Sony's New Wireless Speakers Go To Extremes

Sony's wireless speaker range is adding two new models, with the SRS-XV800 aiming to power a party, while the SRS-XB100 wants to tag along on a backpack or bike. Both support Bluetooth music playback and have some degree of water resistance, though it's the XV800 that should be your first port of call if big sound is the priority.

Successor to the XV900, the XV800 has five tweeters in total. Two are placed at the rear of the speaker to expand the soundstage around the back, assuming the XV800 is positioned at the center of a party or garden. Three are at the front, positioned around dual "X-Balanced Speaker Units" — Sony-speak for its near-rectangular diaphragm drivers that the company claims delivers deeper bass, while also better separating out mids and high-end.

While shaped like an obelisk, the XV800 is also designed to work on its side, too. Positioned horizontally, the speaker automatically switches the front tweeters it uses to maintain the correct stereo separation. An S-shaped bass reflex port is at the bottom, and there are wheels to make trundling the speaker around easier.

Given the size, it's unsurprising that Sony squeezed in a big battery, too. The XV800 is good for up to 25 hours of use on a full charge, with a 10 minute recharge good for another three hours of playback. The speaker uses a proprietary charge connector, rather than USB-C, though there's a USB-A port on the back that can recharge a connected device.

Get the party started

That port can also be used as an audio input, along with a standard auxiliary input and Bluetooth with multi-pairing support. Unusually, there's also an optical digital input, so that the XV800 can be hooked up to a TV — which doesn't have to be from Sony's BRAVIA lineup — and used as a home entertainment speaker, too.

At that point, owners will probably want to hit the "Light" button to turn off the LEDs that otherwise flash along with music playback. Other controls include play/pause and volume, plus a "Mega Bass" button to crank up the low-end output.

Microphone and guitar inputs on the back support two simultaneous connections for karaoke or performances. There's also support for wirelessly linking two XV800 speakers together for a stereo pair (Bluetooth audio only), or using Party Connect to link multiple Sony speakers and have them all play the same thing. IPX4 splash-resistance rounds things out, with the SRS-XV800 going up for preorder today at $649, and shipping from May 15.

Let's get out of here

Much smaller and far more portable, the Sony SRS-XB100 looks more like a truncated soda can. It's IP67 water and dust resistant, and has a removable strap that can be used as a carry handle, or to attach it to a backpack or bike handlebars. Battery life is up to 16 hours, Sony says, with the XB100 recharging via a USB-C port under a rubber flap.

Inside the 2.9-inch wide, 3.7-inch high body, there's a passive radiator and Sony's Sound Diffusion Processor. That, the company claims, should make for outsize output compared to the overall scale. A microphone means it'll double as a speakerphone, with echo cancelling that Sony says will avoid inadvertently muting one half of the call in the process. That alone may be enough to make replacing and repurposing an old Bluetooth speaker worthwhile.

With two units, there's support for stereo pairing, while buttons on the side handle play/pause and volume. The SRS-XB100 goes up for preorder today at $59, in a choice of four colors, and will ship from May 22nd.