JBL Go 3 vs Sony SRS-XB12: Which Is the Better Speaker for the Price

Portable speakers bring a lot of convenience to the table. You just have to clip it to your backpack, carry it on your tote bag or hang it from your bike’s handle—they fit everywhere. As long as you keep the speakers charged. The JBL Go 3 fits this bill and is one of the newest portable speakers from the house of JBL. Not only does it look super adorable, but it packs a punch for its price. On the other hand, we have the slightly older yet popular Sony SRS-XB12.

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As noted earlier, both these speakers are portable, and it’s safe to say that they are smaller or equal to a can. But as we all know, Sony’s XB series is known for its bass, and when outdoors, this feature plays an important role.

So, is the new JBL Go 3 better than the older Sony SRS-XB12? Or, is the SRS-XB12 still the reigning king when it comes to audio?

That’s what we are going to find in this post today as we pit the Sony SRS-XB12 against the snappy JBL Go 3 and see which wireless Bluetooth speaker you should buy.

Specs That Matter

PropertyJBL Go 3Sony SRS-XB12
PropertyJBL Go 3Sony SRS-XB12
Dimension2.7 x 3.4 x 1.6-inch3.7 x 3.0-inches
Weight7.4-ounce8.6 ounces
BluetoothBluetooth 5.1Bluetooth 4.2
WaterproofYes, IP67Yes, IP67
USB-CYesNo. Micro-USB

Design and Build

The new JBL Go 3 packs a trendy design. Gone is the naked plastic look that was associated with its predecessor. Instead, this new portable speaker is now sheathed in a durable fabric, giving it a cool look. And hey, there’s a small fabric holder as well. Rubber-like grips further accentuate the look at the bottom, which prevents the speaker from slipping.

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As noted above, this is a tiny speaker and will fit well into the palms of your hands. If we talk numbers, it measures around 2.7 x 3.4 x 1.6-inch, thereby proving to be effective portable speakers. You can grab one on the go, and that’s about it.

While the slightly flat look means that you can place it on its feet or its back, the base tends to distort when placed on its back.

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Apart from that, this one has quite a decent build for the price. You will find the buttons for play/pause and the volume rockers. Here, the play/pause button doubles as the track navigation button (double press), and there are no dedicated buttons for the same. Being one of the newest speakers, the Go 3 doesn’t have an AUX input or speakerphone abilities (see best portable Blue­tooth speak­ers with speakerphone). So yeah, you will have to answer all your calls directly from the phone.

However, let not the above feature deter you for the Go 3 is fully waterproof. The IP67 rating will keep the Go 3 shielded from water damage to accidentally fall in the pool or water during summer beach parties.

Last but not least, the JBL’s portable speaker is available in several attractive colors, and that’s an added charm.

As opposed to the fabric grille of the JBL Go 3, Sony’s SRS-XB12 bundles a metallic grille. Like its counterpart above, it’s not much taller than a soda can. Apart from the volume rockers and the Play/Pause buttons, the SRS-XB12 packs the signature XB series feature—passive radiator. Yep, the SRS-XB12 has a neat passive radiator at the bottom.

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The speaker’s entirety doesn’t have a metallic grille, just above the drivers. The rest of the speaker is sheathed in a rubbery grille, making it immensely easy to hold on, even when your hands are wet.

The Sony SRS-XB12 has similar specs regarding water and dust resistance, meaning you can take it out to your beach and pool parties.

Being an older device, Sony’s SRS-XB12 still packs a micro-USB port which is a bummer. In this age when almost all the devices and smartphones have shifted to USB-C standards, safekeeping a micro-USB cable proves to be quite a task.

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That aside, the SRS-XB12 comes with an Add button (apart from the usual buttons) which lets you add and pair other compatible Sony speakers to amplify the sound and add a stereo effect. Cool, right?

Battery and Connectivity

The battery life is the heart of any portable device. After all, you won’t want to put the speaker to charge in the middle of your party, right? On that front, the SRS-XB12 plays it safe. It brings a battery life of 16 hours to the table. Of course, it all depends on the device’s volume, but the odds are that it will live to tell the tale at the end of the party.

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Surprisingly, the JBL Go 3 has a much-much shorter life. JBL advertises a battery life of around 5 hours on a full charge. Of course, it will last longer if you listen at lower-than-average volume, but the odds are that you will find yourself putting it to charge more than you’d like. If you look around, most wireless earphones advertise a battery life of more than 5 hours on a single charge.

Audio Performance

Let’s get one thing straight; these are small and affordable pocket-sized speakers, and it won’t be fair to expect earth-shattering audio from them. That said, both the speakers pack their share of punch. The JBL Go 3 bundles a single 1.5-inch driver that is designed to deliver around 4.2 watts of power. And for its size (and price), it manages to do quite well and deliver both clarity and bass.

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The good thing is that it manages to maintain its balance even when you crank up the volume. You have to remember to keep the Go 3 on its feet while doing so. But if you compare it with the JBL family’s compact speaker, the older Clip 4 still does better in audio quality.

On the other hand, the Sony SRS-XB12 leans more towards bass-heavy audio and stays true to its tagline. The audio is loud, and it’s enough to get the party going, And it does them all without overshadowing the vocals. The vocals appear loud and clear. Thanks to the DSP (Digital Signal Processor), which thins out the lows when the volume is cranked up, the distortion is minimal.


The JBL Go 3 and the Sony SRS-XB12 are portable Bluetooth speakers, which makes them immensely handy on a day out on the beach or by the pool. The JBL Go 3 bundles a clean and modern design and manages to deliver a good sound quality for its price. At the same time, it packs one of the newer Bluetooth standards. If you must know, Bluetooth 5.1 is more power-efficient. Plus, the sub-$50 price seems to be quite a good bargain, especially if you do not want to spend much on a speaker. The only point of concern is the battery life.

On the other hand, if you are a bass-head and love a deep and thumping bass to accompany your songs, the Sony SRS-XB12 is the one for you.

You will get a better battery life and good audio quality on the Sony speaker. However, the SRS-XB12 is priced higher than the Go 3. At the same time, you will have to compromise on legacy charging tech.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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