Sony's 2021 portable speakers aren't just for party animals now

Sony's portable speaker range is getting a 2021 upgrade, with the XB13, XP500, XP700, and XG500 adding bolder sound, more flexibility, and fast charging support to make sure you're spending less time without a soundtrack. The pandemic may have kept us at home, Sony says, but that actually drove sales of speakers: as a result, these four new models aim to be more genre-agnostic rather than focusing on bass-heavy EDM.

Sony SRS-XB13

Smallest of the new speaker quartet, the Sony XB13 replaces the old XB12 but sticks with the endearingly-chunky form-factor. For 2021, though, the soundstage gets wider and the portability gets more streamlined.

It's IP67 rated for water and dust, while a UV coating means it'll withstand even blazing days on the beach. A new multiway strap can be used on a wrist, to tether the XB13 to a backpack or bike handlebars, or elsewhere, but is also designed to be removed one-handed. Battery life is up to 16 hours, recharging via USB-C.

Inside, there's Sony EXTRA BASS – using a passive radiator – while a new driver design makes for better sound off-axis, the company promises. Two XB13 can be wirelessly paired together for stereo sound, though sadly there's no support for larger numbers using Sony's Party Connect system. A built-in microphone means the XB13 can double as a speakerphone, and there's Google Fast Pair support.

The Sony XB13 will begin shipping in June, priced at $59.99. It'll be offered in five colors: black, blue, tape, coral pink, and an Amazon-exclusive powder blue.

Sony SRS-XP500 / XP700

For 2021, the old Sony XB-series has dropped the "B" because, the company promises, bass comes as standard. In fact it's Sony MEGA BASS, for an extra-hefty pump of sub-250 Hz sound. Sony also uses its rectangular X-Balanced Speaker Units, which push more air than circular drivers could in the same space.

The Sony XP500 gets two front tweeters, while the XP700 has three front tweeters – two of which are active, depending on whether the speaker is in upright or horizontal orientation – plus a rear tweeter to expand the soundstage – along with IPX4 water resistance. While there's LED lighting still, it's designed more for mood this time: the rearward-firing lights – which can flash and pulse along with the music, or cycle more slowly like a lava lamp – are intended to wash against the wall.

However the bigger changes compared to their predecessors is a battery. No longer demanding mains power, the XP500 lasts for up to 20 hours and the XP700 up to 25 hours. A quick-charge feature adds from 80 minutes to 3 hours of playback in 10 minutes, model depending; a full charge takes 3 hours.

On the back, there are two microphone inputs for karaoke use. Alternatively, one of the inputs can be used for a guitar, with adjustable gain. There's support for Bluetooth and two USB ports – both for music and to charge a mobile device – while Party Connect allows up to 100 speakers to be connected wirelessly and play the same thing.

The Sony XP500 will be priced at $349.99, while the Sony XP700 will priced at $449.99. Both will go on sale in June.

Sony SRS-XG500

Fourth of Sony's new portable speakers is the XG500, borrowing some old-school boombox styling for even easier portability. As the big carrying handle atop it suggests, it's intended for landscape orientation use, with two front tweeters and passive radiators for the low-end. It's also IP66 water and dust resistant, with a water-repellant mesh that shakes off splashes.

The LED lighting is kept to the end caps, while there's USB and a single mic/guitar input on the back. Expect up to 30 hours of battery life, Sony says, with a 10 minute charge adding up to 3 hours of playback. It also supports Party Connect.

The Sony XG500 will go on sale in June, priced at $449.99.