UE Megaboom wireless speaker
The Megaboom may be larger, louder and bassier than the Boom, but is it actually better?
- Excellent ruggedised design, waterproofing and apps
- Fantastic sound, including improved bass
- Exceptional battery life well beyond 20 hours
- Weight and size have reduced its portability
- Price jump hasn’t seen a comparable jump in audio or feature quality
- Cylindrical design not to everyone’s tastes
Price$ 350.00 (AUD)
Ultimate Ears has a strong professional audio pedigree, but was perhaps not so well known among other brands in the consumer market. That all changed last year with the launch of the UE Boom wireless speaker -- a classic marriage of good design, excellent usability, waterproofing and some phenomenal sound for the size and price.
The Boom was around the size of an oversized beer can and cost $199, but sounded like far more expensive Bose and B&O systems, spilling noise in a 360 degree arc. Yes the bass was slightly lacking, but it was a brilliant speaker you could shove in your pocket, take to the beach, play in the shower (I know, I’ve done it) -- and it also paired with another unit to give you decent stereo surround sound. Best of all, it had battery life in excess of 12 hours. Reviewer’s confession: I bought one, and three of my friends bought them based on their experiences with mine.
So a year later, here we are looking at the UE MegaBoom. It’s size has taken a leap, as has the sound quality and battery life -- but so has the price. The larger model will now set you back $350 a piece -- is the jump worth it?
Design and features
The original UE Boom came in quite a wide range of funky and off kilter colours, from white to electric green. The UE Megaboom at the Australian launch has just navy blue and charcoal models to choose from. It retains the same physical cylindrical design as the original Boom, with a rubberised coat along its top and base and the buttons, but the majority of the body is wrapped in a very cool looking coarse cross hatch fabric -- which is coated in a ‘superhydrophobic finish’ to keep water out.
UE has taken on board some of the feedback regarding ports. Previously, it had a rather flimsy rubber seal covering the USB power and headphone jacks that easily fell off and could go missing. This is now a proper, permanently attached, thick rubber stopper that isn’t going anywhere. The plus and minus volume buttons remain simple and elegant, and there is a simple power button on top, plus a Bluetooth ‘find’ button. One of the best design features of the original remains, a D-ring (for hanging) that unscrews and is actually tripod-attachable -- very useful for outdoor parties.
The intricate controls are via the downloaded smartphone app, which is very capable -- it has a wide variety of equalizer settings, the device can now be turned off remotely (previously you had to turn it off with the physical button), and you can pair the device to other Booms (discussed later in this review). It can also now function as an alarm clock. Being firmware based, all these features are now backwards compatible to the previous UE Boom. Any other devices that connect via Bluetooth to the Megaboom (such as laptops) simply use it as a ‘dumb’ speaker.
The Bluetooth in the Megaboom now reaches 30m and is much more reliable than its smaller predecessor, which would often cut out or jump when more than 5-10m away, especially if you went behind walls.
The most significant change for users is the size of the megaboom. It’s gone from the size of a beer can to the size of a 1.5L bottle of Coke. There are plusses and minuses to this.
As mentioned earlier, the battery life has taken a huge jump. It will last for 20 hours easily, depending on how you thrash it. I have regularly exceeded this -- it lasted the entirety of the Australia Day weekend away without a charge. It is also significantly heavier, around 900g. This is not enough to be a burden, but it’s now no longer a device to shove in your pocket on the way out the door. It needs a bag of its own.
Overall, the design is excellent. Like the original, it’s sturdy, functional, completely waterproof, and takes a hell of a beating. It leans towards the ‘ruggedised’ aesthetic, rather than any exotic Bose-esque luxury flair, entirely appropriate for its use case.
The original UE Boom produced astonishingly good quality sound for its size and price range. No, it didn’t topple a Bose mini-speaker or anything more high-end, but it was half the price and a leader for the price point.
Unfortunately for the Megaboom, the sound quality jump -- while remaining excellent -- does not justify the price jump. The bass is vastly improved compared to the original UE Boom, and the maximum volume level is very, very loud. But for $350, you start drifting into the $399-$500 market area, which is beyond casual users and into the luxury end of the mini-speaker market. You do get better quality from Bose systems in that price range, even if they can’t match the volume.
The sound quality remains beautifully crisp and clear, and well rounded. The bass improvement now means that pop, hard rock and hip-hop sound much better, but subtlety has been lost for more intricate music, such as acoustic, classic or multi-textured sophisticated arrangements -- again, not this product’s target market. The volume is more than enough for anyone, and can fill any house, backyard or beach scenario -- I regularly use it as a TV speaker. The oomph you get from such a small unit, while not as impressive as the size-quality/volume of the original, remains outstanding.Read more: Panasonic SC-ALL8 multi-room wireless speaker
One of the best features of the original UE Boom and the MegaBoom is its pairing. UE is now boasting that it can have 10 Booms or Megabooms paired to the same source, giving a crazy surround sound experience. That’s right, you don’t have to just pair Boom with Boom or MegaBoom with MegaBoom. With a firmware update, they will all pair seamlessly.
Unfortunately, at the time of print, the Boom-Megaboom pairing feature was not yet available, so I was unable to test it. But UE did provide me with a demonstration. The problem is, again, buying two $350 speakers for pairing purposes really means you should just plonk down on a Bose; the sound quality just isn’t quite there. Put simply, we don’t recommend going out and buying several booms, but if you and a friend each have one, and go on holiday together, it does create a better sound experience.
What’s the verdict?
To conclude, the UE Megaboom is an excellent all round speaker, with brilliant battery life, a great feature set and superb design. The problem I have is with the pricing. This is now in the premium-priced Bluetooth speaker category, and its sound quality, while good, is not going to be keeping Bose and others up at night.
The size and weight of the unit also removes the portability of the original -- which was another key selling feature. Personally, I would recommend readers get two UE Boom’s and pair them (they were selling for $180 at JB Hifi at the time of writing).
Ironically, UE may have made such an excellent product with the UE Boom, and offered it at such a great price point, that it its successor, the MegaBoom, is a less desirable speaker system.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Plex Cloud is now open to all paid users
- Google eyes remote content controls for parents in YouTube Kids app
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTFull Stack .Net DeveloperWA
- CCImplementation Manager/PlannerQLD
- FTChange AnalystQLD
- FTProject Manager - Accountin Finance and AssetWA
- CCAppian Developer x 2VIC
- FTLooking for Software TestersACT
- FTSplunk Software Developer | 6mth ContractVIC
- FTApplication Support SpecialistQLD
- FTSecurity Dev Ops and Java DeveloperVIC
- FTManager - Commercial ClientsACT
- CCCloud Architect - AzureVIC
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- TPICT Customer Support OfficerNSW
- FTProject Manager Large ICT Enabled Business Change ProjectQLD
- CCSenior PMO AnalystNSW
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Configuration Engineer - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- CCChange LeadQLD
- TPChange Management - Multi-stream people change program**NSW
- FTSenior Business AnalystQLD
- FTInfrastructure EngineerACT
- CCPega DeveloperACT
- TPMobile Application DeveloperVIC
- CCTechnical Business AnalystNSW