Sony seems to have its finger in all the pies when it comes to music. Besides having its own record label, on the tech side of things, Sony produces media players and a wide range of accessories, and has its very own online streaming service. We take a look at two very different speakers from its range to see how they hold up to the Sony brand.
360° Circle Sound Speaker SRS-BTV25
The SRS-BTV25 speaker has a fairly quirky, minimalist design I think people will either love or hate. I’m in the former camp, particularly liking the look of the white and green version (it also comes in black and blue).
The Bluetooth-enabled device plays music from all sorts of devices, be it a smartphone or media player, and set-up is simple and can be completed in seconds. For devices without Bluetooth, the device includes a mini-jack. There’s also a USB port but this is not for connecting devices, merely for charging them, and the cable is not supplied.
There are volume controls and a Bass Boost button on the speaker, and audio can also be controlled via a connected device.
As you might have guessed by the ‘360°’ in its title, the spherical speaker is meant to deliver sound from every angle, filling every corner of a room. While I can say this definitely worked and the small speaker delivered better-than-expected sound quality, the 360-degree audio format means that the quirks of music made to be listened in stereo are lost on the SRS-BTV25.
While I was generally very happy with the speaker’s 13W output, I did notice slight distortion when volume was turned up to the max, but this is something I’ve come to expect from small-sized speakers.
Sony XA900iP Speaker Dock
If you’re of the mindset that bigger is better, you may be more interested in the XA900iP speaker dock – quite a statement piece at 600mm x 200mm x 201mm. This makes the XA900iP just slightly smaller than the famous Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air, which Sony is clearly trying to compete with here in terms of size and style.
What the XA900iP offers that the Zeppelin Air doesn’t, however, is more connectivity options. Beyond a USB port, the Zeppelin Air is compatible only with Apple devices for docking or streaming music using AirPlay. The XA900iP has a 30-pin dock and is AirPlay-enabled – but it also features Bluetooth connectivity, opening it up to more devices. Plus there’s an audio-in jack for even more options.
At 7kg, the XA900iP is a hefty device you’ll probably need to clear a table for, and a short power cord means you can’t place it far from an outlet. Again, setting up is quick and easy and a remote is supplied if you need roving control of the device.
With twin 50W subwoofers and twin 25W satellite speakers, the total output of this speaker amounts to a massive 200W. Sound was strong and clear with little distortion but I noted slight compression on wireless playback. One thing I would have particularly liked is if Sony could bring some of its optimising sound technologies from its new Walkman series to this device, such as normalising volumes from one song to the next, as this is something I felt was needed when listening to a wide range of tracks.
While the XA900iP certainly looks impressive, a price tag of €599 is tough to justify. Though, if you have the space for such a massive sound system, I would certainly take the XA900iP’s added Bluetooth connectivity over the similarly priced Zeppelin Air any day.
At €179, the SRS-BTV25 comes at a fraction of the cost and is a neat, small size that fits in almost any space. While I enjoyed the simplicity of this speaker and the sound offered (despite the lack of stereo), I would have been even happier had it been made portable, too, as its small and lightweight design would have made it a worthy travel companion.