Ue Outdoor Speaker – In many ways, if you’ve seen the popular UE Boom wireless Bluetooth speaker, you’ve also seen the company’s new UE MegaBoom speaker. The same visual design is strategically placed – Megaboom is big. Overall, the UE Boom is very well reviewed and well thought out in the price and size range, so it’s a smart decision.
The UE Megaboom offers some improvements such as being fully waterproof instead of splash-proof. The main attraction, however, is its larger size and louder, fuller sound.
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The new speaker does not replace the original UE Boom. Instead, it targets those who want a more powerful Bluetooth solution. The UE Megaboom comes in at $100 more than the Boom, so potential buyers should be prepared to pay more.
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Is the new UE Megaboom worth the price? Like many people – most probably – I was interested in a small Bluetooth speaker not because of the novelty, but for its portability and practicality. The main goals are to produce the best possible sound in a practical package. All other features help facilitate this goal. If it can do that, it will be a solid option worth the price.
Although the UE Megaboom can fill a living room or backyard with sound, it is no substitute for Sonos, Samsung or other home stereo systems. It should be judged by its purpose – a small portable Bluetooth speaker rather than a whole-house solution.
Having tried a few Bluetooth speakers recently, the original UE Boom and now the UE Megaboom are exciting because they get the basics right and build the product from there. For example, if the speaker can’t produce good sound, it doesn’t matter how long the company can make the battery last.
The original UE Boom received rave reviews, so the wait for the UE MegaBoom is guaranteed. The Megaboom is bigger so it should sound better. That was my first thought and I was not disappointed. In fact, after switching back and forth between the UE Boom and UE Megaboom, I quickly became unimpressed with the smaller version as it tried to keep up with its larger siblings.
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The UE Megaboom provides enough bass resonance to keep songs from sounding out, but the high end of the spectrum never overwhelms either. At first listen, the large sub-sandwich size may sound louder than you expect.
The good thing is that if the UE Megaboom doesn’t sound like you’d hoped, the company also offers a mobile app to adjust the EQ. I stuck to the standard “Standard” for testing, but beyond a few presets, you also have manual control over a limited number of audio frequencies.
To get a feel for the speaker’s capabilities, I put it in a medium-sized living room at one-third volume and played D’Angelo’s latest album, Black Messiah. The album is a diverse collection of songs that rely heavily on bass runs, but also use multiple types of guitars on different songs and never look the same on vocals.
On the first song – “Ain’t That Easy” – the bass kicks in while the vocals pop nicely and flow into a constantly grooving song. Track after track I was thoroughly impressed by the sound dynamics. An annoying problem is that at low volume the speaker tends to sound cramped. Always felt like the sound was coming from a small portable speaker (which it is). It is not particularly noticeable at low volumes.
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If you’re looking for something with very low resonance, you might want to check out Bose’s SoundLink line of portable Bluetooth speakers. They have an amazing ability to reproduce the low end in a small package. However, I consider Bose speakers to be more limited overall.
Turning up the volume to the halfway mark on the UE Megaboom actually helped alleviate this cramped feeling. Increasing the volume would probably give the same narrowing results, but it didn’t. At half volume, the speaker amplified itself and sounded even better. The speaker never distorted at near full volume, but was too loud for comfort at home.
Outside the home, the speaker’s performance was surprising considering how difficult it is to push sound in an open space. Backed up against an area of constant street noise, the speaker needs to be at 50 percent volume with a 10-foot radius to be heard well. At a distance of about 25 feet, the speaker should be at 80 to 90 percent volume for comfortable listening.
With a standard EQ setting further away, any kind of bass is gone. Especially with rock music, no distinct bass line is pushed enough to hear anything above the high midrange. When I manually adjusted the EQ, pushed up a few low frequencies and cut the midrange, there was more audible low-end from afar. It’s still nothing to write home about.
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Most small Bluetooth speakers do poorly outdoors, and that includes the UE Megaboom. UE Megaboom should be good on a small patio or in quiet surroundings, but it is not a complete outdoor sound system.
In fact, the UE Megaboom begs to be outdoors with its IPX7 waterproof rating. This exceeds the Boom’s IPX4 splash rating and means the UE MegaBoom can be submerged in 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. You can’t really use it
Pool, meaning you shouldn’t be afraid to take the speaker to the beach, pool, snow resort or other outdoor adventure.
With the company saying it’s fully waterproof, the temptation to test the speaker’s waterproofing capabilities is great. Gotta throw it in the pool to see it, right?
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The Megaboom floats, so if you accidentally fall it won’t sink to the bottom of the lake.
Interestingly, the speaker turns off when submerged in water and starts playing again when it comes out of the water. Only the top part stops the music – keeping the speaker completely underwater with the upper rubber part visible allows music to be played underwater.
The speaker’s buoyancy is also good. If you accidentally drop it in the water, you don’t have to jump to save it.
In addition to its waterproof skills, the most important design element is the speaker’s advertised 360-degree sound, which is highlighted by its cylindrical shape when standing vertically. This is mostly true — by rotating the speaker you will notice a slight difference in volume and presence depending on the orientation of the speaker. It’s a bit more noticeable than the smaller version. Simply put, the design worked well for the original UE Boom, so there’s no reason to confuse it with its newer, larger sibling.
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I’d worry if the Boom range of speakers rested on their laurels for years, but right now it still looks attractive and is versatile. For example, being bigger and thicker than the original, I imagine the Megaboom will weigh heavily. It didn’t. It is heavy, but not noticeably so. The UE Megaboom comes in at under two pounds, so weight shouldn’t be a factor.
Although the speaker is slightly taller and wider, it is just as portable as the UE Boom. I can’t imagine a situation where the younger of the two goes on a trip while the older stays behind. The UE Megaboom is big enough to deliver loud sound, but small enough to be safely portable.
If portability isn’t a big issue and you have a little extra cash, you can hook up two speakers and pump out twice as much (maybe) twice the volume. You can also turn the two UE Megabooms into dedicated left and right stereo speakers. I wasn’t able to try two connected UE Megabooms, but I did try two connected UE Booms with solid results. You can also mix and match different speaker versions, but the speakers are not updated. Also, a software update coming later this year will make it possible to connect 10 different Boom devices together.
You don’t have to use the speakers’ mobile apps to connect multiple speakers together, but the guidelines certainly make it easier. The mobile app also allows other cool features such as using the speaker as a musical alarm and – my favorite – turning the speaker on and off remotely.
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From anywhere within range—now 100 feet with the UE Megaboom compared to 50 feet with the UE Boom—I could open the app, press the power button, and hear the speaker indicator turn on. I have not
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