After a whole month of testing, I’ve determined that the UE Megaboom 3 is better than the JBL Xtreme 2 in terms of omnidirectional sound, wireless charging, portability, and durability. Xtreme 2 outperforms with volume and sound quality, but there are design flaws you can’t overlook.
I’ll compare JBL Xtreme 2 vs UE Megaboom 3 in five categories: sound, design, durability, power, and software. See if you agree with my determination, or if you’d prefer Xtreme 2 as your portable speaker.
The two are nearly equal in terms of sound quality. Xtreme 2 is somewhat better as long as you’re standing right in front of it, but Megaboom 3 sounds great from all angles.
Megaboom 3’s omnidirectional sound ensures that music is crisp and loud from all directions. It’s ideal for parties or whenever other people are listening to the speaker. Plus, the sound is balanced with solid bass at standard volumes. However, it does get overpowering at high volumes above 75%. It also can’t reach the same volume as the Xtreme 2.
There are four equalizer presets in the app. Two of them are good, such as “Voices” for podcasts and “Cramped Spaces” for small rooms. However, the default setting is usually best. I loved this speaker and, without listening side-by-side to Xtreme 2, this was my favorite.
Xtreme 2 inches ahead with several wonderful benefits. It’s the loudest portable speaker I’ve used. The Megaboom 3’s 100% volume is the same as 80% volume on Xtreme 2. Plus, it sounds wonderful at 80%. But, I wouldn’t go any higher as the highs sound strange. The sound is crisp and the bass more consistent and cleaner.
However, one big drawback is the angle. While Megaboom is omnidirectional, Xtreme 2 sounds best from the front. Even the bass sounds overdone by the sides. You also can’t change the bass or equalizer from the app. Listening outside could be better as well. This is like a louder Charge 4, and it’s similar to the Sonos One.
In general, Xtreme 2 has better sound quality and gets much louder. However, the omnidirectional sound might drive some people to prefer Megaboom 3.
Sound winner: Xtreme 2
While we could quibble over the sound since it was so close, there is no contest here. Megaboom 3 is the clear winner. It’s more portable, easier to use, and doesn’t have the significant design flaws found in Xtreme 2.
Megaboom 3 weighs 2lbs, measures 8.9 inches tall, and stands vertically. It’s half the weight and a fraction of the size of Xtreme 2. It’s not only more functional, but it looks better with two-tone mesh materials. You can choose from fantastic colors like Lagoon Black, Nightblack, Sunset Red, Ultraviolet Purple, and Urban Magenta. UE regularly releases new colors.
The original Megaboom had some design flaws, such as lacking play and pause buttons. Megaboom 3 fixes this with the Magic Button, it’s a single button with many functions. The original version also had a charging port on the bottom, so listening and charging simultaneously was hard. Now, Megaboom 3 has the charging port on the side, or you can use a wireless charging base. You can check the battery life by pushing both volume buttons on the side.
The Xtreme 2 needs a serious makeover. It’s 5lbs and 12 inches long. It has a carrying strap, but it’s really not portable. The size makes it better as a home speaker, but in that case I’d suggest Sonos One since it has WiFi and is more affordable. Xtreme 2 sits horizontally and is supported by two feet.
The port cover is a step down from Charge 4, and it’s hard to open. There’s fewer color options, and they look worse. You can get Midnight Black, Ocean Blue, or Forest Green. A 3.5mm port allows you to connect external audio devices, and six LED lights represent remaining battery life.
The clear winner here is Megaboom 3. It looks better, is sized appropriately for a portable speaker, and the Magic Button is fantastic. Xtreme 2 is sized more like a home speaker, and there are better options for that.
Design winner: Megaboom 3
Xtreme 2 has OK durability while Megaboom 3 is once again the clear winner. It’s superior design ensures superior durability, it’s as simple as that.
Megaboom 3 is capable of taking a beating, plus it’s both shockproof and dustproof. It’s also water-resistant and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water. However, you shouldn’t have to worry about it being submerged since the speaker floats.
JBL made some improvements over the Xtreme 1. The original version was splashproof, but Xtreme 2 is IPX7 waterproof and can also be submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes. However, unlike Megaboom 3, this speaker will sink.
Research shows that it’s not as durable as UE speakers in general. The speaker feels more fragile, and you’ll notice it by looking at the bass radiators. They vibrate too easily. Plus, the extra weight does it no favors. If this speaker drops, then expect at least some cracks.
Overall, the design winner is Megaboom 3. It does better in water, is shockproof and dustproof, and the lightweight design ensures it shouldn’t break if it falls.
Durability winner: Megaboom 3
These are close in terms of battery life. Xtreme 2 does last somewhat longer and can charge phones, but Megaboom is easier to charge and is my favorite for this category.
UE listed Megaboom 3 as lasting 20 hours with a 4-hour recharge time. My real world usage shows that it lasts 10 hours at 60% volume and 5 hours at 85% volume. Both are pretty good, but not up to the 20 hours UE promised. I highly suggest getting the $40 UE wireless charging base. Believe me, it’s worth it.
JBL promises 15 hours of battery life and it takes 3 hours to recharge. Unlike UE, JBL is very close to their listing. It lasts 13 hours at 60% volume and 8 hours at 85% volume. It can also charge phones with its large 10,000mAh battery. However, it doesn’t charge with a standard USB-C cable. It instead uses an old school 19V AC adapter and power brick. So, not only is the Xtreme 2 twice as heavy as Megaboom 3, but the charging cable is also significantly heavier.
While Xtreme 2 lasts somewhat longer and can charge your phone, the convenient charging of Megaboom 3 makes it the winner in my eyes.
Power winner: Megaboom 3
Yet another clear win for Megaboom 3. While Xtreme 2 has some good features, Megaboom 3 has an amazing app, more features, and you can connect lots of UE speakers.
The UE app is amazing. It shows you battery life, control options, and allows you to change between four different equalizer options. You can connect eight phones to the speaker in total with two connected simultaneously. But, the Block Party mode allows all eight devices to control the speaker. Plus, UE frequently updates the app and firmware, so there’s a chance the features will get better.
You can connect 150 UE speakers simultaneously and have them play the same music. While Bluetooth has inherent limitations, it works quite well here. The Magic Button plays your pre-selected Apple Music playlist if you hold it for two seconds. I’m hoping they add Spotify as well. The Bluetooth range is listed as 150 feet, but it’s not as good as Xtreme 2 in this case.
Xtreme 2 lets you connect two devices simultaneously. The app is horrible. It won’t show you battery life and doesn’t help with anything. You can group JBL speakers without the app using the JBL Connect+ button. Push the button on both devices and they pair, it works great. Bluetooth still causes the music to cut every now and then, but it’s better than the original JBL Connect. I also get 20 more feet with Bluetooth connection here.
Overall, it’s easy to see why Megaboom 3 wins this category. The app is far superior, and it has more and better features.
Software winner: Megaboom 3
JBL Xtreme 2 does have some highlights. It has better Bluetooth range, better battery life, and better sound quality. However, it lacks omnidirectional sound, is much heavier and bigger, and has other shortcomings. Megaboom 3 is the clear winner here.