The UE Wonderboom 2 delivers a big sound for its compact size, with some useful features to boot and all for the same price as the original. Even though that model is now available at almost half its price, the Wonderboom 2's refinements make it budget wireless speaker to go for.
- Huge sound
- Easy to use
- 13-hour battery life
- Outdoor Boost
- 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
It’s difficult to improve on a product thought to be one of the best in its price range, but that didn’t stop Ultimate Ears from trying with the Wonderboom 2.
As the name denotes, it’s the second go-around for a popular wireless speaker that produced a big sound from a small form. And rather than radically change its formula, UE looked to see what worked and what to improve, while still delivering that fabled Wonderboom performance.
The concept – executed close to perfection the first time around – is now even better.
UE Wonderboom 2 design and build – A few visual changes, otherwise it looks same
The look and feel of the Wonderboom is largely unchanged. It’s effectively the same size (slightly bigger), with the same soft rubber finish on the top and bottom for grip.
Build quality is robust; it’s a speaker that will certainly survive a few falls from small heights. The speaker’s body is made out of a material that’s dust-proof and scratch-proof, so while it isn’t completely unbreakable, it can survive a dusty room or your pet’s attempts to claw it.
The distinctive two-tone design is available in a variety of shades − five in total − with names to 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 hard-to-miss volume control buttons are present, with the top of the speaker having had a slight redesign. The UE logo on the original is now gone to avoid any confusion with the playback buttons, UE telling me users thought it was just a logo and not the play/pause button.
That change is indicative of the overall approach UE has taken with a few nips and tucks, but nothing radical. In case you were wondering, the logo has been transferred to the hang loop, which has been tweaked so the speaker can be hooked onto more items.
On the rear is a flap that conceals the the speaker’s micro-USB connection. Otherwise, this is a similar proposition to the original.
Related: UE Wonderboom review
UE Wonderboom 2 features – A boost for longer battery life
Battery life has jumped from 10 to 13 hours over the original, further enhancing its portable qualities (a 2.5-hour charge gets you back to full battery). Manufactured to an IP67 rating – up from the Wonderboom’s IPX7 – it’s 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 essentially mean “bigger sound” and “stereo pairing”. Outdoor Boost is activated by pressing the pine tree logo on the speaker’s underside, nerfing the bass and giving mid-range and treble frequencies more room to breathe.
Outdoor Mode produces an expansive soundstage, with vocals more pronounced. There’s a tendency for some busy tracks to sound cluttered with Outdoor Boost engaged, but that didn’t tax the sound quality much.
Double Up only works with a second Wonderboom 2. Connect a pair of Wonderboom 2 and music switches from mono to stereo, with one as the left channel and the other as the right. We weren’t giving a second review unit to hear this under review conditions, but a demonstration of it in action showed it was effective, although the thought of coughing up another £90 to do this is less enticing.
The Double Up feature doesn’t work with the original Wonderboom, although you can wireless group them to two other Wonderbooms.
UE Wonderboom 2 sound quality – Say it loud, say it proud
The Wonderboom 2 delivers a sound so big that having nudged up the volume to what I thought was close to full welly, I realised I was only half way.
How UE has managed this is nothing short of witchcraft; or more likely, a great feat of engineering. The drivers are the same as those in the original, but the low-end has been trimmed to for some extra oomph in the bass region.
And the Wonderboom sounds better for it, its 360-degree sound able to capably fill a room. 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.
Rob Dougan’s 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 small form factor, with a track such as The Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” you get a sense of depth. It’s a song that pulses with energy, although the speaker doesn’t appear 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. There must be something the Wonderboom 2 can’t handle? Well, it it’s not the weightiest sounding speaker, but in light of its size, that’s a minor quibble.
Related: Best Bluetooth speakers
Should I buy the UE Wonderboom 2?
If you’re after a speaker with a big sound for under £100, the Wonderboom 2 hits the right notes.
Of course, the original Wonderboom is still an option and can be had for less. Or, consider UE’s own Boom 3. While it comes in a different , taller form factor, it’s another big-sounding affair with 15 hours of battery life plus a few tricks for Deezer and Apple Music subscribers.
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 even better.
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