Something about speakers that light up fills me with joy. They can add an element of extra fun to a party or create ambience in a room. We trialled 2 new speakers that do just that: the Sony GTK-XB60 and the JBL Pulse 3.
Unlock all of Consumer from just $12 a month
The Sony GTK-XB60 combines the best of Sony’s other recent speaker releases. It has the size and power of last year’s GTK-XB7 – a speaker I loved so much after reviewing it, I bought one – with the battery-powered portability of the smaller SRS-XB30 and XB40.
The XB60 charges via a standard wall plug and, once fully charged, the battery can run for 14 hours (with the lights off and at medium volume). The XB60 has 8 physical buttons, with nearly all having 2 functions. This makes it easier to quickly perform functions, such as turning the lights on and off.
The speaker uses Sony’s “Extra Bass” technology. This means that, depending on the music, it can sound a little rumbly or boomy. So the sound isn’t perfect but then again, that’s not why you’re buying a portable, light-up boom box.
You can chain several Sony speakers together via its Music Centre app. Annoyingly, you need a different app, Fiestable, for other effects, such as changing light colours or “DJ” effects. The connection to the apps is the weakest function of the speaker. However, the apps aren’t needed if you just want to play music.
I recently took advantage of the nice weather to have a barbecue and the XB60 filled my backyard with tunes all day long. I just hope my neighbours didn’t disagree with my music choices.
The JBL Pulse 3 takes the lights to the next logical step. This cylindrical Bluetooth speaker has an LED array over most of its body that can create complex patterns in time to the music that’s playing.
The different patterns – waves, fireworks, fire, equaliser, and so on – can be changed either by pressing a button on the device or through the app. The app also lets you change the colours by either selecting from a colour wheel or using your phone’s camera to choose a colour – perfect if you want to match your speaker to your room’s décor.
You can also connect a group of Pulse 3 speakers and co-ordinate their visualisations via the JBL app. The connected speakers can be set up to play separate channels (left and right) or to just amplify what the main speaker is playing.
So it certainly looks the part, but how does it sound? Actually, it’s quite good.
The speakers at both ends put out nice sound without being overly bassy or tinny. While it’s powerful enough to fill a room with music, if you’re using it for a party you may need to invest in a couple.
|[width=20%]||Sony XB60[width=40%]||JBL Pulse 3[width=40%]|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||552 x 264 x 272mm||223 x 92 x 92mm|
|Battery life||14 hours (lights off, medium volume)||12 hours|
|Speaker output||50W (2 x 50mm tweeters, 2 x 130mm woofers)||20W|
First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.
These speakers were loaned to the writer by Sony and JBL Harman.