Tech Published: 17 April 2024 Update: 17 April 2024

I went hands-on with Sony’s new ULT Field 1 speaker

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black rectangular sony speaker on red background

There’s cause for celebration: Sony just announced a new line of products with names that don’t sound like strong password options suggested by your iPhone. The Sony ULT Power Sound series is all about bass (sorry for the accidental Meghan Trainor reference). The line consists of three speakers and a pair of headphones that are new variations of Sony’s Extra Bass and XE-Series lines.

The speakers are called ULT Field 1 (a small portable speaker), ULT Field 7 (a large portable speaker), and ULT Tower 10 (a large tower speaker), while the headphones are named ULT Wear. This review focuses on the ULT Field 1 portable speaker.

Sony ULT Field 1 speaker price

The Sony ULT Field 1 speaker retails for $129.99, which is the same as its predecessor, the SRS-XE200. The price is on the lower end for speakers from brands we trust and recommend at Mashable.

For comparison’s sake, the JBL Charge 5, which is our current top pick among the best portable Bluetooth speakers, retails for $179.95.

black rectangular sony speaker against red background
My test speaker was black, but the ULT Field 1 also comes in off-white, forest gray, and orange.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

What does ULT mean?

Sony calls the new series “the ultimate step into the evolution” of its audio products. Basically, ULT means ultimate — get it? The new products should make the listener feel like they’re in the front row at a concert through dynamic sound pressure and deep bass.

Sony’s ULT line was designed for the bass lovers. According to a Sony web survey of headphones users, 41 percent said strong bass is their most preferred feature, compared to other options such as instruments, vocals, balance, and clear audio.

Each product in the lineup has an ULT button on its design, with up to two levels of ULT bass-pumping power. Users can listen to the speaker or headphones with regular sound (aka without pushing the ULT button) or on the ULT power one and ULT power two settings. 

However, the ULT Field 1 speaker only has one ULT setting. The idea is that the smallest speaker in the lineup is for more casual listening and the larger ULT Field 7 and Tower 10 are for punching up the bass and filling a large space with booming sound. Even so, the one ULT setting still packs plenty of bass for a speaker of this size. 

woman's finger pressing ULT button on sony speaker
The Sony ULT Field 1 speaker has one extra bass setting.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

One slightly annoying thing: When you hit the ULT button, the speaker plays a little sound and the music volume dips before switching bass settings. Obviously, it’s helpful to confirm that you just switched ULT settings, but it is a disruption to the listening experience. The ULT button also lights up to indicate when the setting is on.

Design, connectivity, and controls

Connecting the Sony ULT Field 1 to my phone was as simple as Bluetooth connections go. I powered on the speaker and it automatically went into pairing mode and showed up in my phone’s Bluetooth settings.

Color-wise, Sony is giving options for people who like neutrals and people who are more into bold colors. The Sony ULT Field 1 comes in black, off-white, forest gray, and orange. The bright orange and gray-green forest gray are my personal favorites.

The speaker has a standard rectangular body that veers from the look of the XE200’s design. It can stand vertically or horizontally and features an adjustable bungee strap, though it’s not the easiest to adjust. It’s a pretty simple design with power, Bluetooth, play/pause/call, volume down, volume up, and ULT buttons.

speaker standing up vertically
The ULT Field 1 speaker works laid on its side or standing upright.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable
speaker control buttons
Sony keeps it simple with the on-speaker controls.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

There’s an adjustable equalizer in the app, but not much else customization compared to the ULT Wear headphones — and I don’t think there needs to be. The speaker is also IP67-rated waterproof, dustproof, and rustproof as well as shockproof.

Sound quality you’d expect from Sony

Something I found really cool about this speaker is that you can see it vibrating with the bass even with the ULT setting off. And regardless of volume or bass setting, it never sounded blown out or fuzzy.

I only briefly set this speaker to max volume, and let me tell you, this thing gets loud. I can’t imagine ever playing music at full volume in my apartment. This speaker would be amazing for beach days or barbecues, though. Or house parties if you don’t share any walls with neighbors. And because it’s waterproof, I can see this being my new go-to outdoor speaker.

woman holding sony speaker by its strap
Take the speaker wherever with its adjustable strap.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

I attended a briefing for the Sony ULT Power Sound series and a rep demoed a sound comparison between the ULT Field 1 and its predecessor, the SRS-XE200. He played music and switched back and forth between the two speakers — the newer one first on the standard setting, then with ULT 1 engaged. The ULT speaker had noticeably bigger sound, even on that non-ULT setting.

I’ve got a bone to pick with Sony for making every other speaker or pair of headphones sound flat to me now.

While testing the ULT Wear headphones, I found a handful of songs that sounded exceptional on the headset. The speaker can’t replicate the same enclosed surround sound the headphones provide, but these songs from Spotify still sound punchy and full coming through the speaker.

Sony ULT Field 1 battery life

According to Sony, you should get up to 12 hours of playtime from the ULT Filed 1’s battery. It’s not as great as some competitors’ battery life, but still plenty for all-day listening.

I charged the speaker to 100 percent when I received it, and after about two weeks of normal use, the battery is at 80 percent. I haven’t had the chance to conduct a full battery test and run it down to zero, but once I do, I’ll update this review with the exact amount of time I get out of the ULT Field 1’s battery.

woman wearing sunglasses holding sony speaker on her shoulder outside
The sony ULT Field 1 speaker packs a punch indoors and outdoors.
Credit: Joe Maldonado / Mashable

Is the Sony ULT Field 1 speaker worth it?

If you read my review of the Sony ULT Wear headphones, you’ll see that I was blown away. The ULT Field 1 speaker is impressive, there’s no denying that — but it didn’t blow my mind like the headphones.

The speaker does have great sound quality and the ULT 1 setting provides that extra oomph you don’t get from other portable speakers. But if you already have a portable speaker you love, I’m not going to tell you that you need to ditch it and buy this one.

That said, if bass is important to your listening experience or you’re in the market for a new Bluetooth speaker, then I’d definitely recommend the Sony ULT Field 1. Especially since it’s relatively budget-friendly at $129.99.

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Author:
Flavius Trica Creatif Agency Flavius Trica

Web designer and Co-Founder of Creatif.Agency, with more than 8 years in the design industry and a strong passion for digital art, has successfully managed to deliver one of the most creative web design agencies in San Francisco, California. Valuing quality, creativity, and customer satisfaction, always strive to improve!

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