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Ultimate Ears Boom 3 review: A superb portable Bluetooth speaker

Christopher Minasians Caroline Preece
6 Jul 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

The Boom 3 looks stylish, floats and even sounds good – it’s a worthy successor to UE’s Boom 2

Pros 
Floats and is IP67 waterproof
Beautiful design
Integrates with streaming services over Bluetooth
Cons 
No Bluetooth aptX support
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In 2015, the UE Boom 2 was announced to the world and it immediately became a fan favourite. The distinctive cylindrical Bluetooth speaker offered IPX7 waterproofing, looked fantastic and sounded excellent, all of which set it apart from its competitors. Ultimate Ears (UE), is now back with a new version: the UE Boom 3.

READ NEXT: UE Boom 2 review: The impressive speaker gets cheaper

UE Boom 3 vs UE Boom 3: What you need to know

The UE Boom 3 is an incremental update over the popular UE Boom 2 and when it comes to sound quality, the two speakers are identical.

The design and physical appearance are similar, too, but there are a few changes that set it apart from its predecessor: the Boom 3's charging port is more accessible; it works with UE’s PowerUp charging pad out of the box; the mesh fabric wrapping the speaker is more refined; it has a new, ‘Magic’ button, designed to provide one-touch access to your playlists; it has a better Bluetooth range; and the Boom 3 is also IP67-certified, which adds dust protection to its arsenal.

And there’s one more new trick up the Boom 3’s sleeve: it now floats in water just like the UE Wonderboom.

READ NEXT: Best Bluetooth speakers – our favourite wireless speakers

UE Boom 3 review: Price and competition

The Boom 3 costs £130. That’s £40 less than the larger UE Megaboom 3 at £170 and significantly pricier than the dinky sized UE Wonderboom, which you can pick up for around £60-£70 these days.

At the time of writing, the original Megaboom is £150 and the UE Boom 2 is now £90 – these don’t come with the Magic Button, nor can float. There’s also the company’s smart speakers to look out for: the Megablast costs £180 and the smaller Blast comes in at a mere £120 – both of these have Amazon Alexa built-in.

READ NEXT: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 review: A floating Bluetooth speaker with plenty of style

UE Boom 3 review: Build quality, design and features

Like the Megaboom 3, the UE Boom 3 is available in six colours: Ultraviolet (Purple), Sunset (Red), Lagoon (Blue), Night (Black), Denim (Dark Blue), and Cloud (Light Blue), although the latter two are exclusively available in Apple stores.

Compared with its predecessor, the new Boom looks more stylish. The knitted fabric mesh that wraps around the speaker has a much finer weave than before and it has a natty two-tone colour that shifts under bright ambient light conditions.

At the front of the speaker are two large, stylised plus and minus buttons to adjust the speaker’s volume. Spin it around and you’ll see a small fabric loop that allows you to hang it up. There’s no metal D-Ring any more, as on the UE Boom 2, but the speaker can be charged by popping it on the optional charging dock (sold separately for £35).

If you don’t want to spend an additional £35, you can charge via Micro USB – the port is located under the rubber flap at the rear. It’s great to see that this has been moved from underneath the speaker to the side, as this allows you to charge the speaker while listening to it.

At the top of the UE Boom 3 are three buttons: the power switch, a ‘PartyUp’ button, which allows you to daisy-chain up to 150 Boom and Megaboom speakers together (and yes, it’s compatible with its predecessor). If you happen to have two Boom 3 speakers, you can also run them as a stereo pair.

The third new button on the top of the speaker is the Boom 3’s new “Magic Button”. In addition, to play, pause and skip controls, this allows you to access up to four of your Apple Music or Deezer playlists, set via the UE app, with more supported services promised later this year.

As for its size, the Boom 3 is 184mm tall, and has a diameter of 73mm and, with a weight of just 608g, it’s pretty easy to carry around.

The Boom 3 connects through Bluetooth using the SBC codec. Both the newer devices have a range of 45m, an improvement over their predecessors that claimed a 30m range. Better still, you can connect it to eight different sources, two of which can be simultaneously used. The speaker lasts around 15hrs – it’ll take around 2hrs to charge to full from empty.

Again, there’s no sign of the much-loved AptX codec and Ultimate Ears has also ditched the 3.5mm aux-in port for a sleeker design.

READ NEXT: Ultimate Ears Blast review: The best Bluetooth smart speaker money can buy

UE Boom 3 review: Waterproofing and floating

All of Ultimate Ears’ products have some form of weather resistance and the Boom 3 is no different. It’s rated at IP67, which means it’s both dust- and water-resistant, the latter to a depth of up to a metre in fresh water for up to 30 minutes.

There’s another new addition here and that’s the fact that the speaker can float. This was a key selling point on the Wonderboom, a beer-can shaped Bluetooth speaker, which could do the same. I’m glad to see it included on the Boom 3.

READ NEXT: UE Wonderboom review: Portable, stylish and pool-friendly

UE Boom 3 review: Sound quality

As far as sound quality goes, the speaker has the same frequency range as before (90Hz to 20kHz) and a maximum sound level of 90dBA. Producing this audio are two 2in drivers and a pair of 4in passive radiators. Sonically, it’s identical to the Boom 2 so if you loved the fun sound signature of its predecessor, you’ll love the sound of the Boom 3, too.

The Boom 3 has a pronounced mid-bass slam, which is both controlled and precise. It isn’t overpowering, so the speaker doesn’t sound like a bassy mess but it doesn’t reach right down into the very lowest notes either. It’s noticeably worse in this department than the larger Megaboom 3, which is able to extend down to 60Hz.

The mids are slightly pushed back and recessed, too, but that’s not to say the speaker sounds bad. In fact, it creates a somewhat warm sound profile, which is ideal for mainstream music.

The highs roll off at the top end, too, which create a softish sound. In songs like A$AP Rocky - Praise The Lord, the instrumentals aren’t as detailed as they should be. I’d have liked a little more detail here.

As for the soundstage, the speaker has a 360-degree sound that’s big enough for small outdoor gatherings or even a medium-sized living room. The speaker’s instrument separation is impressive, too. Altogether, it’s impressive for its size.

READ NEXT: Ultimate Ears Megablast review: The best multi-purpose Amazon Alexa smart speaker

UE Boom 3 review: Verdict

The Boom 3 is an improvement over its predecessor. It’s better looking, more weather- and life-proof than the Boom 2 and it’s more portable than the UE Megaboom 3 and the UE Megablast.

However, there’s one other speaker you should definitely consider instead: the Ultimate Ears Blast. Its sibling is very similar to the Boom 3, except instead of being pool proof, the Blast has Alexa support – making it the best portable smart speaker money can buy.

If you’re not interested in smart speakers and want something that can float, get the Boom 3.

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