Logitech-owned Ultimate Ears (UE), the makers of the UE Boom series of speakers, have given us some stellar Bluetooth speakers ever since the company’s very first UE Boom, way back in 2013, literally setting the market standard for speakers in that category.
UE’s brand new Boom 3 and the MegaBoom 3 speakers announced Thursday (August 30), look well endowed to continue that trend and take the sublime UE experience a notch or two higher with the upgrades they bring to the table.
The new MegaBoom should have, ideally, been named MegaBoom 2 since it’s the second speaker in the MegaBoom series but UE is calling it the MegaBoom 3 to keep things all matched up in the name of brand consistency.
Both speakers will be hitting the stores sometime in September, and despite some of the biggest upgrades, they are priced lower than their predecessors, with the Boom 3 priced at $150 while the larger MegaBoom will sell for $200 – $30 and $50 cheaper than their previous iterations, respectively.
Starting with the design elements, the speakers look a little trimmer, even though they are, technically, the same size as their previous editions.
While you still have the big plus (+) and (-) volume control buttons on the speakers’ tubular body, gone is the rubber stripe from the front, giving the speakers a cleaner uncomplicated look.
Also, this time around, the speakers are covered in a new fabric with a nice glossy texture to it, being made available in four snazzy-looking two-tone color options, including Ultra-Violet Purple, Sunrise Red, Lagoon Blue, and Black Night.
Apart from the aesthetics, the biggest upgrade makes its appearance in the form of a new multi-function “Magic Button”– that’s the bigger button between the smaller Bluetooth and power buttons on top of both models.
Not only does the Magic Button serve as your Play, Pause, and Skip button, it can also be programmed to play different playlists by setting them using the new features in the Ultimate Ears app.
Once your playlist is set up on the app, all you need to do is tap the Magic Button to play them, without the need of any interaction with your smartphone, although it still needs to be within Bluetooth range, which is a good 45 meters.
For now, however, Android devices will be limited to Deezer Premium, while iPhone users will only be able to stream Apple Music.
Spotify, Google Play, Prime Music, and Pandora are, sadly, not supported; however, UE says that it is in talks with some of them and we should likely see some of those streaming services, if not all, making their way on to the new Boom and MegaBoom, sooner rather than later.
Coming back to the Magic Button functionality, a tap, as mentioned, will start playing your Apple Music on your iPhone, or the Deezer Premium playlist if you have an Android device, while a press and hold will allow you to cycle to the next playlist.
With an IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating, the speakers can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes in meter-deep water, with no issues resulting from it, at least that’s what an IP67 rating promises.
If you think that’s an impressive upgrade, wait till you hear this!
Ultimate Ears has given both the Boom and MegaBoom 3s enough buoyancy to keep them afloat on water, allowing for easy retrieval if you happen to accidentally drop it in a pool – without having to take a panicked plunge.
The next good thing about the speakers is the fabric loop, cleverly integrated along the top edge of the rubberized vertical strip that runs all the way down the back, allowing you the convenience of hanging the speaker on any hook-like protrusion, anywhere.
Plus, at the bottom end of the rubberized strip, you’ll find a neatly-hinged flap hiding the micro USB charging port, which used to be on the bottom of the device, in earlier versions.
It was an annoying inconvenience that required laying the speaker down on its side to be able to charge it – with the fear of the device rolling off the edge of a table, or an elevated surface, always looming large.
While the location shift of the charging port is a by any means a fantastic update, a more modern USB Type-C connection, instead of micro USB, would have been the icing on the cake.
However, with the company offering wireless charging support in the shape of a Power Up charging base, the lack of a USB Type-C option becomes somewhat bearable, albeit at an additional cost of $39.
Alright, it’s time now to talk about the most important quality you’d expect in any speaker, without which everything else becomes kind of superfluous; yes, it’s the audio quality we’re talking about here – the bottom-line for any speaker worth its salt.
While the speakers sound really good, overall, they do tend to distort when played on max volume – just a wee bit, though – almost imperceptible to the untrained ear, but there nevertheless.
It could be a driver issue – something that can perhaps be fixed with software but, again, you don’t really need to go full blast to enjoy it, plus you have the different equalizing options in the software to maximize your listening experience.
That said, this is one solid speaker set with some great improvements and updates, including a sturdy, sinkable, floatable body; a super cool Magic Button; a better-placed charging port; a fabric loop for hanging the device; fantastic color options, and whatever else we may have overlooked.
Admitted there are better speakers out there on the market, offering bigger and more powerful audio, but if you take pricing into account, there is hardly a better value-for-money speaker like the UE Boom 3, or the UE MegaBoom 3.