Love at first sight (and listen). That’s how we remember the UE Boom – the first wireless speaker from Ultimate Ears to impress us, but not the last – the MegaBoom (the Boom but bigger) and the Roll (a 2015 Award-winner) have hit the mark since, and the new UE Boom 2 is by no means the runt of the litter.
“The strap loop and tabs covering the USB/3.5mm ports are in the recessed base”
If its very literal name isn’t enough of a clue, it’s the next-gen Boom, which brings new internals, a tweaked exterior and a range of new colours. UE claims the speaker goes 25 per cent louder than the original Boom and has an improved wireless range of up to 30 metres too.
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.
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, UE has dropped the 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).
More after the break
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 UE 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? Yes, it does.
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 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 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, 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. UE has built on the success of its debut wireless speaker with added usability and improved performance, producing yet another winner. Boom indeed.
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See all our wireless speaker reviews