There are so many Bluetooth speakers out there that we wouldn’t be surprised if everyone had at least one in their life. But if you’re a little more active than most, one brand springs to mind, and its new model is for people who aren’t afraid to get wet.
This week, Logitech’s “Ultimate Ears” brand is pulling the covers off a new speaker designed for people who might head outside a little more than those of us grabbing a speaker for the park.
In fact, if you frequent the beach or the pool a little more than the average punter and appreciate a good dose of sound while you’re there, you may find yourself falling for the latest product in the Ultimate Ears speaker line-up.
Heading to stores shortly, the speaker is the sequel to one we first saw back in 2013, the UE Boom.
Back then, Ultimate Ears — which we also refer to as UE — was known more for fantastic in-ear monitors and great headphones, and these were sound products that came from a few people known for working with music greats Van Halen.
The Boom wasn’t UE’s first speaker, but it was one of the first speakers to break out of the mould of other devices, packing in a 360 degree omni-directional sound into a cylinder, and bringing in one of the industry’s first examples of water resistance to a speaker.
As far as we understand, UE was fairly successful with the original Boom, with reviewers and customers both falling over it, and this allowed the company to produce a bigger Boom in the “Megaboom”, as well as a smaller model called the “Roll” only recently.
But the original Boom and its nearly 600ml-bottle-of-drink-sized form-factor have more or less been left the way they were since it originally came out, though from what we understand, it is fairly hard to find now.
Turns out, however, there’s a good reason as to why the UE Boom is hard to find: a new model has arrived.
Called the “Boom 2”, Ultimate Ears isn’t just adding a few colours or a new number and hoping for the best, but both of those bits are here.
“We took the basic form and said ‘look we don’t want to mess with it; it’s popular, it works everyone seems to like it [so] how can we make it better?’” Logitech’s John Paterson said to GadgetGuy this week, telling us that it had spent time improving the materials and making the weave tighter, which also had led to an improvement in water-proofing in comparison to the original.
While the first Boom was rated for IPX4 making it splash-resistant, the UE Boom 2 is IPX7 which is better known as water-proof.
Water-proofing can be kind of a hit and miss term, mind you, so we do need to point out that IP ratings generally apply to fresh water, so if you do take the UE Boom 2 into a chlorinated pool or the sea-water of the ocean, best wash it under the tap when you find one to cleans the excess salt or chlorine off, as these IP ratings don’t test for these extra chemicals.
Still, water-proofing is only one part of the changes, with UE’s Boom 2 adding 25 percent more sound to the package, more bass, and double the wireless range bringing it from 15 metres up to 30 metres.
In fact, while an increase in specs is to be expected for a new generation product, Logitech and UE are also bringing gesture control to the table, making it possible for you to tap your speaker to pause and play the sound, while a double tap on the top of the Boom 2 will skip tracks, handy if you can’t reach for your phone while you’re sitting by the pool.
Testing it this week ahead of the announcement, it’s quite clear that UE has done it again, producing a speaker that is bright, tight, and offering enough bass to make music lovers keen to take their speakers out of the home happy.
At half the volume being pushed out from our smartphones, our office was filled with enough sound, and any more, management upstairs started to get concerned.
“The sound is probably the biggest thing,” Paterson told GadgetGuy. “It’s 25 percent louder again than the Boom 1 with more bass. It’s hard to get great bass out of relatively small speakers, but our engineers have taken it that to another level compared to Boom 1.”
Even with these increases in specs and size, the UE Boom 2 is still the same size, complete with a little metal clip at the bottom screwed into the tripod hole allowing you to easily tie up this waterproof speaker in the shower, because who wouldn’t want music while they’re bathing?
Charging is the same, however, with a microUSB port hidden under the bottom getting charge to this speaker’s internal battery, with up to 15 hours of battery life and audio sent over Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable.
And as for using the speaker, all you really need is a Bluetooth friendly device, which should be any smartphone or tablet out there, though UE’s app is only made for Android and iOS, telling what you’ll need if you want to fiddle with the on-board EQ or update the speaker.
If you have two UE speakers — either the original Boom, the new Boom 2, the Megaboom, or the Roll — you’ll still be able to pair two together for sound out of both devices, with UE’s “X Up” feature for connecting as many speakers as possible arriving in the next few months, a little later than expected.
Pricing on the UE Boom 2 comes in at $249, sitting in the middle of the range, with the UE Roll staying at its $149 price point while the Megaboom sits at $349. The latter two are available now and have been for some time, while the Boom 2 should be arriving in stores across Australia shortly.