I just wrapped up an interesting audio system evaluation. At a glance, the Sony XB72 EXTRA BASS looks like a super-sized portable speaker. It’s actually a high-powered music system, loaded with onboard light and audio effects. The audio this $349.99 system produces is going to put most portable speakers to shame, but it’s tethered to an electrical outlet.
Big, Definitely Not Portable
The Sony XB72 is a big system, and makes no pretense of being portable. It stands over two feet tall (or wide, depending on which position it’s in), and weighs nearly 27 pounds. It does have handles to lug it around, but there’s no battery—you’ll need to find an electrical outlet, and one that’s fairly close as the included cable is 4 feet in length. On the plus side, the power supply is integrated, so you don’t have a power brick to carry with you as well.
There are padded feet on the bottom and side, so it can be positioned in vertical or horizontal mode. Either way, it is quite stable.
The case is textured hard black plastic with the Sony logo prominently featured. The front is a black metal mesh covering a pair of big woofers and three tweeters. A sizeable bass reflex port is located in the front center. An LED lighting strip circles the grill, supplemented with strobe lights. Controls are on the top of the speaker and around back are input ports and an FM antenna.
This speaker can be used in two modes: horizontal or vertical. An integrated sensor detects the orientation and adjusts the sound appropriately. There are two onboard features that let you make a big difference in audio output at the push of a button.
“EXTRA BASS” gives the system its name, and as advertised it adds some serious bass when activated. It’s like the “Loudness” button found on older stereos, but on steroids.
The other is the “LIVE SOUND” button. It uses the speaker angle and a DSP to simulate three-dimensional audio. This works best when the speaker is placed horizontally, putting some space between the drivers. And it’s actually pretty effective. It doesn’t quite replace a pair of speakers placed apart, but it does a good job of giving the Sony XB72 sound much more depth than a single unit can usually produce.
Sony doesn’t specify the power output, but it gets plenty loud.
The overall effect of this speaker is “energetic” rather than nuanced. The bass can be very pronounced, and the highs are crisp, but the midrange is a little lacking. That’s not a bad thing for the target audience—few people are listening for details in music at a “club”—but it means the XB72 is better suited as a party speaker than a stereo replacement for someone who is serious about listening to music.
The extras really make this system stand out and further emphasize its target demographic. If you bring a Sony XB72 to a party, it is going to be the star of the show. Around back, there’s a microphone input with a line meter. Someone can sing along with the tunes…
To dig deeper, Sony offers a pair of mobile apps (for both iOS and Android) that let you customize things to differing degrees.
And this is where things can get pretty wild. The lighting effects can be quite spectacular. The LED lighting and strobe effects can all be customized, or you can use presets. Personally, the first thing I did was to turn off the strobes, but the LED lighting is pretty cool. There is an EQ if you want to fine-tune the audio beyond (or in addition to) the EXTRA BASS and LIVE SOUND features.
Then there’s the DJ Effect feature. This lets you play with sound effects on the music, including Flanger, Isolator, and Wah settings. With the Fiestable app, you can even control these effects with motion, waving or shaking your smartphone. You can also use the app to add smartphone motion-triggered effects, including scratching, a snare drum and wood block sounds. Just be careful whose smartphone is controlling these effects because someone going to town with the Flanger and snare drum in the middle of a song can get old pretty fast.
Sony XB72 Key Specs
• 2 x 6-3/8-inch woofers, 3 x 2-inch cone tweeters
• Sensor optimizes audio for vertical or horizontal position
• LIVE setting for simulated three-dimensional audio
• Bluetooth with AAC, LDAC, A2DP, AVRCP, SPP
• Integrated FM radio with telescoping antenna
• LED speaker lights, strobe flash, line light
• 2.1A USB output for smartphone charging
• RCA audio input, USB audio input
• Microphone input
• Built-in mic for hands-free calls
• Supports Sony Party-Chain for multiple speakers
• On-speaker control for basic functions plus app control of effects and EQ using Music Center and Fiestable apps for iOS/Android
This isn’t an audio system meant for music purists, or for those looking for a portable music player.
However, those who find portable speakers are too “tinny” will love the punchy bass, especially when the namesake “EXTRA BASS” feature is engaged. Above all, the Sony XB72 EXTRA BASS will tick all the boxes for anyone who wants to recreate a club experience in their own home. You get booming, energetic audio, a programmable light show (complete with not just multicolor LEDs but also strobe lights), and the ability to play DJ with a wide range of audio effects.
In other words, not really my cup of tea (although it definitely has a cool factor), but an absolute direct hit for my teenagers…
Disclosure: Sony provided an XB72 sound system for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.