofer resonance. Perhaps that is the reason why Bose’s speaker have its treble frequency tweaked to be somewhat more laid-back. The delivery of the deep bass effect on the X3 really depends on the volume setting. When volume is moderate, the treble is moderate enough for the bass to shine. When volume is turned up excessively, the frequency balance goes haywire. Upper mid-range takes over, tweeter gets suppressed by the audio processing limiter, and the low bass struggles to be heard. The X3 can be really loud, but the music becomes noisy and unenjoyable.
The X3 is a wonderful speaker for playing classical, jazz, Latin, instrumental genres in moderate volumes because it’s sparkling treble brings out the bright instruments, while the lower bass offers depth, completing the listening experience. X3 is also very enjoyable when watching movies, you can hear the full spectrum of audio, from the dialogue to high-frequency effects and the boomy bass.
When battery level gets low, the X3 will automatically limit the volume amplifier and the “charge” light starts blinking to inform you to start charging. It takes about 2-3 hours to charge the speaker until the indicator light goes off.
Impressions Against Other Brands
Here’s an overall comparison against other brands I’ve reviewed:
Logitech X300. At half the price, the X300 lacks treble clarity and real bass, but makes up with a flat frequency. When the X3 starts playing, you will immediately notice how the audio spectrum expands to the high and the low frequencies.
Creative ROAR. Priced also at S$199, the ROAR is a multi-purpose wonder. Feature-wise, ROAR has a lot more bang for the buck. Audio-wise, ROAR is also much louder and more kick, great for pop music and for parties. But Sony X3 is more refined and delivers controlled audio, better for music appreciation at moderate volumes.
Bose SoundLink Mini. For S$100 more, you are paying for the consistent deep bass quality, a solid metal block, and a premium brand. The X3 would offer a more satisfying treble though.
UE Boom. You are paying for its ability to survive the wildest parties – shockproof, waterproof, loud. Not for critical listening.
This is the first Sony wireless speaker I have reviewed, and once again Sony has delighted me with their audio quality. The sound character is its clear detailed treble, and the deep bass subwoofer effect is comparable to Bose SoundLink Mini (only when the treble is not overpowering). The Sony SRS-X3 works best at moderate volume, and is not meant to be a loud sound machine. If you can’t bear to spend on the Bose SoundLink Mini, the Sony SRS-X3 is the closest that I have found to achieve deep bass response.
Reviewed by Chester Tan
Rating: 4.5 of 5