UL­TI­MATE EARS MEGABLAST

– BIG­GER, LOUDER AND A BIT SMARTER

SmartHouse - - REVIEW // UE - Writ­ten by ATHINA MALLIS

The smart speaker mar­ket is be­com­ing a highly con­tentious field, more brands are re­leas­ing de­vices with Google As­sis­tant in­te­gra­tion try­ing to out sell the other but no ma­jor brand in Aus­tralia had Ama­zon Alexa, un­til now.

The Ul­ti­mate Ears Megablast boasts in­te­gra­tion with smart as­sis­tant Ama­zon Alexa. UE could have gone down the Google As­sis­tant route – but a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the com­pany said he thought Alexa would be bet­ter on a ‘global scale’.

UE is an iconic brand in its own right and its part­ner­ship with Alexa is tak­ing it to the next level.

Google As­sis­tant got a head start in the smart speaker mar­ket with a num­ber of brands like Sony, JBL and Pana­sonic re­leas­ing in­te­grated speak­ers ear­lier in the year.

In the box you’ll get the de­vice, a charg­ing cord and adapter.

SOUND

UE de­vices are renowned for their sound and this speaker is no ex­cep­tion. The sound is loud, clear and car­ries well.

The com­pany is claim­ing the Megablast is 40 per cent louder than the Me­ga­boom and says this is its loud­est speaker yet.

What is pow­er­ing this im­pec­ca­bly loud speaker is two ac­tive drivers, two pas­sive ra­di­a­tors and two tweet­ers.

Liv­ing in a two-storey town­house and putting the vol­ume at full peg the mu­sic could be heard from ev­ery room. No mat­ter how loud it got, the sound didn’t be­come grainy.

The Megablast can play mu­sic up to 93dBc with the cylin­dri­cal shape play­ing mu­sic from ev­ery an­gle, 360 de­grees to be ex­act.

PER­FOR­MANCE

The bat­tery last 18 hours and takes a cou­ple of hours to charge up. Some­thing to note is the Me­ga­boom lasts 20 hours.

Like the Me­ga­boom the de­vice has an IP67 rating mak­ing it dust­proof and wa­ter­proof.

Us­ing the Megablast in the of­fice, my col­league and I had con­nec­tion is­sues with the de­vice. I was the first to use it with my iPhone so nat­u­rally we blamed the patchy iOS 11. How­ever, my col­league used her Sam­sung Galaxy S9 and af­ter five min­utes a dis­con­nec­tion oc­curred.

Even af­ter a restart and UE send­ing a new de­vice we were still hav­ing prob­lems.

When I took the speaker home and con­nected it, the new speaker was work­ing per­fectly un­til about an hour in of play­back when it ran­domly dis­con­nected. This was the only time at home I had a dis­con­nec­tion is­sue.

I checked re­views on­line to see if any­one else had a dis­con­nec­tion prob­lem and a few peo­ple were com­plain­ing with UE staff ad­vis­ing users to restart de­vices.

I also had a mo­ment of sheer ter­ror where about two min­utes af­ter turn­ing the Megablast off, it turned it­self on again.

Look­ing at all of these is­sues in per­spec­tive it seems like the Megablast needs a soft­ware re­jig (and maybe an ex­or­cist).

The Megablast does not have the Party Up fea­ture where you can con­nect up to 150 Boom, Boom 2 and Me­ga­boom de­vices. An­other is­sue Megablast users are ark­ing up about.

But UE as­sures there will be group­ing fea­ture com­ing soon for its Megablast series so watch out.

BLAST V MEGABLAST AMA­ZON ALEXA

A big selling point of the Megablast is Ama­zon Alexa, as I’ve said pre­vi­ously UE is one of the first ma­jor brands in Aus­tralia to part­ner with Alexa rather than us­ing Google As­sis­tant.

The set-up is self-ex­plana­tory and is done through both the Ul­ti­mate Ears and Ama­zon Alexa app.

This por­ta­ble speaker means Alexa can work any­where with an in­ter­net con­nec­tion – WiFi or smart­phone pair­ing.

Alexa is able to be linked with a num­ber of mu­sic ser­vices in­clud­ing Ama­zon Mu­sic, Spo­tify, Deezer, iHeartRa­dio and Tunein. When you want a song from Spo­tify just ask Alexa, ‘Ok Alexa, play Drake on Spo­tify’ or ‘Alexa, play Jazz on Spo­tify’.

When call­ing on a smart as­sis­tant in third-party speak­ers there is al­ways a slight de­lay com­pared to the flag­ship prod­ucts but Alexa in the Megablast has an ob­vi­ous lag.

I tested the re­sponse times be­tween a Google Home Mini and The UE Megablast. Alexa fell be­hind the Google Home Mini when asked ‘what time is it in Tokyo?’. The Mini re­sponded al­most im­me­di­ately with Alexa tak­ing close to five sec­onds to think about its an­swer.

Ask­ing the JBL Link 10, you get an an­swer from the As­sis­tant in less than 2 sec­onds.

Once the Sonos One got Alexa sup­port we tested its re­sponse time with the same ques­tion and it only took two sec­onds to get an an­swer.

Even ask­ing Alexa ba­sic ques­tions it still strug­gles and some­times doesn’t even re­spond to ‘How cold will it be to­day’.

It is dis­ap­point­ing to see Alexa isn’t work­ing to the fullest but a soft­ware up­date can eas­ily fix that so there is hope for the fu­ture.

DE­SIGN

The Megablast is a large speaker, big­ger than the Me­ga­boom. It comes in six colours black, white, red, green, yel­low and blue.

UE says this new speaker has a ‘slim­mer, sleeker build’ com­pared to the Me­ga­boom. It looks bet­ter than the Me­ga­boom with a min­i­mal look with­out the hideous tag near the vol­ume con­trols.

It is a large cylin­der with mostly mesh around the body and a silicone top, bot­tom and panel where the mas­sive vol­ume but­tons live.

At the top of the de­vice is the power but­ton and Blue­tooth but­ton and the bot­tom is the mi­cro USB port and con­tact charg­ing op­tion.

With the re­lease of the Megablast also comes the new Power Up charg­ing pad where you swap out the D-Ring with a sil­ver charg­ing ring and place it on to charge.

VALUE

The Megablast is priced at $379.95 and the Blast is $100 cheaper at $279.95. To com­pare, the Me­ga­boom is $349.95 on the UE web­site.

The Power Up charg­ing pad, which comes separately is $49.95.

For what you get from the Megablast, the price isn’t heart­break­ingly ex­pen­sive but it’s still dearer than other third-party smart speak­ers.

For ref­er­ence, the JBL Link 20 is $299, the JBL Link 300 is $349, the Sonos One with Alexa is $299 and the most ex­pen­sive Ama­zon Alexa smart speaker is $149.

What you’re pay­ing for is sound qual­ity and the ad­di­tion of a smart speaker plus UE is a mid-tier brand.

BLAST

The Blast is the smaller si­b­ling of the Megablast and they are ba­si­cally the same for­go­ing price, size and sound.

I found the Blast was a bet­ter speaker for my bed­room/bath­room than the liv­ing area. The dif­fer­ence is the Megablast can carry sound bet­ter in big­ger rooms as it is a big­ger speaker.

The Blast also has never dis­con­nected from my phone like the Megablast and the speak­ers are on the same net­work.

If you want to save $100 and don’t care if the sound ‘fill­ing out a room’ then grab this guy.

OVER­ALL

UE makes a good-look­ing speaker and the Megablast is their pret­ti­est yet. It has a new stream­lined look with darker colour op­tions com­pared to older UE mod­els.

This is a loud por­ta­ble speaker and can sur­vive any rau­cous party. I would agree with UE say­ing this is the loud­est speaker cre­ated by the com­pany.

UE needs to tweak its soft­ware and Alexa in­te­gra­tion as it seems that side of things was rushed.

Flaws aside, the Megablast is a great speaker and worth ev­ery penny.

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