Ultimate Ears is no stranger to portable audio, and its latest addition to the UE family is a Bluetooth speaker with an awesome party trick.
As the Wonderboom is both highly water-resistant and able to float, you can start your own personal rave in the bath, shower or the local swimming pool – well, that’s if you don’t get thrown out first.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review
For £90, it’s fair to expect a lot from the UE Wonderboom, but it does practically everything right. It looks stylish, comes in various colours and, most importantly, sounds fantastic, with clarity and volume in equal measure.
As you’d expect for a speaker that floats in water, the Wonderboom’s IPX7 rating means that it can able to survive at least 30 minutes of submersion in a metre of water, but is effectively waterproof if you leave it bobbing around on the surface. If you’re looking for the perfect Bluetooth speaker for the beach, or your bathroom, then this could be it.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review: Price and competition
At £90, the Wonderboom isn’t the cheapest Bluetooth speaker around. The £40 SoundPEATS Bluetooth Speaker P4 and the £39 Sumvision Monic both provide sensational sound for under £40, but aren’t as portable, IPX7-rated or stylish as the UE. Whether you’re willing to spend the extra comes down to how much you value the pool-friendly design.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review: Build quality and design
Unlike its tall, thin sibling, the UE Boom 2, the Wonderboom adopts a squat, rounded design. Rubberised top and bottom edges prevent it from slipping on surfaces, and stylish-looking material wraps around the sides. At 430g, it’s not too heavy to carry around every day, and as it only measures 10cm tall and 9cm wide, it doesn’t take up too much room in a bag either.
The speaker comes in six different colours: Cashmere Pink, Fireball Red, Lilac, Phantom Black, Stone Grey, and Subzero Blue. The design and colours are gorgeous, and the Fireball Red model I had for review looked stunning thanks to the contrasting turquoise blue buttons and fabric loop on the top edge.
The headline feature of the Wonderboom is the IPX7 rating, which means you can submerge it for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1m. However, it has another trick up its sleeve – it floats. That’s right, you’ll be able to take it into the swimming pool, while you kick back and relax on your lounger.
To protect it from water damage, its micro-USB charging port is protected by a small flap, found at the bottom of the speaker. It’s a shame that there’s no 3.5mm auxiliary jack, though – the quoted ten-hour battery life (at 75% volume) is respectable, but a wired option might have eked out even more battery life with Bluetooth switched off.
The speaker is extremely simple to operate; holding down the button at the front turns on the device and enables it to be paired with a Bluetooth device. By tapping once on the UE logo, it pauses your music, double tapping skips to the following song, and pressing the large plus and minus buttons increases and decreases the volume of the speaker. I didn’t find a way to go back a song, though, which I found slightly irritating.
The speaker’s Bluetooth range is impressive, stretching over 20m through walls without any interference. The only minor disappointment is that there’s no aptX codec support, which means the Wonderboom won’t be able to playback CD quality tracks over Bluetooth.
If you have another Wonderboom, you can play them at the same time by holding down the UE button to pair it with more speakers. Unfortunately, you can’t pair it with other UE devices, such as the Boom 2.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review: Sound quality
Prepare to be surprised: I was blown away by the volume this small little speaker could deliver. It doesn’t distort at maximum volume and easily fills a large living room – it’s loud enough to be used on a busy beach or in the park.
The overall sound quality punches well above its weight, and it also does a great job of spreading sound far and wide. Although it sounds best with the plus and minus buttons pointing towards you, music still sounds good from any other angle. If you’re going to be sat around in the park, then this means that everyone will be able to ‘enjoy’ your blazing tunes.
Vocal tracks sounded fantastic through the Wonderboom, with clear, sparkly highs and a rich, detailed mid-range. There’s plenty of mid-bass thump, and there’s even the impression of deeper sub-bass too, which is hugely impressive for such a compact speaker.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom review: Verdict
UE has truly worked wonders. By delivering sensational audio in a portable, stylish package, the Wonderboom is destined to make a big splash in every sense. With a snazzy choice of colours, great design and superb sound quality, this is one of the best sub-£100 speakers I’ve ever come across.