Sony SRS-XP700 wireless speaker review: Go big or go home

By: |
August 10, 2021 4:54 PM

The SRS-XP700 punches above its weight and mind you, it weighs quite a lot.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewThe SRS-XP700 India price is Rs 32,990. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Sony SRS-XP700 is big. It is powerful. It is pricey. These are not the kind of words you’d usually associate with a portable wireless speaker, and yet, here we are. Clearly, it is no ordinary speaker.

The SRS-XP700 is one of three new high-end speakers that Sony has launched in India recently, the other two being the SRS-XG500 and SRS-XP500. The entry-level SRS-XB13 is also part of the same line-up. It was launched in India in June. The SRS-XP700 and SRS-XG500 cost the same, i.e., Rs 32,990, but they couldn’t be more different. The SRS-XP500 meanwhile, is a watered-down SRS-XP700 that tries to bring a lot of its features and styling to a relatively more affordable price point.

Before even diving into everything the SRS-XP700 can and can’t do, it’s important to address the elephant in the room. The price. I am going to defend it here, just a little bit, because I am pleasantly surprised by Sony’s strategy. The SRS-XP700 India price is very nearly identical to its US price – $450. That’s big coming from Sony, a brand notorious for exorbitant pricing. This also gives it an advantage over its direct competitor, the JBL Partybox 310 which is priced higher at Rs 37,999. So, there’s plenty to like here if you’ve been eying a product like this to begin with.

With that out of the way, let’s jump on to the product now, shall we.

Design, ergonomics

The first thing to know about the SRS-XP700 is that it is a big speaker. Like really big. It is a towering monolith. Like the PlayStation 5, it’s going to be very difficult to not see it wherever you put it. These things aren’t designed to blend in anyway. Rather, they are supposed to stand out and break the ice, get the party started if you will.

The simplest way to describe the look of the SRS-XP700 is to think of a trash can. Encased in metal rails, the speaker has two handles, one at the top and another at the bottom. Lifting it up one-handed is a task, maybe even impossible for some because it weighs quite a bit, 16.9 kg to be precise. A silver lining is that the Partybox 310 weighs even more. Almost 20kg. But the JBL speaker tries to get around its beefier proportions by offering a suitcase styling with a telescopic handle and actual wheels.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewIt weighs a hefty 16.9 kg. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Where the SRS-XP700 makes strong comeback is through its versatility. It has bumpers at the bottom as well as on the side so you can prop it up either vertically or horizontally, like a boombox. The form follows function too, which is to say, Sony has gone the extra mile to ensure the SRS-XP700 works well in either orientation. The attention to detail is immaculate. Just like the rest of the speaker. It is very well made.

The controls are all up top (switching over to the side when the speaker is placed in landscape). In addition to the usual array of power, Bluetooth (version 5.0) pairing, play/pause and volume up/down, Sony has also thrown in a button to dial up the bass directly from the panel itself.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewSony has also thrown in a button to dial up the bass directly from the panel itself. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The ports are all on the back, concealed behind a protective flap that isn’t loose or flimsy. The selection is hefty with two USB-A ports for plug and play/charging mobile devices, two 1/4-inch microphone inputs with dedicated volume knobs one of which can be used to plug in a guitar (turning the speaker into an amp), a 3.5mm audio jack and power socket.

There’s a row of three more buttons above this compartment. One called party connect lets you pair multiple Sony speakers, the other is a toggle for battery care. The third is a switch for the speaker’s party trick – LED lighting.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewIt is IPX4 rated. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The SRS-XP700 has two set of LEDs. One at the top and another at the bottom of the speaker grille. It’s a nice little setup that doesn’t really glare at you, rather it stays out of the way most of the time. Sony also gives you enough pre-sets to selectively tweak it per your mood through an app. Though whatever the setting, the general undertone is calm, soothing and aesthetically more pleasing than the Partybox 310’s front-row lighting scheme. I guess the Sony speaker fits as well in a party as it does in daily use.

For a speaker like this that is trying to be a jack of all trades, it is little surprising that it is only IPX4 rated. The IP66-certified SRS-XG500 can survive harsher environments.

Performance

The SRS-XP700 does not pull any punches as far as core hardware is concerned. But more than the hardware itself, it’s the engineering that is impressive. The speaker is stacked with two 6.6-inch woofers and three 2.3-inch tweeters, all forward-firing. Only two of these tweeters work at any given amount of time depending on how the speaker is placed. This is for consistency. There is also a fourth rear-facing 1.9-inch tweeter (next to the control panel) that fires up only when the speaker is placed in vertical orientation. This is for what Sony calls “omnidirectional” sound stage. Think surround sound.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewYou can prop it up horizontally. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The woofers, also, are a little unconventional for a speaker like this. They have a non-circular diaphragm so the speaker unit can push more air than a circular driver could in the same space. That’s just good acoustic sense – at least on paper – but the thing about good audio is, it’s hard to get it right. Even more so when you choose to fiddle around with the status quo. Luckily, Sony has had years of experience making speakers, good-quality speakers, so you can be sure, there is a method here. Question is, does the SRS-XP700 offer a cohesive experience with all that powerful hardware. Yes and no.

Let me start by saying this. It’s remarkable how this speaker can pull so much power off battery. While it is advisable to have it plugged in whenever you can, the performance isn’t limited or toned down when it isn’t. It fires on all cylinders no matter the situation.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewThe speaker is stacked with two 6.6-inch woofers. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Coming to the sound signature, Sony has built a reputation for itself as a brand that generally likes to favour the lower frequencies over the mids and the highs but that’s not the case with the SRS-XP700 for some reason. Sony’s promo materials may advertise big sound with deep, punchy bass but the SRS-XP700 isn’t a one-trick pony. It can handle the mids and the highs as easily, offering perhaps one of the most balanced and satisfying genre-agnostic output I have come to experience from any Sony speaker so far. It gets loud and does not distort a lot at peak volume, though chances are you will not need to blast this thing at max at all. So that’s nice.

But here’s the thing. Unlike most Sony speakers, the SRS-XP700 does not deliver chest-thumping bass you’d presumably want from a party speaker of this class. There is a mega bass option to amp up the sound, and it works surprisingly well, but I have heard the Partybox 310 – vert briefly – and JBL holds a clear edge when it comes to really owning those lower frequencies. That’s also another thing about speakers. Most of them sound good in isolation. At least, the SRS-XP700 kinds do. Only and only if you have some frame of reference will you be able to figure out a difference. That difference too, in this case, is only marginal.

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewThe speaker has two handles. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

So, long story short. The SRS-XP700 is what you should get if you’re looking for an all-rounder. For specifically more bass, you should probably check out the Partybox 310 once just in case.

Where the SRS-XP700 holds a clear edge is the battery life. It is rated for playback for up to 25 hours. The Partybox 310 caps out at 18 hours. Obviously, this is under ideal conditions, but the difference is by no means small. The Sony speaker also charges faster with the proprietary cable giving you three hours of usage on a 10-minute charge.

Sony SRS-XP700 final thoughts

Sony SRS-XP700, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker, Sony SRS-XP700 speaker reviewSRS-XP700 offers terrific value. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The SRS-XP700 is a good-looking, well-built speaker that’s bustling with tech and features but what I like most about it, is the positioning. The party speaker category isn’t a widely contested category at the kind of price point we’re dealing with here. It’s somewhere in the middle of those passive radiator-powered entry-level speakers for home and a club PA that technically has no price ceiling. This also makes it a complicated category.

So, whether or not you’d want to buy a speaker like the Sony SRS-XP700 in the first place, will depend on your ultimate use case. What I can tell you is, in its space, the SRS-XP700 offers terrific value. Not just in sound quality but what really sets it apart from others including the similarly priced SRS-XG500 is the versatility factor. There’s just so much more you can do with it, I have absolutely no trouble in saying, the SRS-XP700 punches above its weight and mind you, it weighs quite a lot.

Pros: Premium look and feel, Balanced audio, Custom LEDs, Good battery life, Lots of ports

Cons: Big and bulky, Only IPX4 rated

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, Check out latest IPO News, Best Performing IPOs, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Low code app platforms: App development made fast & simple
2Saregama Carvaan Musicbar: Designed to look as good as it sounds
3Minix Zero Smartwatch: A watch with a long battery life