Small, transportable Bluetooth audio system are all the craze today, and with good motive—they allow you to share your music with anybody, anytime, wherever. And some are even waterproof, or no less than waterproof, so you’ll be able to occasion subsequent to the pool with out worrying that water will dampen the temper by shorting out the speaker.
One fascinating mannequin is the Wonderboom 2 from Ultimate Ears. Heck, even the identify in intriguing. This little pod guarantees huge sound, so I needed to test it out. Sadly, that promise is solely unfulfilled.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers, the place you will discover opinions of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options it is best to take into account when procuring.
The roughly cylindrical Wonderboom 2 is sufficiently small to slot in the palm of your hand, measuring a mere 4 inches tall and 3.75 inches in diameter and weighing lower than 15 ounces. Most of the unit is roofed with an athleisure-inspired, two-tone knit cloth in a wide range of colour choices.
It purports to provide 360-degree sound utilizing two 40mm energetic drivers and two 46x65mm passive radiators. Ultimate Ears doesn’t disclose the amplifier energy or the configuration of drivers and radiators. The frequency vary is specified to increase from 75Hz to 20kHz with a most output degree of 86 dBC; an Outdoor mode will increase the utmost degree to 87dBC.
Audio enter is strictly by way of Bluetooth utilizing the A2DP profile; there is no such thing as a bodily enter in any respect. Up to 2 supply gadgets will be related concurrently, and you may stream audio from both one at will. Even higher, two Wonderboom 2s will be wirelessly linked collectively for true stereo sound.
A chargeable lithium-ion battery gives as much as 13 hours of playtime. Charging takes as much as 2.6 hours utilizing the micro-USB port behind a water-proof cowl.
Speaking of waterproofing, the Wonderboom 2 carries an IP67 ranking. That means it could possibly survive being immersed as much as 3.3 toes in recent water for as much as 30 minutes, and it’s protected against dangerous results of mud. (You can read more about IP codes in this story.) Ultimate Ears additionally claims it’s “drop-proof,” having drop examined it from a peak of 5 toes.
You can’t miss the quantity up and down controls, that are massive, brightly coloured buttons formed like “+” and “-“ on the aspect. Oddly, the “-“ seems like a minus signal solely when the unit is mendacity on its aspect, during which case it could possibly roll round. Still, I suppose it’s that means is evident even when it’s upright.
On the highest, the central button controls playback (play/pause/skip tracks) and allows you to wirelessly join two Wonderbooms right into a stereo pair. The energy gentle doubles as a battery-charging indicator in addition to the facility button itself. Also on the highest is the Bluetooth pairing button and LED indicator. The solely different management is a central button on the underside that engages the Outdoor mode.
Ultimate Ears despatched me two Wonderboom 2s, so I listened to at least one by itself and each wirelessly linked right into a stereo pair positioned about 4 toes aside in entrance of me, forming a roughly equilateral triangle with my head. For supply materials I used tracks from Tidal’s Master library from my iPhone XS by way of Bluetooth.
Starting with a single Wonderboom 2, I listened to “Gara” from the album Rough Guide to Zakir Hussain. The nice tabla participant is joined by a sitar on this album, however the Wonderboom 2 hardly does the devices justice. The observe sounded skinny and closed in, prefer it was coming from inside a field. Engaging Outdoor mode made it louder, however the sound of the tabla was nonetheless skinny and sharp with no depth. Adding the opposite Wonderboom 2 in a stereo configuration made an honest soundstage, however it did nothing for the general sound high quality.
Next up was “Giant Steps” from Poncho Sanchez’ album Trane’s Delight, which options the conga legend with full huge band. Again, a single Wonderboom 2 sounded skinny and brilliant with little or no bass. The stereo pair sounded higher due to the broader soundstage, however no higher in different respects. My notes on one other jazz observe, “Desafinado (Take 2)” from Art Pepper’s album Promises Kept, aren’t any totally different.
For some classical music, I listened to the Game of Thrones Suite, a set of themes from the HBO collection as recorded by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra for the album Fantasymphony. Once once more, the Wonderboom 2 sounded skinny and brilliant, and the bass vocal soloist sounded congested with no actual weight.
Hymn to the Virgin by Benjamin Britten is written for a cappella choir. I listened to a recording of this beautiful piece by Schola Cantorum below the route of Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl for an album of the identical identify. As anticipated by now, the Wonderboom 2 produced a skinny, small sound.
I discovered one observe that had noticeably higher bass than I’d heard as much as that time: “High Today” from The Saga of Wiz Khalifa that includes Logic. The total sound was nonetheless skinny and closed in, however the bass was surprisingly higher than some other observe I attempted. This is the sort of music that the majority youngsters would take heed to on the Wonderboom 2, not the world, jazz, and classical stuff I favor. But how can it do higher with one sort of music than one other? Strange….
Comparison with Tronsmart Element Force, Urban Ears Rålis, JBL Xtreme 2
I’ve a number of Bluetooth audio system readily available from earlier opinions, so I listened to all of the tracks on three others along with the Wonderboom 2: the Tronsmart Element Force ($53.99 on Amazon), Urban Ears Rålis ($199.99 on Amazon), and JBL Xtreme 2 ($249.99 on Amazon).
The Wonderboom 2 sells for about $100 every, so two of them are in the identical worth ballpark because the Rålis and Xtreme 2, whereas the Element Force is considerably much less. The Tronsmart and JBL are each rated IPX7 waterproof (not dustproof), whereas the Urban Ears shouldn’t be waterproof in any respect. Also, the Rålis and Xtreme 2 are bigger and heavier than the Wonderboom 2, although each are designed for on-the-go listening. The Element Force is just barely bigger than the Wonderboom 2, and two of them may also be wirelessly linked right into a stereo pair.
It was instantly obvious that every one three audio system outperformed the Wonderboom 2. In each case, their sound high quality was clearer, richer, fuller, and extra open. Also, their bass was significantly better, which definitely isn’t shocking with the Rålis and Xtreme 2. As I famous in these opinions, their bass is a bit boomy, however I’ll take that over anemic bass any day. Even the little Element Force had higher bass, although not as huge as the opposite two.
Naturally, the one space during which the pair of Wonderboom 2s beat the others was stereo separation. The Rålis and Xtreme 2 have nearly no stereo separation, whereas the tiny Tronsmart by no means ceases to amaze me with its digital stereo soundfield, however it’s not as large as two bodily separated audio system.
I’m solely unimpressed with the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2. It sounds skinny and closed in, and its bass is anemic. Linking two right into a stereo pair gives good stereo separation, however that does nothing to enhance the general sound high quality.
Plus, at $100 every, it’s fairly costly. I might positively select the Tronsmart Element Force over the Wonderboom 2—it sounds higher, it’s not a lot bigger, it’s additionally waterproof, and it’s half the value. If you’re prepared to spend $200—the price of two Wonderboom 2s—the Ultimate Ears Rålis sounds much better, although it’s a lot bigger and heavier, it’s not waterproof, and it doesn’t have any stereo separation. If you need one thing that sounds significantly better and continues to be waterproof, the JBL Xtreme 2 is the ticket, although that may set you again $250.