Sony SRS-XB40 joins other audio brands like JBL, Creative, to create a portable audio box that displays light shows and adds another dimension of entertainment – aural and visual. Sounds like a gimmick?
Actually, the XB40 sounds pretty good. With “EXTRA BASS” slapped on the series, the bass does not sound too exaggerated especially in large space, much to my delight. Yes, the sub-bass reverberates effortless especially the EDM tracks, which is clearly the focus of XB-series. The higher frequencies are adequately clear without sounding too harsh, even when volume is turned up loud. The detailed midrange still offers some musical qualities, while the thumpy bass notes gets the party going.
The XB40 supports all the connectivity and audio codec technologies that makes the S$329 retail price reasonable. It supports NFC for easy pairing, LDAC audio codecs (Sony proprietary format that transmits 3 times more data than standard Bluetooth audio), SBC and AAC. It can even take phone calls. Connect two Sony XB wireless speakers to get two-channel stereo sound on each unit. The speaker coated with matt silicone surface is IPX5 water resistant, feels solid without any loose parts or rattles, and its 24 hours battery life that keeps the party going. If your smartphone could not last that long, you can use the XB40 to charge. Having said that, the XB40 is not exactly rugged, as rough handling would cause scratches on the silicone surface and metal grilles.
But the biggest reason to buy the XB40 must be the flashy lights. There are 3 sets of lightings that bling the speaker: the multi-coloured rim light around the unit, lights on the 2 speaker drivers, and 2 mini strobes. These dazzling lights pulsates magically to the beats, giving visual entertainment to music. I like how the lights sync to the beats, getting it right most of the time. Occasionally the lights are slightly lagged, but I remain impressed at the illumination patterns.
According to Sony’s website:
In the EDM world, lighting is an essential part of the groove. To replicate the unmistakable buzz of the festival scene, we crafted the color scheme to reflect the soft-loud dynamics of the music. The tube-light illumination, which ranges between “cold” and “warm” color phases for chromatic contrast, synchronizes with the beat to deliver a pulsating palette of light—the perfect complement to the trademark highs and lows of the EDM genre.
Building on our unique beat-detection technology, we also developed an algorithm capable of identifying musical changes by the measure—and in real time. The result, an illumination scheme that adapts freely to the tone and flow of every song, accentuates the music with smart lighting capabilities. The unit emits white flashes on the beat, too, but not just in a straight, constant pattern: The pulses speed up and slow down depending on how the song develops, automatically recreating the dynamics of live stage lighting.
To achieve more controls on the lights, install the Sony Music Centre app, previously known as SongPal, and Fiestable plug-in app. From the Music Centre app, I can set the XB40 Bluetooth codec, turn on Extra Bass, sync multiple speakers, select the lighting mode.
The Fiestable app has two interactive play modes: DJ and Illumination. Under the DJ mode, I can perform some typical DJ effects like scrubbing, percussion beats. The Illumination mode lets me control the light colour. For both modes, I can choose to control using the smartphone screen or by gestures, the latter which I thought was cool. I could literally shake with the music and the speaker lights would dance with me.
I like that the XB40 does not overdo the lightings. They illuminate the two drivers, highlighting the mechanical units that pump out the beats. The lights work too for slow music, like the sexy “Versace On The Floor” by Bruno Mars. If you find the lights are too distracting, they can be turned off completely.
The Sony SRS-XB40 gives life and light to music, adding fun and moods to whatever songs you listen to. I enjoy the light patterns, which do not look too flashy, while pulsating effectively to the musical beats. The audio is skewed towards the warm side but it might be a good thing to tame the higher frequencies since most modern music are pretty aggressive in the upper range. EDM listeners will adore how the sub-bass rumbles even at moderate volumes.
Other XB series launched in 2017 includes XB30 (S$269, smaller version of XB40), XB20 (S$169, single-colour light) and XB10 (S$79, no light). Available from Sony authorised retail stores and Lazada.
- Long battery life
- Fun ways to interact with lights
- Functions as a power bank
- Connects multiple speakers
- Comfortable large generous bass without overbearing
- Treble lacks transparency to my liking
- Speaker surface material is not as rugged as other brands
- IPX5 water resistant
- 24 hours battery life
- Wireless Party Chain, up to 10 speakers, to sync music and lighting (XB40, XB30, XB20)
- Connect 2 speakers for stereo
- Sony | Music Centre (SongPal), Fiestable app
- Power bank charger
- Frequency range: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Speaker driver size: 61mm
- Weight: 1.5kg