In this day and age, everyone needs a portable Bluetooth speaker. Given the choice, I think most people want one about the size of a water bottle. Others like bigger, more powerful Bluetooth speakers, especially for outdoor use. So which one to get?
Today, I’m reviewing two Bluetooth speakers from Sony—the Sony XE200 and Sony XE300. They are different sizes but they feature a unique prism shape and rugged, shockproof build. Plus, they can be connected together inside the Sony Music Center app for a multi-speaker experience. Do they have enough features to stand out in a crowded portable speaker market? Which one would I pick from the two? Let’s find out.
Specs: Sony XE200 and XE300 speakers
- Line-Shape Diffuser design, room-filling audio with no distortion
- IP67 water and dust resistance
- Shockproof, can weather bumps, drops, and more for long-term use
- Quick-charging design, one hour of music with only ten minutes of charging
Design of the Sony XE200 and XE300 speakers
The XE200 and XE300 are very similar in design with the XE300 being the slightly bigger version. Both speakers are designed to sit upright on a rubber pad. It can, however, be placed horizontally on a flat surface. The XE200 has a built-in carrying strap while the XE300 does not.
Unlike circular 360-degree speakers, Sony has opted for a variation with a five-sided pentagon design. This is to accommodate Sony’s new Line-Shape Diffuser design that was inspired by professional concert audio systems. This vertical line shape is visible through the speaker fabric. Apparently, this new design increases the sound pressure energy on the speaker’s output. More on that later.
All the controls are located on one side. Here you will find the following buttons: Power, Bluetooth, playback, volume, battery, and microphone. With the rubber padding on each side, these speakers are designed to be shockproof. That means they can resist accidental drops from day-to-day use. With an IP67 water resistance rating, the XE200 and XE300 can withstand water submersion. If it accidentally fell into a pool, no problem. Just don’t leave it in there.
Sony took inspiration from audio systems used in professional concerts to create its unique Line-Shape Diffuser. This creates a line source and distributes the sound energy more evenly, across a wide sound front. This is supposed to better fill any space with audio. Combined with Sony’s X-Balanced Speaker, the non-circular diaphragm releases more sound pressure to really push out the sound.
Setting up the Sony XE200 and XE300 speakers
Both the Sony XE200 and XE300 support Google Fast Pair. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite features of Sony speakers. This makes it incredibly easy to connect any Android device to the speaker. I also checked to see if these speakers support dual Bluetooth pairing. They do, so both my Android tablet and smartphone were connected at the same time.
I did notice one annoying thing that happens when two devices are connected. If I had music playing off my tablet and I open up my phone, the music stops playing. I wish it would only switch to another device when you select music to play.
Sony Music Center
The Sony Music Center app is where you get additional features and customization tools. Popular music streaming service apps like Soundcloud and Spotify are available inside the app. More importantly, the Music Center app is where you can connect speakers together. One way is to connect them together as a stereo pair. I was not able to do this with the XE200 and XE300. To use this feature, I suspect you need two identical speakers.
Another option is to have multiple speakers together as a group. At the time of this review, I was also reviewing the Sony XG300 speaker. I had no problem connecting all three speakers together inside the Music Center app. It was super easy to do, the sound played simultaneously on each speaker—provided you are within Bluetooth range. This is a quick and easy way to set up a multi-room speaker system at home. Plus, it’s portable too.
Using the Sony XE200 and XE300 speakers
I used the XE200 and XE300 both indoors and outdoors. My immediate impression was a nicely balanced sound profile. Some speakers, like the Sony XG300, really accentuate the bass. However, the XE200 and XE300 don’t skew one frequency spectrum over another. What you get is great-sounding Bluetooth speakers. Naturally, the XE300 has more power than the XE200 but they sound very similar. I really enjoyed connecting all the speakers together. I placed them around my jump rope pad so I could be fully immersed in the music while I jumped. This was an amazing experience. Portable multi-speaker audio is where it’s at. I love being surrounded by music.
What about this new Line-Shape Diffuser design?
One thing became abundantly clear with the XE200 and XE300. Speaker placement is key. It’s not like a 360-degree speaker that you can place anywhere. You can strategically place that vertical fabric line to where you want the music to go. I’m not sure if most casual listeners will like this. Personally, I wish there were two vertical fabric lines for the sound to come out. While I do like the sound produced by the speaker, this new design calls for strategic speaker placement for optimal sound.
Who are the Sony XE200 and XE300 speakers for?
Let’s face it, there are a lot of choices out there for Bluetooth speakers. If you need help deciding, take a look at the portable Bluetooth speakers buying guide. But, if we were to do a blind audio test with this pair, I think a lot of people would choose the XE200 and XE300 over many other speakers. The overall sound is amazing. I attribute this to Sony’s ClearAudio+ sound tuning. It selects the best sound field to deliver the best possible listening experience. Whatever it’s doing, it’s working. All different types of music genres sounded great on these speakers.
The Sony XE200 and XE300 are for people who want a high-quality durable speaker that can handle the elements. Plus it appeals to people who already have another Sony speaker. Used right, the Party Connect feature can make a killer soundscape. It’s super easy to create a group of speakers and play music simultaneously on all of them. But if you’re looking for a 360-degree speaker, the XE200 and XE300 are probably not for you. Instead, I recommend you check out the Sony XG300.
If I had to choose between the two, I would go for the XE200. The carrying strap makes it easy to use. To be honest, I’m surprised the XE300 doesn’t have a carrying strap. It’s big, bulky, and hard to carry in one hand. If not a strap, Sony could put a small hook on the top for a carabiner. To me, the carrying strap makes the XE200 more practical for day-to-day use.
Sony has always made great-sounding speakers and they continue to do so today. The XE200 and XE300 are durable speakers with unique designs. This is my first experience with this new Line-Shape Diffuser design. While it does produce a great sound, speaker placement becomes important.
I also think the Music Center app can be improved. As it stands, I would only use it to group multiple speakers together. EQ presets and other customization features would be nice but they are not dealbreakers. Ideally, I wish there was a way to pair multiple Sony speakers together without the use of an app. That would be a game-changer.
If you’re in the market for Bluetooth speakers, the Sony XE200 and XE300 are certainly worth a look. If you’re tired of the 360-degree sound and want something more direct and powerful, these speakers are a great choice.