When we reviewed the original UE Boom, we thought it was the best portable Bluetooth audio speaker since sliced bread. But for when you want a thicker slice, with a greater dollop of bass spread, there's the UE Megaboom.
Bigger scale, bigger sound, but a bigger price to boot. Is the latest Ultimate Ears waterproof portable worth its £250 asking price?
We raved about the earlier UE Boom's design, from its (rather ravey) colourway options to the cylindrical shape and omni-directional sound output. The UE Megaboom takes that template and goes one bigger; one better.
That means the same striking look - despite our review sample coming in a dull grey/silver with blue trim, not the jazziest of options - complete with rubberised main panel and plasma-coated mesh exterior for protection against damage from the elements. This time around it's all fully waterproof (IPX7 standard) should you keep the charging and 3.5mm jack ports covered over with the integrated flaps, if you fancy having a speaker floating in the bath.
Device controls are kept to a minimum, comprising on/off and Bluetooth buttons to the top, and separate large volume up and down controls to the side of the rubberised panel. It's unfussy, neat and tidy, and as it's Bluetooth all controls can be handled from a paired device.
With its 83mm diameter cylindrical design the UE Megaboom is designed to project sound out in all directions. With the original UE Boom this works really well, but the new interior speaker rearrangement of the Megaboom doesn't function in quite the same manner.
Sound is still spread liberally, but the lower portion of the device - assuming the speaker is standing upright, rather than on its side - handles bass output with two 4-inch bass radiators, while the upper section's twin 2-inch drivers give greater stereo separation.
That last point is interesting: the Megaboom's specification doesn't state that stereo sound is part of the package, but listening to Jessie Ware's Devotion there is clear division of hi-hats arranged in left and right channels, giving a more three-dimensional sound, but a less omni-directional one.
However, this new speaker arrangement delivers great sound whether indoors or out. Sound is just as colourful as the device's colourway options, and there's loads of volume available, without the tininess associated with some of the more budget Bluetooth speakers on the market. Just because our UE Megaboom is grey, doesn't mean it sounds dull - far from it.
It's bass that gets the biggest lift though: compared to the smaller UE Boom, the Megaboom really shows its worth in this department, with rich, rippling bass whatever musical genres that we threw at it. From such an unassuming device - it only measures 226mm tall - that's great to hear.
There's a dedicated Megaboom app too, complete with equalisation settings (including a custom one) and the Bluetooth connection is near instantaneous to respond to any adjustments - far quicker than a typical Bluetooth speaker. We found a little added sharpness in the 4-8kHz range made for an even more balanced listen at lower volumes, and like the fact the app only controls the speaker, not the music running to it - for that you're free to use whatever other service you choose.
Even with Bluetooth ticking along and tunes blaring out nice and loud, the UE Megaboom will keep on delivering for hours. Tens of hours at the right volume, given its claimed 20-hour capability. Of course the louder it is the less time it will last, but we've been through a couple of office days worth of use no problems.
Recharging is easy thanks to a (garishly luminescent) plug socket and microUSB cable included in the box.
There are now boat loads of portable Bluetooth speaker options and the UE Megaboom is a standout product; one only really limited by the high price point and less balanced omni-directional sound output than the smaller UE Boom model.
But even the high price can't muddy the raft of good points that see it swim along (literally if you dunk it in the bath, thanks to waterproofing): this bass-booming cylinder sounds great, looks great, and is tough enough to tackle music in the office, for that summer picnic or festival, or whatever else you happen to throw at it. It's Bluetooth speaker bliss.