I am a huge advocate of the Sonos Play:1, so much so that I convinced Rob to take the plunge; he now has enough Sonos speakers in his house to effectively host a Guns N Roses reunion tour (you may have seen his early review of the Sonos). Why am I sharing this? Because we love audio products here at Two Men About Town, particularly those that really gets away superior sound and strong beats to maximise great music*.
On the hunt for something portable and shower-proof, following a failed attempt with two cheap no-name bluetooth speakers that didn’t quite cut the mustard, I decided to take the plunge and ordered up the UE Boom 2. But how would it work out?
UE Boom 2 by Ultimate Ears Review
The portable audio market is, quite literally, booming; a quick squint on the likes of Amazon shows that there is no shortage of brands and portable bluetooth-enabled speakers available. Having seen the UE Boom 2 demoed on several occasions at parties and heard good things about the brand (notably from Twitter’s The Martini Chaser, who I note should be on commission), I took the plunge at £124.99. I was so excited that I sat by the door all morning waiting for my Amazon Prime delivery. Yes, my life is that exciting.
First inspection was promising.
I like the UE Boom 2; it’s purposeful, featuring a 360 degree tightly woven durable mesh fabric covering the speaker, covered with a hard-wearing rubber band housing the volume and power controls. I opted for steady sensible black (because, I’m not as young and reckless as I once was), but a whole plethora of wacky colours are available from lime green to bright orange if that’s more your bag. I imagine my good buddy RobsRibs would enjoy something sickeningly bright, to which he’d be well catered for.
The whole unit feels solid and incredibly well made, the rubber seals around the charging and auxiliary ports in particular well-engineered to prevent water damage.
Waterproof? Only one way to find out…
I jumped in the shower with the UE Boom 2 to properly roadtest it. Lathering up (ooh err) and singing along to the very best of Take That (quite a sexy image, I admit), the UE Boom 2 took an absolute soaking and carried on regardless.
The guys at Ultimate Ears have designed the Boom 2 to withstand being fully submerged in water at a depth of a metre for up to thirty minutes, meaning that it’ll take a mild shower splashing in it’s stride. The Boom 2 really is a highly versatile product that will fit around whatever you’re up to, whether it be at home in the garden, shower or on-the-go. Impressive.
Features and Sound Quality
Having thrown everything from the likes of Tinie Tempah and Kings of Leon, through to Lionel Richie and Kenny Loggins (yeah, really…) at it, I can confirm the UE Boom 2 does a marvellous job at delivering high quality, room-filling 360-degree sound. The bass is punchy, the mid-tones are present and overall the sound quality is very good. Only at maximum volume did I find traces of distortion in Calvin Harris’ bass-rich Heatstroke, although most home-users would find this probably too loud in any event.
One neat feature that Ultimate Ears have developed (PartyUp), delivered through an iOS and Android companion-app, is the ability to ‘daisy-chain’ up to fifty (yes, FIFTY) Boom 2 speakers together, creating full stereo sound. I imagine that this could be a good laugh at a party or across a running/cycling group.
In addition to the above, the companion app also gives audio geeks the chance to fine-tune the sound settings through equaliser functionality, although I found the out-the-box setup perfectly adequate for my everyday needs.
Battery life looks pretty spot on at 15 hours, recharged through a mains-adaptor or bathroom friendly shaver-plug; the speaker can still operate whilst on charge. Putting it far simpler, it’ll easily last a session out at the park or at the BBQ.
UE Boom 2 vs Sonos Play:1?
The UE Boom 2 is small but mighty; I was impressed at how easily it could fill a room with immersive sound. Given this, you could be forgiven for questioning whether it is worth considering the UE Boom 2 over the Sonos Play:1 for permanent home-usage; yes, you could in theory do this, however the Sonos Play:1 really is streets ahead in sound quality. There’s no comparison.
The Boom 2 is a portable speaker and ticks all the boxes as an all-rounder, but doesn’t hold a flame to the work that Sonos have done with the rich, vibrant and fantastic sound quality offered by the Play:1 wireless speaker. It’s simple; if you want portability, the UE Boom 2 is for you. If you don’t, it’s Sonos all the way.
UE Boom 2 Review Verdict
If you want a portable bluetooth speaker, the UE Boom 2 is the one for you. Simple.
The UE Boom 2 is highly versatile, rugged (like me), exceptionally well-built and has great sound quality; it’ll take a beating, you can drop it in a bucket of water (should you be so clumsy) and it’ll still blast out your favourite tunes for hours at great audible quality that even your granny will admire.
Okay, £124.99 is a lot of cash-monies but having tried a lot of alternatives before sending them all back and splashing (get it…?) out on the UE Boom 2, I can say it’s worth every penny. I am a very happy man and that’s a bold claim.
It’s a no brainer. UE Boom 2 all the way.
* at the top of this review, I talked about ‘great music’. Remind me to tell you about RobsRibs’ Spotify playlists one day.