An impressive speaker with some questionable design choices.
I don’t remember my first Bluetooth speaker, but I do know that since I was introduced to them, I’ve been obsessed. I love having the ability to essentially have a boombox with you everywhere you go. Some speakers are much more advanced than others and can act as charging docks and some even have built-in digital voice assistants like the more recent one I’ve tested, the Sony SRS-XB501G Wireless Speaker.
The Sony SRS-XB501G Wireless Speaker is what I would consider a ‘party speaker’. It’s designed to provide audio for many people at one time. It also has a built-in Google Assistant. The speaker features EXTRA BASS and LIVE SOUND which are Sony’s special features for speakers. The SRS-XB501G speaker delivers powerful audio and a multicolored light show. It has a 16-hour battery life and is dust and splash resistant (IP65 rating). The speaker is compatible with Bluetooth and NFC for connectivity and it will connect to your home network using WiFi.
The packaging of the speaker was well designed. It’s brightly colored and represents the product well. Some basic details are included on the box and there are quite a bit of styrofoam pieces made to form around the speaker. The speaker is shipped with a power cable and manuals. It’s a fairly self-contained system and very easily transported.
Setting up the speaker is very easy, but it does require that you set up the Google Assistant before you use the other features of the speaker like connecting to it via Bluetooth. I found this to be a little off-putting because I’d like to have been able to just connect via Bluetooth without the hassle of connecting the speaker to my Google account. I like having that option, but I think that the speaker’s standard features should be autonomous from the Google Assistant. (Instructions read: After the Wi-Fi setup is complete, press and hold the (BLUETOOTH)/ PAIRING button for about 3 seconds.)
Aside from the Google Assistant getting in the way of basic functionality, the Sony SRS-XB501G Wireless Speaker is a great speaker. I love the size of i, especially for group events. It’s really easy to carry from place to place thanks to the hefty handle on the back of the speaker. The buttons on the top of the speaker include the power button, play/pause button, Link indicator, Charge indicator, volume buttons, microphone button, battery button, lighting button, and various other indicator lights. After you complete the initial set-up, the speaker connects automatically when it’s powered on.
The sound quality of the speaker is incredible. The EXTRA BASS really makes everything punchy and deep. I listened to several different styles of music and thought it was also improved by pushing it through the Sony Speaker. I also watched some movies and TV shows to get a feel for how the dialogue would come through and found that everything sounded right. The mix was even and no sound effects were lost by using the speaker.
In order to get full use of this speaker you have to download not one, but two apps — the Google Home app and the Sony Music Center app. The Google Home app gives you connection to the Google Assistant while the Sony Music Center app gives you control over the fine tuning features of the speaker. I would love to see them condensed into one app. That said, I really like the Sony Music App. You have control of the lighting effects and can actually power down the speaker from the app. This is a great feature to have with this type of speaker.
The Sony SRS-XB501G Wireless Speaker is a pricey investment at $300 but worth it since it provides such a high-quality sound and includes a built-in Google Assistant. I do wish that Sony could find a way to include the Google Home app into their Music Center app and I wish they could also find a way to make the Google Assistant feature separate from the other speaker functions. That said, I think the sound quality that the speaker provides outweighs all the unfortunate features that I disagreed with.