Logitech’s Ultimate Ears brand first introduced the UE Boom Bluetooth speaker in 2013, and the company has just released a sequel — UE Boom 2. The updated UE Boom 2 is rated IPX7-rated waterproof and claims to offer extended Bluetooth range up to 100 feet. UE Boom 2 is also said to be 25 percent louder with improved sound. A new tap control system has also been added, which allows users to play/pause and skip tracks from the speaker itself. The new speaker can use the existing UE Boom app to pair two UE speakers, change equalizer settings, check the speaker’s battery level (as with the original UE Boom, Ultimate Ears claims this speaker gets 15 hours of battery life), and more. UE Boom 2 is offered in six different colors, and the speaker comes with a micro-USB cable and wall adapter for recharging.
If you’re familiar with the original UE Boom, your first glance at UE Boom 2 will make you wonder what’s changed. The speaker is almost identical to the last edition in terms of design. It’s roughly 7” tall with a 2.5” diameter, weighing about 1.2 pounds — a colorful cylinder that delivers 360-degree sound. There have been a few small tweaks, however. Because UE Boom 2 is waterproof, the audio port and micro-USB port on the bottom of the speaker now have an integrated seal, as opposed to the added-on rubber port cover. UE Boom 2 also loses the Bluetooth symbol near its Bluetooth button, and the power button’s design has been tweaked, as well. Overall, though, whatever you thought of UE Boom’s initial design won’t change here.
UE Boom 2’s sound is pretty much as advertised — a better version of UE Boom, now featuring larger (1 3/4”) active drivers and (1 3/4” x 3”) passive radiators. It’s good sound for the price — at times very good. Bass is punchy but not overly powerful. The clarity has improved, and Ultimate Ears wasn’t joking about the volume: UE Boom 2 pushes an already loud speaker to something that gets extremely loud for its size. When the speaker is nearby, you’re going to want to keep UE Boom 2 in the lower volume range. As before, to get the most out of UE Boom 2, you’re going to want to play music while the speaker is standing upright (the design prevents it from being charged when in this orientation). Speakerphone testing results were poor — a surprise when compared to the previous model.
UE’s claims of 100-foot Bluetooth range didn’t measure up in our testing. Though range can be influenced by a number of factors, we couldn’t get past the 60-70 foot range without dropping the connection. UE’s app is useful, and does allow UE Boom 2 to update and pair with other UE speakers, though that process was a bit of a pain for us. The new tap playback controls are another minor disappointment — you have to pick up the speaker and give it a solid little smack on top, as a light tap won’t do. UE probably could have put regular playback controls on top of UE Boom 2 without affecting the aesthetics — it would have made for a better experience.
Despite a few small issues, there’s a lot to like about the updated UE Boom 2. UE has improved the sound and made the speaker waterproof. Its eye-catching design is still as portable as ever. Though one might say such improvements are expected after a few years, UE Boom 2 is still worthy of anyone’s consideration in the $200 range, and should be the near the top of the list for those seeking portability, all-day use, and loud volume. The speaker earns our strong general recommendation.
Update: Though it came out near the beginning of the year, we didn’t receive UE’s Megaboom ($300) until recently. While it seems late to do a full review, we did want to give a brief overview of UE’s larger speaker. Megaboom is a bigger version of the UE Boom 2, and with that size comes bigger sound, and longer battery life—claimed to be 20 hours. Like UE Boom 2, the IPX7 waterproof Megaboom can connect to another UE speaker to double the sound, or to use as left and right stereo speakers.
Drivers and passive radiators in the Megaboom are slightly larger than those in UE Boom 2 (2” drivers and 2” x 4” passive radiators here), and as such, the sound can get a bit louder, and the bass a bit stronger. Is it worth the extra $100 at this point, when compared to the newer UE Boom 2? The sound is indeed fuller — there’s a difference, but it’s not that noticeable with some songs. UE Boom 2 measures up quite well, and its feature set is right there with it. Most would do fine with the smaller, newer speaker. We still give Megaboom our strong general recommendation — it’s powerful, and a very good buy in the $300 range.
Company and Price
Company: Ultimate Ears
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones, iPods