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UE Megaboom review: Top indoor/outdoor portable Bluetooth speaker gets supersized

For those wondering whether the speaker supports AptX streaming from devices that support it, it does not. AptX is said to improve the sound quality of Bluetooth streaming, but I don't think it would have a noticeable impact on a speaker this small (yes, even though the Megaboom is larger than the original it's still a small speaker in the grander scheme of speakers).

You can pair two Megabooms. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

As you might expect, this new larger speaker offers more bass than the original Boom and plays louder, with good clarity and minimal distortion. It does have its limitations and when it's pushed very hard by certain tracks, you can hear it tone down certain frequencies, particularly in the low end, to prevent distortion.

Editor Ty Pendlebury and I had a listen to the Megaboom both as a single speaker and as a stereo pair in our audio room in New York City. Ty's used to listening to higher-end audio gear and was only mildly impressed, but for a portable Bluetooth speaker, the Megaboom performs quite well for what it is.

We pitted it against Bowers & Wilkins' first Bluetooth speaker, the T7, which actually costs more ($350). The Megaboom got the better of the T7 with bigger bass and smoother sound.

The gasket covering the audio input and micro USB port has been better integrated in to the unit. Sarah Tew/CNET

I also tried it against the Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III , another excellent $300 speaker. The Bose matched up well against the Megaboom; you could find yourself arguing over which is better, depending on the placement of the speaker and other factors (for indoor use, I give a slight nod to the Bose, though your opinion may vary depending on your music tastes).

Like the original Boom, I think the Megaboom and its "360-degree sound" is a really good portable indoor speaker, but where it really shines is outdoors. It just seems more optimized to play in open outdoor areas, where other speakers tend to be more directional. For the amount of sound it produces, you would mistake it for a much larger speaker, and it can cover a pretty wide area, which makes it ideal for pool and patio use.

Battery life is also quite good. The original Boom, which remains on sale, has excellent battery life and the Megaboom doesn't disappoint in that department, offering up to 20 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. It charges via Micro-USB and although you can use any charger, it charges quickest with the included AC adapter.

Conclusion

The UE Megaboom isn't as compact as its little brother, but it packs more punch, particularly in the bass department, and adds waterproofing, Bluetooth Smart, and slightly better battery life to its list of improvements. Most people will be very impressed with the sound it delivers both indoors and outdoors, and like the original Boom, it takes a spot among the best portable Bluetooth speakers. Even at its high price of $300, it's easily recommendable.

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