Ultimate Ears BOOM

by Volker Weber

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From the first time I saw this design, I wanted to try one of those Ultimate Ears BOOM speakers. It oozes high quality, is very nice to the touch and you get a firm grip when holding it.

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Last week I asked for a sample and here it is. Everything about this device is a bit out of the ordinary. Even the 2A USB charger and the flat ribbon cable are not your standard fare. It's a different design language from Apple but these items stand out in your electronics drawer just as well.

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BOOM is a Bluetooth connected battery-powered device. It has an on/off switch and a button for the pairing mode on the top. You can also pair via NFC by touching the front of the speaker with your device. When not in use the speaker powers off after 15 minutes. The battery is rated for up to 15 hours of playback, depending on the volume it is playing at. The big plus and minus signs change the volume when pressed.

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At the bottom end there are three features: a 3.5 mm line-in, the MicroUSB port for charging and software updates, and a ring to suspend the speaker from a string. When you remove the ring you get access to a standard quarter inch thread which lets you mount the speaker to a stand.

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Ultimate Ears has an app for both Android and iOS. It lets you change equalizer settings and set an alarm to wake you up in the morning. If your phone becomes unavailable when the alarm is supposed to play music, it will just play an alarm sound. My unit did not have the latest software and the app told me to connect the speaker via USB to my computer.

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No special installation required. Just download, start the update, done.

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So, another Bluetooth speaker, complete with NFC pairing, supporting the HFP profile to be used as a speaker phone. That is a crowded space. Just recently I tested the Nokia MD-12 speaker. For two years my goto device has been the Jawbone Jambox. Why get the BOOM?

First of all, there is a correlation between size, weight and sound. The bigger and heaver the device, the more likely it is to sound well. The MD-12 speaker is surprisingly powerful for its size. But it cannot hold a candle against the BOOM. The Noka Play 360 devices were similar in concept, because you could pair two of them just like you can with the BOOM. Both the Play 360 and the BOOM play mono sound in all directions. It does not really matter where you sit relative to the speaker. If you get two, you have a standard stereo setup, where both can play the same sound or each plays its own channel. The Jambox has been my favorite since it creates a wide stereo base from one device. If you place it in front of you on the table at a meter's distance, it's quite impressive. But it's not nearly as loud as the BOOM.

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If you want to play music through a small speaker, you might as well ask yourself, if it needs to be battery-operated and mobile or if you want to just use it at home. In that case, the same kind of money will buy you Sonos PLAY:1 which has very different use cases. It will play independently from your phone, and it cannot be used as a line-in or Bluetooth connector speakers, but it sounds way better than all the other devices pictured here.

If however you want a speaker to just grab when you are leaving the house, the BOOM might be your best choice. It has earned an editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award in a matter of minutes.

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Comments

You forgot water and stain resistant. Very nice features for outdoor use!

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2014-06-17 16:15

Thumbs up, I like this little sucker!

I always thought that the Bose SoundLink Mini
would be the ultimate portable music gear.
How does it compare to the UE Boom ?
Did you have a chance to get a grip on the Bose speaker yet ?

Thanks for the extended review, Volker.

Eric Bredtmann, 2014-06-18 07:56

No, I have not heard the Bose speaker yet. Hello Bose agency, do you want to change that?

Volker Weber, 2014-06-18 09:18

Gerade im Angebot für final 152 inkl. Versand.
http://www.amazon.de/gp/feature.html/ref=pe_1055111_50420501_pe_10/?docId=1000811623&ie=UTF8&tag=blog028-21

Bastian Anthon, 2014-06-23 11:13

Gerade bei Saturn fuer 149€ (50€ Direktabzug)
http://www.saturn.de/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/MultiChannelSearch?query=ULTIMATE-EARS-UE-Boom

Ralf Hammen, 2014-08-08 13:41

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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