No doubt about it, the original UE Boom redefined FUNK in portable speakers. With its iconic design and delicious candy-coated colours, it had an app that brought user-experience to a whole new level. So is the S$399 Boom 2 that much of an improvement?
The #UE Boom 2 is now fully waterproof and definitely stood up to my challenge. All the button layouts are the same but now you can skip tracks, pause and play your music when you lift the speaker and smack the top. More about that in a bit. I like that it comes in a similar hard-carrying case that came with the UE Megaboom. It’s about the same size and feels like the same weight but in fact they had taken out a counterweight and built in heavier and more powerful drivers, to improve the sound quality. The App remains the best reason to shell out your hard-earned cash for this baby. It allows you to switch it on remotely and adjust the EQ, pair up 2 UE speakers, an alarm clock and the Block Party mode, basically, multi-pairing. Battery juice is retained at almost 15 hours playing at a moderate volume level, in spite of the more powerful drivers.
I notice that the sound quality is improved! Somehow the speaker plays even louder now and does not suffer from high distortion so much at loud volumes. It has slightly better bass and vocals sound smoother and more refined overall. The sound also enjoys better spaciousness. But is it a huuuuuge improvement in sound? Not really. The speaker suffers from the typical lack of track separation especially at higher volumes, and lack of bass extension when compared with the likes of the Bose SoundLink Mini II, which costs only $10 more.
When I played ’Fever’ by Michael Bublé the vocals are okay but I missed having more bass extension and I don’t get that airiness that’s actually in the recording. When I jammed ’Live like a Warrior’ by Mattisyahu the song sounded clear but due to the lack of track separation, the song sounded a bit too bright for my liking, and I actually had to turn the volume down for more comfortable enjoyment. Still, the sound quality IS an improvement over the original Boom.
I wish UE would stop claiming that this speaker has 360 degree sound, because that is clearly not the case. The touch sensor that lets you smack to skip tracks is a step in the right direction, but I had a terrible time getting it to work properly. It’s very hit and miss, and very frustrating when I double tap and it pauses my music instead of skipping. It’s SO dumb that I need 2 hands to do one simple thing. You can’t just tap it, you have to lift it up in one hand and smack it with the other. I would rather have a button… Seriously.
The Boom 2 IS an improvement over the original. Now, it’s actually waterproof and has better sound. If anyone’s thinking of a very durable, fuss-free speaker to start from, I would recommend it for the fact that the UE app lets you switch it on, multi-pair and even update its software without even touching the speaker. For those of you who already have the Boom, it will be a tough sell swiping 319 bucks more for this new one. If you crave better sound quality, the alternative is the #JBL Charge 2+ that retails for 40 bucks less, or you could even pay 10 bucks more for the legendary Bose SoundLink Mini version II.
The UE Boom 2 will be available in the following flavours: Yeti (White), Cherrybomb (Pink/red), Greenmachine (Green), Tropical (Orange/Purple), and Phantom (Black).
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