It's not cheap, nor is it light, but the Hyberboom packs some serious punch -- and it looks and sounds more like a real speaker.
Ultimate Ears Boom speakers come in a few different sizes, but none as big as the Hyberboom. A supersize wireless speaker that tips the scales at a hefty 13 pounds, the Hyperboom makes the Megaboom 3 look unquestionably puny. Available in black only at launch, the Hyperboom costs $399 (399 euros, AU$599). That's not cheap, but it sounds better than a lot of the jumbo portable speakers on the market right now. (There's no word yet on UK pricing or when it will be released in the UK, but it'll likely match the euro price.)
Ultimate Ears reps told me the Hyperboom was created after the company got feedback from its customers looking for a bigger speaker that could play loud enough and have deep enough bass to power a party. The speaker can do just that -- Ultimate Ears says it's three times as loud and has six-and-a-half times the bass of Megaboom 3 -- and has no trouble filling a fairly large room with sound.
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Yes, this speaker is "portable" -- battery life is rated 24 hours at moderate volume levels. But if you really crank the volume, that number will drop more like three hours. Enough to get you through a party? Maybe. But you can always plug it in (you have to charge it with its own AC power adapter) if you're near a power source. The battery is not replaceable but should last several years.
The speaker supports four input sources -- two Bluetooth wireless, one 3.5mm auxiliary and even an optical input if you want to connect a game console, TV or PC. With a press of a button you can switch between the sources and have two phones connected via Bluetooth at the same time so you can trade off playing music with a friend. There's also a USB-out port for charging devices. But to be clear, this is a Bluetooth-only speaker -- there's no Wi-Fi.
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UE added Alexa voice-assistant support to its smaller Blast and Megablast speaker, both of which are both Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled. This speaker has no wake-word voice control, however, for either Alexa or Google Assistant. I don't think that's a big deal, but some people might expect a $400 speaker to have voice control. Of course, you could attach an Echo Dot via the auxiliary port to gain Alexa support when you have the speaker at home.
The Hyperboom is splashproof with an IPX4 rating, and an integrated microphone automatically reads the environment and calibrates the sound to fill any space, indoors or outdoors. As I said, it's pretty hefty, so you probably don't want to carry it too far. But the retractable rubber handle seems sturdy and is securely fastened to the speaker. I lugged it around for several blocks during our video shoot.
As a single speaker, it sounds much better than any UE Boom or UE Blast speaker I've heard before. The bass goes deep and remains well-defined, even at higher volumes, and there's decent clarity (it doesn't distort at max volume). I compared it to a Sonos Move, a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth speaker that also costs $400 but is smaller. The Hyperboom did sound bigger, with better overall clarity and more powerful bass. It definitely has more kick to it.
This has bigger, more refined sound with more bass than the JBL Xtreme 2, a popular jumbo portable Bluetooth speaker that lists for $350 but is currently on sale for $250. And soundwise this measures up well to the JBL Boombox, which lists for $500. For outdoor use, I do prefer the style of the JBL Boombox, but the Hyperboom's simply black box design is able to blend in better with indoor decors.
While it has multiple drivers, the Hyperboom does have its sound limitations; it can't quite escape sounding like a single speaker. If you want to take it to the next level, you can pair two of these guys and get real stereo sound (they do sound quite good paired together but that will set you back $800). Or you can wirelessly connect it with any other Boom, Megaboom or Hyperboom speakers using the PartyUp feature in the companion app for iOS and Android to spread the sound across more space.
Ultimately, this is the portable speaker for someone who's tired of sacrificing sound quality for size. Yes, it's bigger, heavier and pricier than all those compact Bluetooth speakers out there. But it looks and sounds more like a "real" speaker in your home and is still portable when you want to take it on the go.
Here are the Hyperboom's key specs, according to Ultimate Ears: