GIGANTIC BLUETOOTH SPEAKER ALERT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Sadly though, no battery and waterproof does disappoint for the price.
Hey everyone, Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room. What I’m about to show you is possibly the biggest speaker that I’ve ever reviewed on the website. Forget about the next JBL Xtreme, forget about Beats ever coming out with another Beats XL. The XB20, the XB30, even the XB40 doesn’t compare to this. This is the Sony GTK-XB7. It looks nearly identical to the other Sony Speakers, but super sized. This retails for $349 dollars. However, I got this off of BHPhoto for only $250 at the time of this review. As always, I’ll place my affiliate links above, click on my links and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real time. Hopefully the sale is still going on by the time you’re reading this.
The Sony GTK-XB7 is massive. Weighing in at 27 pounds or 12 kilograms. It is a “B” to pick up – it’s like a baby elephant! But all kidding aside, I’m not complaining as this is not meant to be as portable as other traditional Bluetooth speakers. But, despite it’s weight, you bring this to a party, it’s surely going to be a conversation starter. Here’s a quick size comparison above, from my Sony XB40 speaker, and compared to this, it’s massive. You can stand this horizontally on a table as you’ve seen… or stand it up so it’s at knee height.
The Sony speaker is dominantly hard-plastic all around and is missing that rubberized texture found on the smaller Sony Bluetooth Speakers. If you guys have been reading my reviews for awhile, you know I love to keep my stuff pristine. The one area that’s sensitive to scratches are the highly glossed handle openings. Even lightly wiping my fingerprints caused micro-fine scratches. The grill is all metal and reinforced in the center by the bass port – I don’t foresee the speaker having any issues of being dented or pushed in under normal use. And to quickly take a look, we can see the massive drivers and tweeters on this thing, but I’ll get into those details later. Also to get this out the way, the GTK-XB7 is not waterproof or water resistant – would have been great to have it splash proof to set this by the pool. Also, and I’ll admit it’s already heavy enough and i this speaker would possibly have a battery inside, it would drain quick as well, so you do have to use the wall cord for power. And yes, this does work one 110 volts and internationally at 240.
Continuing with the physical build, if you stand this upright, there’s a convenient slot that holds your phone or tablet if you want to dock your device here. The buttons up top are straightforward – Power and Extra Bass. The Function buttons toggles through your input options, and the Sony GTK-XB7 allows Bluetooth, USB, and RCA cables as options for playing music. I’ll discuss those physical connections shortly as well. On the far right side of the speaker is simply volume up and down with no functions or features to skip or go back on songs. There’s also no pause and play either, which was pretty disappointing. Also, there’s no Google Assistant or Siri support as of this review. On the positive side, you do get NFC, or Near Field Communication for easy/seamless pairing by tapping your NFC-enabled phone on the logo.
CONNECTIONS & BLUETOOTH RANGE
Rotating to the rear, starting from the middle, RCA inputs and outputs are available to daisy chain audio sources. Those wanting to connect the XB7 to their PC, Xbox, or Playstation unfortunately can’t utilize their consoles or PC Optical outputs…. You would have to buy a converter for about $15 on Amazon to do so.
To the left, is a USB port to charge your devices… Also, you can connect your laptop, phone, or USB flash drive with audio files on it, and the XB7 can play off of that. On the top left, there’s Party Chain, which allows you to connect multiple XB7 speakers together, and to the far left is an input allowing two XB7’s to play left and right audio channels. Reading through the instruction manual, I didn’t see anything disclosing it would allow my other/smaller Sony XB40 or XB20 to connect, which was a total dud. The instructions, at least for stereo separation specifically states two XB7’s are required.
Last up before I get into the LED’s, Bluetooth 3.0 is used on here with Sony claiming up to 33 feet of signal strength. I tested this and was able to achieve 65 feet with my Samsung S8+. Not bad.
Now, touching base on those LED’s – I absolutely love them. Under Rave mode, they pulsate to the beat, the strobe lights goes off… and when you’re listening to some crazy EDM, the lights get crazy as well. Besides the outer ring, I loved how the woofers are glowing in color. With the supplied remote control, you can toggle from Rave to Chill, and have a serene ambient light show instead… especially when you’re listening to BlackMill. I do wish the controller had more options, or the option to cycle through the LED displays – since it doesn’t, you need to adjust the lights using the app. With SongPal, available for both Apple and Android, you can select a few other options like “hot” that displays oranges and reds, “cool” for blues and teals, and if you want a fixed color, selecting “steady” will do that for you. Unfortunately within the app, there’s no way to customize the lights to display them the way you want to.
Now, jumping into the audio review, first off, I want to clear some things up. I know the XB7 is huge, and Sony has been marketing their mainstream audio products with “Extra Bass” written all over the packaging, and they have been making some great stuff, but I want to tone down the hype a bit as the size could overshadow someone’s judgement – again, I’m still helping you make that purchase decision, I’m not an entertainment website hyping products, especially the audio performance.
With that being said, starting with bass performance, the speaker does provide a lovely bass-boosted, punchy bass signature. At 75% volume, which is loud enough for large open areas, you can feel a slight vibration in the chest from the bass output when standing about 20 feet away. It’s not subwoofer, it’s not hitting sub bass territory where it shakes the walls or items on your desk. But the amount of bass sounds great for listening, and it “feels” decent too, something lacking out of every other portable Bluetooth speaker, that is. If you’re looking for rumbling, deep resonating bass, you gotta go with a 2.1 setup rather than one big dedicated speaker.
As for the mids, they are somewhat bright, somewhat forward and clean. Very similar traits to the Sony XB40 when I played them side-by-side. The details of instruments are clear for this type of speaker and the vocalists, the singers do standout with good definition. Despite having three tweeters, the high notes have some slight roll off as snare drums and cymbal crashes don’t have the crispness that would be great for rock music. The attack on the high frequencies are neutral without being underwhelming but surely not sharp to make the high-notes sparkle.
Playing this at 75% volume was surely loud enough and very enjoyable, I was able to fill up my open 40 linear feet room. Bumping this up to maximum volume does cause the bass to muddy the mid-tones slightly, and you do lose some fidelity out of this speaker. There’s not much audio separation or an open sound stage from my experience, which is very common with Bluetooth speakers…. At the end of the day, I’d highly recommend this for today’s more modern-day music: pop, hiphop and EDM. Rock music, and classical will still sound great, but it does lack the fidelity and resolution that I think a dedicated 2.1 sound system can provide.
Overall, it’s not perfect and I surely wouldn’t buy it at $350 because it lacks a battery and waterproofing. The Aiwa Exos 9 at least offers a battery inside, which I know many were looking for. But for the pros, I do love the look, the over-the-top super sized Sony Bluetooth speaker look, the LED’s of course, and I very much enjoyed the audio quality. It is subjective, but in the comments section, if you had the money, if you could get this for $250, would you? Is this too big for you? Let me know in the comments section below.
As always, Like and Subscribe and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and / or Instagram. I’m Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room and I’m here to help you make that purchase decision. You guys take care and I’ll see you on the next one.