There are a number of options one should consider when looking for a speaker that produces “concert level” sound without the need for multiple equipment pieces. From this extensive list of products that range from Bose, Sony, JBL, UE, Marshall, and Soundboks, we are going to take a look at three of the more qualified choices.
One thing to note when deciding between the Bose S1 Pro, Soundboks Gen. 3, and UE Hyperboom is the vast differences in price across the board. So while the Soundboks 3 can touch volumes previously thought impossible by portable speakers, it also costs twice what the UE Hyperboom would. So you shouldn’t just look at the technical qualifications, but also the price compared to your own budget.
The Soundboks 3 has always been a solid speaker, the biggest setback is its unbelievably high price, with an MSRP of roughly $1000. Its volume is the best in the business and its bass is really solid, not to mention you can listen to music for an entire workweek before needing to charge this monstrosity. It is however much bulkier than its competitors and does have a bit of distortion when at max decibel levels.
The Bose S1, unfortunately, falls behind its cheaper competitors too much to be considered a viable option. The Hyperboom outperforms it almost universally when it comes to sound quality, battery life, and design, so it really can’t be recommended. This is only made worse when you realize the S1 costs a hundred dollars more, with a MSRP north of $500. Its varied equalizer options are nice, but not enough to save it from third place.
The UE Hyperboom is a great choice that is the most financially viable of the three, with the only sub-$500 MSRP. Its stereo quality sound comes in beautifully and outside of very low-end bass, you will hear everything cleanly and sufficiently loud. I would have liked a higher water resistance, though IP4 should still save it from a few minor splashes. Its battery life is solid and its design is smart, you can’t go wrong with this product.
The most important aspect of any portable speaker is going to be its ability to put out loud, crisp audio that can hit a wide range of frequencies. Unfortunately for the consumer, usually one product will have the advantage in sound quality while another hits a far higher decibel level. This troublesome rule remains true when considering these three products as well.
The Soundboks 3 stays true to its marketing material with the loudest volume found among portable speakers today. This product will hit a maximum of 125 decibels (though will have the most distortion as well) which leaves us wondering who actually needs music this loud. It possesses a capable frequency range of 40Hz – 20kHz and has an adjustable equalizer. On a more subjective note, I would say this speaker is the best of the three at hitting lower levels of bass.
If you were to look underneath the hood of this pricey behemoth you would find two 10-inch woofers, a 1-inch tweeter, and three 72 watt class D amplifiers.
The Bose S1 Pro is the middle child of these products in terms of the overall price, though you wouldn’t know it from the sound quality. Personally speaking, I can’t notice much difference in terms of sound range between this product and the Hyperboom, though it falls well behind the Soundboks due to its inability to hit ground-level bass. It also doesn’t have the same omnidirectional audio output that the Hyperboom has. Its max volume falls well behind the Soundboks 3, though comes through far clearer.
Inside this device, there are three 2.25-inch tweeters and one 6-inch woofer.
Lastly, the UE Hyperboom is the surprising dark horse of the three. It has a much lower price tag that offers some improved audio quality in comparison. This device falls behind at max volume, though like the Bose S1 has very clear sound at its highest decibel level. While its bass isn’t quite as good as the Soundboks, its mids and highs are crisp and its ability to put out stereo sound easily puts it ahead of the other two in terms of the soundstage.
It comes with two 4.5-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters along with dual passive radiators.
Verdict – Soundboks 3; though the UE Hyperboom is close behind, we have to give the nod to the Soundboks Generation 3 for impressive bass and unbelievable volume output.
Design & Durability
Considering the fact that all of these products are labeled as portable it is important that they not only hold up to the elements but also have a design that is geared towards mobility. When we judge products in this category we have to not only take into account how the speaker looks but how bulky it is, its water resistance, how efficiently it can travel, and its ability to shake out the scrapes and scratches it will inevitably deal with.
The Soundboks 3 is hefty and durable, so it really comes down to what you want more out of a speaker. It weighs more than both the other speakers combined, yet it has an IP65 rating and a tough exterior. One of my favorite design choices of this product is the rubber balls on the corners that absorb the impact of this speaker falling over. It weighs 34 pounds and takes up 25.6” x 17” x 13″ of space.
Moving to the Bose S1 Pro, it is a considerably lighter option than the Soundboks. It has a fairly generic, rudimentary design that offers a top handle for easier mobility. My biggest gripe with this product is any lack of water resistance. While some consumers might not mind this, when you are designing a product to be built for the outdoors it feels like a mistake not to offer any ability to resist inclement weather. It weighs in at 15 pounds and takes up 11.1″ x 9.4″ x 13.1″ of room.
The Hyperboom is going to be the smallest speaker overall, which lends it a lot more maneuverability when transporting it. Included in the package is a pullout strap that allows the owner to move this device much easier, and the fabric that covers the majority of this device is going to help keep it looking new without scrapes and scratches. It offers an IP4 rating, weighs 13lbs, and is 7.5″ x 7.5″ x 14.33″ overall.
Verdict – Soundboks 3 is the most durable, though the Hyperboom offers the best portable design.
These products are going to be used by people who may not have access to electricity for days at a time, so the battery is something a consumer would be wise to not overlook. All products are going to drain their battery faster at higher volumes, though the max decibel level determines what the overall middle-ground of each speaker will be. All times listed are taken directly from the manufacturer and your own personal length may differ.
I have covered the Soundboks 3 three times now and its battery never ceases to impress me. It offers 40 hours of music on a full charge which is truly inspired by any standard. At a max volume, it is listed to have five hours of playback, which should give you more than enough time to properly deafen your hearing. To charge your battery fully, it should take anywhere from three hours to five overall.
The Bose S1 Pro is listed as having 11 hours of battery life which is satisfactory for most. A full battery will take around five hours to charge though the S1 offers a quick charge option that when in use allegedly shortens the time to around three hours, which is fairly quick. While the Bose product doesn’t have a terrible life, it does pale in comparison to the other two products. It also has a power-saving feature that shuts off the device after an hour of inactivity.
The UE Hyperboom offers an impressive day’s worth of battery life which would beat out most products, despite it falling second to the Soundboks 3. We also have to be fair and realize that both the Hyperboom and Bose are half the size of the Soundboks so the battery likely won’t run as long. Its charge time is the quickest of the three as well at just 2.5 hours, meaning a full charge won’t take nearly as long as its competitors. Like the S1, this device also has a power-saving feature that turns it off after fifteen minutes of it remaining idle.
Verdict – The Soundboks 3 wins, though the Hyperboom again comes very close behind. While the power-saving feature, 24-hours of battery life, and its quick charge are impressive, the Soundboks battery life is simply too spectacular to put it in second.
Features & Software
Often times with speakers the higher the price they have, the more accessories and features they come equipped with. Some of these are as superfluous as a bottle opener and other times they are as important as adjustable equalizers and multispeaker connectivity. To give you a better idea of what these speakers share in features, let’s go over the shared aspects of the trio of products.
All three products offer Bluetooth Connectivity (5.0 except for Bose, which is 4.2), multispeaker compatibility, auxiliary inputs, and a volume menu that can be found on each speaker itself.
The Soundboks 3 comes with features that are practical and sound, though lacks any added flare for those looking for it. It has two XLR inputs, a 3.5mm input and output, the ability to wirelessly connect five other Soundboks speakers, an interchangeable grill and batteries, and a LED battery-charge indicator. The Soundboks app offers an equalizer, instrument sound configurations, and volume adjustment.
The Bose S1 is the only device of the three that has different audio output modes depending on how you place the device. It has two XLR inputs with adjustable mixers for each, including an extra channel for the auxiliary input. There are adjustable knobs for volume, treble, bass, and reverb and each XLR input comes with a switch that you can change from an instrument to a microphone depending on what you need. Through the app, you can switch between Bluetooth devices, change your speaker from party to stereo mode and obviously update it when needed.
Lastly, the UE Hyperboom has a unique feature being marketed as “adaptive EQ” that can sense the room or environment you are in and adjust accordingly. This is an interesting answer to portable speakers always being in different areas, though the app offers customizable EQ should the consumer want it. It offers EQ presets as well, can remember up to 8 Bluetooth devices, and has seamless Bluetooth switching, an optical input, service port, USB port, and a pull-out strap should you need it.
Verdict – Bose S1 gets the nod with equalizers not just for the speaker, but for plugged-in instruments and microphones.
The decision really comes down to how important volume and bass are for the person buying these speakers. If you have some cash to blow and really want a thumping, boisterous speaker that will ruin your relationship with your neighbors, the Soundboks 3 is a superb piece of tech, although overpriced. Otherwise, the much more reasonable Hyperboom will comfortably meet all the requirements a speaker head would need for half the price, weight, and size of the Soundboks 3.