shake the room
Designed to hold up to the thrill and spill of life, the Boom 3 is the latest in Ultimate Ears’ line of best-selling portable outdoor speakers, and it comes with an incredible IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating, meaning that it can remain submerged in water. up to 30 minutes.
It certainly looks the part, with the new two-tone fabric grille and refined look, but does the Bluetooth speaker hold up to our tests? Here’s what we thought of Boom 3:
price and availability
The UE Boom 3 is available for purchase for $129.99 (£129.99 / AU$199.95, R2,999), which is about $30 more expensive than its predecessor, the UE Boom 2.
That price puts the Boom 3 at the more expensive end of the portable speaker market—more expensive than the Bose SoundLink Color II, which delivers a higher level of audio quality but a lower IP rating.
Having said that, UE Boom 3 could be discounted during Prime Day 2021, which takes place between June 21-22.
Like the UE Boom 1 and 2, the latest model in the portable speaker line has a cylindrical build for 360 sound, and with a height of about 18cm, it’s pleasingly compact and easy to hold on the go.
The UE Boom 3 comes in a range of two-tone iridescent fabric finishes, including Sunset Red, Lagoon Blue, Forest Green and Night Black. We tried the Forest Green design, which features a two-tone khaki and gold fabric finish that shimmers beautifully when it catches light. This particular color palette may not be for everyone, but with so many options on the Ultimate Ears website, even the busiest customer is sure to find a combination they like.
In addition to looking great, this fabric is designed to be super durable, as it was originally engineered for motorcycle jackets and fire equipment.
The UE Boom 3’s calling card is its incredible waterproof rating, which means it can stay completely submerged in water for up to 30 minutes thanks to a super tight interlocking wave and fully protected charging port.
If you plan on taking the Boom 3 into the pool for a dip, it floats, too—though for most of us, the waterproof rating will prove most useful in the shower.
At the top of the speaker you have an on/off button and a ‘magic button’, which can be used to pause, play and skip tracks. You can also use the Magic Button to directly access your playlists from select music providers – you’ll need to set up this feature in the accompanying Megaboom app to do so.
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, the experience will actually be better with the Spotify integration.
The rubber casing that holds the UE Boom 2’s buttons is gone, with the large ‘+’ and ‘-‘ volume buttons integrated directly into the fabric grille. While this sounds far more aesthetically pleasing, it makes the volume buttons a little harder to push down, especially if you’re using the speakers in the shower.
Features and performance
With a max volume of 90 decibels, this tiny speaker certainly packs a punch, and has 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 the bass frequencies sounded good (if not lacking in bit depth) for the size of the speaker, we weren’t blown away by the mid frequencies, which feature heavily in vocals and keys—they pale in comparison to bass. Felt a little low.
Treble frequencies had the same problem, with the top notes generally lacking in clarity – we tried guitar heavy tracks like Belle and Sebastian’s ‘Your Covers Blown’ and we felt the higher frequencies benefit from a faster kick Could have done.
If you’re unhappy with the default equalizer settings, you can modify them in the dedicated app – it comes with four different presets ‘The Standard’, ‘Cramped Space’, ‘Voice’ and ‘Bass Jump’. Swapping between these presets didn’t affect the audio output much, though you can create your own custom equalizer settings with the adjustable tuner—just move the sliders up and down on the Bass, Mid, and Treble tuners, until that you don’t get a sound you are happy with.
One nice feature of the app is that you can link two UE Boom 3s for stereo sound—though it’s possible to link up to 150 Boom and Megaboom speakers for a crazy wallop of sound.
To charge the UE Boom 3, you can either connect it to a power source via the included micro-USB, or use the Ultimate Ears’ own charging dock, depending on where you travel. Gives different options listening at home.
In terms of portability, the speaker ticks all the right boxes: it’s lightweight, easy to carry, and delivers an impressive 15 hours of playback on a single charge. We also didn’t have any issues with Bluetooth connectivity, and found its stated range of 150 feet pretty accurate.
The waterproof design seems to work well, and we didn’t have any problems when using it in the shower. It also has a clothes hook on the top of the speaker so you can hang it while you wash.
Overall, the UE Boom 3 is a solid little speaker that addresses some of the issues of its predecessor, the UE Boom 2. With an increase in wireless range by 15 feet and increased waterproofing, it’s certainly an improvement over the previous generation, but the Ultimate Ears still hasn’t quite achieved the perfection in the UE Boom 3.
At this price, it’s surprising that the Ultimate Ears didn’t deliver a significant improvement in audio quality, which while powerful, lacks clarity and accuracy, especially in the lower mids and treble frequencies. Although having the ability to change the equalizer settings is a nice touch.
Battery life between generations has also remained the same at 15 hours, which seems a bit short compared to the UE Megaboom 3’s 20 hours. Still, the Megaboom 3 is a bit more expensive, so if you’re looking to save some cash on a portable speaker, pick up the Boom 3.
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