(Pocket-lint) - Ultimate Ears makes some of the best Bluetooth speakers around. If you're in the market for a portable, waterproof speaker that will deliver when it comes to bass and volume, the UE line-up is an excellent place to look.
The original UE Megaboom was fantastic, and while we have seen newer and smarter speakers from UE in the Megablast, and smaller options in the Wonderboom since its arrival, the Megaboom is still one of the best in its market.
And in the Megaboom 3 it's another home run for UE. Here's why.
- IP67 water resistant
- Magic Button on top
- Four standard colours, two special edition colours
You can spot an Ultimate Ears speaker a mile away. They all offer striking, rugged design that mix rubber controls with a plasma-coated mesh exterior. The sizes and shapes may change depending on the model you choose, but the volume controls are always a standout feature and the speakers are always available in a range of bold and bright colours.
That's not to say refinements aren't made with each new addition to the UE line-up though. The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 may share a similar look to its three-year-old predecessor, but the devil is in the detail. A few subtle changes have made the already excellent Megaboom even better for the 2018 model.
The Megaboom 3 ditches the rubber strap on the front, resulting in a cleaner and more streamlined design. The volume controls still take pride of place - it wouldn't be a UE speaker if they didn't, right? - but they are now positioned directly on the two-tone mesh, rather than on the separate rubber band, as seen on the Megablast range.
Don't worry, those who love the rugged look the rubber brings won't be disappointed. It's still the material of choice for the top and bottom of the device and there's a slimmer rubber strap on the back of the Megaboom 3 too.
At the bottom of this strap is where you'll find the new positioning for the Weather Door, which hides the Micro-USB charging port (why it's not USB-C now, however, we have no idea). Taking the Weather Door's place at the bottom of the speaker is a built-in connection for the Power Up charging dock (sold separately for £35) that launched with the Megablast series, offering easy charging for those willing to spend extra (if not, the repositioning of the charging port means you don't need to tip the Megaboom 3 on its side to charge it).
Move to the top of that rubber strap at the back and you'll find a material loop for carrying the Megaboom 3, or attaching a d-ring if you want to hang it off something.
The controls have changed at the top too. There is now a "Magic Button" in the middle (no, we aren't joking, that's what it is called), along with the power button and Bluetooth button.
Last but not least on the design front, the Megaboom 3 is IP67 water and dust resistant so you can dunk this cylindrical speaker in the sea, in the bath, or in the pool and it will survive (for 30 minutes, officially). It will also float, so if you drop it in the sea during your yacht party (we can all dream), it won't sink to the bottom.
- Press to play, pause and skip
- Long press to start playlist
- Apple Music / Deezer compatible
So what does the Magic Button do? Actually, not all that much. Pressing it will not make any fluffy white rabbits suddenly appear in your living room. It's more of a convenience button.
Press the Magic Button once and it will play your music without you needing to pick up your phone or connected device. Of course, your device does need to be connected to the speaker for this to work (and within a 45 metre range). Press the button again when the music is playing and you can pause your music, while a further press will play the track again. Double-press and it will skip a track (but there is currently no way to go back to a previous track).
If you don't use Apple Music as an Apple user, or Deezer as an Android user, that is all the Magic Button will currently do for you until more music services are added.
For those who do use the above streaming services (more are planned for the future), a long press of the Magic Button will allow you to start playing one of your playlists. Another long press will skip to the next playlist, while a short press will skip to the next song within the current playlist. Again, there is no option to go back, so if you have 150 playlists then you'll be long-pressing quite a few times to get back to the first playlist.
- Same composition as original UE Megaboom
- Enhanced passive radiator
- Stereo pairing
The Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 sticks with the same speaker composition inside as the original Megaboom, though it has enhanced and modified the passive radiator for deeper bass and improved clarity.
Aside from this, however, everything is as it was, meaning sound is spread liberally from the device. The lower portion handles bass via two 4-inch bass radiators, while the upper section features twin 2-inch drivers for greater stereo separation.
The Megaboom 3's 83mm diameter is designed to deliver 360-degree, omnidirectional sound and that it most certainly does. The Megaboom 3 offers a fantastic sound quality whether indoors or out, with plenty of volume, and none of the tinniness that can be associated with budget Bluetooth speakers.
There is great clarity across its frequency range, but it's the bass that really stands out, with a rich, rippling delivery that sounds excellent no matter what musical genre you throw at it.
There is a graphic equaliser (EQ) within the free Megaboom app should you wish to make adjustments according to your preference and you can also take advantage of the other UE features through the app, including PartyUp and Stereo.
PartyUp allows you to link up to 150 Megaboom and Boom speakers (any generation) for the ultimate party. One Megaboom is enough to fill a pretty big room in a house so 150 would be pretty epic - we'd like an invite to that party please!
Stereo enables two Megaboom 3 to be paired for stereo sound, as you'd expect from the name. Bear in mind that while it's possible to pair the Megaboom 3 with the original Megaboom for PartyUp mode, it's not possible to create a stereo pair with old and new (which is a shame; it's either two originals or two 3, not a mix of one and other).
- 20 hours
- Repositioned charging port
- Power Up built in to bottom
The original Ultimate Ears Megaboom provided a decent battery life, and the Megaboom 3 performs just as well. Pump up the volume and have Bluetooth constantly ticking away in the background and this speaker will still give you a couple of day's worth of tunes in the office before it needs more juice.
The Megaboom 3 claims to offer 20 hours overall, which having counted the minutes certainly isn't far off what it's achieved for us. Generally speaking it isn't a speaker we've had to remember to put on charge.
When charging is required, it's significantly more convenient on the Megaboom 3 compared to the original. The repositioned charging port means you'll be able to have the speaker in an upright position and charge it simultaneously rather than have it on its side.
This convenience is enhanced even further for those investing in the Power Up too. This charging dock is brilliant, although it would have been nice to see it included in the box, especially as the Megaboom 3 has the correct contact, rather than adding £35 to the asking price.
There might be a significant number of Bluetooth devices on the market these days but the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 continues to hold its ground as one of the best.
This speaker offers fantastic design (it even floats!), while sounding brilliant, remaining easy to use, and enhancing bass deliver compared to the original model.
With a starting price that's £80 lower than its predecessor, it's quite simply a booming brilliant Bluetooth speaker.
Ultimate Ears UE Boom 3
Don't want things to be quite so, er, 'mega'? The standard Boom 3 is a little smaller, a little cheaper, yet still deliver excellent audio quality in a more transportable and compact package.