Gadgets & Smart Home Reviews

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.

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