Available for $348 from Amazon, this 25-pound behemoth really delivers the goods whether standing up on its rubberized feet or on its side on a quad of bumpers.
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With up to 20 hours of battery life per charge, it is well-balanced with just the right amount of strong bass, without overpowering the listener with too much boom, boom, boom. It can also operate while plugged in to wall power.
Sony developed its mid-range speaker to provide clear vocals and a front tweeter for the highs. Add to this an X-Balanced speaker for the sweet sound of “MEGA BASS”. Tested with music that included classical, classic rock, jazz, acid rock and hip-hop, each of my listeners commented on the clean, crisp and altogether pleasing sound. They were also pleased with the power behind the sound. That’s high praise for such an imposing portable speaker. We all expected less! The speaker design and technology provide an effective surround sound sensation.
At first look, we expected the indirect LED illumination and light shows available through the downloadable and Fiestable app to be gimmicky. We were pleasantly surprised. Choose from static colors or go DJ-style and manipulate the “record,” spinning through an endless color palate. This is fun!
The Sony Music Center app allows numerous music sources to be controlled through the app. We tested Spotify and Apple Music.
Launching Music Center and choosing Apple Music linked the library on my iPhone. Selection was as if within the Music app. The benefit is that there is no need to have both apps open. With the app’s Party Connect, up to 100 compatible speakers can join together. Now, that’s a party!
Digging into Music Center I found another nice feature. The SRS-XP500 can be turned off through the app, so when it’s time to call it a day, or night, simply touch and it’s powered off.
No worries about splashes, light rain or spills because this speaker carries an IPX4 rating. It will do just fine by the pool or next to your drinks. A top and bottom built-in handle makes moving it about as easy as picking up a 25-pound box with handles.
Controls on the top of the speaker are the power button with a charge indicator, a Bluetooth button, standard Play/Pause button, “-“ with “+” button for volume control as well as a MEGA BASS button that toggles between high bass and a more subdued bass response.
Ports under a protective rubber rear panel include a plug for the power cord, a pair of USB ports, both of which may be used for playing music files from a flash drive/stick. Alternatively, one port is designated as also acting as a charge port for, as an example, a mobile phone. In addition, there are two ¼-inch jacks. Plug in a mic or two, or one mic and a guitar, using the SRS-XP500 as the amp. Each control has its own volume control, and there is a master on/off button for these two jacks. Finally, there is a 3.5mm jack for direct connection to a computer or phone that still has one of these. With direct, wired connection, the speaker can use this alternate music source without the need for Bluetooth.
A master Light power button, Party Connect button and Battery Care button can be found on the rear of the speaker above the rubber cover. The Battery Care button stops charging just shy of the battery reaching 100%. This is the same feature most computers and mobile phones offer in order to extend the life of the battery. I was not able to determine if the battery is user-replaceable or even replaceable at all, though the battery technology suggests at least a five year life span with regular use, and more with infrequent use.
There was no information found as to whether the Bluetooth technology is 4 or 5, nor is the power rating in Watts shown anywhere I could find. I was also not able to find the battery capacity, though it is specified to power the speaker for up to 20 hours. The USB Charge port can also put a quick charge yielding up to 80 minutes of playback after only 10 minutes of charge time when using a USB-C fast charger or a USB-C power bank.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- Sony SRS-XP500
- Power cord
- Quick setup guide and warranty
As instructions indicate, first charge the speaker, and next connect with a phone via standard Bluetooth protocols. Then, start enjoying this powerful portable speaker.
**PUT TO THE TEST**
It works superbly! It is so good that users may easily consider using it while powered by a wall plug inside the home for everyday use. It would be a shame to relegate it to only occasional use when friends and family visit while partying or picnicking outdoors.
We packed it up and took it where we watch community fireworks each 4th of July. There it stood amongst the assembled throngs about an hour before the show was scheduled to begin. We Blutoothed SiriusXM to the SRS-XP500 and cranked up my favorite 60s on 6 station to the delight of everyone within listening range. Waaaay out there. Then, at 9 PM when the fireworks were set to start to synchronized accompaniment on a local FM station, we connected and tuned a small, portable FM radio hard wired to the Aux In port, cranked up the Sony and let ‘er rip for the 20 minute duration of the show. I detected that the others nearby gladly turned off their radios to let my Sony SRS-XP500 fill the air with the sweet sounds of patriotic music celebrating our annual Independence Day. There was not one complaint. As the thousands of spectators began to clear the area of the park, we packed up our things. We were overwhelmed by the praise and thank yous expressed by so many who appreciated having such wide area-filling crisp and clean sound from the synchronized music in such excellent fashion. Mission accomplished!
There is nothing more to add.
If you are looking for a premium, feature-rich portable speaker with Bluetooth and hard-wired connectivity, with bonus guitar and microphone inputs and cool LED illumination, you will do no wrong choosing this Sony XRS-XP500.
SRS-XP500 comes with Sony’s standard one year warranty.