This half-metre tall Sony wireless speaker has glowing LED strips and strobe lights that pulse along to the music in two modes: rave and chill. Teenage-me loves this so much; though teenage-me also wonders where the tape deck is. It’s been so long since I tried a piece of technology that was meant to be fun and despite its dull name, the Sony GTK-XB7 is so much fun.

I spent a Friday night blasting loud music and dancing in a darkened room lit only by the neon-coloured strips and bright flashes. It was spectacular fun. The sound quality was a bit muddy at times, but Sony isn’t kidding when it says “extra bass”. Playing my favourite Jamaican dancehall tracks made the floor rumble in an excellent fashion.

I wouldn’t call this a portable speaker. While it’s not too heavy, at 12kgs it couldn’t be called lightweight. Nor is it small (326 x 650 x 340mm), but it has handles at both ends of the unit and lugging it short distances is fairly easy. The GTK-XB7’s main impediment to portability is that it needs to be plugged into the mains. So you can’t take it to the beach.

Getting music playing through the system is a breeze. You can connect quickly through Bluetooth, or even faster through NFC. Sony is one of the few companies that puts a small NFC logo where the antenna is, which makes pairing devices simple. I had my phone connected and playing music in seconds.

If you’re not ready to cut the cords just yet, you can also play music via USB or through audio-in cables.

The GTK-XB7 has a couple of Sony-exclusive features for extra party effects. Using audio channel cables you can create a “Party Chain” of sound systems to generate even louder music blasting all over your home. Wires don’t feel very futuristic though, so if you have two GTK-XB7s you can link them wirelessly and set them up to be left or right speakers.

Laying the GTK-XB7 down switches the sound to the new orientation.
Laying the GTK-XB7 down switches the sound to the new orientation.

Speaking of left and right channels, if you lay the GTK-XB7 down, the sound switches to the new orientation. While the big main speakers don’t change, the left and right channels played through the tweeters change depending on which way the system is standing.

The system has a remote control, useful for turning its light show on and off. However, the remote also turns on and off any other Sony audio system you have, which can be annoying. As an extra word of warning, the remote can fit into the hole at the front (the bass reflex port) and it’s very hard to get back out … as an unnamed Consumer writer discovered by accident.

The GTK-XB7 is loud and delivers all the “extra bass” it claims. The light show is an entertaining addition. In fact, the GTK-XB7 is too much all-round fun to pass up and is the perfect stereo system for a teenager, teenager at heart, or anyone looking to throw a great party.

Essential specs

Sony GTK-XB7

Price: $550
Dimensions (W x H x D): 326 x 650 x 340mm
Weight: 12kg
Physical ports: Analog audio input (1), analog audio output (1), USB port (1)

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. The Sony GTK-XB7 was loaned to the writer by Sony New Zealand.

by Hadyn Green