I’m a huge fan of Ultimate Ears speakers. The UE MEGABOOM was close to perfection. It delivers huge, amazing sound, has great battery life and is waterproof. It is an amazing Bluetooth speaker and one I highly recommend. Now, however, the UE MEGABLAST is here. It improves on the MEGABOOM, which is still a great speaker, in almost every way.
The MEGABLAST looks much like the MEGABOOM. It has the same cylindrical shape, the same minimal controls and the same removable D-Ring for hanging or securing it. But while the MEGABLAST looks similar to the MEGABOOM, this is an entirely different animal. And I mean that in a good way.
I ran through the basic features of the UE MEGABLAST in this post. So, for this review, I want to focus more on how the MEGABLAST improves on the MEGABOOM. Before I do so, however, it is worth mentioning the few ways in which the MAGABLAST may be considered a step backward. For starters, while the MEGABLAST has amazing 16 hours of battery life but that falls a bit short of the MEGABOOM’S 20 hours. 16 hours is plenty of battery life, but the difference does need to be mentioned. Also, the MEGABLAST loses the MEGABOOM’s 3.5mm Aux-in port that lets you use a wired, rather than a Bluetooth, connection. So while the MEGABLAST gains WiFi, it is ONLy designed for wireless connectivity. It’s not a huge deal but is worth knowing if you are considering the purchase of one. Finally, at $299, the MEGABLAST has a significantly higher price than the $229.99 MEGABOOM.
With these insignificant “deficits” noted, let’s turn to where the UE MEGABLAST improves upon its predecessor.
Inside the box, you get the speaker, a wall adapter, a USB charging cable, a D-Ring and some literature.
ULTIMATE SOUND: Our biggest, loudest, and most beautiful speaker yet. Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST is insanely powerful. Blasting 360° of intensely rich sound with stunning clarity and deep, heart-pounding bass, this Wi-Fi/Bluetooth speaker will bring your music to life in its full glory wherever you take it.
Ultimate Ears has always been known for their great sound quality. The speaker is no exception. It delivers a full 360° of sound that is full, rich, and in a word, superb. It is worth noting, however, that the speaker gets significantly louder than the “dumb” speaker it is based upon. It gets so loud that I’m able to crank it up and fill the entire house with sound without reaching a point where the sound is distorted. Yes, this is a portable speaker but it certainly doesn’t sound like one and, for once, I can honestly say that a portable speaker COULD be your only speaker.
ULTIMATE VOICE CONTROL: Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST comes with Amazon Alexa built-in and connects directly to the cloud with Wi-Fi. Jump on Wi-Fi or any mobile hotspot to enjoy voice-controlled music and the full range of Alexa’s skills, all from just about anywhere.
Just say the word to blast tunes from Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn–or check the weather, control smart home devices, and enjoy any number of Alexa’s crazy skills
As noted previously, the speaker loses the 3.5 mm auxiliary in the port. It trades that for the inclusion of Wi-Fi and the ability to use Amazon’s Alexa cloud services. It’s a good trade-off in my opinion. For all intents and purposes, this speaker works with Amazon Alexa cloud services exactly the way my original Amazon Echo does. You simply say the trigger phrase – in this case, “Alexa”- and it begins listening to the request you are about to make. You can ask the weather, you can ask the time, and you can ask it to play music from Amazon’s streaming music service. You can even ask you to tell you a joke but do so at your own risk since the jokes Amazon’s Echo tells are incredibly dumb.
While the MEGABLAST is significantly more expensive than the second generation Amazon Echo – $299 versus $99 – there are some clear advantages to this speaker over Amazon’s offering. For example, this speaker sounds amazing while the Amazon Echo is passable at best. Also, this speaker is portable which means you can move it from room to room or take it with you outside or on your next adventure. If you do take it away from your Wi-Fi, you can always use your smartphone as a hotspot and continue to access Amazon’s services.
There are, two minor issues I find with the Amazon integration on the MEGABLAST. First, I find the microphone’s on the Amazon Echo to be more sensitive than the ones built into this speaker. The result is that I have to speak louder and more clearly to trigger the services. It’s not a huge deal but is the reason I put the original Amazon Echo back in the bedroom after trying it for a few days. Also, you are not able to change the trigger word from “Alexis.” Amazon’s offerings currently offer for different trigger words so you can have a different word in each room. (for example, in the bedroom the trigger is “Alexa” while in the living room the Echo Dot trigger is “Echo.” When I initially put the speaker in the master bathroom and said the trigger word, “Alexis” both it and Amazon’s speaker were triggered. We are so used to having “Alexa” for the bedroom that I didn’t want to change it.
Now, this would not be an issue if the MEGABLAST had the same smart filtering Amazon’s devices offer. For example, Amazon products can determine which device is closest to you and only that one listens once you say the trigger word. So, if I had an Echo in the bedroom and a Dot in the master bath and both had the same trigger word, only the device near me would respond. That integration doesn’t seem to be employed here. As a result, when I would say “Alexa” both this speaker and the Amazon Echo were triggered. As a result, I moved the speaker down to my office which is out of range of the speaker in our bedroom.
WATERPROOF: Ultimate Ears MEGABLAST is seriously rugged, completely waterproof, and ready-to-rock any adventure. From the pool to the all-night party, the summer festivals to the winter slopes—your music will always be on point no matter how wild things get.
The fact that the speaker is waterproof is not change from the prior series. Despite that, I thought it was important enough to mention in the body of this review. Because it is portable, and “smart” it is ideal for use outside. I used the MEGABOOM last summer. It worked well, but I had to be next to the speaker to change the volume or track. With this speaker next summer I will be able to control the tracks and the volume by voice, when I’m floating on a raft and unable to reach the speaker. Of course, I can also use the speaker’s Bluetooth and have pretty much exactly what I had last summer.
POWER UP CHARGING DOCK: Ultimate Ears POWER UP makes charging your portable Wi-Fi/Bluetooth MEGABLAST speakers super easy. Crank tunes or access any of Alexa’s crazy skills, all while charging. POWER UP’s sleek design looks awesome with any MEGABLAST color.
The final improvement that is worth noting with this speaker is the result of an accessory that is available for purchase. In my opinion, the POWER UP charging dock is a must-have if you are getting either the BLAST or the MEGABLAST. This charging dock is designed to sit just beneath the speaker and deliver power to it when it is docked. You can then simply pick up the speaker and take it with you without having to fuss with the power cable. And, thanks to the internal battery, the speaker can run for up to 16 hours before you need to place it back on the dock. In other words, the dock makes taking the speaker as simple as grab and go.
Using the dock is rather simple.
At the bottom of the speaker, there is a D-Ring which can be used to hang or secure the speaker to any number of things. For example, if you take the speaker on a sailboat you can secure it to one of the rails and don’t have to worry about it going overboard.
The charging dock comes with a silver replacement D-Ring. To use the dock you need to unscrew the D-Ring that is on the speaker when it ships and replace it with the one that comes with the charging dock. This one is slightly smaller and has a concave design in the middle into which the charging points on the dock can connect.
It allows the speaker to look and function exactly as it would if you were plugging it directly into the wall but now passes the power directly into the speaker through the replacement D-Ring.
Sure, you can buy either of these two new speakers and not spend the extra $40 on the charging dock but you lose a bit of added convenience and, considering the price of the speakers themselves, this isn’t a huge amount of extra expense. Conclusion: sport for the POWER UP charging base.
MEGABLAST: We pioneered big, bold, 360° sound in a totally waterproof, super rugged, portable speaker. And now, we’ve got a whole family. From ultralight speakers you can hang from your hip to our latest-and-loudest—the stylish, voice-controlled BLAST and MEGABLAST.
At $299.99, the UE MEGABLAST is pricey. There’s no way to making that point. It’s expensive. But for your $300 ($340 is you take my advice and purchase the Power Up dock) you get a portable smart speaker that leveraged Amazon’s cloud services, delivers exceptional battery life, it truly waterproof and sounds fantastic. I get to review a lot of speakers, and this is one of the review samples that will be seeing serious use in the months and years to come. It’s a fantastic addition to the ultimate ears lineup and something I recommend as a gift to yourself or to a loved one whose mind you want to blow this holiday season. Check it out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the UE MEGABLAST and POWER UP
What I Like: Amazing sound; Waterproof; 16 hours of battery; Integrated Amazon Alexa Cloud Services; Bluetooth too; LOUD!!!
What Needs Improvement: Pricey; No 3.5mm Aux-In port; POWER UP base is an additional charge