I've been using the new UE Boom 3 Bluetooth speaker for over a month - here's why I think it's worth the $150 price tag
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- I've been a loyal Ultimate Ears user for over three years now and am constantly impressed with the durability of their products.
- The UE Boom 3 is one of the brand's newest speakers and it has many of the same great features as the older models (think waterproof and dustproof), plus boasts some new specs such as a high-performance fabric covering and the ability to float.
- At $150, this speaker is priced competitively in the market, and actually is priced lower than the previous UE Boom 2 was at launch ($180), making it a great value for its abundant features.
As a consumer, I'd consider myself a loyalist. While I love trying out new brands and products, there are some items that have a strong hold on me - and my wallet. I always come back to adidas Superstars for go-to, everyday sneakers, a Uniqlo ultra light down jacket for adding warmth without the bulk, and Mario Badescu Drying Lotion for zapping pesky pimples overnight, for just a few examples.I've been a loyal UE Boom 2 user for over three years now, and it's still holding up great even after years of heavy use by its not-the-most-gentle-with-technology owner. I always like to have some background music, so having a good wireless speaker around is important for when I'm getting ready for work, cleaning my apartment, or just hanging out. The UE Boom 2 has been a staple of mine, and I use it pretty much every day. That is, until now. Don't worry, I could never ditch Ultimate Ears, but I will be switching out my Boom 2 for their new and improved model, the UE Boom 3.
My first impressions of the UE Boom 3
I had no plans to purchase a new speaker, but I recently got the chance to test out the newest model in the UE family, the UE Boom 3, and it's safe to say I was pretty excited.
At first glance, the UE Boom 3 has a new design that differentiates it from its predecessors. It still holds the same cylindrical shape, but the top and bottom are flat rather than slightly rounded. The volume control buttons on the front side of the speaker are nice and big, making them easy to control, but they're flat so they don't add any bulk. At about 9" tall and 3.5" in diameter, the Boom 3 is slightly larger than the Boom 2. At almost two pounds, it's also a little heavier than the Boom 2, which clocks in at just over a pound. Truthfully, I didn't think the slightly larger size or added weight were an issue. I still found the speaker to be easily portable and I appreciated the sleek, updated aesthetic.
In keeping with the sleek aesthetic, when you hold the Boom 3, you'll notice it feels a little different. That's because Ultimate Ears updated the covering to a high-performance fabric. This is a textile that's also used for motorcycle jackets and fire equipment, in case you were questioning it's durability. Not only is the fabric noticeably smoother, but it's two-toned, which adds somewhat of an iridescent sheen. Of course, this isn't one of the most important qualities, but it does make it look pretty nice on your dresser.
One of the most important factors to consider though when buying a speaker is that it's easy for you to use. I have encountered too many wireless speakers that take far too long to connect to your phone and have faulty Bluetooth. Safe to say this makes for an unpleasant listening experience, if you even get to listen to anything at all. Luckily, it took all of a minute to connect my phone to the UE Boom 3. Without even having to read the directions, I pressed the power button (which sits on the flat top of the speaker) and then connected via Bluetooth on my phone. Within moments, my apartment was flooded with crisp sound.
How the UE Boom 3 performedIn terms of sound, the Boom 3 is not much different than the Boom 2. Both speakers can pump out some serious audio, with a maximum of 90 decibels. If you like deep bass, the Boom 3 does give your music a richer bass texture, although I don't think that it's a notable difference to the average ear. If you want to cater the sound more to your liking, you can use the Boom app to customize the EQ, which has four different sound presets as well as a customized tuner.
There are many other aspects of the Boom 3 that are pretty consistent with the previous model. Both have a battery life of up to 15 hours, which is a pretty solid amount of time. The one advantage with the 3 is that it can be charged wirelessly with the UE Power Up charging dock. This is a nice addition, although it is an additional $40 expense, as it is not included with the speaker.
With the Boom app, you can pair any Booms and Megabooms (up to 150 or more of them, actually) for a seriously loud situation. This feature, called Party mode, allows you to play the same song through all speakers, so it sounds like you have a much more intense speaker system in place. Both models also feature Block Party mode, which allows you and two friends to connect to the same speaker and take turns playing music.
The Boom 3 has a wireless range of 150 feet, while the Boom 2 only has a range of 100 feet. I think both are pretty impressive, but the broader range of the Boom 3 is a definite positive, especially if you are playing music at a party and will be mingling, moving around the room.
So, you can take your phone pretty far away from the speaker and it will still play, but you can also control the music without even having your phone on you. The UE Boom 3 has added a new "Magic Button" that lets you skip, pause, and play music with just a few taps. If you have Apple Music or Deezer, you can actually set up one-touch playlists with the Boom app. I stream my music through Spotify, so I didn't get to use this aspect of the feature, but you can still use the "Magic Button" to skip, play, and pause regardless of where your playlists come from; you just manually have to pick the playlist from your phone.
The Boom 2 is waterproof too, but the Boom 3 goes a step further. It has a IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating. What this really means is that this thing is seriously waterproof. It can be totally submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. The Boom 3 actually floats, so if you drop it in water, it won't even be completely submerged, it will pop right back up to the surface. To test out this feature, I plugged my sink, filled it up with water, and plopped the speaker right in. Even though I know it's waterproof, I hesitated to drop the speaker, as I think there's still a part of me that fears water will ruin all of my tech gadgets. If I was scared, this speaker has quelled my fears. I put the speaker in the sink just to see it rise to the top, skimming the surface of the water.
Through this process the sound did not change, albeit being a bit muffled while submerged underwater, and was equally crisp and clear when I set it on the surface after being completely soaked. Just take note that when you take the speaker out of the water, some water may continue to drip out for a few minutes. This doesn't change any aspects of the speaker itself, I would just be mindful of this when you choose where to rest the speaker after it has been in water.
Bottom line: Should you spend $150 on the UE Boom 3?After getting to spend time with both the UE Boom 2 and UE Boom 3, I think they're both great products, but think the UE Boom 3 is totally worth it. It has everything that makes the previous models great, adds some cool new features, and sits at a competitive price, especially considering the launch price of the UE Boom 3 ($149.99) is lower than the launch price of the UE Boom 2 ($179.99).
I was impressed with the sleek, yet super durable look. The fact that it floats to the surface of water makes it virtually impossible to destroy. The added specs are welcomed additions that do serve to improve the product. If you want the same sound quality, without spending $150 or more, the UE Boom 2 is still a great pick. Plus, with the launch of the Boom 3, you can find great deals on the Boom 2.
Whatever way you go, you really can't go wrong with UE Boom speakers.
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