ULTIMATE EARS MEGABLAST
– BIGGER, LOUDER AND A BIT SMARTER
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.