Hands on: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 review

A tiny speaker with a big sound

What is a hands on review?
Image credit: TechRadar

Early Verdict

So far, the Wonderboom 2 has impressed with its powerful sound, upgraded battery life, and outdoor-listening-friendly features. We won't know for sure until we carry out our full review, but it could just take a coveted spot in our roundup of the best portable speakers.

For

  • Relatively cheap
  • Decent battery life
  • IP67 dustproof/waterproof rating
  • Powerful sound for its size

Against

  • Not suitable for bass heads
  • No 'smart' features

Ultimate Ears has a reputation for making high-quality portable speakers and selling them at a budget-friendly price. 

One of the company’s most popular speakers, the UE Wonderboom, was no exception – and now this pint-sized speaker has been given a sizable upgrade in the form of the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2. 

With better battery life, and new features designed to make outdoor listening a breeze, the second-generation portable speaker might just usurp its predecessor in our roundup of the best portable speakers.

Price and availability

The pint-sized portable speaker is available to buy in the US and UK for a recommended retail price of $99.99 / £89.99, the same as the original Wonderboom. In Australia, the Wonderboom 2 will be available from August for AU$129.95. It’s relatively cheap for a Bluetooth speaker, which usually cost between $70 and $150. 

In the UK, the Wonderboom 2 will be exclusive to Currys and the Ultimate Ears website until July 1, after which it will be available from other major retailers. 

You’ll still be able to get your hands on the original Wonderboom for some time too; a spokesperson for Ultimate Ears told us it will be phasing out the previous model gradually. 

While Ultimate Ears won’t be applying a discount on its official website, other retailers set their own prices, so you may be able to get a decent discount on the original UE Wonderboom in the coming weeks. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Design

Like the original Wonderboom, the Wonderboom 2 looks a bit like a stubby soda can, with a wraparound fabric mesh grille and rubber caps – we tested the black version of the portable speaker, but it comes in a number of colors including gray, red, blue, and pink. 

It’s incredibly small and light, making it ideal for taking your music on the go, but it feels robust enough to withstand a little rough handling.

On the front of the speaker you’ll find the oversized ‘+’ and ‘–’ volume controls that Ultimate Ears has become known for, while the top of the speaker sports a short fabric loop for mounting – although the loop is so short that you might struggle to hang it from your shower head. 

On the top of the Wonderboom 2, you’ll find buttons for pairing, playback, and power, while the bottom of the speaker sports a button for enabling ‘Outdoor Boost mode’ (more on that later). 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

With an IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating, the Wonderboom should work just as well at the beach as it does by the pool. 

To keep all the vital electronics inside safe from sand and unexpected splashes, the micro USB charging port is located behind a secure rubber door.

The Wonderboom 2 comes with a flat micro USB to USB charging cable, which feels sturdy enough to withstand being tossed into your bag when you pack up your picnic. 

Overall, the Wonderboom 2 has a really pleasing design, and the availability of lots of different color schemes means it should fit into any home should you want to use it indoors. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Features and performance

Thanks to its wraparound grille, the Wonderboom 2 boasts 360 degrees of sound, which means you get the same audio quality wherever you are in relation to the speaker. 

A number of speaker manufacturers advertise 360-degree sound, but many such models often sound best at a specific angle – the Wonderboom 2, on the other hand, sounds great from every angle. 

In the short time we spent listening to the speaker, we were impressed by its power; at full volume it can get surprisingly loud.

The soundstage generally feels quite well balanced, with a warm sound that favors the mid frequencies, while bass frequencies come across with a controlled yet powerful sound that doesn’t bleed into the higher frequencies.

It’s not the bassiest speaker on the market, so bass heads may want to look elsewhere; however, if you’re just looking for a speaker for casual listening, the UE Wonderboom 2 should be more than capable of soundtracking your party, picnic, or indoor listening session.

Listening to Rain by Billy Lemos feat. Kopano, the harmonized vocal melodies sounded resonant and clear, while the strummed electric guitar had a detailed and textured quality. 

Choker’s Diorama was similarly tuneful, with bass and percussion perfectly balanced for a pleasingly warm and open soundstage.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

The Wonderboom 2 sports a number of features that make it great for listening to music outdoors, including its all-new 'Outdoor Boost' mode. Ultimate Ears says this provides "louder, crisper audio with a built-in and pre-adjusted equalizer (EQ) that compliments any outdoor environment".

It works by effectively redirecting the power from the bass frequencies – which can be lost in outdoor environments – to the trebles and mids. This creates a more detailed sound, which we found to be a little harsh when listening indoors.

However, when listening outdoors, Outdoor Boost did bolster the volume of our music really effectively, and we can see it being a useful feature, particularly in windy conditions.

Another handy feature for outdoor listening is the ability to pair two Wonderboom 2 speakers wirelessly, which creates a true left and right stereo soundstage. We saw this feature in action during a short demonstration by Ultimate Ears, and it seemed to work well – we’ll be sure to test it more extensively in our full review. 

If you already have an older Ultimate Ears speaker at home, such as the UE Boom 3, you can also connect it to the Wonderboom 2; however, you’ll only be able to double up the sound with non-Wonderboom models, so you’ll get twice the volume rather than a stereo experience. 

Ultimate Ears says the pint-sized speaker boasts 13 hours of battery life – that's three hours longer than the original UE Wonderboom, and enough to provide the soundtrack to a day at the beach. 

As we’ve only spent a short time with the speaker we’re yet to fully test the battery life, but we’ll be sure to put the Wonderboom through its paces when we carry out our full review. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Early verdict

Overall, the Wonderboom 2 appears to be a reasonable upgrade from its predecessor, and at the same recommended retail price it could represent great value for money. 

In terms of audio quality, this miniature speaker packs a powerful punch, sporting a well-balanced, warm sound, with controlled bass frequencies that don’t overpower the mids and trebles. 

The claimed battery life has increased by 30%, while the Outdoor Boost mode and IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating means it could be the ideal companion for your next picnic, pool party, or a day at the beach. 

It may not come with modern conveniences like a built-in voice assistant, but its low price means we don't feel as though we're being missing out. 

Design-wise, a few minor upgrades mean the Wonderboom 2 looks a little sleeker than the original, while retaining that familiar Ultimate Ears branding. 

While we haven’t spent long enough with the Wonderboom 2 to say definitively whether it’s a worthy upgrade from the original UE Wonderboom, it’s certainly in the running for taking its predecessor's spot on our list of the best portable speakers. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.