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Updated Dec 29, 2022 7:46 PM
Back in 2013, Ultimate Ears dropped its first Bluetooth wireless speaker, the UE Boom. It was roughly the size of a tall can of Arizona iced tea and it set a high water mark for other portable Bluetooth speaker manufacturers. Thanks to its cylindrical design, it pumped out loud, clear, punchy sound in every direction for the duration of its impressive battery life. It wasn’t fully waterproof, but it was weather resistant, which made it one of, if not the, best when it comes to outdoor Bluetooth speakers. Since then, Ultimate Ears has refined and expanded its line of portable party machines. The original Boom is on its third iteration, the aptly named UE Boom 3. The Ultimate Ears speaker family now includes the pint-sized but powerful UE Wonderboom 3 and goes all the way up to the monolithic Hyperboom.
We’ve laid hands—and ears—on the full line of Ultimate Ears products and have never been disappointed. But, when it comes to choosing the best UE speaker, comparison shopping is essential. We’ve broken down the different models and done some handy side-by-sides to help you get the Ultimate Ears speaker that fits your needs.
Ultimate Ears speaker comparison
With a variety of models in the current UE speaker lineup, it can be tricky to navigate the options. Here’s a brief overview of each model to point out the most relevant features. The list runs from smallest to largest in both size and price.
UE Wonderboom 3 $99.99 (or less)
At roughly 4 inches around, this 1-pound Ultimate Ears speaker is shaped like the loudest little grapefruit you’ve ever heard. The Wonderboom 3 is IP67 rated (waterproof and dust-resistant, making it one of our favorite shower speakers), has a dedicated bass boost mode, and promises up to 14 hours of battery life. It offers 360-degree sound coverage, and you can also pair two of them together for stereo sound. A tough, integrated loop makes it easy to attach it with a carabiner to a backpack—or a belt loop if you’re really confident in your ability to keep your pants up. And, in case it’s flung off while over or in water, it floats.
UE Boom 3 $149.99 (or less)
Evolved from the original UE Boom, the Boom 3 has a massive Bluetooth connectivity range up to 150 feet. It promises 15 hours of battery life and sports a pair of giant “plus” and “minus” buttons for easy volume control. Unlike the original Boom, the UE Boom 3 is totally waterproof, so it can blast “Barbie Girl” by Aqua while underwater for maximum irony.
UE Megaboom 3 $199.99 (or less)
At roughly three pounds, the powerful UE Megaboom 3 speaker pumps more volume and burlier bass than its smaller siblings. Sadly, however, that means it probably won’t fit in your car’s cupholder or your bike’s water bottle holder as easily. It does offer up to 20 hours of battery life and it’s compatible with UE’s Power Up charging dock, so you can set it down and let it juice up when not in use.
UE Hyperboom $449.99 (or less)
This massive UE speaker stands more than 14-inches tall with a base that’s more than 7.5 inches around. All that body gives the UE Hyperboom enough room for features you won’t find in any other Ultimate Ears speaker, including a USB port, an optical audio in, and an auxiliary headphone jack. It’s not as waterproof as other UE speakers, so don’t throw it in the pool, but it does boast up to 24 hours of battery life and sound output that towers over the rest of the lineup in both bass levels and overall volume. If you’re looking for a loud Bluetooth speaker, this is your pal. The built-in handle also makes its substantial 13-pound heft easier to lug around.
What about the Ultimate Ears speakers Blast and Megablast?
While almost all of the Ultimate Ears speakers only connect to devices via Bluetooth (or direct cable connections in the Hyperboom’s case), the Blast and Megablast speakers also include Wi-Fi. That extra connection allow them to work with Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa. Both the Blast and Megablast are still listed on the Ultimate Ears site, but they can be hard to find for purchase since they’re several years old. If you can get an exceptional price on a Blast or Megablast, they will still work as excellent Bluetooth speakers. Still, the Alexa integration was never that impressive and was somewhat buggy even when they were new.
What makes UE Bluetooth speakers so appealing?
Ultimate Ears has been building out its UE Bluetooth speaker line for over a decade. In that time, it streamlined and smoothed out the UE app, which adds some clever functionality to its speakers. All the current speakers except for the pint-sized Wonderboom 2 can access an equalizer function that allows listeners to tweak the overall sound performance.
The app also facilitates pairing two speakers together for stereo sound. The Boom 3, Megaboom 3, and Hyperboom all connect interchangeably. In fact, the app allows listeners to connect up to 150 speakers simultaneously in case you want to build a wall of sound or make a really impressive TikTok. The Wonderboom 3, however, requires another unit of the same model for stereo pairing.
Ultimate Ears speaker comparison: Design
Since the original Boom debuted, UE has made some of the best-looking Bluetooth speakers around. They spare listeners the built-in light show that companies like Sony and JBL typically include with their portable speakers. All the devices in the current lineup share the same outer layer of woven fabric and a design that centers around two oversized volume buttons.
The Hyperboom only comes in black, but the Boom 3, Megaboom 3, and Wonderboom 3 all come in a variety of colors. If you order directly through the Ultimate Ears site, you can even customize your own Boom 3 with a system similar to Nike’s ID sneaker site. UE lets you choose the color and design on the fabric, the end caps, the spine, and the volume buttons. It will even allow for custom messages down the spine. At $179, it’s not much of a premium over the typical model price.
Which UE Bluetooth speaker is best for you?
UE hasn’t produced a truly bad-sounding speaker yet, which makes this Ultimate Ears speaker comparison fairly simple. For its $99 price, the Wonderboom 3 is compact and easy to carry (and a perpetual inclusion in the best Bluetooth speakers under $100), but it’s not as compatible with the rest of the UE ecosystem.
The original Boom 3 will suit the needs of most people. With 15 hours of battery life and plenty of audio oomph to fill a large room or even a typical yard, it’s a very safe bet. If you’re trying to fill a larger space, the Megaboom 3’s extra power may come in handy, just remember that it also brings a larger size and heavier weight.
The Hyperboom provides the best sound, but it’s also massive. Don’t expect to throw it in a backpack or for it to subtly blend into your decor. Set it in your living room, and you’d half expect apes to start worshipping it like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (That’s compared to other Bluetooth speakers, of course.) The Hyperboom has enough output and bass to provide an alternative for people who would otherwise consider a larger PA speaker, which might be overkill. If you have a massive space to crank tunes—or very understanding neighbors—then the Hyperboom might be the best portable Bluetooth speaker for you.