Portable speakers have come a long way since I last dipped my toe into the music-on-the-go water. I know this because to put the Megaboom 3 to the ultimate test I decided there’d be no better way than to listen to one of the most anticipated albums of all time on it. That’s right instead of donning a pair of expensive headphones or blasting it through my home theatre’s 7.1 setup I decided to play Tool’s 13-year opus “Fear Inoculum” for the first time through the Megaboom 3. And guess what. It sounded pretty damn good to me.
OK, so you think I’m crazy at this point, I get it. Of course it’s not on par with a bunch of very expensive speakers and a sub-woofer but for a portable speaker this thing bangs!
The details & specs
Standing at just over 22cm the material covered cylinder pumps out sound equally in every direction. It’s purposefully minimalistic design leaves its surfaces largely bare with the exception of the Ultimate Ear’s signature “+” & “-” buttons adorning the speaker’s front.
On the top of the speaker is what UE call their “Magic Button”, which allows you to control its playback. When linked to a music service via the speaker’s companion app it can even launch straight into your favourite playlist without having to touch your phone.
That functionality is limited to only a couple of services though. For iOS people it’s Apple Music, for everyone else you’re going to need Deezer Premium, so don’t get too excited about that feature. Especially on Android.
Don’t worry though, it’s just like any other Bluetooth speaker. Once paired any sound from your device will be streamed to it meaning you can stream literally anything you want to it.
The simplest of setups
Connecting to the Megaboom 3 is as easy as you want it to be (and it should be). Holding down it’s pairing button, which is hidden under a light on it’s top, makes the speaker appear on any device nearby.
After selecting it and a dramatic jungle beat emanating from the speaker to signal your successful connection you’re good to go! You’ll also likely hear a voice at some point in the process telling you that installing the UE app opens up all the features of your speaker. She’s not wrong, it does bring more to the table, but you certainly don’t have to either. So don’t be suckered into it and bloat your phone with another app unless you really want to make use of it’s extended feature set.
The quality of the sound emitted (in every direction at once I might add) is almost inexplicable for the speaker’s size.
Added companion app features
What makes up that extended feature set? Taking away the mundane of a customisable EQ and alarms the app offers a couple far more interesting aspects.
A mode called “Block Party” allows 3 people to connect to the same speaker and collectively DJ the music. It reminds me of an old feature that iTunes used to have (or may very well still have – who still uses it?). It’s hard limit of 3 kind of sucks but then Bluetooth isn’t really made for a great deal of bandwidth so I can see why that’s the case.
The more interesting feature is one called “PartyUp”. This allows you to virtually connect multiple Boom & Megaboom speakers together. Up to 150 of them in fact. The connected speakers then pump out the same tunes in a sort of mesh network of speakers. For anyone that has a Sonos setup you’ll be familiar with the concept grouping speakers together. PartyUp takes that to the extreme and I’d love to see it in action with a full suite of 150 speakers if only to ensure they all stayed in sync and to see the extent of its range.
Battery for days
If there’s one thing you want above all others in a portable speaker its one that lasts. There’s no point having good tunes at the park or in your backyard when they only last for an hour.
The Megaboom 3 doesn’t have that problem. In fact you could party with it going for almost an entire day before you have to find somewhere to plug it in. I left it running while I went to work and it was still happily humming along when I get home. In fact it went doubly past that and tapped out at just under the advertised 20 hours. That’s pretty impressive.
One of the coolest features of the the new Megaboom 3 is its ability to float! Not only does it harbour the ability to stave off both water and dust to an extreme degree with an IP67 rating it can happily float by at your next pool party.
Unfortunately with no pool to try this out for myself I resorted to a bucket of water in the sink. I can attest their claims are true, with the speaker happily bobbing about and busting out the tunes.
All that and it sounds good too
I remember a mate buying one of the first “good” Bluetooth portable speakers about a decade ago. It boasted “stadium sound”, which was utter crap and we forever gave him shit about it. The Megaboom 3 would’ve saved him from that eternal torment.
I mean it’s no stadium experience but it’s a pretty damn good one considering its size, price and features. The quality of the sound emitted (in every direction at once I might add) is almost inexplicable for the speaker’s size.
Bass is solid but it performs much better when placed on harder surfaces than when bobbing in your kitchen sink. It’d be remiss to call it “thumping” as some of the UE PR does but it’s good enough for portable situations. It’s mids are crisp and well defined and most genres of music sound acceptable to good when played through it.
In the realm of portable speakers the Megaboom 3 is world’s apart. Even from it’s smaller kin it set a new bar for size to sound performance that I’ve utterly enjoyed having boom in my shower’s niche each morning.
Is the UE Megaboom 3 going to replace your home theatre? No, but it could easily sit in a study or bedroom on a charging stand with the exceptional benefit of travelling anywhere you want indoors or out at any time rain or shine.
With Aussies about to hit the beaches for Summer, I could think of no better tech-companion than UE’s Megaboom 3.