Like the Boom – but bet­ter

FOR Rhyth­mic, ex­pres­sive sound; app func­tion­al­ity; build AGAINST Dis­tor­tion at max­i­mum vol­ume

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Test -

Love at first sight (and lis­ten). That’s how we re­mem­ber the UE Boom – the first wire­less speaker from Ul­ti­mate Ears to im­press us, but not the last – the Me­ga­boom (the Boom but big­ger) and the Roll (a 2015 Award win­ner) have hit the mark since, and the new UE Boom 2 is by no means the runt of the lit­ter.

If its very lit­eral name isn’t enough of a clue, it’s the next-gen Boom, which brings new in­ter­nals, a tweaked ex­te­rior and a range of new colours. UE claims the speaker goes 25 per cent louder than the orig­i­nal Boom and has an im­proved wire­less range of up to 30 me­tres too.

But, like a good movie se­quel, the Boom 2 has a lot of the charm of the orig­i­nal too. Blue­tooth (with one-touch NFC com­pat­i­bil­ity) takes care of wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity, al­though a 3.5mm in­put – along­side a mi­crousb charg­ing port on the bot­tom of the speaker, now cov­ered by flaps – pro­vides an al­ter­na­tive for hard­wiring your smart­phone or tablet.

There’s still a claimed 15-hour bat­tery life (from a 2.5 hour charge), a built-in mic to al­low it to be used as a speak­er­phone, 360-de­gree sound, and a wa­ter­proof (to IPX 7 stan­dards), rugged ex­te­rior.

Ruggedly durable

First-class but­terfin­gers will be pleased to know it’s ‘drop-proof’ from up to five feet too, and de­signed to ‘get wet, muddy and beat up’. Though we didn’t have the stamina to go 12 rounds with it, we pur­posely knocked it off the ta­ble and briefly ran it un­der the tap, and it sur­vived to tell the tale.

Re­main­ing its fun, colour-co­or­di­nat­ing self, UE has dropped the Boom’s seven colours for six new, and even flashier, ones: Cher­ry­bomb (red), Yeti (white), Phan­tom (grey and black), Green­ma­chine (green and blue), Trop­i­cal (pur­ple and or­ange) and Brain­freeze (blue).

But un­less you’re well versed in which colours be­long to which gen­er­a­tion of speaker, telling the Boom 2 from its pre­de­ces­sor re­quires a keen eye. The wrap­around wo­ven fab­ric grille sim­ply looks more tightly wo­ven and slightly bet­ter at­tached to the rub­ber­ized con­trol strip run­ning down its middle.

The snazzy up-and-down vol­ume but­tons re­turn (hold them to­gether and a voice lets you know the cur­rent bat­tery level) and there’s also a new tap con­trol so you can pause, play and skip tracks by tap­ping the top of the speaker once or twice. Just make sure the func­tion is ac­ti­vated in the UE Boom app.

Speak­ing of which… as with the orig­i­nal model, the app lets you pair two Boom speak­ers to play in stereo mode, or to­gether for a big­ger, louder sound. Does that mean multi-room? Yes, it does.

The app also lets you re­name your Boom 2, check its bat­tery per­cent­age, power it on and off and set an alarm with your choice of song. A new fea­ture for the app, ‘Block Party’, lets three devices con­nect to a sin­gle Boom 2, Me­ga­boom or Roll and add songs to a shared playlist so you and your friends can chan­nel your in­ner DJ.

When it's stand­ing upright, as it should be, the 360-de­gree sound is more than big and open enough to fill ev­ery cor­ner of the av­er­age room – im­pres­sive for a speaker that could fit in­side a pint glass.

In Enya’s Caribbean Blue the ethe­real waves of synths and lay­ers of lush, cas­cad­ing vo­cal har­monies ooze out of the Boom 2 ef­fort­lessly, with space and open­ness, never sound­ing strained or mud­dled. That ease of de­liv­ery was a ma­jor pull of the orig­i­nal, but the suc­ces­sor moves things on with greater trans­parency. Un­der­neath, the nim­ble strings have tex­ture and rhythm and there’s more go­ing on dy­nam­i­cally than you’d ex­pect.

Pumped and synced

While it can’t chuck out the weight and power of the Me­ga­boom, bass is bet­ter de­fined than on its pre­de­ces­sor. Mids and tre­ble have more in­sight too and while it’s still lively rhyth­mi­cally, its fancy foot­work is that bit more surefooted. In Nas’ N.Y. State Of Mind, there’s tighter sync be­tween the beat, pi­ano loops and twinkly chimes.

We can vouch for it be­ing louder than the orig­i­nal (not that it needed to be), though de­spite cram­ming in two larger driv­ers and pas­sive ra­di­a­tors the Boom 2 still lets dis­tor­tion creep in at the high­est vol­ume lev­els. Still, it will hap­pily sprint along trou­ble-free at 80 per cent vol­ume, which is still good for a party.

The Boom but bet­ter; that’s what it boils down to. UE has built on the suc­cess of its de­but wire­less speaker with added us­abil­ity and im­proved per­for­mance, pro­duc­ing yet an­other win­ner. Boom in­deed.

Ul­ti­mate Ears Boom 2

Wire­less speaker

£120

The strap loop

and tabs cov­er­ing

the USB/3.5MM

ports are in the

re­cessed base

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