Ul­ti­mate Ears Boom 3

TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ OLIVIA TAMBINI ]

DE­SIGNED TO KEEP up with life’s thrills and spills, the Boom 3 is the lat­est in Ul­ti­mate Ears’ line of best-sell­ing por­ta­ble speak­ers, and it comes with an in­cred­i­ble IP67 wa­ter­proof and dust-proof rat­ing, which means it can be sub­merged un­der­wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes.

With a new two-tone fab­ric grille and re­fined look it cer­tainly looks the part, but does it stand up to our tests? Here’s what we thought of the Boom 3:

The UE Boom 3 re­tailed at launch for $199.95, which is dearer than its pre­de­ces­sor, the UE Boom 2. This price put the Boom 3 at the more ex­pen­sive end of the por­ta­ble speaker mar­ket – more ex­pen­sive than the Bose SoundLink Color II, which of­fers a higher stan­dard of au­dio qual­ity, but a lower IP rat­ing. How­ever, you can now pick up the Boom 3 for as lit­tle as $149 from the right re­tailer.

DE­SIGN

Like the UE Boom 1 and 2, the new­est model in the por­ta­ble speaker line has a cylin­dri­cal build for 360 sound, and with a height of around 18cm, it’s pleas­ingly com­pact and easy to hold on the go.

The UE Boom 3 comes in range of two-tone iri­des­cent fab­ric fin­ishes, in­clud­ing sun­set red, la­goon blue, for­est green, and night black. We tried out the for­est green de­sign, which fea­tures a two-tone khaki and gold fab­ric fin­ish, which shim­mers beau­ti­fully when it catches the light. This par­tic­u­lar color palette may not be for ev­ery­one, but with so many op­tions on the

Ul­ti­mate Ears web­site, even the fussi­est cus­tomer is sure to find a com­bi­na­tion they like.

Aside from look­ing great, this fab­ric is de­signed to be su­per durable, as it was orig­i­nally en­gi­neered for mo­tor­cy­cle jack­ets and fire equip­ment.

The call­ing card of the UE Boom 3 is its in­cred­i­ble wa­ter­proof rat­ing, which means it can be to­tally sub­merged in wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes thanks to a su­per tight in­ter­lock­ing weave and a fully pro­tected charg­ing port.

If you plan on tak­ing the Boom 3 into the pool for a dip, it also floats – al­though for most of us, the wa­ter­proof rat­ing will prove most use­ful in the shower.

On the top of the speaker you have an on/ off but­ton and a ‘magic but­ton’, which can be used to pause, play, and skips tracks. You can also use the magic but­ton to di­rectly ac­cess your playlists from a select few mu­sic providers – to do this you will need to set this fea­ture up in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing Me­ga­boom app.

Dis­ap­point­ingly, this fea­ture only works with Ap­ple Mu­sic if you’re on an iOS de­vice, and Deezer Premium if you’re an An­droid user - with so many Spo­tify users out there, the ex­pe­ri­ence would re­ally be im­proved with Spo­tify in­te­gra­tion.

The rub­ber cas­ing that housed the but­tons on the UE Boom 2 is gone, with the large + and - vol­ume but­tons in­te­grated di­rectly into the fab­ric grille. While this looks far more aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing, it does make the vol­ume but­tons a lit­tle harder to push down, par­tic­u­larly if you’re us­ing the speaker in the shower.

FEA­TURES AND PER­FOR­MANCE

With a max­i­mum vol­ume of 90 deci­bels, this lit­tle speaker cer­tainly packs a punch, and it has a two 2-inch driv­ers and two 4-inch pas­sive ra­di­a­tors for room-fill­ing sound. The conical de­sign al­lows for 360 de­gree au­dio, and we found the sound to be spa­cious, with good fre­quency sepa­ra­tion.

Al­though bass fre­quen­cies sound good (if not lack­ing in a lit­tle depth) for the speaker’s size, we weren’t blown away by the mid fre­quen­cies, which fea­ture heav­ily in vo­cals and keys – they felt slightly sub­dued in com­par­i­son to the bass.

Tre­ble fre­quen­cies had the same prob­lem, with a gen­er­ally lack of clar­ity in the top notes – we tried out gui­tar heavy tracks like Belle and Se­bas­tian’s Your Cover’s Blown and we felt that the high­est fre­quen­cies could have ben­e­fit­ted from a sharper kick.

If you are un­happy with the de­fault equaliser set­tings, you can amend them in the ded­i­cated app - it comes with four dif­fer­ent pre­sets: ‘The Stan­dard’, ‘Cramped Spa­ces’, ‘Voices’, and ‘Bass Jump’. Swap­ping be­tween these pre­sets didn’t have a huge ef­fect on the au­dio out­put, al­though you can cre­ate your own cus­tom equaliser set­tings with the ad­justable tuner – sim­ply move the slid­ers up and down on the bass, mid, and tre­ble tuners un­til you find a sound you’re happy with.

One cool fea­ture of the app is that you can link up two UE Boom 3s for stereo sound – al­though it’s pos­si­ble to link up to 150 Boom and Me­ga­boom speak­ers for a crazy wall of sound.

To charge the UE Boom 3, you can ei­ther con­nect it to a power source via the in­cluded mi­cro-USB, or use Ul­ti­mate Ears’ own charg­ing dock, which gives you a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent op­tions de­pend­ing on whether you’re on the go or lis­ten­ing at home.

In terms of porta­bil­ity, the speaker ticks all the right boxes: it’s light, easy to carry, and has an im­pres­sive 15 hours of play­back from a sin­gle charge. We en­coun­tered no prob­lems with the Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity ei­ther, and found its stated range of 150 feet to be pretty ac­cu­rate.

The wa­ter­proof de­sign seems to work well, and we en­coun­tered no prob­lems when us­ing it in the shower. It also has a fab­ric hook on the top of the speaker so you can hang it up while you wash.

VER­DICT

All in all, the UE Boom 3 is a solid lit­tle speaker that ad­dresses some of the is­sues of its pre­de­ces­sor, the UE Boom 2. With a wire­less range in­crease of 4.5m, and in­creased wa­ter­proof­ing, it’s cer­tainly an im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, but Ul­ti­mate Ears still haven’t quite achieved per­fec­tion in the UE Boom 3.

At this price, it’s puz­zling that Ul­ti­mate Ears haven’t made an sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to the au­dio qual­ity which, while pow­er­ful, is lack­ing clar­ity and pre­ci­sion, par­tic­u­larly in the lower mids and tre­ble fre­quen­cies. Hav­ing the abil­ity to change the equaliser set­tings is a nice touch how­ever.

Bat­tery life has also stayed the same be­tween the gen­er­a­tions at 15 hours, which seems a lit­tle low com­pared to the UE Me­ga­boom 3’s 20 hours. Still, the Me­ga­boom 3 is a fair bit more ex­pen­sive, so if you’re look­ing to save some cash on a por­ta­ble speaker, go for the Boom 3.

WITH A MAX­I­MUM VOL­UME OF 90 DECI­BELS, THIS LIT­TLE SPEAKER CER­TAINLY PACKS A PUNCH, AND IT HAS A TWO 2-INCH DRIV­ERS AND TWO 4-INCH PAS­SIVE RA­DI­A­TORS FOR ROOM-FILL­ING SOUND.

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