Last year, we took a look at Sony’s X5 and X7 speakers, which was Sony’s big splash into the portable (and affordable) speaker market. This year, Sony’s SRS-X55 debuts at a similar price point to the X5 with a few new additions, and the promise that this will be a completely different audio experience than last year’s.
You should see the speaker for sale at Best Buy very shortly.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the speakers look almost alike on the surface. The SRS-X55 is about the same size as the SRS-X5 (Approx. 221mm x 118mm x 51mm) and if you were to put the two together next to each other, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from the outside.
This was a huge positive for me with last year’s model and is again this year, and I’ll happily tell you why. The speaker has a very simple, very subtle look. There are no flashy colours, fancy LED lights, extruding bass cones or contours that make the speaker look or stand awkwardly. A simple triangular design with no harsh corners, large logos or anything of that nature is a big win by me. Perhaps this makes me the Ron Swanson of music speakers, but I like things simple and effective.
The SRS-X55, like last year’s model is a mainly Bluetooth Speaker. I say mainly because it does have a Near Field Communicator available if you like to pair devices that way, but most of us will probably go that traditional Bluetooth route. One of the problems I’ve always had with Bluetooth devices is just straight connectivity in general. Connecting them always seems to be so touch and go, and even when you are connected, it can be full of static at times, or drop altogether. Finally, I’ve found a device that isn’t difficult in this department. The SRS-X55 was found, calibrated and running on all of the 3 Bluetooth capable devices I tested it on (iPhone 4s, iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S4) within seconds. The connection was strong too, as I could walk from one end of my place to the other uninterrupted (with the speakers in one place and the device in my hand.) I only had one instance of signal interference, but it was purposeful in seeing how strong the signal was. I can confidently say signal interference shouldn’t be a problem.
Something I liked best about the SRS-X5 was that you could pretty well channel it to do anything you wanted off your device. While it was touted as a music speaker, I found it to be a great all-encompassing sound hub, and used it to play games and watch Netflix too. This is one of the actual selling features noted of the SRS-X55, as Sony encourages you to do get creative, and do things like take phone calls too. In fact, this would be a great multifaceted option for your office desk, where you could listen to music one moment, and take phone calls the next without disconnecting.
This is where that type of convenience gets interesting. If you are using this as an office speaker, and will be taking calls too, Sony has you covered. On the back side, next to an audio-in jack is something called “DC Out” which is a USB port. This port allows you to charge a device that has USB charging, like your smartphone or mp3 player. If your speaker is always plugged in, the charge will be continuous. However, if you are using it wirelessly and power the speaker off, it will stop the device charging. LIkewise, the speaker will power itself off automatically if it hasn’t been in use for a while in order to conserve battery life, or if it senses that all connections to it have been broken.
The main reason to own this speaker, however, is obviously the musical output. The music sounds fantastic on the SRS-X55. When I spoke to Sony about it, one of the things they told me that they were trying to achieve with the speaker was better sound reproduction than last year’s models. To that note, the way that they’ve redesigned the speaker to take advantage of a double sided output makes anything you’re listening to richer and clearer than ever. I usually hum and haw a lot about any claims around sound replication, or boasts about sound quality, but the SRS-X55’s really impressed me. The driving force behind this is Sony’s LDAC technology which (in a nutshell) requests more data from your bluetooth connection to pitch forth a richer sound. Using both sides also allowed Sony to focus one side to create better sounding bass, and it shows. I spent a couple of days basically running through a lot of different decades, genres and song styles. I couldn’t find a single song that sounded bad on this speaker, even older tracks from the 60s and 70s that hadn’t been remastered that had a lot of pop and hiss if you play them back on other speakers.
One of the other great features about about this speaker is the battery life. Battery life can be a pain point, as you charge these things all day, lug them around and only get a couple hours of juice out of them. The SRS-X55 solves that problem by offering you 10 hours of playtime! Since it’s such a small and light speaker as well, the portability options are great. I could easily scoop up my daughter and take the speaker with me from, say, the living room to the kitchen to eat lunch and keep our music playing throughout the day. The speaker can be pretty hands off too if you consider you can just adjust the volume from whatever you have connected to play your music.
Something you may also appreciate is that this doesn’t end at just Bluetooth ready devices. In addition to NFC capable devices, The SRS-X55 can also support some wired ones too, so long as you plug them in to the bottom end of the speaker. Depending on the device, you’ll probably then have to control it from the manual buttons at the top of the speaker. The glass finish is prone to fingerprints though, so have a soft cloth ready to wipe it off from time to time.
Honestly, one of the original challenges I faced when I sat down to write this review was whether SRS-X5 would (or really, should) care about this year’s model. Honestly, the two aren’t even a comparison. The SRS-X55 excels, and owners of last year’s speaker may find the upgrade worth the price. The upgraded sound quality, battery life and ease of connection should definitely be enough without my saying that it falls into the same price range (within about $10) of last year’s speaker. For under $200, you get yourself an amazing powerful, yet portable speaker. If I can even call it a criticism, the only thing you may not like is the fact that you can’t really lay it flat since you’ll be compromising the sound quality. Even with rubber feet, you should still be careful you don’t accidentally knock the speaker over. But outside of that, there’s pretty well nothing else I can say negative about it. This speaker is a definite winner.
The enhanced and sound rich Sony SRS-X55 is coming soon to Best Buy.