With so many options to choose from when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, manufacturers have to do something to stand out. The new Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 are speakers that are designed to look cool in any space and to pump out great sounding audio. How well do they deliver? I received one of each speaker for a few weeks to test and review in my home.
What’s in the box?
While the packaging is pretty cool and colourful, and definitely a stand out among electronics, there’s not a whole lot inside the box. You’ll get your speaker, of course, and a very long USB charging cable. That’s it. There’s no AC plug option, so hopefully if you want to plug it into a wall you already have one, or you have enough USB charging options that this is moot.
How to set up Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3
Setting the speakers up is quite easy. Push and hold the power button on the top of the other device and you’ll hear a bit of a drumroll. A robot voice will tell you to download the free Boom and Megaboom app. You can do that, of course, or just go straight to your phone’s Bluetooth settings and look for your speaker. Click to connect and you’re ready to play.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 Features
Both of the speakers come loaded with features; they’re both waterproof and they float. While the Boom 3 describes its “bold sound and deep bass” on the package, the Megaboom 3 promises “powerful sound and thundering bass”.
Indeed, this may be among their few main differences: size, and the bass level. Otherwise many of their features are the same: you can connect to, or up to, 150+ Boom and Megaboom speakers with the PartyUp feature. Both boast 360-degree sound, touch controls, and they’re drop-proof. While the Boom 3 has a long 15 hour battery life, the Megaboom 3 provides even more, boasting 20 hours.
Switching between speakers
If you have more than one speaker, you can switch between them easily enough. Without enabling the PartyUp feature, you’ll do a simple swap. On my Apple iPhone XS Max, I select a song, then simply select the output device from among those I’m connected to via Bluetooth. Your Bluetooth menu should recognize the speakers and allow you to select which one you want to play on. This worked easily during my testing.
Can you make stereo pair? Or multi room?
To pair two speakers together you’ll need the free Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3
app and it’s partyUp feature.
Go to the main screen on the app and look down along the bottom. You’ll see what looks like two small cylinders. Touch this and the app will show you which speaker is currently playing. To bring the other speaker into play, you need to do a little grab and drag motion; touch the speaker that shows in the bottom of the dock, the one that is not currently playing, then drag it up to join the other speaker in the center of the app window. You’ll hear a drumbeat tone that will confirm the speakers are paired together. From there, head back to your music and hit play!
To split the speakers back up again, just drag the one you’d like to disengage down to the tray at the bottom and they’ll separate. I have to say, I’ve tested out a lot of Bluetooth speakers; including ones that promise easy stereo operation and pairing, but these have to be the most intuitive and easy to pair speakers I’ve ever dealt with. No complicated button sequences, no glitchy interfaces, just drag and drop and your speakers are either paired or split up. It couldn’t be any easier.
There’s no lag or sync issues between these two speakers either, which is great.
Sound quality – Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The MegaBoom 3 is strong and powerful and delivers clear bass, solid and true vocals, and no high-end hiss or buzz. Did I get “thundering bass” from this speaker? I’d say no. While the Megaboom 3 definitely delivers strong bass, it’s not that same table-vibrating bass that I’ve seen from some other Bluetooth speakers. It’s hard to describe; rather than a rattling, buzzy bass, you get what I’d call strong and vibrant bass; it’s more pleasant and enjoyable.
The Megaboom 3 gets loud. I placed it in another room on the other side of the house, and could still hear it clearly. Again, I didn’t notice any distortion or fuzziness.
If there was a downside, it’s that the Bluetooth connectivity got spotty the further away from my phone the speaker was, and the more walls that got between them. Not surprising, just something to be aware of. When the phone and speaker were in the same room, connectivity wasn’t an issue at all.
Sound quality – Ultimate Ears Boom 3
I’d say there’s a noticeable difference in sound quality between the larger and more powerful Megaboom 3 and the Boom 3. The Boom 3 has a slight tinniness or a raspiness to it and it leans more towards the high-end. The bass sounds hollower than on the Megaboom 3.
If I was testing this speaker out on its own without the Megaboom 3 to compare it to, I’d probably say it sounds fine, but side-by side, I have a definite and strong preference for the Megaboom 3.
Auto shut off feature preserve battery life
The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 have an auto shut off feature that powers them down automatically after about 10 minutes of inactivity so that your battery doesn’t get unnecessarily wasted. You’ll hear a small drum roll and then they’ll just shut off. A handy feature.
No voice control
In an era where pretty much every electronic product you can buy today comes with voice control, it does seem a bit surprising there’s no such option on the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 and Megaboom 3. Perhaps that will arrive in future versions. That means there’s also no option to have a digital assistant like Google or Alexa to help you with daily tasks.
Looks and styling
The speakers are quite compact and also stylish looking. Even the substantially larger Megaboom 3 is still quite small and takes up very little space, thanks to its cylinder-on-end design. Both speakers have touch controls; a power and pairing button on the top is accompanied by a small LED light. Enormous volume buttons take up most of the side and are quite responsive.
Overall thoughts on the Boom 3 and Megaboom 3
I like these speakers. They’re compact, good-looking, and they sound good. They’re easy to set up and use. I preferred the bigger and pricier Megaboom 3 thanks to its stronger bass and truer sound. Downsides? The connectivity might be an issue depending on your home, and I was disappointed there’s no voice control…at this price point it seems like it should be a feature that’s there.