When it comes to the best portable Bluetooth speakers there's certainly no lack of supply. The demand has changed somewhat, though, with more manufacturers producing larger portables that are as capable at home as they are outdoors, while ticking a whole lot of features boxes too.
The Ultimate Ears Epicboom is one such product: a mid-size speaker that, in some respects, is looking to rival the Sonos Move 2 and similar-sized portables. I've been using it as an easy-to-cart-about-the-house audio output for some weeks to get a taste of just how the Epicboom sounds.
However, Ultimate Ears has gone supersize before now with its more party-speaker-like Hyperboom, and while the Epicboom will be more practical for most people on account of its smaller scale, it's actually not that much cheaper. So is it 'epic' enough to warrant its asking price? Here's what I make of the latest Ultimate Ears speaker...
Epicboom: Price & Availability
The Epicboom is on sale now in either Charcoal Black or Cotton White (the latter is as photographed for this review) – and you'll see the best current prices in the shopping widget embedded above.
Epicboom review: Features & What's New?
- Dimensions: 162 x 119 x 241mm / Weight: 1.98kg
- Colours: Charcoal Black, Cotton White
- Connectivity: Bluetooth only
- Protection: IP67
So what exactly is new? Well, everything, really. That's because the Epicboom is a whole new entry for Ultimate Ears, sitting below the Hyperboom (largest), but above the Wonderboom 3, Boom 3, and Wonderboom 3 (smallest).
The Epicboom is a rounded shape, like a partially compressed cylinder, designed to produce 360-degree sound output so that, irrelevant of where it's placed, you'll get a full spectrum of sound. That's delivered through a duo of mid-high speakers and one 120mm woofer to cater for bass.
Connectivity is achieved via Bluetooth (using the A2DP codec) and that's your lot as connectivity goes. No Wi-Fi here. Pairing is easy, though, with NFC also available for super-fast phone connectivity.
The speaker is designed for use indoors or out, with IP67 protection meaning dust- and water-proofing. You could dunk this speaker underwater fully and it'll be of no bother (officially 1m down for 30mins).
Epicboom review: Performance
- Speakers: 2x mid-high; 1x 120mm woofer / Peak volume: 94dB
- Battery: 17-hours max, USB-C charging
Once nestled on a desk and connected to source, the Epicboom is ready to deliver its audio subject with aplomb. Needless to say, the speaker is loud and its 360-degree output is reasonably effective. There's even an 'Outdoor' mode to project sound that bit further (which you definitely don't want on when listening at home).
I can easily tell where the speaker placements are in the Epicboom, as its 360-degree output is never fully uniform. That does depend on the speaker's position – but face it too 'side-on' and you'll have a wholly different listening experience where the mid-high drivers take prominence. Front-on and it's actually a little muted; I find at a slight angle, say 30-degrees, is the sweet spot.
When it comes to sound quality it's generally good news: the Epicboom is loud and capable, able to push sound with dimensionality and ample separation. That said, for a speaker at this price point, it lacks some eloquence compared to the very best. You'll find more bass delivery and overall clarity from the Sonos Move 2, for example.
Battery life is strong, however, with easily two days of listening from this speaker before it redlines and needs to be plugged in. A concealed USB-C port at the rear takes care of this, so you can top up for future listening. There are no other inputs to worry about.
Epicboom review: Design & Usability
The Epicboom features a little carry handle that magnetically clips onto its body so it looks neat and tidy even if you're not holding the speaker or hanging it up from somewhere. I've tended to sit the speaker on a flat surface, though, and leave the carry handle in its place.
Up top there are a variety of buttons: on/off, Bluetooth pair, Outdoor mode, and play/pause. The giant plus and minus symbols on the front of the speaker are also buttons to, you guessed it, increase or decrease the volume – although you can also do that directly from source, which will often be easier.
There's also an Ultimate Ears app, which is handy to see the remaining battery level in percentage format, plus make adjustments to the sound profile. The equaliser can adjust between Bass Boost (use with caution), Game/Cinema, Deep Relaxation (rolls off the top-end), Podcast/Vocal (rolls off the bottom end). Or select Signature and adjust the five bands yourself.
The Epicboom's overall design is robust and tactile, the material mesh finish looks and feels quality, and the gentle coloured flecks in the base are sign of the use of recycled materials (there's a minimum of 59% post-consumer recycled plastic in the product).
UE Epicboom review: Verdict
The Ultimate Ears Epicboom is among the company's best Bluetooth speakers, no doubt, at a size that will make it practical for those who want both at-home and outdoors use – the waterproofing sees to the second point.
The Epicboom outputs 360-degree sound, has decent battery life, and EQ adjustability via the app. Its Bluetooth connectivity is straightforward and strong, but there's no high-res audio compatibility here and, while the trio of speakers on board is loud, the sound isn't quite as refined as some of its similar-size and similar-priced rivals.
If you want something more portable and more affordable then I swear by the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 – I've never found a better small-scale speaker and I take mine everywhere. It might be less 360-degree in output than the Epicboom, but I prefer the sound profile.
When it comes to more like-for-like comparisons, the most obvious Ultimate Ears competitor is Sonos: the Move and Move 2 products are portable alternatives that are somewhere between a little and a little bit more expensive. The sound profile is more eloquent to my ears, though, so money well spent.