Review: Sony SRS BTX300 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
on 04-27-201302:07 PM - last edited on 05-02-201304:28 PM by BBYLaura
For years, manufacturers focused on speaker docks; compact stereo systems with an iPod dock. That left out a growing number of Android users. But that dedicated iPod dock became less critical as Bluetooth wireless streaming hit prime time and Apple changed the dock connector its devices had used for the past five years. Bluetooth wireless speakers work with a huge range of devices (including most Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows smartphones) and while the market for ultra-portable, pocketable versions has taken off, there’s also a demand for higher quality systems. Sony’s new SRS BTX300 is designed to fill that role. It’s a premium, capable wireless speaker system with sleek, modern design and audio performance that puts many portable systems to shame.
20 Watt amplifier
Two 2-4/5 inch full range speakers, one 4-1/10 x 2-2/5 inch passive radiator
Bluetooth 3.0, NFC
3.5 mm auxiliary input
MEGA BASS and sound field expansion modes
USB port for recharging smartphone
Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery rated at 8 hours of musical playback
34.1 cm x 11.5 cm x 5.9 cm
Includes power adapter and neoprene carrying case
There’s a lot to like about the Sony SRS BTX300. While a $200 portable speaker is never going to rival the experience of a component stereo system or a premium speaker dock, the Sony performs exceptionally well. Despite its relatively compact size, it has a real heft and has the ability to fill a small room with sound —especially when it’s connected to a power source (output is reduced when on battery power).
Audio is relatively distortion free (even at high volumes), there’s some sense of stereo separation thanks to a form factor that’s wider than many portable units and bass is decent enough. I found the SRS BTX300 was happiest playing high energy tracks like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll,” The Hives or Metric, especially with MEGA BASS enabled.
Pairing a Bluetooth device the first time is a snap and once its done, connecting later on is as simple as pushing a button on the speaker. Although I wasn’t able to test this feature, Sony says “bump and play” is supported via the SRS BTX300’s NFC capability and the unit also includes a built-in microphone with speakerphone capability.
Battery life was good and I was seeing times in line with Sony’s claimed 8 hours.
I’m a fan of attractive design (my personal speaker dock collection include a B&W Zeppelin and various JBL models) and the Sony was a pleasant surprise. Many portable wireless systems are bright plastic rectangles or variations on the theme. The SRS BTX300 does have a flat black plastic back, but its paired with a black wire speaker grill, brushed steel accents, a subtle blue LED that glows beneath the unit when its operating and a fold out stand that conceals the power button and a few other controls. The tripod-like stand prevents the unit from being accidentally powered up when carrying and adds an element of visual interest. In short, Sony’s put some effort into making this device not just sound good, but look good as well.
While the SRS BTX300 is larger and heavier than many models, it’s still light enough to stuff in a backpack and Sony has sculpted the back to include a really handy grip that make it easy to carry it safely in one hand.
Sony’s design choices make the SRS BTX300 stand out while helping it look and sound better than the average wireless speaker dock, but there are some disadvantages to this approach.
First, the tripod stand looks really cool, but the speaker needs it deployed in order to stand up —if it’s on an uneven surface, relying on a “leg” at one end of the device means it can be prone to falling over. I ran into this issue when using it outdoors. You also can’t power the unit on and have it running without the stand extended.
The only other drawback I ran into is one that’s been common to every Bluetooth wireless speaker I’ve ever used (so you can't pin it on Sony). When they work, they work great. But when something interferes with the Bluetooth connection —and it happens on occasion— you have to deal with stuttering, dropping out and sound artifacts. This doesn’t happen often and when it does, shutting down the speaker and reestablishing the connection is usually enough to take care of it, but it’s worth knowing that Bluetooth isn’t quite as reliable as a physical dock.
Audio Quality: 4
Design: 3.5 (would be higher if not for the tripod, which is only an issue if used on uneven surfaces)
Given the fact that Sony includes a power adapter and a nice, neoprene carrying case, you don’t need much (besides a smartphone or iPod) to get the most out of the SRS BTX300. You might want to think about tucking a USB cable and 3.5mm audio cable in the bag just in case, but that’s about it.