Sony vs JBL: What’s your flavour?
Our tuckshop of premium Bluetooth speakers and headphones just keeps getting larger! With over 200 products in these ranges, it can be overwhelming to choose the right product for you or someone else. But if you’ve managed to narrow your preferred brands to Sony and JBL, then you’re at the right place. We’ve broken down features of similar products from the opposing brands so you can choose the right brand for your lifestyle.
CLIP n' TRIP
Ideal for: Camping, Adventurists, Hiking, Biking, Mountain Climbing
JBL Clip 3
From where I stand, there’s not much going against the design of the Clip 3. It has a pleasing mesh wire appeal with a simple and responsive control panel to match. In terms of weight, the Clip 3 is heavier than its predecessor weighing in at 220 grams. But this bulkier and more robust dressing gives the speaker a more reliable and sturdier feel and grip.
Unlike the Clip 2, the carabiner is integrated into its shell which really plays well when you’re doing extreme sports such as white water rapids, mountain climbing or trail biking. On the side, you’ll notice its on/off button and Bluetooth buttons with a 3.5 mm audio cable Input underneath and charging port.
Expect anywhere from 9-10 hours of battery life from its IPX7 waterproof body—2 hours better than the Clip 2. It must be stated that its IPX7 waterproof feature makes it completely submersible in water. When it comes to the sound, it can hold its own to give you exceptional mids and above-average bass. Nonetheless, the sound quality, in general, is high-quality even with its speakerphone.
Nine times out of ten the SRS-XB10 is going to be the best-looking sibling. It's ultra attractive and exquisitely designed frame with a rubberised matte finish that would blend in with any decor. It comes in at 322 grams, so it’s heavier than the Clip 3, but when you look that good you’re allowed some extra weight. It sports a mesh grill on top with audio input and MicroUSB slot to charge it. The speaker also has a reset button which is covered by a cap.
The canister shaped Bluetooth speaker is IPX5 water-resistant so it can withstand light to moderately heavy rains. It also has an outstanding battery life of 16 hours with a built-in speaker microphone.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice its lanyard. What’s cool about this strap is that it converts into a stand when the speaker is placed horizontally. The SRS-XB10 punches above its weight in every sense of the word. It delivers on punchy bass thanks to Sony’s PURE BASS function that truly gives this mini speaker a richer and fuller tone than other speakers in its category.
That being said, its most noticeable features are the NFC one-touch that enables you to connect effortlessly by just tapping your phone against its surface. Secondly, is the extra speaker function which lets you connect an extra speaker for a more stereo-based sound. In my opinion, I'd opt for two of these bad boys as the total price would still hover around the price of one Clip 3.
Although the SRS-XB 10 delivers on a richer fuller tone and boasts a more pleasing aesthetic, the Clip 3 is the most ideal in terms of portability and functionality as it’s louder, more robust and built for outdoor terrain.
Ideal For: Studying, Casual Listening
The MDR-ZX110 has a glossy matte finish that is uber-attractive. It has a folding mechanism which makes it ideal for fitting into your backpacks and bags. Its cups are padded but not as cushioned like most of Sony’s higher-end Bluetooth headphones.
Its most notable feature is its 30 mm Neodymium drivers which really deliver on an energetic sound that is punchy and sharp. It also sports a 1.2-meter cable that is tangle free, of a solid build and includes an in-line remote and mic for hands-free calls.
JBL Tune 450 Wired
The Tune 450’s have also been designed with a flat fold design. Its design for me is sturdier and thicker than the MDR-ZX110’s. However, the same can’t be said about their appearance.
They sport bigger drivers than the MDR’s 32 mm drivers. For the price they are going for, you experience low-end that is neither overpowering or too aggressive. Still, the sound is not that different from the MDR-ZX110.
Their padded cushions have been made from frog skin and are bigger than the MDR pads. You can also expect a one-button remote that gives you access to hands-free calls, and smart assistant.
When it comes to budget champions, it doesn’t get any better than the MDR-ZX110 and Tune 450. Although they both lack a firmer build quality, Sony snags this round due to the MDR-ZX110’s having a more pleasing design and similar audio quality as the Tune 450’s at a lower price.
Ideal: Indoor Home Entertainment, Outdoor Home Entertainment
The SRS-XB31 is essentially an instigator for a good time. It has a very sturdy design that can be gripped quite comfortably in the event you’re on the move. The mesh covered Bluetooth speaker includes a slim outline that lights up into a light show when enabled.
What’s magnificent about this speaker is all the toys it has in its box. As stated above, the speaker includes a light show that will sync to the downbeats and upbeats of your music. It also comes with Micro USB charging port so you can charge your phone if it’s flat.
The speaker also delivers on great performance and streams music without the quality being compromised. Sony also included a live festival feature that amplifies the mid's and low's to give a more live and ambient feel.
The SRS-XB31 can also run up to 24 hours when the light feature is disabled and 14 hours when it’s on. It’s also IP67 dustproof, waterproof and dustproof and includes a tap and play function that allows you to add a snare sound, cowbell and other percussive instruments when tapped on certain areas of its surface.
JBL Pulse 3
The Pulse 3 comes in at 0.96 kg with dimensions of 22.3 x 9.2 x 9.2 cm. While the speaker itself does have a minimal design, there is nothing subtle about its light show, and even though one man's gimmick is another man's novelty, for us, the lava light show is pure delight.
Though its battery life is lower, by 4 hours compared to the SRS-XB31, the Pulse 3 offers a more wholesome sound that is pleasing to the ears. Because its been built with a 360-degree design, it's generally the better option for a party or soiree. It’s also IPX7 waterproof being submersible in water up to 1 meter. In other words, surfs up!
All Pulse 3 Bluetooth speakers come standard with built-in microphones for calls and JBL Connect+ that lets you connect other JBL speakers within the area. Controls of the Pulse 3 can be seen at the back having buttons for power, volume, pairing and play/pause/voice assistant.
Both speakers exhibit minimal drawbacks when it comes to design and functionality, however, given that these speakers have been designed for a party, the JBL Pulse 3 takes the prize largely due to its light show, balanced sound, appeal and submersible design.