Home Reviews Entertainmnent UE Wonderboom, boom, boom (review)

For its size and affordability, UE’s Wonderboom stands out in a very crowded portable Bluetooth market. It provides loud, clear, almost full-range sound in a pint-sized, water and shock resistant package that floats!

The problem with smaller speakers is they invariably lose bass response. Wonderboom has fixed that – perhaps because it resembles a very overweight soft drink can unlike its svelte siblings the UE Boom 2 and Mega Boom.

I took it travelling to see if it (a) lived up to its claimed 10-hour battery life and (b) produced clear, full range, room-filling sound. On both counts, it met or exceeded my expectations.

Wonderboom  is IPX7/67-rated (one metre for up to 30 minutes and able to float – it is also mud and dust proof), has a virtually indestructible outer skin, battery life up to 10 hours (at 75% volume) pumping out clear, up to 86dB sound (roughly equivalent to a motorbike at eight metres) and four times as loud as 70dB likely to cause hearing damage in eight hours’ exposure.

Out of the box

Wonderboom is a lower cost, $129.95 item – and all you get is the box, the speaker and a flat micro-USB to USB-A cable.

That means you will need to supply at least a 500mAh USB charger – or it works with later 5V/2A chargers as well. It comes in a range of colours - Stone (Grey), Phantom (Black), Fireball (Red), SubZero (Blue), Cashmere (Pink) and Lilac (purple).

 UE Wonder boom

Sound

It is a 360° speaker – sound comes from the around the circumference. The orientation does not matter as this is a 1.0 (mono) speaker. You can pair two for more spread but not as Left/Right 2.0 speakers. Bluetooth coverage is 33 metres.

Finding the sound signature was interesting. Out of the box off a Windows 10 notebook, it was bass and mid-range heavy lacking in the treble (voice) – called mid-centric. But paired to an Android phone it regained the treble and lost a little of the mid-range – it was balanced.

What that means is that the digital analogue converter in the speaker reasonably closely mimics the sound source neither adding or subtracting from the sound.

The Android device had an equaliser and I was able to get a good response from about 80Hz to close to 20kHz from its two 40 mm active drivers and two 46.1 mm x 65.2 mm passive radiators. The output is good for a small, Bluetooth speaker. Using the standard audio signature, it is Balanced.

Overall Balanced is best as it allows the EQ flexibility to be very bassy or to provide good crisp voice depending on content.

It certainly filled a large (6 x 6m) room and will reach 86dB with no noticeable distortion.

It can be paired (manually press a button – there is no app) with another Wonderboom for extra mono coverage.

IPX7/67

The IPX7/67 rating means a drop of up to 1.5 metres (5’) won’t faze it and it floats. Unintentionally it did receive some rough handling and was dropped off a shelf and survived a pool dunking.

The hanging loop means you can attach this pint-sized speaker to a backpack and not worry about bumps and bruises.

UE wonderboom buttons

Battery

It is rated for 10-hours at 75% volume. The initial test was over three nights at around four hours use (12 hours) and it still had charge left. Recharging via a PC USB-A 2.0 port was about three hours. Although untested I suspect the USB-A 3.0 2A charging would halve this.

Pros:

  • Amazing distortion-free, clear volume and sound range from such a small package;
  • IPX7;
  • 10+ hour battery life;
  • Natural balanced sound signature means you can adjust from bass to clear voice via an EQ;
  • Reasonable price for the quality and performance; and
  • 102 (h) x 93.5mm (round) x 425g

Cons:

Wonderboom, being the runt of the litter, does have some limitations. At $129.95 it is cheaper than the accomplished UE Boom 2 ($229.95) and Mega Boom ($349.95)

  • It pairs, but not as a left and right stereo set – Boom 2 and Mega Boom are best for that;
  • Won't pair with other boom products or Party Up app;
  • No app so no additional functionality like alarm etc
  • No hands-free speaker phone;
  • You will need to supply a charger – 500mA or more;
  • The iOS and Android Boom apps don’t work with this speaker; and
  • No Aux in 3.5mm port and does not use the microUSB as a digital sound port

Conclusion

Sound-wise it is not quite up to the Boom 2, but it is very good for the price. For my “money” I think I would buy two Boom 2 and stereo pair them but hey – this review is about a rugged travel companion to add music and volume, not an audiophile review.

I see a huge market for backpackers, beach goers, maybe as a bathroom speaker etc.

It is available from Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Apple Shop and UE online. Apple Shop has a special deep blue colour.

It one of the better sounding, personal, mono Bluetooth speaker – a compact travelling companion.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

 

 

 

 

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