UE Wonderboom 2 review
The original UE Wonderboom has topped our best waterproof speakers list ever since it was introduced, and for good reason: it’s rugged, plays louder than its size suggests, and can be paired with other UE Wonderboom speakers to amplify sound.
Although the UE Wonderboom 2 looks the same as the original, Ultimate Ears packed the speaker with multiple upgrades, such as longer battery life (up 30% compared to the original), better bass response, and an Outdoor Boost feature that makes it even louder.
Together, these seemingly minor upgrades not only keep the UE Wonderboom 2 on our list of the best waterproof speakers for another year but also make it one of the best portable speakers you can buy in general.
UE Wonderboom 2: Design
When you put the original Wonderboom next to the Wonderboom 2, it would be difficult to tell the difference. The Wonderboom’s only visual differences are its new color combinations and elastic strap–the speaker chassis, buttons, and MicroUSB charging port remain the same.
There are buttons for power, pairing, and playback on top of the speaker. Upfront, you’ll find big volume controls. You’ll find the Outdoor Boost button at the bottom of the speaker, which increases the volume even more in noisy environments. They are all membrane buttons for water resistance, which feels a bit squishy but isn’t difficult to use.
Towards the back, you’ll find a plastic door that seals the speaker’s micro-USB charging port. As of 2019, you’d expect a speaker to come with USB-C charging, but Ultimate Ears didn’t. The fact that you cannot charge all your devices with one cable is not a deal-breaker, but it is annoying.
Audio-wise, the UE Wonderboom 2 is fantastic for its size. You would not expect the speaker to play as loud as it does, especially if Outdoor Boost is enabled. If you keep the volume below 80%, there is a bit of distortion at max volume.
We should spend a moment talking about Outdoor Boost, as that’s the main difference between the original Wonderboom and the Wonderboom 2.
Despite Outdoor Boost boosting overall volume, sound quality is noticeably diminished at lower volumes. During Outdoor Boost, cymbals sound splashy, mids are more prominent, and there is a bit more bass than the original Wonderboom. This helps give the sound a little warmth without compromising the highs. The midrange is also great, with vocals sounding natural and detailed.
Furthermore, thanks to its wraparound grille, the Wonderboom 2 delivers 360-degree sound, which means you can listen to the same quality audio no matter where you are.
Lastly, with an IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating, the Wonderboom should work as well at the beach as it does at the pool.
However, the news isn’t all good. The soundstage was a weakness of the original Wonderboom, and it remains so with the second generation. Although the first generation Wonderbooms could only link up to boost volume, Ultimate Ears added the ability to play in true stereo when paired with another Wonderboom 2.
With an IP67 rating, the Wonderboom 2 adds dust resistance to its IPX7 water resistance from last year. Also, you can drop it repeatedly from 5ft, making it a speaker that can withstand a beating whether you’re hiking or swimming.
We also found the battery life to be improved on the Wonderboom 2 – up to 13 hours compared to the previous model’s 10. At medium to low volume, we managed to get 12 hours of play, but if you play all the time with Outdoor Boost, you may have to cut the 13 hours in half.
|30% better battery life||No ‘smart’ features|
|IP67 dustproof/waterproof rating||No speakerphone|
|Great sound for its size|
UE Wonderboom 2 is a durable, waterproof speaker you’ll actually want to take with you. The small size doesn’t mean a small sound, however, as the speaker is extremely loud and sounds fantastic. Despite its smaller size, it can match the impressive bass response of speakers like the UE Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve, adding warmth and intensity to music that the original lacked.
For a price of $100 (£90 AU$129), the UE Wonderboom 2 is still one of the best waterproof speakers you can buy – and our top choice for anyone who plans to take their speaker to the beach or pool.