Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Review: A Perfectly Portable Speaker With Just Average Audio

Regardless of what size or type of Bluetooth speaker you're in the market for, chances are good that you've seen the venerable Ultimate Ears Boom series, which is available in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 is the latest version of the brand's most portable model, and while it doesn't add much, it keeps everything that made previous versions so popular.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

7/ 10

A portable speaker needs to go anywhere you do, and the ruggedly portable Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 is a great candidate for the job. With solid battery life, easy controls, and a water-resistant build that even floats, this speaker can follow you anywhere.

Pros

  • Surprisingly deep bass for the size
  • Fully waterproof and it even floats
  • Simple onboard controls
  • Can work in pairs for proper stereo
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Micro USB charging is dated
  • Can distort at high volumes

$70 at Amazon (Prime Deal)$100 at Ultimate Ears

Price and Availability

The Wonderboom 3 retails for $99, but even though it's the newest version of this model, you'll find it on sale occasionally.

I'm looking at the speaker in its Active Black color, but you'll also find Hyper Pink, Joyous Brights Grey, and Performance Blue color options. Two other colors, Digital Lavender and Spruce Green, are only available via the Ultimate Ears website.

Specifications

 

Brand

Ultimate Ears

Maximum output power

5W

Connectivity

Bluetooth

Weight

14.8oz

Dimensions

10.4 x 9.53 x 9.53cm

Battery

14 Hours

Codecs

SBC, AAC

Ports

Micro USB

Speakers

2x 40mm drivers, 2x passive radiators

Water and dust resistance

IP67

A Portable, Floatable Build

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Review: A Perfectly Portable Speaker With Just Average Audio

As many speakers in the Boom line have for years, the Wonderboom 3 has a plastic and fabric exterior, available in all the colors mentioned above. It's slim enough that it will fit in some cupholders, but thick enough that it won't fit in all of them.

The exterior of the Wonderboom 3 doesn't look especially rugged, but that doesn't mean it's not. As with previous models, the Wonderboom 3 features IP67-rated dust and water resistance. That doesn't mean that it's impervious to damage, but it will stand up to more than many speakers in its price range.

The most useful gimmick of the Wonderboom 3 is the ability to float, which was a novelty of the previous model as well. This isn't a feature you'd often actually need or even want to use, but it will make you feel more comfortable with the speaker next to a pool or even a small pond.

Unlike many Bluetooth speakers, including other Ultimate Ears models, there is no app available for the Wonderboom 3. Here, the beauty lies in the simplicity of the controls, or at least it's supposed to. You get oversized plus and minus buttons on the front for volume, a multifunction button on top, a power button, and a button to enable the Outdoor sound mode.

Spacious Sound, But Somewhat Lacking

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Review: A Perfectly Portable Speaker With Just Average Audio

As you may have guessed from the shape, the Wonderboom 3 promises 360-degree sound, which is somewhat strange since it actually uses a pair of speakers. This adds a dimensionality to the sound, but not quite actual stereo. If you want real stereo, you'll need to pair two Wonderboom 3 speakers together.

Queens of the Stone Age's "Negative Space" sounded constricted compared to listening to it on larger speakers. The strange percussion sounds that lurk in the background throughout the song are audible, and even pushed slightly forward, but the song sounds underpowered, even if you crank up the volume.

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Listening to "Awash" by ill.Gates and Missing Lynx, the bass was more powerful than I'd expected for the size. The almost ripping Velcro sound that is part of the snare drum at the beginning of the song is effective on headphones and larger speaker systems, but you barely notice it on the Wonderboom 3. The synth chords sound relatively spacious, but you're not getting any hint stereo.

On many Bluetooth speakers, the Outdoor mode works almost like the Loudness button on older stereos, adding some light compression for an effective volume boost. The outdoor button on the Wonderboom 3 mainly seems to brighten up the treble slightly while cutting bass frequencies.

I have to wonder if this is because Ultimate Ears knows people are more likely to turn the speaker up when outdoors. Crank it up in normal mode, and it starts to audibly distort past roughly 75% volume. The Outdoor mode slightly alleviated this issue, but not as much as I would have liked.

Good Battery Life, Outdated Charging

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 Review: A Perfectly Portable Speaker With Just Average Audio

Ultimate Ears claims a maximum playback time of 14 hours for the Wonderboom 3. This didn't come as much of a surprise, as it's only one hour more than the battery life of the Wonderboom 2. Of course, you can expect this to vary based on the volume you listen at.

I tend to listen to music at a lower volume, especially when listening via a speaker instead of headphones. In my case, I'm fairly certain that I got more than the stated 14-hour playback time, if only by 30 minutes or so.

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When you unbox the Wonderboom 3, you'll find a charging cable. This is a good thing, as the Wonderboom 3 uses a micro USB charging port instead of the USB-C ports that the rest of the world has settled on as standard. This likely won't be a dealbreaker for anyone considering picking up this speaker, but I can't imagine many people will be thrilled about it either.

Should You Buy the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3?

There is a lot to like about the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3. Its rugged nature and ability to float mean you'll spend far less time worrying about it than some other more budget-priced speakers. This, combined with the general portability, make it a great option for a pick-up-and-go speaker.

I've heard multiple speakers in Ultimate Ears' Boom series over the years, and they never seem to sound as good to my ears as they do to others. This is also the case with the Wonderboom 3. I think it sounds fine, but not especially better than most of its competitors that I've heard, but this is simply my opinion, and yours may vary.

Don't get me wrong, the Wonderboom 3 is a solid speaker and a great option for plenty of people. Just don't be afraid to look at other options.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

7/ 10

A portable speaker needs to go anywhere you do, and the ruggedly portable Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 is a great candidate for the job. With solid battery life, easy controls, and a water-resistant build that even floats, this speaker can follow you anywhere.

$70 at Amazon (Prime Deal)$100 at Ultimate Ears

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Hi, I’m Mohamed. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I’ve been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food on the blog because I believe in a balanced diet.

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