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UE Boom 2

UE Boom 2 review: Better than its predecessor in every way

Richard Easton
24 Nov 2020
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
UE Boom 2 primary
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

Improves on the original in every way - the UE Boom 2 is a great ruggedised, waterproof Bluetooth speaker

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Waterproof and ruggedized Bluetooth speakers aren’t quite the novelty they were when Ultimate Ears launched the original UE Boom. That’s not to say the Boom 2’s party trick of surviving hard drops is losing its appeal, though, and its waterproofing has also been improved over its predecessor.

While the original Boom could survive the odd splash as well as being washed when it was grubby, the Boom 2 is now rated at IPX7 - meaning it can take a dip into a metre of water for up to half an hour and yet still remain fully functional. UE has used a tighter wrap on the mesh covering the speaker's circumference, helping to seal out water. Needless to say, the UE Boom 2 makes for an excellent beach or pool companion. I took one along on holiday and certainly found it lived up to its claims around water resistance. It didn't skip a beat when dropping it into the shallow end of the pool. After a day lounging poolside, all that was required was to towel it, and myself, dry.

UE Boom 2 horizontal

Not much has changed in terms of design. The cylindrical design, much like a Pringles can, will still fit happily into a bike’s bottle holder. It should squeeze into the side netting of most backpacks, too, so you’re well covered for outdoor pursuits.

The mesh cover means it can be easily wiped down, and there are plenty of colour options available. These have some rather exciting names like ‘Tropical’ (orange and purple) and ‘Greenmachine' (two different shades of green), but there are less vibrant options such as ‘Yeti’ (white) and ‘Phantom’ (black). I was quite fond of the Tropical model I reviewed.

Large volume buttons are on the side. Giving both buttons a squeeze now gives you an audible battery readout. They stop the speaker being a perfect cylinder, meaning you can lay it on its side without worrying it'll roll away. Gesture controls join the power and Bluetooth buttons on the top; tapping the top allows you to play, pause and skip tracks, but I found it incredibly hit-and-miss in testing. You need quite a violent, open-palmed smack for it to register an input, making it frustrating to use. I more often opted to just grab my smartphone for music control. UE regularly releases new software updates for its speakers, so maybe this is something that can be tweaked in the future.

The dedicated UE Boom app for iOS and Android lets you double up with two Booms to create a stereo pair. This even works with Ultimate Ears’ other UE speakers, such as the UE Roll and UE Megaboom. Pairing is made easier, thanks to the visual representation of each speaker that matches colours as well as design. Bluetooth Smart also makes a return, meaning you can turn the UE Boom 2 on and off through the app, saving you having to reach directly for the speaker.

The other new software addition is ‘Block Party’. This lets up to three smartphones connect to a single UE speaker to essentially queue up music and collaborate on music playback. The ‘host’ is given all-encompassing power over the playlist, which is useful for maintaining a degree of order. They’re able to see what has been queued, up as well as booting unruly collaborators. Even if you don't plan on using Block Party with multiple people, it's useful being able to connect multiple devices and jump between them on the fly.

Staying true to its promise of releasing new features as app updates, Ultimate Ears has added a new function called 'Voice' to its UE Boom 2 app. This taps into either Siri on iOS or Google Now on Android for voice-based controls. To trigger the voice controls you just need to press the Bluetooth button on the speaker and you'll get an audio prompt to begin speaking. You can use the usual voice commands, such as asking questions or requesting your device play a specific song or album. Anything that requires a screen will obviously prove a hurdle, however.

The other improvement is an enhancement to the Boom's maximum volume. While it doesn't quite reach the deafening levels attainable by the Megaboom, it's significantly loud even when used outdoors. At its maximum volume, I could still hear at the other end of a 25m pool, albeit in a muffled way. Thanks to improved Bluetooth performance, the UE Boom 2 can even maintain a wireless connection at this distance, too.

At a more reasonable listening distance, the Boom 2 has plenty of mid and treble presence, and its bass is reasonably tight and controlled with decent impact. It sounded particularly good with electronic music and hip-hop, bringing plenty of excitement, zip and energy to keep your party going. It's not exactly the most delicate sounding speaker, but then most people don't buy Bluetooth speakers for critical listening.

UE Boom 2 bottom ports

You charge the Boom 2 over Micro USB and a port is hidden away behind a rubberised flap on its base along with a 3.5 auxiliary connection, so you have the option of using wired audio sources, too. Unscrewing the rubberised protective flaps reveals a conventional tripod mount, which is handy if you want to mount the speaker. Ultimate Ears rates the battery life at around 15 hours, but I never quite reached these levels - it typically lasted 12 hours before I needed to give it a charge. 

Conclusion

With the Boom 2, Ultimate Ears has built upon what was already an impressive Bluetooth speaker and improved on the design in some significant areas. More waterproofing, better wireless performance and a louder overall sound make the UE Boom 2 an excellent choice for those needing a speaker for the outdoors. The Boom 2 is slightly cheaper than the Fugoo with Sport jacket, which is just as robust. Both are excellent ruggedised Bluetooth speakers, but while the Boom 2 has the edge in terms of looks, the Fugoo just wins out in terms of sound quality. Either will bring the music to your next outdoor adventure, but if you're looking for a Bluetooth speaker to use indoors there's no need to spend quite so much money.

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