When I bought the Xperia Z2 tablet just after Christmas I decided to go for a new Bluetooth speaker to make the most of the heavy music and Netflix use it was going to get. Looking for a portable speaker that would likely just stay in one place, I thought about the Bose Soundlink Mini, but then realised that there was already one in the house that was under lock and key with my girlfriend (despite the fact it was bought for both of us). Having stumbled across the SRS-X3 which seemed perfect, then finding that you can’t use it whilst it’s charging, I looked at its smaller sibling instead – and couldn’t ignore the fact it had a hefty discount. Did I get a bargain though?
We’ve covered the Noria Soundblock Ultra on the site already (being sold in the EU under the name Bolse), and in the same vein there’s the SRS-X2. It’s a small but weighty Bluetooth speaker aimed not quite to compete with the likes of the Beats Pill and the Bose Soundlink Mini because of the lower price point than either of those, just over half the price if you pay full retail for it. This means it’s there to appeal to the crowd that want something they know will have a quality feel and sound, but also know that they’re looking for a portable speaker so won’t be too saddened if it gets knocked or scraped whilst out and about. The unit is compact and has a solidity to it that makes you feel confident when you pick it up. The design is clean and sleek, and for me at least, looks good. It also comes in a choice of 3 colours: Black, Red and White – I went with white given that it was quite a bit cheaper than the others… The coating has a rubberised texture, so there’s lots of grip there, and the buttons are recessed into the upper surface that gives the impression that it’s not going to be affected by spillages or rain. Whether it is water resistant or not isn’t something I was going to test by throwing it in with the washing up. Dimensionally, it’s 170 mm x 60 mm x 55 mm (give or take) and weighs around 500 grams and genuinely is portable, it even comes with its own carrying pouch. Power wise it’ll deliver up to 20W through the two channels it has, and it’ll do that for 5 hours between charges.
Connection to your phone, tablet or computer is easy enough with Bluetooth, and the inbuilt NFC makes it even easier to pair up your devices. The SRS-X2 will hold several devices in memory so a press of the Bluetooth button at the top of the unit will let you switch between whichever you want to use there and then. Other than this, the power button, and the volume buttons, there are a couple of others that are of interest. First is Sound Mode which boosts the power output and provides a wider sound, making whatever your playing feel more distinct – definitely more noticeable with music than with TV/film audio. Secondly is Phone which allows you to answer and hang up calls. Extremely handy if you’re nearer the speaker than your phone as you can use it as a handsfree device. The sound quality out is good from a call, though you have to be reasonably close (i.e., a meter or less) for the other person to pick up on your voice. If you don’t have Bluetooth, don’t worry. There’s a 3.5 mm aux input on the back for you to plug any device in; and the handsfree will still work if you’ve got another piece of kit hooked up this way.
So what does it actually sound like? Well, in the environment I’m using it in (around the house because it’s winter and damn cold outside), it’s really very good. It doesn’t go as loud as the Bose speaker, and it doesn’t have the bass emphasis either, though that doesn’t impact listening at all on streaming video, and rarely bothers me with music either. If you’ve a decent EQ setup on your device you can add more bass anyway, and if you want heavy bass and loud sound you’re looking at the wrong type of device. Volume doesn’t appear to be affected if you’re running it from the mains or from internal battery, nor does it add distortion to the audio at high levels either. If your sound source is good then the output is pretty spot on, and it has built in ClearAudio+ that sharpens things up if the original isn’t too great. Will it be loud enough for outside use? Yes, definitely… as long as you’re not trying to listen to anything at the end of runway.
I was expecting a neat little speaker for the price I paid (£50, usual price around £69) and I got one. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s nowhere near the most expensive, and it has a couple of good little features that you might not use often but they’re there in case the need arises. It’s definitely worth your consideration.