When an individual begins the hunt for a portable speaker of their own, it can be easy for them to feel overwhelmed.
The range of quality, cost, and size of portable speakers is more comprehensive than most outside observers could ever expect.
In this brief comparison, we will be going over three speakers that fall on the higher end of all three qualities.
The first product on this list is the newest speaker from the Copenhagen-based audio brand known for their product volume output, the Soundboks Go. Second, we will be looking at the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, a product known for solid audio projection. Finally, the last product we will be evaluating is the seemingly indestructible JBL Boombox 2.
We will be covering them in every applicable category that one would concern themselves with when purchasing a portable speaker.
The Soundboks Go is a product that retails for almost $700 (more with the carrying strap) and offers exceptional volume output, incredible durability, and a battery that boggles the mind with forty hours of playback time. This speaker is great for someone who doesn’t mind throwing a few dollars extra into a loud outdoor device with long battery life and a resilient exterior.
The UE Hyperboom is a great speaker with a sub-$500 price tag that offers clean crisp sound at any volume level, as well as inspired battery life with a solid set of accompanying features. This product is great for someone who wants crisp audio, audio customization, and a little less off the top when it comes to price. Its only downside is that compared to the other two speakers this is going to easily be the most fragile of the three, though it still should survive any minor scrapes or rain.
The JBL Boombox 2 is a quality product with exceptional design that is without question the most easily transportable. It has a solid battery life, good audio, and solid volume output though the charge time and features are a little subpar. With that said, it is visually beautiful and well-made throughout and offers a battery life of 24 hours. While it is a bit pricier than the Hyperboom with an MSRP closer to $500, the added durability might warrant the extra cash for the more outdoorsy type.
The importance of crisp, loud audio cannot be overstated when looking at speakers. Nowadays, tech products offer so many bells and whistles that we can sometimes overlook the very reason we got these portable products in the first place.
When judging audio, we try to look at max volume, audio quality, the overall soundstage, and even what goes into the speaker itself when looking underneath the honeycomb grille.
Starting off the comparisons, let’s take a look at the shiny new Soundboks Go and how it stacks up. Like all products from Soundboks, you will be unable to replicate its highest decibel level by any other brand on the market.
Maximum volume is where this product shines, though it is alone in its excellence when compared to the audio quality. Its frequency response is fair to middling at the higher-end but that sought-after bass is as boomy as you could want, despite the lower end feeling a bit ignored.
The Soundboks Go has cut down on internals to make itself more portable, offering less under the hood from something like the Soundboks Gen 3. It offers two 72-watt class D amplifiers, a ten-inch woofer, and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. Its advertised frequency range sits at 40Hz – 20kHz.
Moving to the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom, we have a product that falls short in decibel level while setting its sights on a far superior soundstage and above-average frequency response. Its max volume sits at 98 decibels which would likely put it at the forefront of any speaker comparison that doesn’t have a Soundboks product in it.
To its credit, it plays audio much more smoothly however at regular levels and at max volume, with very little static or compression when pushed to its auditory limits. Its soundstage is impressive and unique for a product so small and offers an enjoyable full-bodied playback.
Looking deeper into this speaker we find two 4.5-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters, and finally two 3.5 x 7.5-inch passive radiators. How they fit all of this into a thirteen-pound product is beyond my knowledge. According to the Hyperboom website, the listed Frequency range is 45 Hz – 20 kHz
Lastly, let’s take a look at the aesthetically pleasing JBL Boombox 2. If we are judging it exclusively on its crisp audio, the Boombox is probably the most universally applicable speaker of the three.
If I had to pick a winner in terms of audio quality, it would be between the Boombox and Hyperboom – though I struggle to decide which one edges the other.
Boombox 2’s max decibel level falls into the middle in terms of dynamics with a max decibel level of 101. Regrettably, due to the static and clunkiness of the audio at its highest volume, most consumers would still prefer the Hyperboom or Soundboks Go.
Going underneath its pleasant outer shell we find two 4-inch woofers, two .75-inch tweeters, and a listed frequency response of 50Hz – 20kHz.
Verdict – The UE Hyperboom is an incredibly well-rounded product that offers clear, powerful volume with minimal compression and a far-reaching soundstage.
Design & Durability
Portable speakers have to offer a lot more protection than most indoor alternatives due to the uncertainty of the weather, the environment, and inebriated friends. These products are going to spend a majority of their life on the move, in unfamiliar places getting bumped, splashed, and tossed around more frequently than any self-respecting speaker parent would like to think about.
Size is also important, it doesn’t matter how nice your speaker is if you can’t take it more than twenty feet without injuring yourself.
Soundboks doesn’t mess around when it comes to the durability of their products and the newest Soundboks Go is no different. On top of the fact that its outer layer looks like a square turtle shell, it offers a silicone rubber bumper that surrounds the perimeter of the tough exterior. This ensures that it can handle most situations where physical trauma could occur.
It has an IP65 rating which is both water and dust resistant – the best rating of all three speakers. Its design is purpose-driven and practical, Soundboks leaves the extravagant designs for those inferior products that can’t survive most natural disasters. Its only downside is its bulkier design which weighs out to 20 lbs and takes up 18 x 12 x 10 inches of trunk space. It offers an optional fifty-dollar carrying strap, which feels like a new form of highway robbery.
While the UE Hyperboom excelled in the previous category, it falls short a bit when looking at how fragile it is compared to its competition. While it does offer an IP4 rating which is reasonably waterproof it would have been nice to see slightly higher water and dust resistance from a product made to be universally applicable. While the weather door it offers for the ports and fabric cover is helpful towards the Hyperboom’s longevity, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this product feels considerably more delicate than the other two.
The Hyperboom comes with an included carrying strap without forcing you to shell out additional cash, which is nice and should be something that all portable speaker brands seek to replicate (this is the author taking a shot at Soundboks). Dimension-wise this product weighs 13 lbs and takes up 14 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches of space.
Last but not least is the exceptionally designed JBL Boombox 2 which is a clever fusion of ergonomic, cylindrical design, and surprising resilience. Aesthetically speaking, this product takes the cake with an incredibly portable, expensive-looking design that doesn’t skimp on quality material. It comes with an IP7 rating which is more than satisfactory, though you may want to avoid dust and debris.
Out of the three, this product feels the most easily transportable both in its convenient topside handle and its weight and overall size. The Boombox 2 weighs 13 pounds and stretches out to 19.1 x 7.9 x 10.1.
Verdict – If you want strictly durability then go with the Soundboks Go. Otherwise, the design of the Boombox 2 is exceptional and it provides an impressive amount of resistance to physical damage and water.
It doesn’t matter how good a speaker sounds and how easily it travels if it is going to die on you within two hours of taking it outside.
Additionally, you wanna make sure that the time a speaker takes to charge isn’t going to keep the product out of commission for long periods of time. This category covers everything from the additional power-saving features to more basic measurements like overall battery life.
Much like its ability to output volume, the Soundboks Go has a battery life that is unlike anything else on the market today. Not only can this boisterous speaker play at a higher volume for much longer, but it can also play at a max volume for up to ten hours (if you want to deafen your friends and family).
At fifty percent volume, this product will run for forty hours. This extensive battery life has quickly become synonymous with the Soundboks brand and is only more exceptional when done on such a small speaker. While the product cannot be played while charging, it is hardly a drawback when a 3.5-hour charge will give you a full work week of playback.
Moving to the UE Hyperboom this product offers an impressive battery life despite the fact that it cannot hold up next to the Soundboks speaker. To its credit, it has a lessened charge time by almost a full hour (2.6 hrs for a full battery) and offers a feature that turns it off after fifteen minutes of inactivity, which will help the device last longer. Its battery life will last a full twenty-four hours which is very good and should not be overlooked despite it falling short of the SoundBoks Go’s high standard.
Finally, the JBL Boombox 2 also offers a very impressive battery life that any speaker head would be more than happy with. Like the Hyperboom, it offers an inspired 24-hour battery life and also has a similar power-saving feature that shuts off after twenty minutes of inactivity. Its biggest drawback without question is its lengthy charge time. While listed at 6.5 hours on the JBL website, separate tests have reported a full charge taking closer to four hours. This isn’t a dealbreaker for its battery but should be considered before you take it with you for the evening.
Verdict – The Soundboks Go is well ahead of the competition – including the two in this article – for battery life. With that said, all three offer exceptional battery lives and none of the three will disappoint.
Features & Software
Everything has a corresponding application that goes with it nowadays and speakers are very rarely an exception. The software that goes with speakers typically offers things like graphic equalizers, LED customization, EQ presets, and more. The features of these devices can range from practical options like Bluetooth compatibility, multispeaker compatibility, and bass boost all the way to bottle openers.
The SoundBoks Go features are satisfactory and practical although offering more on the input menu would have been appreciated. It offers BlueTooth 5.0 compatibility, the ability to link up to five SoundBoks 3 and Go speakers, a TeamUP connection or SKAA, and a loop strap. Regrettably, this device only offers one 3.5mm stereo input which feels lacking for such an otherwise well-made speaker.
On the software side of things, you get a solid bit of customization through the SoundBoks app. You can customize your EQ or select a preset, in-app volume adjustment, remote disconnect/power features, and auto-connect abilities for Bluetooth pairing. The app is fairly standard and while it won’t win any awards for its UI, they have put some real focus on improving it recently, making it much easier to deal with.
When looking at the UE Hyperboom, there are quite a few solid features both in-app and on the speaker itself that are worth mentioning. It comes with BlueTooth 4.2 – 5.0 compatibility, a weather door, service port, USB input, optical input, aux input, power bank (you can charge smart devices with it), can be used in conjunction with other UE speakers, and possesses an adaptive EQ microphone.
Moving towards the software features you have remote power options, PartyUp, a customizable equalizer with presets, and playlist synchronization. The app is satisfactory for what you may need though it should be noted that certain users have had difficulty maintaining a connection.
Finally, the JBL Boombox 2 has a small list of features to go over. It has Bluetooth Compatibility (5.1), a 3.5mm auxiliary input, power bank features, multiple JBL speaker connectivity, and JBL party boost. While it does offer a corresponding app, it doesn’t seem to benefit from the app much if at all. The only big thing we would have liked to have seen is some type of audio equalizer either on the device itself or in the app.
Verdict – The UE Hyperboom narrowly offers enough features to put it above the other two portable products.
All three products are exceptional, it really comes down to what you want from them.
The Soundboks Go is going to be great for those volume junkies who wanna break windows and has a battery life that feels made up.
The UE Hyperboom is an exceptional product at a good price that will not disappoint anyone looking for crisp audio and a good battery.
Finally, the JBL Boombox 2 is a durable darling with dual passive radiators, high-quality material a good battery life, and easy portability.