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My favorite Sony speaker is less than $100 through this Amazon deal

The Sony Ult Field 1 pumps out surprisingly powerful audio for a speaker that costs less than you'd expect, and right now you can snag it for $30 off on Amazon.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor
Sony Ult Field 1 orange speaker against skyline
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Sony Ult Field 1 is the brand's newest portable speaker that prioritizes crystal-clear sound and pronounced bass.
  • The speaker punches above its $130 price point with vibrant audio that sounds like it's coming from a much more expensive device. Right now, it's on sale on Amazon for $98, an incredible deal for the speaker's value. 
  • It doesn't boast as long a battery life as its predecessor, but what it lacks in battery it makes up for in stellar sound. 

My roommates and I are chronic party throwers; weeknight dinner parties, birthdays, anniversaries -- heck, we even once threw an April Fools' Day party. We have everything needed for a successful party, except a good speaker -- and that's not without trying.

It's a familiar scene: my roommate pulls out her old Bose speaker that requires a cord connection -- unsurprisingly, it gets no mileage. We ask friends to bring their own speakers, but rarely do theirs win the battle against a crowded apartment of 20 to 30 people.

Also: The best smart speakers

So, when I tested out Sony's brand new Ult Field 1 speaker at our 15-person dinner party, I was half expecting the bustle of guests to overpower this portable speaker's sound. Boy, was I wrong.

This speaker filled the room with rich audio that sounded like it was coming from a far more expensive device. In fact, this speaker exceeded my expectations in a few key ways. It's easily become my summer party and beach day companion because of how impressed I am with the sound, build, and battery.

View at Amazon

Sony is known for naming its devices like they're airplanes: The Ult Field 1's predecessor that shares the same price tag, for example, is the SRS-XE200. That doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it?

The company is changing its ways, as the crowd cheers. This new lineup of audio equipment has much more pronounceable names, including the Ult Field 1. Ult for "ultimate" and Field for its portability, as a Sony spokesperson explained.

The new speaker is the smallest out of the Ult Field model lineup, and comes in four colors: off white, forest gray, black, and orange. It's about as long as your forearm and has the circumference of a soda can. Alongside its IP67 waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof ratings, Sony added a rustproof rating, catering to those who take the speakers to the beach where they're weathered by salty ocean water.

Sony Ult Field 1 orange speaker standing vertically on a table
Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Like its predecessor, you can position the speaker right-side up or on its side. The Ult Field 1 improves on the SRS-XE200's sound with more power and balance -- it doesn't prioritize one orientation, whether horizontal or vertical, over another. My songs sounded just as vibrant in both orientations.

Listening to music on this speaker has been such a joy. I've spent about an hour a day on average listening to music through the speaker, and the battery life lasted around a week and a half. That's in line with the 12-hour battery life that Sony advertises. The SRS-XE200 had a 16-hour battery life, but what the Ult Field 1 loses in battery life, it makes up for in improved sound.

Also: The best sound systems

In a side-by-side demo of the SRS-XE200 and the Ult Field 1, the distinction in sound and clarity was night and day: the already-clear SRS-XE200 sounded tinny in the presence of the Ult Field 1's crystal-clear sound.

Connectivity is a breeze: the speaker paired nearly instantly to my phone and my friend's phone as we swapped DJ shifts at dinner.

Sony Ult Field 1 orange speaker button controls

To get more bass out of your songs on the Ult Field 1 you can press the Ult button on the right. 

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

The Ult lineup, which includes the $130 Ult Field 1, the $500 Ult Field 7, the $1,200 Ult Tower 10, and the $200 Ult Wear headphones, prioritize big, booming bass. When I wanted to engulf myself in the bass of one of my favorite songs, Dijon's Talk Down, I pressed the Ult button on my speaker, and it immediately transformed the song into a pulsing anthem that reverberated in my living room.

You don't need to listen to booming bangers to be impressed by the clarity of this speaker, either. When I played my classical music playlist, the violins and strings sounded so close in proximity and undeterred by the build of the speaker, it was as if I had just walked into the New York Philharmonic for a concert.

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While I was testing it, I spent two hours of my Saturday afternoon in bed, doing nothing else but listening to music solely because of how clear it sounded. The Ult Field 1 is a speaker that plays sound as it should be, true to how its creators intended.

Not only can the speaker project a rich, bass-heavy sound, it can also get loud. When I powered up the Ult Field 1 at my 15-person Easter party, it held its own, shocking me with its large power despite its compact size. 

ZDNET's buying advice 

After a few weeks of listening to every song, album, and playlist on my phone, I'm confident to recommend this new speaker to anyone looking for a sub-$150 sound system that punches well above its price point. The Ult Field 1 is perfect as a speaker for a small apartment or anyone who wants to be surrounded by juicy bass and transparent sound.  

You can snatch the speaker at a discount right now, for $98 on Amazon, just in time for your beach hangouts, grill outs, and Fourth of July parties.

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