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AudioReview 1815

More Boom for your buck? We tested the new UE loudspeakers.

Both Bluetooth speakers UE Boom and UE Megaboom are available in the third generation. After testing them, I was both impressed and annoyed.

But first things first: the sound. The smaller UE Boom 3 delivers an impressively big sound for its size that easily fills your living room. It’s also great for the kitchen or in the bathroom. As it stands upright on its side, it doesn’t take up much space and you’re bound to find a spot for it. This is a real plus when it comes to sound quality. After all, the quality greatly depends on the position in the room and the distance to the walls.

These devices are also suitable for outdoor use. However, it’s questionable whether other people will appreciate your soundtrack.

  • Boom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Lagoon Blue)
  • Boom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Lagoon Blue)
  • Boom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Lagoon Blue)
CHF 169.–
Ultimate Ears Boom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Lagoon Blue)
Expected to be available by the end of September.
29

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: Only 1 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: the day after tomorrow at 12:00h
  • Wohlen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: Only 3 piece(s)

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

  • MegaBoom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Night Black)
  • MegaBoom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Night Black)
  • MegaBoom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Night Black)
CHF 229.–
Ultimate Ears MegaBoom 3 (2.1 Channel, NFC, Night Black)
Expected to be available by the end of September.
23

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: the day after tomorrow at 13:00h
  • Lausanne: Only 1 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: the day after tomorrow at 12:00h
  • Wohlen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: the day after tomorrow at 12:15h

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

As the name suggests, Megaboom 3 delivers more bass than Boom 3 – not least because of its size. This device sounds great. But the bass can almost become a bit too domineering if you’re using the speaker in a room with few sound-absorbing elements (as is the case in most kitchens and bathrooms). The app features an equaliser that allows you to add or remove bass and treble. Having said that, the equaliser cannot change the overall sound characteristic of the speaker.

This also becomes apparent when I compare the sound of the UE Boom 3 to the Boom 1. The latter has significantly less bass than the Boom 3 and generally sounds flatter – a drawback the equaliser can’t make up for. Although there’s not a huge difference to the Boom 3, it’s still very perceivable; even for non-audiophiles like myself. Unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands on a Boom 2 at such short notice. However, after reading the manufacturer’s description and test reports, the sound seems to be very similar.

Happy family: Megaboom 3, Boom 3, Boom 1

Spatial sound yes, even distribution no

Ultimate Ears boasts with «360° sound» for their third generation. The volume buttons no longer sit on a rubber surface but directly on the fabric. Although this definitely looks prettier, there’s no loudspeaker beneath the buttons. In other words, also the third generation fails to emanate sound equally in all directions. Instead, the sound comes from both sides. In the video, I demonstrate this by covering the treble range (above). This changes the sound on the side and the treble is swallowed. If I cover the speaker with my hand at the front and the back, this doesn’t happen.

In spite of this, the speaker itself already creates a kind of spatial sound. This sparked my curiosity: What would two speakers sound like? Maybe I can replace my «real» hi-fi system with two Booms? No more cable clutter and no more massive speakers that need lots of space and generally produce too much bass reflex!

Stereo mode

Via the app’s party mode, you can simultaneously blast your music through up to 150 (!) Boom speakers. For this test, I have a Boom 3 and a Megaboom 3 at my disposal, so these two will have to do for now. Obviously, this creates even more spatial sound. I’m impressed from the start. But what about creating a stereo effect, meaning one speaker playing back the left channel and the other the right channel? The video below soon gives me the answer to this question: no. The sound coming from just the left or right channel is always played back over both speakers.

But a true stereo mode, which also allows you to select the balance, has existed for a while now. The EQ affects both speakers. In the past, it has not been possible to select stereo mode when you double up your Boom and Megaboom. It seems that nothing’s changed here. At least, I didn’t manage to do so with iOS or Android. However, to my surprise, the stereo mode is available if you combine Boom 1 and Boom 3.

Stereo is possible when combining older Boom models

Problems under Android

Some things did not run smoothly for me under Android. The app crashed quite frequently, the battery status constantly stayed at 20 per cent – which was completely wrong – I couldn’t switch the speaker off via the app and worst of all: When using several speakers in party mode, the music would regularly cut out. During my test, UE rolled out an update of the Android app. So I had to test everything all over again. Sadly, the update didn’t improve anything (as at: App version 7.0.206, 22 September). I used two different Android smartphones for my test; one of them with its factory settings.

At least the firmware update for Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 was easily done via the app. Unlike the update for Boom 1, which required me to install a software on my PC and hook up the speaker.

To pair Boom 3 after it was already paired with another device (but not connected), I had to reset the speaker each time. In other words, keep the power and minus button pressed for 10 seconds and then modify all the settings again. I doubt this was intended by the manufacturer. Sometimes, even this method didn’t work straightaway.

A little push into the water

Booms have been waterproof from the first generation. But UE Boom 3 comes with a small improvement: It is supposed to swim on the surface rather than sink to the bottom of whichever body of water it has ended up in. Apparently, this has always been the case with the Megaboom (I never tried it out). So if the speaker floats, does that mean you can listen to music when you’re on the water?

Not really. Even though the Bluetooth connection remained more or less stable, the speakers were under the water’s surface and the sound was hardly audible. After fishing it out again, the music sounds a bit tinny but not for very long. The speaker soon sounds like new again.

Even handier

The new Booms have an extra, multifunctional button: Push it once to pause or continue the music; push it twice to skip to the next track; hold the button to jump to the next playlist. The playlists are defined in the app. However, this feature doesn’t currently work for Spotify but is limited to Apple Music (iOS) or Deezer (Android). Under iOS, I was able to add locally stored music, for example full albums, to the playlist. This didn’t work under Android. If you don’t use Deezer, the button is only for play/pause or skip to the next track. Better than nothing.

A small yet nice change is that the charging cable is no longer connected underneath the speaker but on the side at the bottom. This means the speaker no longer has to be awkwardly positioned when it’s charging but stands upright as usual. What’s more, the latest generation is compatible with the charging station for the UE Blast. But I didn’t test it out.

  • POWER UP (White)
  • POWER UP (White)
  • POWER UP (White)
CHF 49.–
Ultimate Ears POWER UP (White)
The Ultimate Ears POWER UP charging station keeps the mobile WLAN/Bluetooth speakers BLAST and MEGABLAST always charged and ready for any adventure.
9

Availability

Mail delivery

  • More than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

Collection

  • Basel: Only 2 piece(s)
  • Bern: Only 2 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: Only 2 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: Only 1 piece(s)
  • Wohlen: Only 2 piece(s)
  • Zurich: 5 piece(s)

PickMup

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Until now, the AUX input was also located on the underneath of the speaker, which was very impractical. But the manufacturer’s solution for this problem is disappointing: The cable input has been scrapped altogether. I’m not impressed. I like the option to connect a cable because it’s a lot less error-prone than Bluetooth. Plus it delivers a better sound quality (no additional compression).

The lowdown: mixed feelings

I get why Logitech has been successful with their Boom speakers. They’re just so handy. Not just on the go but at home, too. They’re definitely loud enough and the battery lasts long enough, as the predecessors proved. The new Booms sound and look good. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but, in my opinion, the design of version 3 is much nicer. In addition, the devices have been improved somewhat in terms of handling. However, if you already have a Boom, there’s no need to run out and get a new one.

But there are definitely some minus points, too. The problem with the Android app really annoyed me. And to forego the cable line-in altogether was a mistake. Under these circumstances, there’s no way I’m replacing my hi-fi system with two Booms.

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User

David Lee, Zurich

  • Teamleader Thor
My interest in IT and writing landed me in tech journalism early on (2000). I want to know how we can use technology without being used. Outside of the office, I’m a keen musician who makes up for lacking talent with excessive enthusiasm.

18 comments

3000 / 3000 characters

User Davidbrogli

Sehr guter Artikel, danke dafür! Werde mir zu hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit eine kaufen!

24.09.2018
User RealMajor

ich finde die ue boom's ned schlecht, aber sofern du auf laden per usb und auf den etwas kleineren formfaktor verzichten kannst würde ich dir wärmstens empfehlen die jbl xtreme 2 zu nehmen.. gibts grad in aktion für 219chf.. hab die boom2/megaboom und mehre verschiedene jbl's und klanglich können die ue boom überhaupt nicht mithalten ;-) so sehr ich auch freunde hatte zu beginn mit den ue boom2... verwende ich meistens meine jbl xtreme BTW die boom3 hat keinen 3.5mm jack audio eingang mehr ;-) und ist nicht wirklich bersser als die boom2... die megaboom sehe ich IMHO als fehlkauf... würde die nicht mehr kaufen.

25.09.2018
User RealMajor

fand die ue boom 2 zu beginn sehr interessant weil swiss design... ue > logitech (und epl lausanne)... praktisch ist sie allemal aber klanglich gibts fürs gleiche geld inzw "leider" resp erfreulicherweise viel besseres... die kleine sony xb31b(od xb41) sei noch ein tip recht grosser für kleines geld.. die grossen sonys sind aber eher unterdurchschnittlich

25.09.2018
User RealMajor

doch sony ....'^ ^ IMHO nur wenn es sich nicht anders einrichten lässt ... ansonsten IMHO "stay away from sony" =D die kameras sind inzw ja ganz gut aber sonst hats doch immer einen haken mit sony "its a trap " '^ ^

25.09.2018
User Anonymous

Und ganz wichtig. Beim xtreme und beim charge lassen sich die Akkus ziemlich einfach auswechseln. Die UE sind nur teurer Elektroschrott - da man die nicht öffnen kann ohne den verklebten Stoff zu zerstören.

21.10.2018
User RealMajor

@anonymous ...so sehr mich dein beitrag freut... stimmt dies leider nicht ganz so... auch bei den UE booms lassen sich die akkus wechseln ohne den Stoff zu zerstören... beim boom2 sind 2 stück 18650 zellen drinn... am besten n how 2 vid auf youtube kucken... wohin gegen ich dir völlig recht gebe dass der akkutausch bei den JBL's viel einfacher und leichter von statten geht... n normaler schraubendreher reicht.

22.10.2018
Answer
User PlasticTree

Während ich den Artikel gelesen habe, war ich die ganze Zeit am abwägen ob ich mir eine kaufen soll, und am Schluss steht da einfach so: kein Aux-Eingang. Dann war die Sache für mich gestorben...

27.09.2018
User RealMajor

naja sonst nimm halt die ältere ue boom 2 statt der neuen.. die hat noch den 3.5mm aux eingang, ich persönlich würde aber keine ue boom mehr kaufen... BTW schon lustig gibt hier wohl auch fanboys die ohne kommentar alles runter voten.. ich geb mal n daumen rauf ;-)

27.09.2018
Answer
User 105friend

Und wieso um Himmels Willen keinen usb c Anchluss? Leider keine Alternative so..

21.10.2018
User RealMajor

der usb anschluss ist rein zum aufladen des speakers, und sonst für nichts anderes... da spielts nicht so eine rolle... und so wie aussieht wollte logitech/UE nix an der ladeelektronik ändern also bleibt alles beim alten...

22.10.2018
User RealMajor

also weiss ja nicht wer es nötig hat hier n daumen runter zu geben doch... beim macbook und headfone jack beim smartphone wirds noch fast vom tenor gefeiert mit unnötigen und überteuerten dongles rumzurennen.. und hier wo es mit einem kleinen eifachem günstigen gut erhältlichem usb-c zu micro usb adapter erledigt ist... und man den speaker ja auch nicht täglich lädt ist auf einmal ein riesen "no go"... silly ppl smh

28.10.2018
User RealMajor

warum nicht gleicht das orig ue power up lade-dock als zubehör kaufen? dann haste gar keine kabbelei... und dann... warum nicht gleich stark bemängeln dass die ue boom3 nicht per induktion aufgeladen werden kann '^ ^ /ironie off

28.10.2018
Answer
User Aendu22

Ein (Sound)Vergleich der UE Boom/Megaboom mit ihren Kontrahenten wäre eine tolle Sache digitec!

14.10.2018
User RealMajor

die musste nicht gross vergleichen... die klingen im grossen und ganzen zimlich ähnlich, da hat sich nicht sehr viel getan ausser dem wegfallen des 3.5mm aux anschlusses... addition von wlan und amazon alexa... am besten mal bei speakertoni oder clavinet junkie auf YT reinsehen

22.10.2018
User RealMajor

ahh habs missverstanden sry ...kontrahenten ... nicht vorgänger =P naju doch auch dies wird binaural abgegeckt auf YT '^ ^

22.10.2018
User RealMajor

und sonst mal hier reinhören ;-) am besten mit KH switcher.oluvsgadgets.net/

22.10.2018
Answer