(Pocket-lint) - The original version of Wonderboom arrived with a bang: a compact Bluetooth speaker that offered great sound, could take a knock and was perfect for travel, camping or just using around the home.
The Wonderboom 2 follows up that original with a couple of tweaks to strengthen the offering, making it better skilled, but very much an evolution.
Designed for the great outdoors
- Measures: 105mm tall, 95mm diameter
- IP67 protection against dust and water
- Comes in a range of colours
- Great compact design
Shaped like a grenade, the Wonderboom 2 is a compact package with rubber-textured top and bottom wrapped in fabric around the centre.
There are a range of colours on offer - black, grey, red, blue and pink - but these colours aren't as bold as the original Wonderboom's colours were at launch. However, we expect there to be other colours and special editions released in the future.
Offering 360-degree sound, there are two large volume buttons on the side of the speaker, making it really easy to adjust quickly.
The top of the speaker has three buttons controlling power, Bluetooth pairing and a central button offering some of the more advanced functions - like pairing with another Wonderboom speaker or switching to stereo.
The top centre button also enables control of the source, with a single press to play/pause and a double press to skip to the next track, in the same that many Bluetooth headphones work. That's great, because you don't need to go to your phone when you want to control the music.
On the base of the speaker there's a button to switch to outdoor boost mode and you'll also find the flap for the Micro-USB charging port. We're a little peeved to find that the Wonderboom 2 carries this legacy connector, as it means that you'll need to have the old style cable on your travels, rather than the USB Type-C that's taking over many devices.
There's another feature not to be dismissed and that's the IP67 protection. The previous version of this speaker was waterproof - we used it in the pool without any problems - but the new version has been tightened up for dust protection, so it's now better protected on the beach.
Great 360-degree sound
- Plenty of bass
- Distortion free at higher volumes
- Stereo pairing
The Wonderboom 2's design lends itself to 360-degree sound, so it doesn’t matter where you put it - or yourself - and you'll still get the full audio that it offers. As a compact Bluetooth speaker we remain impressed at how well the Wonderboom copes with delivering music.
Often it's the bassline that lacks in small format speakers, but not so with the Wonderboom 2. It will keep that low-range richness all the way through the volume range too, escaping distortion at top volume - which is really impressive.
That volume is substantial too. Sure, larger speakers offer a larger sound, but this little grenade speaker offers explosive sound and will easily fill a room. It's the combination of ease of portability and volume that really makes it appeal. It's great for hotel rooms, next to your villa pool or wherever you happen to be.
One of the great features of the Wonderboom is the ability to pair it with another. If you want bigger sound or want to fill a couple of rooms then it's great for that job. All you have to do is long press on both Wonderbooms and they'll find each other and start playing the same music. The great thing is that controls are shared too, so you can play/pause from either speaker, for example. You can pair the new Wonderboom 2 with an original Wonderboom with no problem.
One of the new skills, however, is stereo pairing. This is only available on the Wonderboom 2 and comes thanks to a new chipset inside the speakers. That means that this option doesn't work if you're pairing with an older model - so if stereo is important to you'll need to get two Wonderboom 2. Again, once paired you use the centre button and it'll switch to stereo.
This makes a big difference if you're using the speakers indoors in a room - and it's really designed to give you better music in this environment. It's not really suited to an outdoor setup or adhoc music, but if you want to setup a dorm room with stereo audio, it's an easy and fairly affordable way to do it.
Exploring that outdoor mode
- Outdoor EQ preset
One of the new features is an outdoor boost. This is turned on or off via the button on the bottom of the speaker, which glows like a little tree. It's cute, and it's pretty clever.
The idea is that it cuts the losses experienced when you are outside. It's hard to deliver meaningful bass outdoors because there's nothing to reflect or reverberate, unlike inside a room in your house. So rather than pushing power into that bass that you won't hear, the idea of the outdoor boost button is to switch to an EQ preset that's better suited to the great outdoors.
This boosts the highs rather than the lows, so that the music has greater audible range, free from the bass that can muddy the music in a more challenging environment.
Indoors, it's a horrible effect, so never press that button when you're inside. Outdoors, however, it really works. There's a noticeable difference as the overall volume is higher, with the vocals and treble boosts. At the same volume level without using the outdoor mode, things sound a lot more muffled as the bass takes some of the sparkle out.
Sure, if you're sitting outdoors at a table, listening to something quietly then you'll probably be fine with the bass (you'll also have a surface to reverberate that bass), but if you're sticking that speaker in the corner of your garden full of people, then outdoor boost does its job.
One final boost to the Wonderboom 2 is an increase in battery life. It's now good for 13 hours or playback rather than 10 hours of the previous model. Everyone loves battery life, right?
Wonderboom vs Wonderboom 2
Both speakers sound very much the same indoors and look similar, so which should you be buying? Ultimately, the Wonderboom 2 is the better speaker - it has more functions for more situations and the stereo pairing means that if you want to buy two to use indoors, you can get a more engaging setup.
However, the Wonderboom 2 doesn't replace the original Wonderboom. Both are going to be available for some time and the older speaker is a fair bit cheaper if you shop around. If you want one speaker and will only ever buy one for travel and mainly indoor use, then the original is a logical choice.
It's a repeat performance for the Wonderboom, with this second iteration being every inch as good as the first model. It's an easy speaker to recommend if you're after a compact Bluetooth speaker that will do it all, offer all-round protection and a bassy 360-degree sound.
That's much the same position as the older model - which sounds pretty much the same - so this is really where the decision lies: take the newer speaker because you want stereo pairing or because you actually want to use it for outdoor party time, or save yourself a little cash by opting for the older model.
Overall, the Wonderboom 2 delivers by the bucketload. If you want explosive sound from a compact form-factor then look no futher.
Alternatives to consider
B&O Play BeoPlay A1
Less outdoorsy and a little more sophisticated, the BeoPlay A1 is your indoor friend if you're looking for a compact Bluetooth speaker. It looks and sounds great, offers good battery life and is easy to throw into a bag and take on your travels. If you're more hotel room and less festival campsite, the BeoPlay might be the speaker for you.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
We've mentioned the original Wonderboom a lot, but to give it its due, it was one of our favourite compact speakers of 2018. The sound is very close, as is the design and the simplicity of pairing. It offers almost the same level of protection, but lacks some of the headline features. Still, it's a little cheaper thanks to being older, so you could snap one up and save a few bucks.