Earlier this month Ultimate Ears unveiled the WONDERBOOM 2, a second-generation model of its popular portable Bluetooth speaker. A host of notable upgrades over the original model set it up to contend as one of the best in the competitive outdoor summer speaker category. Along with various improvements, like increased battery life and better waterproofing, UE has dressed up WONDERBOOM 2 in a handful of fresh fabrics. With warm weather here and the latest from UE by my side, I’m been enjoying some tunes while testing out this new speaker. Head below for my WONDERBOOM 2 review.
WONDERBOOM 2 Review: Portability first and foremost
I’ve always been a fan of the original WONDERBOOM speaker. In a very crowded market of Bluetooth audio offerings, it has managed to stand out in three ways. The bright and color fabric designs is a nice departure from otherwise drab black plastic casings we tend to see in this category. Its ultra-portable design is made for summer adventures. And finally, impressive waterproofing makes it a care-free solution for audio at the beach, pool, or wherever your travels take you.
When Ultimate Ears announced that a second-generation model was in the pipeline, I was intrigued to finally get my hands on this summer essential. After all, our readers at 9to5Toys have purchased thousands of the first-generation…so I knew there was something here worth checking out.
WONDERBOOM 2 delivers a host of upgrades over the first generation model, including a nice bump in battery life from 10 to 13 hours. That 30% increase brings the speaker from most of the day to all-day listening. A no-brainer for any summer Bluetooth speaker.
Visuals ready for any event
Ultimate Ears does a great job with its marketing scheme. Bright colors and lifestyle pictures make you want to be a part of the WONDERBOOM party. UE took the familiar fabric-wrapped design of the original model and made a few changes resulting in (warning, marketing buzz words incoming) athleisure-inspired two-tone fabrics on the outside. There are four total colors to choose from including an Apple Store-exclusive gray colorway coming in July.
Stereo pairing and supposed improve bass
Aside from the upgraded externals, Ultimate Ears is really pushing a couple of features on the WONDERBOOM 2. Stereo pairing for Bluetooth speakers has really hit the mainstream lately following the success of multi-room systems like Sonos and HomePod. WONDERBOOM 2 offers that same type of functionality if you have an existing UE speaker or happen to purchase two. In my testing, this feature worked well enough but I generally find stereo pairing to be more of an indoor function than outdoor. My take is that you’re more likely to capture a true stereo soundstage indoors rather than outside at a BBQ. It’s a nice feature to have, but ultimately for me it’s nothing to write home about in this instance.
Ultimate Ears made a real effort to improve the bass response on the new WONDERBOOM 2. It did so by reshaping the bottom of the speaker with a design that lends itself to more natural low-ends. That’s opposed to trying to create a booming sound by using various industry tips and tricks.
In my testing, I found WONDERBOOM 2 to be a solid outdoor audio solution. Listening within the 10-20 feet range was solid overall for a speaker of its size. The improved bass is recognizable, doing a good enough job for a Bluetooth speaker which fits in your palm. Filling an outdoor space with audio is a difficult proposition for any portable consumer-focused system, but WONDERBOOM 2 performed admirably overall in this area.
Playback and volume controls on top are intuitive and easiest enough to use. Pairing works just like you’d expect if you’ve used just about any Bluetooth speaker on the market.
My biggest complaint comes from the continued use of microUSB as a charging medium. In 2019, we’re certainly making the transition to USB-C as Apple, Google, and many other have picked up this port as a preferred charging solution. I’d really like to see Ultimate Ears make the same decision in the near future.
There’s a lot to like about WONDERBOOM 2. The price is attractive at $100 and its design is amongst the best we’ve seen in the category. On the audio side, like any portable speaker with a sub-$100 price point, there are going to be give-and-takes along the way. WONDERBOOM 2 has quality materials, good to great audio considering its size, and affordability all going in its favor. For me, it’s easy to recommend this Bluetooth speaker as a summer adventure companion.