UE Boom Review: Big Sound Never Looked So Good

You may not have heard of Ultimate Ears, and for that, you can be forgiven. What you should definitely hear, however, is how good their latest speaker sounds.

What Is It?

It’s called the UE Boom. UE, or Ultimate Ears, was a company started by Jerry Harvey (not that one) with a dual-speaker in-ear monitor product. It was sold exclusively to bands playing concerts, and their tech has appeared in the ears of everyone from Van Halen and Kiss right through to Linkin Park.

The company was bought by Logitech who now use the technologies of UE to distribute technology under the same branding. The UE Boom is one such gadget, and it’s amazing.

The UE Boom is a portable speaker that stands at 18 centimetres tall, 6.5 centimetres wide and measures 538 grams. It packs Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, so you can pair your Android and some Windows Phone devices with a single tap. It supports up to eight devices being paired and also packs a microphone so you can use it as a speakerphone.

UE distributes an app that lets you stream music from one source to two Boom speakers simultaneously for better sound around a larger area.

It’s also water resistant, not waterproof, thanks to the resistant acoustic skin it’s wearing.

What’s Good?

First of all, this thing looks fantastic. The close weave of the outer shell makes this thing look like it’s wearing a handsomely knit scarf, and being able to throw it at liquid environments from rainy days, pool parties and even in the shower is perfect. Every portable speaker, like every smartphone, should be at least water-resistant from now on.

The sound isn’t just full from the UE Boom, it’s freaking loud. Bass and mids sound awesome from the handsome column-shaped portable speaker. We used it in our hands-on with the Leap Motion and were almost deafened.

The design means that you can have it in just about any orientation and have it sound great. Not only does it stand to attention and throw sound everywhere, you can also lie it down on its side and use it as a front-facing speaker.

The speaker is designed just so that when you lie it down, it rests on the rubber volume-adjust accent at the back of the unit so its not rocking endlessly. It also has a little hook on the bottom which lets you stick it just about anywhere and play tunes. Last weekend we had a dinner party outside and hung it from a nearby clothes line with a peg. It’s a wonderfully versatile gadget.

What’s Bad?

I never thought this would be a complaint I’d have about a Bluetooth speaker, but it’s one I have with the UE Boom: it’s almost too loud to be used as an indoor product.

When we wanted to use it in the office or at my house, we’d always have it down to two notches of volume, which was still too noisy for the context. One notch was too quiet, which meant it was easier just not using it indoors. It’s a great outdoor speaker because of how loud it is, but that means that it’s not really an indoor product.

It’s excellent that the app allows you to pair two speakers together and use them simultaneously for a bigger sound experience, but it requires a little bit of mucking about to get it going: certainly more than an average user would care to do.

It’d also be great if it were waterproof rather than just water-resistant. This is a great speaker to use in the shower — if you turn it down to one notch that is — but you get out and hurriedly dry it almost before you dry yourself because you want to keep it alive. It’d be nice not to have to worry about that.

Should You Buy It?

This is the perfect speaker for outdoor use. It’s relatively affordable, handsome, versatile and oh-so-loud. This is your new summer music companion.


Comments

    The volume thing is specific to the iPhone, I find - if you're using an Android phone, which can adjust its Bluetooth output volume independently of the UE Boom's hardware volume, then it's an even better speaker.

    I have two UE Booms and I love them. I've used them at parties, out on picnics, while I'm working on my car in the garage, for night-time podcast listening...

    Basically you should all go and buy one (or two, and link them for proper stereo using the app).

    Yet another review where the reviewer fails to mention the most important thing everyone wants to know: HOW MUCH THE BLOODY THING COSTS. They're $199 from Harvey Norman or $170 from JB Hifi.

    I have smaller model (Boombox https://www.officeworks.com.au/retail/products/Technology/Audio/iPod-Accessories/Ipod-Docks/LOG00265RD) and its excellent.
    The smaller one is $75 at officeworks.

    The big ones look nice and I'm sure sound even better.

    Last edited 25/11/13 4:15 pm

    A firmware update came out recently (the last week or two), which addresses the volume issue on iOS devices - at lower volumes, the volume control is much more precise.

    I've got a number of wireless speakers and these are definitely my favourite. The sound level and quality really stands out against others. Only drawback was the large increments at lower volumes, but will update the firmware, as suggested above.

    I cannot fault these speakers, I have the smallest of the range and it is brilliant. Works well for pretty much anything!

    No mention of the battery life, no mention of call quality using it as a speaker-phone, no mention of the speakers & passive radiators in the device, no price, no link to the speaker, no link to the leap motion, no comparison to any other similar products and saying its too loud is daft when the real problem is that the volume increments are too big...oh Luke...

    Also, how does a device that produces 360 degree sound become a front facing speak we when you lie it down? How does pairing the device with up to 8 devices work? Who takes a speaker in the shower with them?

    I've got this guy's little brother the boombox and I love it. I've also had a play with the boom in a shop and was similarly impressed. My only real criticism is that I've made 2 calls using it as a speaker-phone and the person I was talking to immediately complained about the sound quality on both occasions (i.e. they couldn't hear me very well, I could hear them just fine). With both speakers the mids and bass were good but the top end lacks clarity, I don't regard this as a big shortfall though due to the low price, small size and other features of these guys.

    One more thing, the white demo models of both boom and boombox speakers I've seen in shops have both been pretty brown I assume from many dirty hands touching them. So they seem to show any dirtiness in a big way primarily on the rubbery parts.

    Great product, terrible review.

      You're expecting too much from this site.

        Wise words for me to contemplate Sir, thank you. (seriously)

        I read similar news from lots of sites but I think I end up back here because I value hearing from Australian writers. I just wish the quality of the articles was better. It feels like the balance is leaning far more towards quantity than quality with undercurrents of deliberately incomplete or contentious writing to push the comments section. This gets them repeat clicking and hence more funding from their ads. I'm not saying this is the truth of the matter, just how this site makes me feel. I know it's is an odd place to ask this but if anyone has suggestions as to where I might find more in-depth Australian tech writing I'd love to hear them.

        I don't expect every question or detail I've mentioned in my previous post to be covered but feel that the absence of all of that information calls into question the credibility of the author's recommendation.

    I've got one and I love it. But it supports up to eight devices being paired at once? Did you try it? I've never been able to pair more than one.

    I must be doing something wrong. I have tested all the UE Boombox thingies in Dicksmith with various DAPs connected via aux no less, I found all of them (even the UE BoomBox which costs $299) to be sadly disappointing. Loud tinny sound, no bass, and bass distorts even at low volumes.
    I too have my fair share of the wireless speakers, Creative D5 is pretty much as low as I would go (but then that's not very portable).
    Check out the Bose MiniSound Link, it goes for $250, is very small yet thumped the UE Boombox in the sound department (and is $50 cheaper).

    I was really wanting one of these UE Boomboxes to be good as I have a 40% discount code to burn with logitech, shame these are all shite.

      I can't say anything about the UE Boombox but I tested the UE Boom alongside the SoundLink Mini (which was the one I had gone in there to buy) and JBL Charge at JB Hi-Fi and we all agreed - the two sales guys and me - that the UE Boom was way better overall. The Mini has loads of bass but nothing else, the JBL has really bright upper-mids and treble with almost no bass but the Boom was the one that put it all together for a really well balanced sound with plenty of bass, good mid-range and crisp highs. The Bose sounded like the Boom with a big, thick blanket over it. And the Boom is $50 cheaper than the Mini. 9 months later and the UE Boom still blows me away every time I use it.

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