Ultimate Ears is known for standing alongside the likes of JBL and Bose when it comes to producing good quality portable speakers, and these speakers can often be seen being used by dancers and performers all around Singapore, whether it is for producing good music for dance practice or rehearsals in open spaces. Or, simply used as a subtle way to holler at passersby that dancers are in ‘da house.
As a dancer myself, I have known that a significant number of people from my social circle – friends and mentors alike – are advocates of UE speakers, and they usually use them whenever we meet for dance practice. With that being said, I decided to put the UE Megaboom (2015), and the UE Wonderboom (2017) to the test.
The 2015 UE Megaboom is roughly 20 cm in height and 8 cm in diameter, which makes it comfortable to hold either with one hand or both. It is a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that features a cylindrical shape, which provides a 360-degree sound quality. The speaker is also relatively lightweight (slightly less than a kilogram), which makes it highly portable for everyday use. In my opinion, its cylindrical exterior also makes the speaker look very cool. Even if you don’t have a reason to bring it out… you’ll do it anyway for the brownie points.
The futuristic-looking Kevlar mesh that wraps around much of the surface of the speaker is also very rugged and nice to the touch too.
It boasts a Bluetooth range of about 30 metres, a 20-hour battery life at full charge, as well as mobile compatibility with the Megaboom app: it grants the user access to more exclusive features, such as being able to turn it off and on remotely, and even sound customisation for a heightened level of adrenaline and decibels. As an added feature, the app also allows you to link it up to a second UE Megaboom for an extra kick.
The UE Wonderboom, on the other hand, is the very definition of the old adage, “good things come in small packages”. Like its big brother, the UE Megaboom, it shares its waterproof, Bluetooth and mobile app compatibility. That’s where the similarities end, however. The UE Wonderboom is half the size, weight, and sadly, half the battery life as compared to its larger sibling. The UE Wonderboom also does not have its own app. In my opinion, it is still a robust little beast of a speaker, and since its more than half less costly than the Megaboom, its affordability makes up for any of its shortcomings.
While I was personally testing the UE Wonderboom in a dance session, I noticed that the speaker produced a very crisp and clear sound, with an audible difference between the treble and bass. In short, the sound quality is near top-notch. I also like that the inclusion of a little band at the top – combined with its ultra-lightweight – means that I can dangle it on one finger if I wanted to, and hold on to something else while I’m at it!
If I have any complaints, it would be that the volume buttons are a little hard to press at times, and unlike its predecessors, the buttons are not labelled. However, it is nice that the UE button on top acts as a pause and play button, so you do not have to use your phone for that. For its price tag, you are getting way more than your money’s worth with this little beauty. Students and starving artists, this is could be the audio speaker that you have been looking for.
Onto the UE Megaboom: this particular speaker has been no stranger to dancers, and has been used on various dance floors since its release. Small wonder really, because in addition to looking really cool, it produces a deep, rich bass and a sharp, lively treble. And it is very loud: at maximum volume, it can be heard from 3 floors away! So a word of caution, unless you actually want to annoy your neighbours, you may not want to get this thing going at full volume. Aside from that, a voice will ring out and tell you how much battery life is left if you pressed and held the volume buttons – an extremely useful and handy feature!
Does the product justify the almost-$400 price tag though? Certainly, if you can appreciate the fact that this speaker comes with its own app that allows you access to a whole list of new features, and has a battery life and audible range twice as long as its younger sibling, the UE Wonderboom. If you have $400 to spare for a top-of-the-line portable speaker, you will not be disappointed.
Visuals courtesy of Ultimate Ears.