Everyone wants to know, especially for the holidays, what is the best wireless speaker that offers the most bang for your buck? We just reviewed the Ultimate Ears Boom and Mini Boom. Both are bluetooth speakers with some really neat features and incredible sound quality. Read on and we’ll tell you which one is the must-have this holiday season.
The new Ultimate Ear Boom and Mini Boom are way more than hip looking speakers. Ultimate Ear is a brand that’s been around since 1995 and has produced the most popular in-ear monitor (IEM) headphones among musicians today. In 2008 they were acquired by Logitech and just recently they launched two of the best portable wireless bluetooth speakers on the market, the Boom and Mini Boom. These colorful speakers are available in a number of trendy color schemes and feature serious audio quality with great features.
Both the Boom and Mini Boom are bluetooth speakers that support two source devices at the same time. They’re compatible with just about any bluetooth device, and for super easy pairing they’re even NFC enabled, in case you have a compatible device. Both Booms rock insanely long battery lives with their built-in micro-USB rechargeable battery. They even have built-in microphones for great speakerphone calls. For complete compatibility, there’s also an standard 3.5mm audio input on both devices. The builds are rugged and tough, but there’s also a 2-year limited warranty on the hardware.
Boom and Boom Mini have iOS/Android apps that allow you to tweak settings, add features, learn about the device, or check on battery power. The single best feature is the EQ settings. You’ve never seen more appropriate EQ presets: out loud (for raw volume), intimate (for small rooms, hard floors/walls), or vocals(for talk radio, podcasts, movies).
Like a lot of popular bluetooth speakers, the UE Boom is cylindrical in shape and relatively average in size. Boom stands upright just over 7″ tall. UE Boom’s differentiator is that it plays music in all directions–360 degree sound. For this reason it can only stand up, it doesn’t lay flat.
UE Boom has two large, stylish volume buttons on the rubberized portion that runs from top to bottom. It has a really durable and premium build. On one end of the Boom is a power button and a bluetooth button, on the other end is the standard line-in port, a micro-USB charging/syncing port, and a D-Ring that unscrews to reveal a standard tripod mount.
UE Boom sports a whopping 15 hour battery life and comes with a really nifty flat rubberized cable and matching plug outlet adapter. The packaging for UE Boom is also one of the highlights. It’s stored in a canister. Once opened there’s separate drawers that slide out to reveal the neon green cable and adapter. This was a fun unboxing.
Just recently, Ulimate Ears released an update for the Boom (updated with a computer) that added a new feature—a wake up alarm with your choice of song.
UE Boom Mini
Boom Mini looks like a cute little boombox. It’s short and stout, but big on sound. The design is a little less traditional, part of it’s appeal. Similar to the Boom, it’s a blend of metal speaker grill and bright rubber housing. It’s a fun look. On the top are large stylish plus and minus buttons for volume, and a bluetooth button in between. On the back is a hard on/off switch, a micro-USB port, and a line-in port.
Boom Mini sports a battery life of 10 hours.
Both devices sound awesome. Like, seriously awesome. They fill the room with raw volume and quality. At higher volumes, UE Boom is louder and clearer. The “360 degree audio” doesn’t make a huge difference, and most people are perfectly content with more directed audio. At regular volumes, they sound about the same. They’re both “top notch” in audio. They’re crisp, very detailed, and really warm. Changing the EQ from “out loud” to “intimate” really sets the mood inside of the home. When it’s party time, or you’re outside, then you switch to “out loud”.
Boom is twice the price of Boom Mini. So with that said, UE Boom Mini is the best speaker for the price right now. The Boom Mini takes up a small amount of space, but packs big sound. If you’re looking for a party speaker, then UE Boom could be the better bet, especially if you plan on linking two devices to play from one source. UE Boom Mini packs almost the same amount of oomph in a more pleasing and portable fashion. Both speakers have a rubber finish that dirties pretty easily, but it washes off just as easily. They’re both really dense and heavy duty in build.
The bluetooth pairing is painless, and even more so if you have an NFC-enabled phone or device. The bluetooth range is great and it even works between walls. Both devices work great as speakerphones too.
Pricing in under $100, Boom Mini is the speaker to get this holiday season. We’ve reviewed a ton of portable bluetooth speakers and in terms of size, quality, battery, appearance, and features—Boom Mini is it. Our next favorite bluetooth speaker is the JBL Charge, which is priced in between the Boom and Boom Mini. At almost $200 the UE Boom is pricy, but still beats out the other portable speakers in that price range. The battery, volume, and sound quality are insane, plus UE/Logitech has already proven that they’ll continue to roll out features through software updates. The UE Boom and UE Boom Mini are available in a bunch of fun and trendy color schemes. You can find the UE Boom Mini for as low as $69.99(depends on color) and the UE Boom for as low as $179.99 from Amazon.
The Good: Fantastic audio quality, Fun color schemes, Loud, Great bluetooth range, NFC, Very long battery, App with settings/features, NFC, Micro-USB rechargeable, Durable, Built-in microphone for speakerphone calls
The Bad: Rubber gets dirty, No track controls
Update 5/7/2014: Logitech has listened to feedback from their users and has added a great new feature. From now on, once you sync two UE BOOMs together for the first time, they will remember each other and automatically Double Up the next time both speakers are powered on. You can take advantage of this update by simply downloading the latest free iOS or Android UE BOOM app and updating your UE BOOM – just plug it into your Mac or PC and follow the on-screen instructions. This new feature continues to be free, and there is an option to turn the feature On/Off in the settings menu of the UE BOOM app.