Ultimate Ears Wonderboom: Pint-sized powerhouse

UE Wonderboom

For a pint-sized portable speaker, Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom pumps out remarkable sound.

I’ve long been a fan of UE’s Boom Bluetooth portable speaker: We bought one a few years ago to take away on holiday and it proved a hit with the family (although arguments did ensue over what music playlist had to be played next) so I was excited to see how the company had upped the ante with this compact cousin. It’s upped the ante big time.

Like the UE Boom before it, the Wonderboom gives 360 degree sound, meaning you’ll hear the music no matter where you put it – and believe me, we heard it when it was being used: My teenage son loves his music while he showers so the Wonderboom was a constant companion at shower time (good job it’s waterproof, too, although he didn’t put the unit in the shower, it’s nice to know it’ll survive a dunking). Sometimes, we’d sit in the lounge during a weekend afternoon, just listening to music out of the Wonderboom and smile at how good things sound from such a small speaker.

The sound is so good on the Wonderboom that I could hear the music easily from a few rooms away. Like the UE Boom before it, this pint-sized unit features large volume up and down buttons and a charge port secured by a sturdy waterproof flap. No water’s going to get into this beast. It has a range of around 30m and pairing is quick and easy. The only niggle I have is the loop that you can pick it up with: It’s too small to slip a finger through.

Ultimate Ears reckons the battery life is around 10 hours, and it’s not far off that, when put through its paces at reasonable volume. Soundwise, the Wonderboom is excellent, offering toe-tapping bass, and nice mid-tones and high notes. Your music will feel right at home with the Wonderboom.

For a waterproof, portable speaker that offers fantastic sound and great portability, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than the UE Wonderboom. Seriously, this is a wonderful Bluetooth speaker that will fill your home with the sound of music.


Sony SRS-XB3 review: It’s all about the bass …

It’s all about the bass with Sony’s SRS-XB3 ($299), a portable speaker that really packs a punch when it comes pushing out the “doof, doof, doofs”.

srsxb3rThe SRS-XB3 – I’m putting two and two together here and assuming the XB stands for Xtra Bass – comes in numerous colours. The one I got was red. It was a little garish for my liking but looked nice enough sitting on the black granite bench top in my kitchen.

It’s a heavy speaker, which is a good thing. The weight comes from the bass speaker in the back of the unit and that weight is important: It helps move air to create that deep, low bass that a good portable speaker needs¬† The weight also means the unit won’t bounce around if you turn things up too loud.

The XB3 is paired via bluetooth (and can also be used as a speaker phone)¬† and there’s a button on the top labelled “Extra bass”. Press this and, well, it does what it says on the tin: Provides music with extra bass. It works, too, and sound is noticeably more bassy when the button is turned on. I played music then pressed the button on and then off. On and then off. On and then off. There’s a noticeable difference in bass heavy music when it’s active.

The XB3 is being touted as a speaker for electronic house music, which isn’t really my cup of tea so I had it playing what I like through it: A bit of The Foo Fighters, some Jeff Buckley, a touch of Muse and, just because I wanted to hear it loud, Jump by Van Halen. The XB3 handled them all admirably, providing good bass, although I thought that at high volumes high end notes were a overpowered by the thumping bass. Van Halen sounded better than Jeff Buckley on the XB3, which didn’t come as a surprise.

My usual bluetooth speaker is a Logitech UE Boom and it’s a cracker of a portable speaker, if a little light on the bass. As I said earlier, I don’t like electronic house/dance music so I wouldn’t be playing the sort of music that the SRS-XB3 is aimed at but I’d be more than happy having one sitting in the backyard pumping out the tunes as I did the gardening or providing the background music while I burned the sausages on the BBQ.