The original UE Wonderboom has been at the top of our Best Waterproof Speaker list since its debut and for good reason: It’s rugged, plays louder than its diminutive sound suggests, and could be paired to other UE Wonderboom speakers to amplify sound.
And although the UE Wonderboom 2 looks nearly identical to the original, Ultimate Ears packed in a slew of upgrades that make the Wonderboom 2 even better, like the increased battery life (up 30% compared to the original), better bass response, and the new Outdoor Boost feature that helps the speaker get even louder than before.
Combined, these seemingly minor upgrades not only keep the UE Wonderboom 2 on our list of the best waterproof speakers for another year, but they help to make it one of the best portable speakers you can buy period.
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 and, according to a company spokesperson, the original will be sold at a discount while it's in stock.
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If you put the original Wonderboom next to the Wonderboom 2, you’d be hard pressed to point out the newer one. The only visual cues are the Wonderboom’s new color combinations and new elastic strap - the speaker chassis, buttons, and microUSB charging port all remain unchanged.
On top of the speaker are buttons for power, pairing, and playback. On the front, you’ll find big buttons for volume control. On the bottom of the speaker, you’ll find the Outdoor Boost button, which dials up the volume even higher for noisy environments. All buttons are a membrane type for water resistance, which means they feel a bit squishy but aren’t difficult to operate.
Around the back you’ll find a plastic door that seals the speaker’s microUSB charging port. In 2019, you’d expect a speaker to come with USB-C to charge but alas, Ultimate Ears skipped it. It’s not a deal breaker but it’s a bit annoying that you can’t bring a single cable to charge all your devices.
Sonically, the UE Wonderboom 2 is fantastic for its size. The speaker plays much louder than you would expect, especially with the Outdoor Boost enabled. There’s a bit of distortion at max volume, but if you keep it below 80%, music sounds great.
But let's spend a minute talking about Outdoor Boost, as it's the key feature that separates the original from the Wonderboom 2.
While Outdoor Boost does increase overall volume, sound quality takes a noticeable dip when listening at lower volumes. With Outdoor Boost enabled at medium volume, cymbals sound splashy and mids are more emphasized - which is a good thing - and there’s slightly more bass than the original Wonderboom, which helps bring some warmth to the sound while not compromising on the highs. Mids are excellent with vocals sounding natural and detailed.
The other bit of good news is that, 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.
Last but not least, with an IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating, the Wonderboom should work just as well at the beach as it does by the pool.
It's not all good news, though. Soundstage was a weak point of the original Wonderboom and it still is with the second generation. However, Ultimate Ears added the ability to play in true stereo if you pair another Wonderboom 2 where as the first gen could only link up to boost volume.
As we mentioned earlier, the Wonderboom 2 has an IP67 rating, meaning it now brings with it dust resistance on top of last year’s IPX7 water resistance. You can also drop the speaker repeatedly from 5ft so it’s a speaker that can take a beating whether you’re hiking or at the pool.
Also improved on the Wonderboom 2 is the battery life - up to 13 hours compared to the previous model’s 10, according to Ultimate Ears - and we found that number to be fairly accurate. We managed to get 12 hours playing at medium to low volume but if you want to play with Outdoor Boost all the time expect to cut the 13 hours in half.
The UE Wonderboom 2 is a fantastic rugged and waterproof speaker you’ll actually want to take with. Its small size doesn’t mean small sound, however, as the speaker gets extremely loud and sounds great. While it can’t match the bass response of larger speakers like the UE Boom 3 or the Bose SoundLink Revolve, the improved bass adds warmth and intensity to music that the original was lacking.
All said, for $100 (£90 AU$130), the UE Wonderboom 2 is still one of the best waterproof speakers you can buy - and our recommended option for those looking to bring their speaker to the beach or pool.
- Looking for something else? Try our roundup of the best Bluetooth speakers in 2019