After weeks of testing, I determined Megaboom 3 is the best portable speaker. Its sound is on par with Megablast but its design and battery are superior. Megablast sounds crisper at high volumes, with a cleaner bass, but the design flaws can’t be ignored.
I’ll compare and contrast these two portable speakers (UE Megablast vs. UE Megaboom 3) by evaluating four categories: sound, design, power, and software.
Things To Know
- The current lineup of Ultimate Ears speakers is waterproof, dustproof (IP67 rating), and shockproof. They can be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. They are the most durable speakers I’ve ever tested.
- If you want an accurate battery life reading, you can hold the two volume buttons for two seconds, and a voice will read out the level.
- You can charge with a micro USB or with the wireless charging base.
- Both speakers can be paired with eight devices and paired to two simultaneously.
UE Megaboom 3: 10/10
- It has two 50mm active drivers.
- The sound is omnidirectional, meaning it’s consistent regardless of where you are in relation to the speaker.
- The sound is clear and sharp with strong bass.
- At volumes over 75% the bass gets overpowering and boomy. It’s still loud enough to fill a room or entertain your friends when it’s under 75% volume though.
- It’s great for outside listening or for parties.
- It’s not quite as loud as Megablast but the noticeable difference comes with the sound quality at louder volumes.
- It weighs 2.04 pounds, is 8.9 inches tall, and sits vertically.
- The design is beautiful because of the two-tone mesh materials and minimalist design.
- It comes in six main colors: Lagoon Blue, Nightblack, Sunset Red, Ultraviolet Purple, and Urban Magenta. There will be more options in the future.
- There are two giant volume buttons on the front.
- Instead of gestures, like the original Megaboom and Megablast, Megaboom 3 has the “Magic Button.” One tap pauses the song, two taps skip the song, and a two-second hold will play one of your predefined Apple Music playlists without touching your phone.
- You can wirelessly charge it with UE’s $40 charging base, or you can charge it with the micro USB port on the side (not on the bottom).
- There are no external ports.
- Megaboom 3 will float in water, but Megablast won’t.
- Ultimate Ears lists a 20-hour battery rating. Here’s what I got in real life tests:
- 10 hours with 60% volume.
- 5 hours with 85% volume.
- You can wirelessly charge with the base.
- The Boom app is great. You can view the battery health, turn it on, change the sound with four preset equalizer options, add Apple Music playlists, and pair your other speakers together in the app.
- You can pair up to 150 UE speakers with “Party Up.” This works decently, but your music may cut out every once in awhile.
- The Bluetooth range is listed as 150 feet, but I got nowhere near that.
- “Block Party” lets two people control the music over one queue using their phones.
- There’s no Alexa, but Megaboom’s way of choosing music without a phone makes more sense with the Magic Button. When you hold the giant center button for two seconds it’ll play your preset Apple Music playlists without touching your phone. Look for this to expand to other music services in the future.
UE Megablast: 9/10
- It has two 55mm active drivers. The difference of 5mm on both drivers compared to Megaboom 3, is presumably what provides the difference in sound quality.
- It has the same omnidirectional sound as Megaboom 3. In typical listening situations (around half volume) the sound quality is close to identical (to my ears) between the two speakers.
- UE lists the Megablast’s volume as three decibels louder. In my tests, it seemed like 85% volume on Megablast was the equivalent of Megaboom 3’s maxed out volume.
- The bass is richer, deeper, and more controlled than Megaboom 3. Because of the brilliant sound at all volumes, Megablast is my favorite sound portable speaker.
- When you’re at home, Megablast is going to sound better if you use WiFi because the music doesn’t get compress as it does with Bluetooth.
- It weighs 2.65 pounds, is 9.3 inches tall, and sits vertically. This makes it a half-pound heavier and slightly taller than Megaboom 3.
- There are no buttons or gestures to use for playback controls. You can skip a song via Alexa, but that’s annoying and only works if you’re using WiFi, rather than Bluetooth. The best way to skip a song is with your phone’s display.
- The micro USB charging port is located on the bottom of the speaker, making listening and charging with a wire at the same time difficult. You should buy the wireless charging dock for $40 to get around this.
- There are two huge volume buttons on the side, and there’s an ugly rubber strip running down the middle.
- It’s won’t float if you drop it in water.
- It comes in four boring colors: Graphite, Bluesteel, Merlot, Blizzard.
- Ultimate Ears lists a 16-hour battery rating. Here’s what I got in real life tests:
- 8 hours with 60% volume.
- 4 hours with 85% volume.
- The battery life decreases when Alexa is active and listening. It’ll go down further with heavy Alexa usage.
- You can wirelessly charge with the base.
- There are multiple microphones that are always listening for hands-free Alexa:
- You can say “Alexa, play my Discover Weekly on Spotify” or any other Spotify voice command. This is fantastic.
- You can say “Alexa, turn down the volume.”
- You can say “Alexa, skip.”
- You can control your smart home devices, just like native Amazon Echo devices.
- You can disable Alexa’s mic by holding the Bluetooth button simultaneously with the volume decrease button.
- Reasons why Alexa isn’t worth your time on a portable speaker:
- The mics aren’t as good as Amazon’s devices, so it doesn’t hear your commands as well. It has no chance of hearing when the volume is above 50%.
- Alexa only works when you’re home and connected to WiFi.
- How often would you use Alexa and when is it useful? In my experience, the only time that I used Alexa was for the playback controls. But it’s easier to press a button like you can with Megaboom 3’s Magic Button.
- Megablast can play music via Bluetooth or WiFi.
- WiFi music playback is an upgrade from Bluetooth, which is important if you plan on using this speaker at home and have Spotify (with Spotify Connect).
- The sound quality is better because it’s not compressed.
- You don’t have to worry about pairing and unpair.
- The music is streamed directly to Megablast, so your phone’s location relative to the speaker is irrelevant.
- The music isn’t distorted or interrupted when someone calls you.
- It only pairs with one other Megablast to create a stereo pair, while you can connect 150 Megaboom speakers. However, it’s not a significant issue because pairing multiple speakers via Bluetooth is never a smooth process. I avoid it if at all possible.
- Megablast has the same list Bluetooth range, but I was able to get an extra 15-20 feet compared to Megaboom 3.
- You can’t power it on with the app.
Which is best for you?
UE Megaboom 3
Get UE Megaboom 3 if you appreciate brilliantly-designed products and want to listen at low and medium volumes. It has great colors, a longer battery life, and it’s lighter.
Get UE Megablast if you want better sound at higher volumes. WiFi playback brings more versatility and Alexa is a nice add-on, but it has design flaws and a subpar battery.