The UE Hyperboom takes Ultimate Ears' penchant for making small Bluetooth speakers with high audio quality, and cranks it up to the next level. Its biggest speaker to date, it’s designed to pump out tunes whether you want to party inside or out, with an impressive array of features aimed at satisfying the most fastidious of audio aficionados.
But with a hefty price tag and a large footprint, is it worth splashing out on? Is it really one of the best Bluetooth speakers as well as being one of the biggest? Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know in our Ultimate Ears Hyperboom review.
UE Hyperboom review: Price
The UE Hyperboom costs £359/$399/AU$599, putting it pretty far up at the top end of the Bluetooth speakers market. That's the kind of money you pay for the Sonos Move, and it's similarly big and hefty.
UE Hyperboom review: Design, specs and battery life
There’s no getting around the fact that the Hyperboom is a chunky piece of kit. At 5.9kg, it pushes the limits of the term portable, although the large handle does at least make it easier to cart around.
That’s not to say that Hyberboom isn’t smart or stylish. It’s both solidly built and great to look at, with simple controls for connection, volume and track control up top, mesh fabric cover and a rubberised flap to hide and protect a USB port, 3.5mm and optical inputs and power input. The result is something that will fit neatly into any at-home audio setup neatly, belying its skills as an outdoor speaker. This doesn’t look or feel like an old-school rugged Bluetooth speaker and is all the better for it.
Ultimate Ears promises a hefty 24 hours of battery from a single charge, which takes 2.6 hours when using the bundled power adapter. We never ran out of juice over the space of a week of listening and spent time with it playing at various volumes, quietly for podcasts and folk music and turned to full blast when listening to classic Bowie.
There’s the option to connect two devices at once, using a pair of buttons (marked Bluetooth 1 and Bluetooth 2) on the top of the speaker. This means you can easily flip between devices, with a neat fade in/fade out when doing so preventing any silence between tracks. It can remember up to eight Bluetooth devices in total, making it a winner for parties where everyone wants to play DJ. Its IPX4 splashproof rating also means it can handle being outdoors, especially by the pool or on the beach.
UE Hyperboom review: Sound quality
Ultimate Ears says the Hyberboom serves up triple the loudness and six times the bass compared with its smaller Megaboom 3. And there’s no denying that it packs a serious punch. Dr Dre’s 2001 album sounded huge when we turned up the volume, and while the bass gave a reassuring thud, the wide soundstage meant it never overwhelmed the details in the mid and high end that make that record so mesmerising.
While bass obviously takes a major role in any party speaker, there’s enough breadth here for the Hyperboom to be able to handle all kinds of genres. Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew sounded dynamic and full of life, while quieter, more contemplative tracks by Sufjan Stevens highlighted how good the Hyperboom is at consistently rendering sound of all kinds.
The adaptive EQ setting is a clever addition and allows the Hyberboom to automatically assess the surrounding conditions, easing off the bass if the speaker is placed close to a wall. While some might find the bass heavy approach a bit much, the fact this is primarily a party speaker means that it makes sense to put it front and centre. There’s no nasty distortion when you really turn it up and there’s always a great clarity to proceedings, no matter what music you throw at it.
UE Hyperboom review: Other features
The Hyperboom works in conjunction with Ultimate Ears’ Boom app. While it’s not a must, it’s worth downloading if you want to have greater control over the speaker’s settings. It allows you to turn off the aforementioned adaptive EQ, with a further five EQ settings designed to help you tweak the sound according to your preference.
You can also use the app to switch the audio source seamlessly or, if you have a number of Ultimate Ears speakers, connect them all together to create a multiroom setup.
The app also works with Spotify for Android, Deezer Premium, Apple Music and Amazon Music, allowing you to pre-set playlists which can then be accessed via a long press of the play button on top of the speaker itself. This is handy if your smartphone or tablet aren’t close by, but it’s not a major feature we found ourselves returning to. After all, isn’t the joy of streaming the ability to be able to switch between songs and playlists with your device?
UE Hyperboom review: Verdict
The Ultimate Ears Hyberboom is undoubtedly an expensive proposition in a wireless speaker market flooded with alternatives. It feels particularly expensive given that Ultimate Ears is generally known for the value of its speakers. However, we also know from experience that UE speakers tend to get discounted a lot, so the ‘official’ price may not be so much of an impediment to its success as it looks at a glance.
Its closest rival in terms of size, price and quality is the Sonos Move, which for home listening is clearly both a better speaker and a slightly cheaper one. However, we can’t underestimate what Ultimate Ears has done here. The Hyperboom is far more capable of all-out sonic assault than the Move, and has those additional inputs to make it more versatile.
If you want party sound that’s massive without being truly obnoxiously bassy, the Hyperboom delivers much better than the Move. And while Sonos’ speaker is capable of far greater nuance than it, the Hyperboom’s bass-rich sound is still hugely enjoyable when you aren’t ‘rocking the spot’.
The EQ smarts it comes with are a clever extra, while the app’s customisable options also make it great for those who want to ensure that sound is rendered properly whether they’re having a massive party or listening at home alone.
Yes, it’s weighty, which makes it a lot harder to take on the road. But as a party speaker for the home, garden or putting in the boot and driving to the beach with, it’s a winner.
Although not directly comparable, as it's smaller, if you're looking for a more elegant and home-friendly speaker then Sonos' Five is hard to beat. It doesn't offer Bluetooth, though, so won't suit all.
If you're wondering how we test our speakers here at T3 – or indeed any gadgets, and believe us, we do cover an awful lot – then head over to our How We Test page for the full lowdown on our process and ethics.