While many amazing Prime Day deals have crossed my desk the last two days, I have a frugal streak that keeps me from spending my own money on new “toys,” especially when I already have an apartment overflowing with cases and Chromebooks. In fact, I think I have approximately ten Bluetooth speakers in my apartment already, and yet, I simply couldn’t deny the practicality and precociousness of the Sony SRS-XB13 Extra BASS Compact Bluetooth Speaker.
While this speaker looks quite small, the sound it produces is truly Sony quality, and it gets louder than you’d think for the size. Combine that with a ubiquitous design, fun colors, and a great price, and how could I say no? And given that two colors have already sold out and a third is back-ordered, plenty of us said yes to a speaker that’s perfect for wherever life takes you.
Buy the Sony SRS-XB13 for $22 off
$38 at Amazon
To start with why this looks to me like the perfect little compact speaker, I must start with my use case. For the most part, this speaker is going to live in my bathroom, with occasional trips to the bedroom and living room when shower karaoke goes into double overtime, When you’re using a speaker in the shower, two things become absolutely vital: playback controls and how easy it is to move and hang from the strap.
Playback controls on the SRSXB13 are much like they are on another Sony speaker I love to death: the 2018 Sony SRS-XB501G, a big honking Google Assistant-enabled party speaker. The volume buttons are for volume only, while all track control takes place on the Play/Pause button:
- One Press: Play/Pause
- Two Presses: Next song
- Three Presses: Previous song
While I’ve bemoaned this setup on other Bluetooth speakers, Sony is the one brand that consistently recognizes the difference between two presses and three. This also frees up the power button for one simple but crucial function: triggering Google Assistant (or Siri or Alexa, whichever your phone uses). When you’re in the shower, there’s basically no way your phone hears a Google Assistant command unless you actually brought it into the bath with you, but a speaker with good microphones will hear you easily and convey the command to your phone instantly.
My current speaker does not have this because the power and Play/Pause buttons are saddled with TWS, Bluetooth pairing modes, and redial. (Yes, redial, and yes, that was a really bad one to figure out in the middle of a shower when I was trying to get Google Assistant to hear me.) These improved controls alone are worth the price of admission, but the strap on the SRS-XB13 puts it over the top.
The strap on this sweet little speaker is not only easy to remove or reconnect on the fly, but it offers multiple configurations. You can leave the strap off, have the strap connected to the dedicated anchor point on the back, or loop it through both the anchor point and the bottom of the speaker. This makes it worlds easier to properly point the speaker in the direction you want whether it’s hanging from a shower curtain hook, a branch in the backyard, or atop your kayak as you paddle down some gentle river.
This speaker also recharges using USB-C, which is still (sadly) rare for speakers in the sub-$50 market, but Sony doesn’t say if it uses USB-C Power Delivery or just the USB-C connector. This is a very small, but important distinction, and I am looking forward to seeing if this can just use the same PD chargers my phone and laptop do or if I gotta dig out a USB-A charger for it.
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