Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM review: Freestyle Collection adds personality to a decent speaker

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews
Ultimate-Ears-WONDERBOOM-review

The WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker offers decent sound, great battery life, and have an IPX7 waterproof rating.

TA-ratings-94The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker isn’t exactly a new product but a couple months ago the company added a few new looks to the line-up. We haven’t had the opportunity to review the WONDERBOOM yet, so our Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM review takes a look at the Concrete version of the new looks and puts it through its paces to see just how it sounds and performs.

Specifications

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Bluetooth speaker has the following features and specifications:

  • 360º sound
  • Pair up to 8 Bluetooth® enabled source devices.
  • Connect up to two source devices at the same time.
  • Wirelessly play (stream) to 2 WONDERBOOM from one source
  • Maximum sound level: 86 dBC
  • Frequency range: 80 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Drivers: two 40 mm active drivers and two 46.1 mm x 65.2 mm passive radiators
  • Range: Mobile range for music playback is up to 33 m (100ft)
  • Waterproof: IPX7 rated
  • Drop proof: Drop tested from 1.5m (5′)
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 10 hours of battery life between micro-USB charges
  • Charge time: 2.8 hrs
  • Dimensions: 102 x 93.5mm (4.02 x 3.68″)
  • Weight: 425g

What’s in the box

  • WONDERBOOM Bluetooth speaker
  • Micro-USB cable
  • 2-year limited warranty
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What’s in the box…

Design

The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker is cylindrical in shape and sits just a hair over 4″ and is just under 3 3/4″ in diameter. The top 1/2″ and bottom 3/4″ or so are manufactured from a black rubbery material which tapers off towards the top and bottom for flat surfaces.

The top of the speaker has the Ultimate Ears wordmark debossed into the center which doubles as a play and skip track button. Above this is a dimpled Bluetooth pairing button with a small circular LED in the middle. When in pairing mode, the light blinks white. Below the UE wordmark is a recessed dimple power button with a vertical LED light in the middle. When on, the LED light is lit white. Centered on the back of the speaker is a slightly stretchable fabric hook to allow you to hang the speaker from a wall or other such hook.

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The controls on the top of the WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker.

The bottom portion of the speaker has a sealed rubber flap at the back. Opening this up exposes the Micro-USB charging port and, when closed properly, lends to the IPX7 waterproof rating of this speaker.

Of course, the main middle area of the WONDERBOOM Bluetooth speaker is what you’ll likely notice the most about the Freestyle Collection. Covered in a fabric finish, our review sample featured a black, white, and grey mottled finish — aptly representing its Concrete namesake. The fabric wraps nicely around the entire speaker with a seam in the back to finish it off. Opposite the seam, on the front, are Ultimate Ears large + and – volume control buttons, looking almost like a cross with a split in the middle.

As mentioned in the intro, our review sample came in the new Concrete style, that and the other four available “designer” skins are:

  • Concrete: Your look is everyday neutral but never basic. Concrete is inspired by urban texture, paint splashes, and shadows.
  • Avocado: Your style is subtle and understated. With Avocado, you’re always ready to “guac” and roll.
  • Patches: You wear your heart on your sleeve and plaster your personality through patches and pins. Patches is a punch of personality to denim.
  • Raspberry: You’re never afraid to go bold. Raspberry is fresh, hot and juicy.
  • Unicorn: Magic is your middle name. Unicorn is a delightful color melt of pastels.

Ease of Use

If you’ve used a Bluetooth speaker before, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is a no-brainer. The first time you turn the speaker on, it enters pairing mode and all you have to do is select WONDERBOOM on your streaming device. If you want to pair it with another device, simply press the Bluetooth button for a few seconds until it starts blinking and away you go. The WONDERBOOM allows you to pair up to two devices at the same time and stores up to 8 paired devices.

To play or pause the current track, press the Ultimate Ears logo on the top of the speaker. To skip to the next track, press it twice. Unfortunately, there is no way to skip back to the beginning of the track or to the previous track. Adjusting volume is equally simple — all you have to do is press the large + or – button on the front of the speaker.

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Ultimate Ears’ signature volume controls on the front of the speaker.

Unlike most other Bluetooth speakers released these days, there is no speakerphone functionality on the WONDERBOOM and, as a result, also no digital voice assistant like Siri or Google Now either.

Sound Quality

For such a small speaker, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM sounds pretty decent with its two 40 mm active drivers and two 46.1 mm x 65.2 mm passive radiators. The placement of the speakers and passive radiators gives you an almost 360º sound. No matter where you are sitting in reference to the speaker, it sounds nice and crisp and can get extremely loud. I did find though that sitting in front or behind the speaker sounded similar, and ever so slightly better than sitting to the left or right of it.

Playing a wide variety of music from rock to hip hop and even classical, the WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker is fairly well balanced across the lows, mids, and highs. While the bass is plenty strong for a small speaker, I did find it to be a bit towards the punchy side as opposed to the resonating sounds I prefer for my bass.

As mentioned, the speaker does get quite loud and still remains fairly crisp and clear when at full volume. When at absolutely maximum volume, it did distort the odd time depending on track but you’d be hard pressed to need to be listening to it that loudly. Personally, I found about 40-50% volume to be more than ample when sitting in a room or even out on the back deck. The WONDERBOOM speaker does not have independent volume controls, meaning that when you adjust the volume on the speaker, you’re also adjusting the volume on your phone. It’s not the end of the world, but a few of us here at Techaeris much prefer independent volume controls for better tweaking of volume levels.

Battery Life

Ultimate Ears claims a battery life of 10 hours per charge for the WONDERBOOM Bluetooth speaker. During testing, we were easily able to hit this mark and then some with the volume set to below 50%. When dead, the speaker takes just under 3 hours to fully recharge. Either way, the speaker should have enough juice to get you through most of, if not your entire day and you can leave it to recharge overnight for the next day.

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Recharge the speaker through the covered Micro-USB port.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $99.99USD, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM is a bit pricier than similar sized Bluetooth speakers. Granted, they sound decent and have great battery life which definitely adds value, not to mention they are waterproof as well. If you’re not set on the designs from the Freestyle Collection, you can snag some of the solid coloured WONDERBOOM speakers for $79.99 which is a much more reasonable price.

That being said, a few of the Freestyle Collection WONDERBOOM speakers are on sale over at Amazon for $69.99USD with some of the solid colours available for just over $55USD — definitely a decent price for either.

Wrap-up

If you’re a fan of the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM speaker line and are looking for a design that stands out, the Freestyle Collection offers just that. Either way, the WONDERBOOM portable Bluetooth speaker offers decent sound, great battery life, and has an IPX7 waterproof rating to allow you to listen to your music in style almost anywhere you can think of.

*We were sent a sample of the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM Bluetooth speaker for the purposes of this review.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM

$99.99 USD
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM
9.4

Design

9.5 /10

Ease of Use

10.0 /10

Sound Quality

9.0 /10

Battery Life

10.0 /10

Price/Value

8.5 /10

Nailed it

  • Small, compact, fun design
  • IPX7 waterproof rated
  • Shockproof
  • Decent, loud, crisp, balanced sound
  • Great battery life

Needs work

  • No independent volume controls
  • No speakerphone capabilities
  • No voice assistant capabilities
  • No previous track function
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