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HOME / Audio / UE BOOM 3 vs 2 Review – Bluetooth Speaker Comparison
UE BOOM 3 vs 2 Review – Bluetooth Speaker Comparison
On the hunt for the best Bluetooth speaker: Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 vs 2
In September 2015, Ultimate Ears announced the BOOM 2. Fast forward to September 2018 and they finally came out with the BOOM 3. In three years, what did UE do to improve the BOOM? That’s what we’re covering in this review: what’s new and in what ways the BOOM 3 is an improvement over the BOOM 2.
What’s New With the UE BOOM 3?
There are eight noteworthy changes/upgrades to the BOOM 3. Some are compelling and might be a real reason to upgrade or purchase the BOOM 3. Others are minor changes that are hardly worth discussing.
BOOM 3 in all its glory
1. Design Changes
The BOOM 2 was 7.0″ x 2.6″ and weighed 1.2 lb. The BOOM 3 is 7.2″ x 2.8″ and weighs 1.34 lb. Not a major change, but it does mean that the BOOM 3 is ever so slightly less portable.
BOOM 3 on left, BOOM 2 on right
The carrying loop has also been moved from the bottom to the side of the speaker. They did this to make room for the connection for the POWER UP charging dock.
New loop on the BOOM 3
While the BOOM 3 has a new, more refined look, it still has the fabric weave exterior and feels pretty much just as durable as the BOOM 2. It has no open ports or moving parts and still uses a good amount of soft-touch rubber.
2. POWER UP Charger
Not only can you charge the BOOM 3 via MicroUSB, but also via the UE POWER UP charging dock [see on Amazon].
A look at the UE POWER UP charging dock
The charging dock is $40 and therefore we don’t foresee many people purchasing it, although it does make the whole charging experience a lot more convenient.
A look at the contact for the POWER UP charging dock
As for battery life, we were able to go just over 13 hours on a single charge at 60% volume. Not bad. UE says it can get up to 15 hours on a single charge and we don’t doubt that.
3. It Floats!
The BOOM 2 is IPX7 certified, which means it can be submerged in water for 30 minutes. The BOOM 3 is IP67, which essentially is the exact same certification.
Completely water and dust resistant
What’s changed, however, is that the BOOM 3 now floats, just like the UE WONDERBOOM. If you ask us, this is the most significant upgrade to the BOOM 3. No longer do you need to worry about losing your speaker when you go to the lake or river—it will just float to the top.
4. New MSRP
The BOOM 2 originally retailed for $200, which, even in 2015, was expensive for a mid-sized Bluetooth speaker. Since then, the price has continued to drop, particularly after UE announced the BLAST and MEGABLAST (basically the BOOM & MEGABOOM, but with Amazon Alexa built-in).
On both speakers you can adjust the EQ settings within the UE app. There are four presets (Standard, Bass Jump, Cramped Spaces, Voices) and a custom option so that you can choose the sound signature of the speaker.
Customize EQ settings within UE BOOM app
The EQ feature is the same, but the BOOM 3 seems to get a little louder and have slightly deeper bass. It’s subtle, but it is an improvement.
Overall, the BOOM 3 is clear and crisp. For the vast majority of users, excluding audiophiles, the BOOM 3 will be a solid speaker with sound that is more than good enough.
6. No More AUX-In Port
The BOOM 2 has an AUX-in port, but UE got rid of that on the BOOM 3. I’m sure this will disappoint some users, but it’s a portable Bluetooth speaker, so I wouldn’t consider an AUX-in port a necessity.
Just the MicroUSB port—no AUX-in
7. Magic Button
In order to pause/play or skip tracks on the BOOM 2, you had to hit the top of the speaker, sort of with an open palm. It was a weird, imprecise system. With the BOOM 3, you now have a proper button, which UE has dubbed the “Magic Button,” despite the fact that it really doesn’t do much.
Button layout on UE BOOM 3
The Magic Button allows you to pause/play, skip tracks, and—if you set this up within the UE app—start particular playlists from Apple Music and Deezer Premium.
The Bluetooth range for the BOOM 2 was, at maximum, 100 feet, but for the most part it ended up being somewhere around 50 feet. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
UE similarly alleges that the BOOM 3 will go about 150 feet without signal interference.
Testing the Bluetooth range of the BOOM 3
In our tests, we were getting about 100 feet on average before we encountered any disruption to the Bluetooth signal. That said, with a clear line of sight, we could get really close to that 150-foot threshold. Overall, the BOOM 3 establishes a solid Bluetooth connection and has pretty good range.
So that’s plenty with the BOOM 3, but why should you still consider the BOOM 2? After all, it’s three years old now—that’s like 70 years old in Bluetooth speaker years. Well, there are actually a few reasonable arguments for opting for the BOOM 2 over the BOOM 3.
BOOM 2 is More Affordable
This is the most obvious reason you’d get the BOOM 2 over the 3. While it originally retailed for $200, the price now hovers around $100 to $120, depending on the retailer, colors, and availability. You can check current pricing on Amazon.
A look at the BOOM 2
Not Major Upgrades
Practically speaking, the BOOM 3 doesn’t have any monumental upgrades. Sure, being able to float is nice and the Magic Button is far better than the system on the BOOM 2, but beyond those two things it’s essentially the same speaker.
Still a great Bluetooth speaker
The BOOM 2 still sounds pretty good, gets loud, delivers 360 degree° audio, and has access to the UE app for EQ adjustments. And even with regard to design, it’s durable, portable, offers good battery life, is water resistant, and simple to use.
We’re splitting hairs a little with this one, but the BOOM 2 is the smaller speaker and therefore the better speaker for travel. In other words, if I was packing a bag for Europe, I’d rather take the BOOM 2 than the 3.