Review: Sony’s ULT Audio Line Offers Powerful Bass

The company’s new series of speakers and headphones aim for a concert-like experience

May 29, 2024 10:29 am
Four styles of the Sony ULT FIELD 1 portable speaker
Four styles of the Sony ULT FIELD 1 portable speaker, now available for pre-order

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What is the ultimate sound?

If you’re Sony, it’s crafting a new series of speakers and headphones that emulate what it’s like to be at the front row of a concert. Dubbed the ULT POWER SOUND series, the new, bass-centric audio gear consists of three Bluetooth speakers (ULT TOWER 10, ULT FIELD 7, ULT FIELD 1) and a pair of wireless headphones (ULT WEAR).

Besides the name, the unifying factor here is the ULT button, which enhances your music experience with one or two levels of earth-trembling sound modes, primarily focused on deep bass and high-sound pressure.

And we do mean pressure. The ULT button was so powerful during a test run of the TOWER 10 that I was actually worried about my heart; I felt the music in and sometimes through my chest. Even the smaller FIELD speakers and WEAR headphones produced a rather aggressive experience. If you like bass (particularly electronica), it’s heaven. If you don’t … the ULT line probably isn’t the ultimate listening experience.

We got a brief preview of all four products earlier this spring and then spent a few additional days on our own with the smallest speaker and the headphones. Outside of the sound, the smartest thing about the ULT line is its name — a bit cheesy, sure, but it replaces Sony’s baffling labeling system. It’s ULT whatever, not the SRS-XE200. The branding team and consumers will be thrilled.

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If you’re seriously into music — including its nuances — you’re better off with Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones, which, terrible name aside, remain an audiophile’s best friend. ULT WEAR might be half the price, but its focus is less on audio clarity and more on presenting your playlist as powerfully as possible. 

The noise cancellation here is solid. The bass? At ULT 1, it’s certainly commanding. Press the ULT again, however, and it becomes overwhelming. After trying several electronic and rock tracks on all levels, I never found an experience where ULT 2 offered a preferable listening experience; turning it off presented a sound that felt a bit airy and distant, although certainly less distorted than the bass-heavy modes. 

I had some minor other quibbles: The headphones made my ears a bit warm, the wearing detection didn’t always work and the mix of both touch and tactile controls wasn’t ideal. Aesthetically, these cans offer an inoffensive but rather drab experience (you’re limited to black, forest grey and off-white colorways).

On the other hand, battery life was exceptional (30 hours with ANC on), the ambient and noise cancelling modes accomplished their tasks admirably and the accompanying app can certainly help you find the ideal EQ settings. 

If bass is the most important thing in your music experience — and according to a web survey conducted by Sony, strong bass is by far the most preferred sound among general headphone users — these are an affordably strong option that lack refinement. But again, refined isn’t probably what you’re looking for, right?


The FIELD 1 was designed to be loud and portable. Mission accomplished. While still not a design standout as far as looks — the orange colorway excepted — this is a Bluetooth speaker that packs quite a sonic punch for its modest frame.

Lightweight and easy to carry in one hand (thanks to a built-in strap), the FIELD 1 is IP67 water-resistant, dustproof and shockproof. It sounds pretty similar whether it’s standing on its side or lying vertically. Unlike the other ULT models, the FIELD offers only two sonic modes (ULT on or off), which is fine; nothing sounds distorted here.

While having ULT off delivers a clear, apartment-encompassing but rather airy audio experience, turning it on transforms the speaker from an everyday unit to something more robust. At modest volumes, a select playlist of music (primarily electronic/rock acts like Justice, Joywave and M83) streamed two rooms away in my apartment felt vibrant and punchy, sans distortion. 

If you keep ULT mode on, your music has a real heft. The downside is that it seems to drain the batteries; you’ll get 12 hours per charge with the bass-heavy mode off, but as little as three with it on. 


We only got a few minutes with these units at a makeshift showroom set up by Sony, so don’t consider this a full review. The TOWER 10 could basically replace a bar (or events venue) sound system; it’s a cabinet that offers 360-degree sound, party lights and karaoke, complete with a supplied wireless mic. On the ULT 2 setting, I was nearly leveled by a dance soundtrack playing about 15 feet away. 

The FIELD 7 replicates aspects of both the TOWER (dynamic lighting, karaoke) and the FIELD 1 (you can set it up horizontally or vertically, it’s semi-portable and also offers an IP67 rating). It might be your best party option if you’re on the go or not trying to replicate the front row at Coachella.

Final Verdict

I really liked the FIELD 1 — for a modest price point, it offers a powerful sound and a boosted bass mode that sets it apart from like-minded portable speakers (even if that mode tends to drain the battery). The WEAR headphones are a solid option if bass is your preference and you still want superior noise cancellation, although I’d stick with Sony’s higher-priced styles if you’re more about sonic quality.

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