Ultimate Ears markets the UE BOOM as a 360-degree speaker which means that the user should be able to get the same audio experience and quality regardless of their position relative to the speaker. In a sense, the UE BOOM does exactly that.
Short of holding the speaker right up to my ear, I was unable to detect any discernible difference in sound quality going round the UE BOOM. It’s really loud too – even outdoors – especially for its size. In fact, the first thing that caught my eye (ear?) when my colleagues were testing the speaker out, was how well the speaker enveloped the entire office in sound.
Audio quality is impressive as well. Vocal notes come out crisp and clear, and guitar riffs can be individually plucked out of a song’s bridge. Unfortunately the audio isn’t without fault as the UE BOOM falls rather flat when it comes to bass notes. Of course, you could use the app to tweak the equaliser or pick the “Bass Jump” preset, but that’s like placing a damp cloth over a raging fire: sure it’ll help, but it isn’t quite enough to put it out.
I will concede that with a portable speaker of this size, you can’t realistically expect the bass to be brilliant. But, this isn’t to say that the bass is unbearable as it’s still a whole lot better than most smartphone, laptop and tablet speakers.
Ultimate Ears rates the range of the UE BOOM at 50 feet, so to find out how far I could go in a practical environment, I placed my connected smartphone in the middle of my semi-detached house and took the speaker on a little tour of my residence.
Signal strength was very good throughout my house, with the sound only beginning to crackle and disconnect at the very fringes of my compound. The connection did not appear to have any problems with obstacles either, as it remained strong even when I went upstairs and behind closed doors.
The only significant connection issue was when we ran both review UE BOOM units in a daisy chain out of the box. There was a lot of crackling and instability especially in the second speaker which we figured was due signal interference between the speakers’ signal and our WiFi network. However, these problems were mostly resolved when we updated the device to its latest software.
Audio quality when running the double-up configuration in stereo mode is pretty good if you can find the sweet spot where the audio Venn diagrams overlap, though if you just want more volume or wider coverage, running it in dual mono seems to achieve the best result.