Love at first sight (and listen).
That’s how we remember the original Ultimate Ears Boom – the first wireless speaker from Ultimate Ears to impress us, but not the last.
The Megaboom (the Boom but bigger), the Roll 2 (a current Award-winner) and Megablast (Megaboom with Alexa) have all hit the mark since, and the Ultimate Ears Boom 2 is by no means the runt of the litter.
It has now been succeeded by the third-gen Boom 3, but 2015's Boom 2 is still a great bargain if you're looking for a fun and affordable portable speaker.
- Read the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 review
If its very literal name isn’t enough of a clue, it’s the updated version of the first Boom, which brings new internals, a tweaked exterior and a range of new colours. Ultimate Ears claims the speaker goes 25 per cent louder than the original Boom and has an improved wireless range of up to 30 metres.
But, like a good movie sequel, the Boom 2 has a lot of the charm of the original, too. Bluetooth (with one-touch NFC compatibility) takes care of wireless connectivity, although a 3.5mm input – alongside a microUSB charging port on the bottom of the speaker, now covered by flaps – provides an alternative for hardwiring your smartphone or tablet. It's something worth keeping in mind as the Boom 3 does away with the 3.5mm input.
There’s still a claimed 15-hour battery life (from a 2.5 hour charge), a built-in mic to allow it to be used as a speakerphone, 360-degree sound, and a waterproof (to IPX 7 standards), rugged exterior.
First-class butterfingers will be pleased to know it’s ‘drop-proof’ from up to five feet too, and designed to ‘get wet, muddy and beat up’. Though we didn’t have the stamina to go 12 rounds with it, we purposely knocked it off the table and briefly ran it under the tap, and it survived to tell the tale.
Remaining its fun, colour-coordinating self, Ultimate Ears has dropped the original Boom’s seven colours for six new, and even flashier, ones: Cherrybomb (red), Yeti (white), Phantom (grey and black), GreenMachine (green and blue), Tropical (purple and orange) and BrainFreeze (blue).
But unless you’re well versed in which colours belong to which generation of speaker, telling the Boom 2 from its predecessor requires a keen eye.
The wraparound woven fabric grille simply looks more tightly woven and slightly better attached to the rubberized control strip running down its middle.
The snazzy up-and-down volume buttons return (hold them together and a voice lets you know the current battery level) and there’s also a new tap control so you can pause, play and skip tracks by tapping the top of the speaker once or twice.
Just make sure the function is activated in the Ultimate Ears Boom app.
Speaking of which… as with the original model, the app lets you pair two Boom speakers to play in stereo mode, or together for a bigger, louder sound. Does that mean multi-room? To the extent that you can play the same song on multiple speakers, yes. You can't set up different zones à la Sonos, though.
The app also lets you rename your Boom 2, check its battery percentage, power it on and off, and set an alarm with your choice of song. A new feature for the app, ‘Block Party’, lets three devices connect to a single Boom 2, Megaboom or Roll speaker and add songs to a shared playlist so you and your friends can channel your inner DJ.
When it's standing upright, as it should be, the 360-degree sound is more than big and open enough to fill every corner of the average room – impressive for a speaker that could fit inside a pint glass.
In Enya’s Caribbean Blue (opens in new tab) the ethereal waves of synths and layers of lush, cascading vocal harmonies ooze out of the Boom 2 effortlessly, with space and openness, never sounding strained or muddled.
That ease of delivery was a major pull of the original, but the successor moves things on with greater transparency.
Underneath, the nimble strings have texture and rhythm and there’s more going on dynamically than you’d expect.
While it can’t chuck out the weight and power of the Megaboom, bass is better defined than on its predecessor.
Mids and treble have more insight too and while it’s still lively rhythmically, its fancy footwork is that bit more surefooted. In Nas’ N.Y. State Of Mind (opens in new tab), there’s tighter sync between the beat, piano loops and twinkly chimes.
We can vouch for it being louder than the original (not that it needed to be), though despite cramming in two larger drivers and passive radiators the Boom 2 still lets distortion creep in at the highest volume levels.
Still, it will happily sprint along trouble-free at 80 per cent volume, which is still good for a party.
The Boom, but better: that’s what it boils down to. Ultimate Ears has built on the success of its debut wireless speaker with added usability and improved performance, producing yet another winner with its Boom 2. The latest Boom 3 has newer and slicker features, sure, but even three years on since its debut, the tidy Boom 2 delivers a well-rounded performance at a decent price that's worth looking out for.