Summer is a time for patios, bonfires, camping, beach days and parties. These events are never quite the same without good music but who wants to be the one to lug the speaker? This week I had the opportunity to try two high-quality compact speakers from Sony that will allow you to have your music on hand where you need it, when you need it!
Overall design and Initial Setup
The Sony SRS-X11 speaker is the smaller of the two. It’s lightweight and about the size of half a can of pop, meaning that the cube shaped speaker fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. I got to try the blue one but it comes in a wide range of bright colours including red, pink, black and white and the whole speaker is covered in a sleek, matte rubber coating. What I like about this unit is that there are speakers on three sides. This automatically results in the music being better heard in all areas of the room. It also has up to 12 hours of battery life, which is tons! This speaker also comes with a rubber wrist strap that can be attached if needed.
The Sony SRS-X2 is an oval shaped speaker, about two times the length of the SRS-X11. Available in black and red, this speaker is still compact enough to be very portable, however I must admit that when I first picked it up I was a bit disappointed at how heavy it was. Like the SRS-X11, this speaker is also covered in a matte, rubber coating and both have buttons along the top. This unit only has 5 hours of battery life, which I was a bit unimpressed with as most similar sized speakers on the market have up to double that.
In terms of initial setup, there was none! Once I unpacked the speakers, all I did was plug both of them in to charge overnight and they were ready to use! The SRS-X11 comes with a USB charging cable, whereas the Sony SRS-X2 comes with a full wall charger. I liked that both have a little light that lights up to confirm that it’s charging, because I’ve had times where I’ve plugged in something not quite right and then 2 hours later I come back and it hasn’t charged at all!
Both speakers have three main connectivity options: Bluetooth, NFC and AUX cable. By now most people know the benefits of Bluetooth, but being able to wirelessly connect your device gives you the freedom to play music without having to abandon your device beside the speaker. I found I was easily able to connect both speakers to my phone and laptop via Bluetooth. Once my Bluetooth and speaker were turned on, all I had to do was hold down the Power button on the speaker. The speaker quickly popped up on my found devices list and once selected, music immediately started playing. In addition to playing music, you can also take calls via speakerphone. Though connection was easy, I found that I couldn’t take my device too far away from the speaker before it started to cut out. The smaller, SRS-X11 speaker only allowed me to be about 3 or 4 feet away from the speaker before the connection started to fail, and I was able to get about 6 feet away from the larger SRS-X2 before the same.
An additional unique feature of the Sony SRS-X11 is the fact that multiple speakers can be connected via the same device. This feature is great if you plan on using these speakers as a sound system, for example for your home or work computer. Placing speakers on either side of the computer will give you a more powerful well-rounded, surround sound. Multiple speakers can be connected via Bluetooth by pressing the “add” button on the back of the speakers and choosing one speaker to be on the left and the right side of the device.
NFC is a newer technology aimed to make connecting devices easier. It uses radio waves to transfer small amounts of data between two devices in close physical proximity – it’s the same technology that allows you pay by “tap” with your credit card or debit. In the case of the Sony speaker, rather than having to activate your Bluetooth, find the device and wait for it to connect, when your NFC is on, all you have to do is tap your phone to the device and it automatically enables your device’s Bluetooth and connects the speaker to the device immediately. My smartphone has NFC capabilities so I was able to try it with both speakers. Similar to Bluetooth, I was easily able to connect my smartphone via NFC. Once turned on, I held my phone to the top of the speaker for 2-3 seconds and my Bluetooth was automatically turned on and the device and speaker were synced immediately.
If your device has neither Bluetooth nor NFC, don’t fret! You can use the AUX port on the back of both speakers and plug the speaker into your device to play music that way. Neither device came with an AUX cable but those can be easily purchased for under $10. Though this type of connectivity may not be ideal for party situations where you want to have music playing but want your smartphone to stay with you in your pocket, connecting the Sony speaker via AUX cable may be a good option when you’re using the speaker to enhance sound coming from your computer when watching a movie, for example. Connecting via Bluetooth for the entire length of a movie and playing the movie itself can drain your battery very quickly so connecting the speaker by a hardline may be a better idea.
I was really impressed with the sound quality of these speakers relative to their size. I mentioned this at the beginning but I love that this unit has speakers on three sides because you don’t see that on many speakers this size. This design helps to better spread music throughout the room. Because of this design, the smaller SRS-X11 speaker was able to get up to quite high volumes before the sound quality became noticeably compromised. At higher end volumes, this speaker was able to easily fill the whole main floor of my house with sound. The speaker faltered a bit with songs with heavy bass (I tested this with “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea), especially at higher volumes, but that is to be expected with this size of speaker.
As predicted, the SRS-X2 was superior to the SRS-X11 in regards to sound quality. At the speaker’s max volume, which was surprisingly loud, the sound remained clear without any crackles, even in songs with heavier bass. With max volume capabilities as loud as they were, this speaker could easily be used to play music at a larger, outdoor patio party without any issues. This speaker also has a “sound” button that switches the sound to surround, but I must admit I barely noticed a difference. It just made the sound slightly more open or hollow sounding and I found I preferred the sound with this feature off. The only sound quality issue with this unit is the fact that there is only a speaker on one side, which results in an unfortunate unidirectional sound.
So why buy one over the other? As I mentioned above, I was really satisfied with both of these speakers but they are good for different things. If you are looking for a speaker that you can easily bring anywhere, you should invest in the SRS-X11. This speaker fits in the palm of your hand and is light enough to carry in your purse without feeling any extra weight. The speaker has an impressive sound quality and battery life for its size, the speakers on three sides of the unit help to carry sound and I like that you have the choice to add another speaker to the system. If you’re looking for a slightly larger speaker that will mostly stay where it is but can be portable if you need it to be, the SRS-X2 is your best choice. This speaker is powerful enough to provide loud enough music to fill large areas, such as a patio space, but it also has a high enough sound quality that it could be used as your home’s primary sound system.