Ultimate Ears is probably the most recognizable audio brand on the planet when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers. The company has years of experience in this market and a wide range of models starting at the $99.99 WONDERBOOM (now in its third generation). With the exception of the mammoth and aptly named HYPERBOOM (review here), Ultimate Ears speakers have traditionally been designed in a cylindrical form factor, all the better for blasting 360-degree audio. However, there has been a bit of a gap between the WONDERBOOM and HYPERBOOM for those who wanted a big–but still portable–wireless speaker. Enter the all-new Ultimate Ears EPICBOOM.
EPICBOOM: Bigger But Recognizable
Most Ultimate Ears speakers have adopted a variation of the cylinder form factor. The WONDERBOOM is a little squashed, but the BOOM and MEGABOOM are straight up cylinders. Standing at 9.4-inches, the EPICBOOM is a few inches taller than the MEGABOOM (which now holds the mid-size position in the company’s lineup) and is much wider–but still with the curved edges. It almost looks like two MEGABOOMs pushed together. At 9.4 x 6.3 x 4.6-inches and weighing over 4 pounds, the EPICBOOM is a substantial portable speaker.
Ultimate Ears included an integrated, woven cloth carrying strap that snaps to the side with magnets when not in use.
Despite its size and new form factor, the EPICBOOM is instantly recognizable as being part of the Ultimate Ears family. It’s covered in fabric mesh with prominent “+” and “-“ volume buttons on the front. In the case of my review unit, the fabric is black, while the buttons are lime green. The bottom quarter or so of the speaker is a ribbed, recycled plastic that adds to the speaker’s rugged look.
On the top are the power button, a button to engage Outdoor Boost mode and the “Magic” button that can be used to skip tracks or programmed to access streaming music service playlists (via a connected smartphone).
There are two departures from past BOOM series speakers. Pressing the volume up and down buttons simultaneously does not trigger an audio message with battery charge percentage; instead, it triggers LED battery indicator lights on the speaker. And the sealed charge door hides a USB-C charge port, which is a welcome change from the traditional Micro USB.
Battery life is rated at up to 17 hours, but that will vary depending on volume. Keep it under halfway and you’ll easily hit that number. I brought the speaker poolside for an hour or two a day during testing and charged it every other week. Crank the speaker up and you’ll have enough juice for a party or event, but will likely have to recharge afterward.
Does the EPICBOOM live up to its name in terms of audio performance? In a word: yes.
The speaker is equipped with a pair of 1.7-inch active transducers to cover mid and high frequencies. A sizeable, 4.6-inch, woofer delivers ample low end. Ultimate Ears doesn’t publish the output of the amplifier in watts, but does say the EPICBOOM hits a maximum sound level of 94 dBC, which can be bumped to 95dBC using the Outdoor Boost.
Audio is what you would expect from an Ultimate Ears speaker: energetic, with a nice bass thump, plenty of volume without distortion and a more spacious sound than many portable speakers are capable of producing. Better yet, that sound is automatically optimized based on speaker placement by an integrated adaptive EQ–a feature introduced with the HYPERBOOM.
For those times when you want to manually customize the sound, the BOOM mobile app has an equalizer along with four presets. If you happen to have a second compatible Ultimate Ears speaker, the EPICBOOM also supports the company’s PartyUp multi-speaker wireless feature.
EPICBOOM Key Specs:
- 360-degree sound with 2 x 1.7-inch active mid-high frequency transducers and 4.6-inch woofer
- Maximum sound level 95 dBC (in Outdoor mode)
- Adaptive EQ
- Outdoor Boost button, Magic button, LED battery indicator
- Customizable EQ (via BOOM app) including 4 presets
- Bluetooth A2DP with 180-foot range and support for two connected devices, NFC pairing
- Up to 17-hour battery life, recharges via USB-C (cable included)
- IP67 water resistance
- Supports PartyUp multi-speaker connectivity
- Integrated carrying strap
- 9.4 x 6.3 x 4.6-inches, weighs 69.8 ounces
- Available in Charcoal Black or Cotton White
- Plastic components contain minimum 59% recycled post-consumer plastic, fabric contains 100% recycled polyester
- 2-year limited hardware warranty
- MSRP $349.99
Rugged and Waterproof
Besides thumping bass and the prominent volume buttons, the EPICBOOM carries over another trait from most Ultimate Ears speakers. It is rugged (drop-tested to three feet) and virtually waterproof with an IP67 rating. This means the speaker can not only survive splashes and spills, it can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. In fact, the speaker floats if you accidentally drop in a pool or lake–and yes, I tested that.
Ultimate Ears EPICBOOM Recommendation
The new EPICBOOM fills another slot in the Ultimate Ears BOOM speaker lineup, offering a large and highly capable portable speaker that’s still rugged, waterproof and easy to carry around.
If you’re looking for a high performance Bluetooth speaker that can power your party with epic sound, then take the music outdoors, the EPICBOOM is at the top of the list of contenders.
Disclosure: Ultimate Ears provided an EPICBOOM for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.