With the Wonderboom 2, UE succeeds again – delivering a superb, big sound, with some useful features to boot – for the same price as the original at launch. Even though that model is now available at almost half its price, the Wonderboom 2's refinements make it a choice pick.
- Huge sound
- Easy to use
- 13-hour battery life
- Outdoor Boost is useful
- Not much of note
- Review Price: £89.99
- IP67 rated
- 13 hours' battery life
- Double Up and Outdoor Boost modes
- Wireless range: 33m
- Weight: 420g
The UE Wonderboom 2 follows on from the original, delivering a huge sound from a small form factor. UE has further refined its formula, adding further features – an outdoor mode and stereo pairing – to the Wonderboom’s repertoire.
In recent years, Hollywood has been in a bit of bother. Outside of the unceasing Marvel juggernaut and Keanu Reeves, blockbuster sequels have had little impact, with franchises on the receiving end of critical jabs, making less money than previous entries.
They could learn from UE’s Wonderboom 2 portable speaker. As the name denotes, it’s also a sequel – the second go-around for a popular wireless speaker that produced a big sound from a small form. And it, too, seeks not to radically change its formula, but give you more of what you liked before.
The difference here is that the Wonderboom 2 doesn’t suffer from diminishing returns. The concept, which was executed close to perfection the first time around, has seen further improvements.
UE Wonderboom 2 design and build – A few visual changes, otherwise it remains much the same
The look and feel of the Wonderboom remains largely unchanged. It’s effectively the same size (infinitesimally bigger), with the same soft rubber finish on the top and bottom that creates a grippy feel when in the hand.
Build quality feels robust; the Wonderboom 2 will certainly survive a few falls from small heights. Despite looking like a baseball, it isn’t fit to play catch with in the garden. The speaker’s body is made out of a material that’s dust-proof and scratch-proof, so while it isn’t unbreakable, it’s tough enough to survive a dusty room or your pet’s attempts to claw at it.
The hard-to-miss volume control buttons are present, the distinctive two-tone design attracting the eye when you enter a room. The unit comes in a variety of shades − five in total − with names that suggest each finish has a personality of its own with Deep Space Black (black), Crushed Ice (grey), Radical Red (red), Bermuda Blue (blue) and Just Peach (pink).
The top of the speaker has had a slight redesign. The UE logo present on the original is gone after it emerged users thought it was just a logo when in fact it was the play/pause playback button.
That change is indicative of the overall approach UE has taken with the design: a few nips and tucks, but nothing radical. In case you were wondering, the logo has been transferred to the hang loop, which itself has benefitted from a slight change and will now enable you to latch the unit onto more items.
On the rear, at the bottom, is a flap that conceals the the speaker’s micro-USB connection. Otherwise, this is a fairly similar proposition to the original, and that’s no bad thing.
Related: UE Wonderboom review
UE Wonderboom 2 features – A boost to battery life and features adds further feathers to the Wonderboom’s cap
Battery life in the Wonderboom 2 has seen a 30% increase on the original, from 10 to 13 hours, further enhancing its portable qualities (a 2.6-hour charge gets you back to full battery). With an IP67 rating up from the Wonderboom’s IPX7, the unit is able to withstand submersion in a body of water one metre deep for 30 minutes – although the Wonderboom 2 is thoroughly buoyant, content to bobble along any body of water.
The new headline features are Outdoor Boost and Double Up, which in layman’s terms refer to “bigger sound” and “stereo pairing”. Outdoor Boost is activated by pressing the pine tree logo on the underside of the speaker, nerfing the bass and giving mid-range and treble frequencies greater room.
It’s more expansive in terms of the soundstage, with vocals noticeably pronounced. There’s a tendency for some busier tracks to sound cluttered with Outdoor Boost engaged, but overall that didn’t tax the sound quality much.
Double Up only works with a second Wonderboom 2 to hand. Connect two Wonderboom 2s together and music changes from mono to stereo, with one unit acting as the left channel and the other as the right. We didn’t get a chance to do this with our review unit (only one was available), but a demonstration of it in action indicated it was effective, although the thought of coughing up another £90 isn’t as enticing.
The Double Up feature isn’t backwards-compatible and therefore won’t work with the original unit. However, you can wireless pair it to two Wonderbooms, should that be an option.
UE Wonderboom 2 sound quality – Say it loud, say it proud
The Wonderboom 2 delivers a very big sound. So big, in fact, that having nudged up the volume to what I thought was close to full welly, I realised I was actually only half way.
That was one of the Wonderboom’s great tricks and it’s carried over here. How UE has managed this is nothing short of witchcraft; or maybe a great feat of engineering. The drivers are the same as those found in the original, but the low-end has been trimmed to produce some extra oomph in the bass region.
And the Wonderboom sounds great for it, its 360-degree sound able to fill a room with ease. Throw a song from any genre and the Wonderboom 2 attacks it with relish. “Into the Red” from Hans Zimmer’s Rush soundtrack is full of dynamic shifts and aggressive sound, but the Wonderboom 2 takes it in its stride, remaining measured and composed.
Rob Dougan’s classic “Clubbed to Death” gets an airing; the bass aspects of the track are lapped up by the Wonderboom 2, giving a good sense of texture. Voices, too, are rendered with clarity.
Despite the UE Wonderboom 2’s form factor, with a track such as The Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” you get a sense of depth; it pulses with energy, although the speaker doesn’t appear to be fazed by it. Whether it’s songs that zip by or slower tracks − such as Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod”, for instance − the Wonderboom is adept at producing a sense of detail and engagement in both.
You’re likely wondering if this is all too good to be true. Surely there must be something the UE Wonderboom 2 can’t handle as well? Well, it isn’t always the weightiest sounding speaker, but in light of its size and form factor, that’s a minor quibble.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Why buy the UE Wonderboom 2?
If you’re after a great-sounding speaker for just under £100, the Wonderboom 2 hits the right notes.
Of course, the original Wonderboom is an option, too – which can now be picked up for around £50 – if the refinements in the Wonderboom 2 don’t float your boat.
The Wonderboom 2 is a case of small gains adding up to something greater, building on its already solid foundations. It’s the same, but better.
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