The biggest draw of Bluetooth speakers is their portability. Since most models are also waterproof, they’re ideal for outdoor use. The JBL GO 3 and Sony XB13 are just two of the most popular models. JBL’s speaker banks on its compact design and affordable price. It’s one of the best budget Bluetooth speakers today. Meanwhile, Sony’s offering has built a reputation for its impressive bass performance. While expensive, it delivers Sony’s brand of audio quality in a portable form. So which wireless speaker is better?
JBL GO 3 vs Sony XB13 Comparison Chart
The JBL GO 3 has a more rugged, durable, and versatile design than the Sony XB13.
Shaped like a small block, the JBL GO 3 has a bolder aesthetic. It’s also lightweight, one you can carry in one hand. For convenience, the JBL GO 3 comes with a lanyard you can attach to a bag or suspend from a hook. The Sony XB13, on the other hand, follows the usual canister-style speaker. It’s portable, too, with a carrying strap that’s longer than the JBL’s.
However, the JBL GO 3 wins when it comes to build quality. The speaker’s materials feel solid, and its metal grille is wrapped in fabric. Rubber panels feature on the base where its power button is located and on one side of the speaker. They help stabilize the JBL GO 3, whether you set it up in portrait or landscape mode.
In contrast, Sony’s XB13 is made from plastic. While not as rugged as the JBL GO 3, the build quality is good. The XB13 sits vertically, with a metal grille on top to protect the drivers. At the base, you’ll find rubber footing to keep the speaker from moving around due to vibrations. In reality, the XB13 does move across the surface with bass vibrations.
Both speakers come with an IP67 rating to protect them from dust and water. At the most, the devices can be submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. You can get the JBL GO 3 in 12 colors, including teal, white, gray, and two-toned options. Meanwhile, the Sony XB13 is available in black, coral pink, lemon yellow, and light blue.
While these aren’t game-changing speakers, Sony’s XB13 has the edge over the JBL GO 3 thanks to its Extra Bass.
Compared to the JBL GO 2, the JBL GO 3 is an upgrade. You’re getting a better 4.2-watt power and improved frequency response. The audio quality, however, is not going to win over audiophiles. While the JBL GO 3 delivers a balanced sound and clear vocals, it struggles in the low bass department. Stereo content is automatically downgraded to mono, so it’s not as immersive. There’s also no JBL GO 3 app to customize the EQ or choose from presets.
Nonetheless, this portable speaker is loud enough for its size. The audio also stays clean even at max volume levels, managing not to sound thin. But if you want deeper bass, you’ll get your money’s worth from the Sony XB13, courtesy of its Extra Bass Sound Diffusion Processor.
The XB13’s sound profile is boomier, with a rich and resonant mid-bass. Its soundstage is more natural sounding than the JBL GO 3’s, too. Like most speakers of its size and price, the XB13 uses a passive radiator to enhance low-end tunes. The result is a fuller audio performance. However, there is a bit of distortion when tracks are at full volume. In bass-heavy mixes, the XB13 tends to move and dance across tabletops as well. Hanging the speaker is the best solution.
Click here to read our JBL GO 3 vs UE WONDERBOOM 2 review.
Features and Controls
The Sony XB13 has more functional controls than the JBL GO 3.
The JBL GO 3 and Sony XB13 use Bluetooth to connect with a device. There’s no wired connectivity available, except for the USB-C port for charging. Multipoint is not supported, so you can only pair these speakers with one source device at a time. Fortunately, latency isn’t an issue. The Bluetooth range of the JBL GO 3 and Sony XB13 is also pretty good.
Now, the JBL GO 3’s controls are limited. On one side of the speaker are raised buttons for play/pause and volume up and down. At its base, you get the power button and Bluetooth pairing button. When pressed twice, the JBL GO 3’s play/pause button skips forward a track. However, there’s no backward navigation. You can’t use the play/pause button to answer calls either.
Sony’s XB13 has similar buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, play/pause, and volume up/down. Unlike the JBL GO 3, the XB13’s play/pause button can be used to answer and end phone calls, thanks to speakerphone functionality. You can also skip forward tracks by pressing the button twice or navigate backward by pressing it thrice.
Sony’s XB13 has a better battery life than the JBL GO 3.
When it comes to battery life, the Sony XB13 has the edge over the JBL GO 3. Sony’s portable speaker is rated to last up to 16 hours. Of course, actual performance will vary depending on usage and volume level. Charging, on the other hand, takes about 4.5 hours. The Sony XB13’s charging port also comes with a cover.
In contrast, the JBL GO 3 battery life is weak at only 5 hours. Given this runtime, charging is also slow at 2.5 hours. If you want a JBL speaker that lasts a day or two, you’re better off with the JBL Flip series or the JBL Charge 5.
The Sony XB13 is a better Bluetooth speaker than the JBL GO 3.
For budget, under $50 Bluetooth speakers, the JBL GO 3 and Sony XB13 deliver what’s expected. While they’re not going to win praises from audiophiles, they do a decent job keeping you and your friends entertained outdoors.
The JBL GO 3 is ahead of the Sony XB13 in design and build quality. Its fabric-wrapped body and rubber accents feel durable. However, its audio quality and limited functionality leave a lot to be desired. But it’s hard to complain, given its price.
For a few extra dollars, however, the Sony XB13 gives you more value for your money. Thanks to Extra Bass, the speaker offers more thump and a natural-sounding performance. It’s not as rugged as the JBL GO 3, but you do get the same IP67 rating. Moreover, the XB13 offers backward navigation and speakerphone functionality.
Unlike the Sony XB13, the Sony XB13 comes with Extra Bass technology, allowing it to enhance the bass of low-end tunes. The XB13 also features speakerphone functionality. Its play/pause button can be used to answer and end calls.
Yes, the JBL GO 3 is waterproof up to one meter for 30 minutes.
Users can pair two Sony XB13 speakers wireless for a stereo sound.
The Sony XB13 has a maximum Bluetooth range of 10 meters.