Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sony SRS-XB3 Pairable Bluetooth Speakers

I know this is a little different than my usual Marine App post but I thought it might be of interest to some of you. As a sailor I am always looking for technology that will make my boating experience easier and more enjoyable.

Entertainment on your yacht will most likely includes some form of music. Most sound systems on boats are hardwired into the vessel's 12 volt power supply. A set of wires then has to be run to each of the speakers at various points around the boat. This means the installation can be messy and expensive. That is the traditional "old school" way to set up a stereo system on your yacht.

Everyone now carries around a cell phone or mobile device. These phones are little super computers that not only allow us to communicate but to also run a variety of marine app which I have written about in this blog. My phone already has all of my favorite music and some video on it so, why not build an entertainment system around that? I also have a blog for my S2 22 ft sailboat in which I shared my design for the Ultimate On Board Entertainment System. This included the an iPhone, a WiFi router, an AppleTV and some AirPlay speakers.
iHome IW3 AirPlay Speaker

Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers have been around for several years now and I own several of them. They offered an easier mobile solution to my entertainment needs. I liked the idea of not having to drill holes and run wires all over my boat. In my blog post I designed my system around the Apple TV which I converted to 5 or 12 volts to either run off of USB or 12 volt power. I wanted to be able to have more than one speaker so I pursued the use of AirPlay speakers which require that the boat have a WiFi router that both the speakers and my iPhone can connect to. This worked fine and I have been using it for the past few years.

My latest discovery, which you may already know is that the latest version of Bluetooth allows more than on speaker to be connected to each other and then be connected to a device providing a true mobile wireless stereo system.

I researched the latest Bluetooth speakers and found a few that have this capability. Some of these manufacturers are Sony, JBL Flip 3 with JBL connect, Sharkk and Logitech UE Boom and SoundBot Quadio.  Those are a few of the speakers that I found with the capability to be paired together and there may be others.

Sony SRS-XB3 Bluetooth speakers
I chose the Sony SRS-SBX-3 model after some research and watching some YouTube videos. This model has a large rechargeable battery with a long 24 hour run time. The speakers come is several colors and normally run about $149 but I purchased some on Amazon for $98.

Specifications:
  • 2 Channel speakers + passive radiators
  • Extra Bass
  • Audio in jack
  • Bluetooth Version 3.0
  • Remembers 8 paired devices
  • Weight 32.8 oz
  • Compatible sound formats A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP
  • Range 32.8ft
  • Condenser microphone
  • Noise suppression for phone calls
  • Omni directional speaker
  • Li Ion battery, 24 hour battery life
  • AC charger
  • Auto Power off after 15 Min
  • NFC, Android Near Field Communication
  • 20-20,000 frequency response
  • 30 Watts power
  • Dimensions L 8.31 X H 3.15 X W 2.37
  • Audio In jack
  • 5 Volt USB charging outlet
  • Water resistant IPX5 rating
I liked that the speakers were very compact and re-chargeable so I could not only use them inside my boat but I could move them out into the cockpit or take them ashore for a beach party if I wanted.

They are water resistant so a little rain or sea spray will not damage them. Mounting options are limited but I found Velcro works nicely to hold them into place on a bulkhead or shelf.

The speakers have seven button on top of the speaker to control the functionality. These include the Power button, Volume Up and Down, Phone, Add, Pairing and Extra Bass.

The Power Button will power the speaker on and it will also power down the the speaker and the other speaker that it is paired with.  This is convenient not having to go to each speaker and power them down separately.

The volume Up and Down buttons control volume on both the speaker and the other speaker that it is paired with. Volume can also be controlled from your mobile device's volume controls.

The Pairing button is used to connect the speaker to your mobile device and to a second speaker if desired. Make sure to turn on Bluetooth in your mobile device's settings. Press and hold down the pairing button until you hears some beeps which puts the speaker into pairing mode. The pairing indication will flash rapidly white. Go to Bluetooth settings on your device and select SRS-XB3. Once the speaker is paired it will remember your device. The speakers will remember up to 8 devices and automatically pair to your mobile device the next time it is used.

The Add button is used to pair an additional Sony SRS-XB3 speaker to the existing speaker. The speakers have to be paired with each other before they can be paired with your mobile device. First turn on one speaker and hold the Add button down until you hear a tone. Next turn on the other speaker and select the Add button again. This will pair the two speakers together.

Next to the Add button you will see a L and R indication light.  Once the speakers are paired together, tapping the Add button will change between stereo, left and right channels or mono natural. When L is selected on one speaker and R is selected on other this will give you true stereo channel separation for an awesome sound.  Selecting both L and R on each speaker will give you both channels in each speaker. I have not seen many speakers allowing the stereo channel separation option.

Once the two speakers are paired together you can then pair your mobile device to the first speaker that has the pairing indication flashing.

The Extra Bass button provides just that. Pressing this allows each speaker to delivery a richer and deeper bass sound. When the two speakers are paired together pressing this on one speaker enables it on both speakers.

On the back of the speaker behind a pop off door are the connections for the DC in for charging the speaker, USB DC out for charging a mobile device, audio in jack and a reset button.  The USB DC charging feature is another option that could come in handy if your mobile device needs charging.

I am sure there are other more expensive Bluetooth options out there for mobile speakers but for $98 on Amazon, these little speakers are an awesome set with many capabilities.

What are you using on board your boat for speakers and entertainment systems? Please comment below and let me know what is working for you.

~~~~ Sail On ~~~~/)
Mark

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