Review Sony BTX-500 Bluetooth Speaker

DSC02652Review- Sony BTX500 Bluetooth Speaker – The Sony BTX-500 was their flagship portable bluetooth speaker system when BT portable speakers were becoming a hot item back in 2013. I’ve had the speaker since its release back in 2013 summer and following is my IRL (in real life) review from my own experiences.

DSC02654I first encountered the Sony BTX500 when I was in store in winter 2012/13 looking at Sony’s offerings. I had picked up the relatively tiny Soundmatters FoxL bluetooth speaker earlier and was getting excited about two things- aptX lossless music streaming  and passive radiator speakers. I was excited to see what a full blown speaker system could do with a wireless set up (the BTX500 is a 2.1 system vs. the 2.0 system in the FoxL) and the radiator speakers were an interesting alternative to having subwoofer ports. When I found out the Sony had two passive radiators, on top of having two full range speakers and a subwoofer I was hooked. 

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You can see in the above image how this is laid out- its a nice amount of speakers for its size. I do wonder what all that empty space is for.

SRS-BTX500_2-e2601This is the magnetic fluid speaker in the btx500- these supposedly are unique and provide less distortion than traditional speaker designs.

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Design– The BTX500 is an elegant looking speaker- from head on its a simple rectangular shape that could look fine in any bedroom. Its not gaudy and eye catching as other designs so that’s for the user to decide. I do like that it appears like a super thin speaker from the front/side because of the tapered back- however I know its design well and the weird chunky plastic butt seems a bit odd to me. The front speaker grill is metal and the sides are aluminum (and they dent easily I must add) while the top, bottom and rear are plastic. There is a solid metal kick stand that slides out the back. All the controls are on the right side and top right- it includes volume, call control, sound EQ, audio in and BT control. In general, I find it sufficient but not impressive- there are better looking and better feeling speakers out there. I do prefer it to its premium competitor, the BOSE Soundlink II, but its not as neat of a design as the Jawbone Big Jambox for example. Knowing that I prefer premium feeling materials, you can guess that the chintzy plastic doesn’t do much for me.


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Here’s that thin side profile I was talking about- it really does appear thin and light, but its a chun ky monkey and I feel like its a little hollow- I wouldn’t mind more weight if it meant more battery or bigger speakers.

DSC02660The device has a little light in the front of it- it adds a nice kick to the monolith design. As you can see, its a simple thing to view.

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The device comes with a nice neoprene carrying bag- its nice to have these accessories in the box instead of paying for it extra like in their new speaker line up. Its not going to protect against a drop but it will prevent small dings and scratches in transport (which is good because the aluminum dents REALLY easily- this is why I love magnesium more than aluminum). Getting a bag on the side is quite a bit for the new line of X speakers so its nice Sony threw it in here.

DSC02657Connectivity– The BTX5000 is able to connect through two ways- a direct 3.5mm analog through the back port, or bluetooth aptX. I tend to not use the analog connection too much but the bt one gets much use. I also really like that there is a BT standby mode- this makes the device go to sleep but leave the BT on- this way you can start streaming directly on your phone right away without having to go to the device. There is a USB port for charging and its 1.5A which is great for big battery smartphones. Another plus- the BT connection is consistent and reliable-I don’t have issues with it disconnecting or being hard to pair. There is an NFC chip on top to do quick pairing- this is useful if you have multiple BT devices and want to switch devices. Oh and the device can take phone calls but its pretty meh in sound quality- I honestly would prefer my phone’s speakerphone but this will work in a punch. 

DSC02658Battery life – The BTX500 is OK for battery life- not great. I tend to charge it and use it over a few days for a few hours a day. The Jawbone Big Jambox is much better for battery. This frustrates me because it feels like there is a lot of empty space in the speaker that might not be an expansion chamber for the speakers – just wasted space. It also charges through a propriety barrel charger which is pretty annoying- I wish it was micro USB. 

DSC02659Sound Quality– This is the most important piece- and its great. I bought this after reading reviews of the Logitech UE Boom box, and the Bose Soundlink II, two of the better BT speakers out there at the time- and the Sony pulled out in front of all of them for sound quality alone. I do feel like a pair of tweeters would bring out the highs a little better like on the UE Boom, but other than that, I quite like the sound as a portable machine. I find this machine quite good if you place it in the right area- the bass becomes absolutely incredible in a corner placement. I don’t find the sound boomy at all, but do find the highs less sparkly than I would like. Its a great sounding machine that works well with a wider range of music, which probably indicates that it takes away some of the detailing and is more forgiving on the quality of the music (like the Sony MDR-1R headphones). I also really like the EQing on this- the Sound button has three settings- off, mega bass and surround- I like the mega bass setting after adjusting my phone to a flatter EQ. I dont like the surround mode as it adds too much virtual effects and takes away the musicality- I do find it works well with movies though. This is certainly powerful enough for a small party- however, do note that it does have some distortion at full volume, which is disappointing. 

DSC02661Conclusion-I find this speaker to be awesome- the sound is great with a wide range of music, and ….and thats it. I bought this for the sound and its great for a portable. I find the design a little bland, I don’t like the materials used in it, I don’t like the propriety charger and I wish there were media control buttons on the device itself.  However, I do LOVE the stability of the device – the BT connection is consistent and reliable with my Xperia Z3. Its a wonderful companion to my device and it brings a whole new level of sound for portable use. I don’t know if I would buy this again though- the newer SRS-X5 is said to be better sounding than it and the newer flagship portable the SRS-X7. I really wish the design was more striking- it just doesn’t fit in with all the unique styles Sony has been putting out lately.

TLDR; Pros-reat sound, stable bluetooth connection/ Cons- meh design, meh battery life, meh phone call quality

 

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