Price (RRP): $146/198
Manufacturer: Ultimate Ears
Ultimate Ears is the original, and many would argue the best, water-resistant, battery-operated, Bluetooth, 360° speaker. The BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 build on this heritage.
Although the formula has remained the same, the BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 have subtle improvements (note there was no BOOM/MEGABOOM 2). For example, the optional Power Up charge base is very handy for in-situ use. The latest iterations are seriously tough, have longer battery life and a touch more bass which is very hard for a water-resistant sealed speaker.
Before we get into the review, we need to be clear about why you buy either of these. They are both Bluetooth 5.0, can connect to up to eight BT devices, and have a maximum range of 45 metres. Using the Ultimate Ears Party Up app, you can connect up to 150 Ultimate Ears compatible speakers – although at the price – $146/198 it would be cheaper to buy a thumping sound system.
Neither supports voice assistants or handsfree phone calls – these are just damned good, knockabout speakers.
Review: BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3
Australian website here
As you can imagine the BOOM 3 and its larger sibling MEGABOOM 3 share the same basic design cues and internals.
Let’s explore the differences
|Item||BOOM 3||MEGABOOM 3|
|Size||184 x 73mm round x 608g||225 x 87mm round x 925g|
|Battery (claim)||15 hours||20 hours|
|Charger||Micro-USB cable only||Micro-USB cable plus USB 5V/2A, 9V/2A and 12V/1.5A (18W)|
|IP rating||IP67 and floats||same|
|Speakers||2 x 50mm 4ohm speakers and 2 x passive radiators for 360° sound||2 x 50mm 4ohm speakers and 2 x 55x86mm passive radiators for 360° sound|
|App||UE BOOM for iOS and Android Includes Alarm, PartyUp and five-band EQ||Same|
|Magic Button||On top, single tap to use playlist defined in-app – limited to supported music services||Same|
Remember that these are mono speakers. The dual speakers enable 360° sound, or you can pair two via the app for stereo. It looks like they both use the same speakers – the MEGABOOM 3 has larger passive radiators for a little more bass and a larger battery for longer life.
Ultimate Ears have an emphasis on volume rather than precise audio quality. And that is fine for portable, waterproof, outdoor speakers. If you want elegant sound look at Bose Revolver or JBL Charge non-waterproof speakers!
We ran the speakers flat out with a mix of Blues Brothers Peter Gun Theme (to test bass), Beach Boys (to test vocals) and a range of classical music (tests from low to high).
Both speakers managed 84dB (90dB claim, but that could be our test gear) with reasonable sound for IP67 sealed speakers. We make that point as at full volume there is a fair degree of distortion – it is not unpleasant but nor is it audiophile standard. We repeat you can’t expect that anyway from a sealed speaker. At 75% volume (70dB) sound is more controlled, pleasant and cleaner.
Frequency response – BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – creeping in at 90 for BOOM 3 and 60 for MEGABOOM 3
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (good)
Low-mids: 200-400Hz – flat
Mids: 400-1000Hz -flat
High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat
Treble:4-6kHz – starting to decline
High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat
Dog whistle: 10-20 – flat and starting to decline
What does this mean?
There is some bass but not as advertised ‘Deep Accurate Bass’. It is not strong, but it is there.
Mids and highs are very strong, which makes it more of a bright vocal sound signature. The five-band EQ can add a little higher-bass and back-off the treble giving it a mid-signature.
The MEGABOOM 3 sound quality is slightly better than BOOM 3 – it is a little more even and slightly less harsh at full volume although there is not a lot between them.
The claim is 15 and 20 hours but at what volume?
We set up the pair playing a 50% volume (60dB) and achieved 10 and 18 hours. We did not have time to rerun the tests at 75% (70dB) and 100% (>80dB), but we expect times to be a ratio of our tests.
Recharge time is slow at a little over five hours. An 18W PD charger comes with MEGABOOM 3 but is MIA for BOOM 3. So, you can use a 5V/2A or 3A or a USB-PD charger there.
Both support the Power Up adaptor disk option that sits under the base. Note that most third-party micro-USB cables will not fit the charge socket as it is very ‘narrow’.
We tested BT 5.0 connectivity (claim 45 metres) with a Samsung Galaxy Note9 (with BT5.0). It was 100% reliable to about 30 metres then dropped gradually off. The claim is theoretical under perfect conditions, so it is fair.
GadgetGuy’s take – Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3
They are not fancy, don’t have 3.5mm AUX, no Wi-Fi or voice assistants – they look good, can handle rough and tumble and sound good too.
If you want the ultimate, take-anywhere speaker, these are it. My personal preference is the MEGABOOM 3 if only for a tad more bass.