The last time I stopped by the Ultimate Ears headquarters in Irvine, California I had a nice discussion with Chuck Reynolds (former Worldwide Director of Sales at Ultimate Ears and now Director of Sales at JH Audio) and Philippe Depallens (VP and General Manager at Ultimate Ears by Logitech) about the acquisition of the Ultimate Ears brand by Logitech. I thought at the time it was pretty interesting business decision that a multi-billion dollar a year company would purchase a small custom audio manufacturer with a small and expensive line of universal in-ear monitors. Philippe and Chuck mentioned that one day I might see some UE DNA be included in other Logitech products. Well the Logitech UE Boombox is a perfect example of the audio DNA from Ultimate Ears integrating into the manufacturing superpower genome of Logitech.
When Logitech started diluting the UE product line with the Ultimate Ears 100 earphones I thought Logitech was only bringing the UE line downhill. Then came the UE Personal Reference monitors which went in the complete opposite direction. Now Logitech was flexing its monetary muscle to make the UE brand cover the entire spectrum of sound. Then when I heard that there was going to be a new Logitech speaker system called the UE Boombox, I didn’t know what to think.
I’ve now had my UE Boombox for many months. Carefully testing every listening experience I could, monitoring battery life, and enjoying it in almost all environments, I now have enough to write a comprehensive review of its abilities. Let me start with this: The UE Boombox is one of the best sounding portable speaker systems I have ever heard. If that’s all you wanted to know, go ahead and buy one now. If you want to know why it’s so great, read on.
The Boombox is classy. With a gorgeous industrial design featuring a brushed aluminum finish along with a rubberized bottom, it looks better than most portable battery-powered speakers. The controls are ultra-simple to use with a gigantic volume up/down rocker button on one side and a bluetooth pair button, volume on/off switch, 3.5mm input jack, and AC adapter input on the other.
The speaker can pair with three devices simultaneously and pairing is as easy as holding the pair button down until you hear a tone. The bluetooth range is listed at 50 ft. but in reality it’s closer to 35. The battery life is listed at 6 hours but I never got below 7 with the volume at a reasonably loud level. After several months of usage the battery life was roughly 10 minutes shorter so the longevity of the built-in battery is quite good.
Now let’s get to the sound. Featuring a quad driver system with two 0.5″ tweeters, two 3″ woofers, and four 2.6″ passive radiators, the sound signature is definitely what I would place along with “UE.” I was reminded a lot of my Ultimate Ears 700 while listening to the Boombox. The listed frequency response is 65 Hz to 18,000 Hz. I would say this is reasonable as very deep bass lacked a bit, but what can you really expect from a portable boombox? The sound was balanced throughout the spectrum but what really shined was the ability for the Boombox to accurately and clearly produce treble.
I compared the UE Boombox to a Bose SoundLink II Bluetooth speaker ($299) and the UE was better in almost every way compared to the Bose system. The Bose only won the battery life contest with 8 hours and 10 minutes vs the UE Boombox 7 hours and 3 minutes, and the size/weight contest (Bose is smaller and lighter).
Still, the UE Boombox makes up for all that with its significantly more powerful sound. The Bose produced more directional sound whereas the UE Boombox sounded roughly the same from a much wider angle. All-in-all, the UE Boombox is a serious win. The child of a new relationship between Logitech and Ultimate Ears has truly created something special.