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UE Epicboom review: an epic price for an ordinary speaker

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Does a $350 wi-fi speaker have to do extra than simply… play music? That’s unquestionably the machine’s most important cause for being, however we’re within the closing weeks of 2023, and at this premium worth, shoppers have come to anticipate options like voice assistants, multi-room audio synchronization, and a large web of bonuses like AirPlay, Spotify Join integration, and extra. The brand new Final Ears Epicboom speaker doesn’t provide any of that, regardless of costing $349.99. What it offers as an alternative is a ruggedized (and waterproof) construct, highly effective 360-degree sound, and as much as 17 hours of battery life. And hey, the factor’s obtained a USB-C port, which one way or the other marks a primary for any UE speaker thus far. I stated it was 2023, proper? Simply checking. 

UE’s Epicboom could be very comparable in dimension and form to a Sonos Transfer 2, although it’s noticeably lighter at 4.36 kilos versus Sonos’ 6.6 kilos. Each audio system include twin tweeters and a single woofer, although Final Ears focuses on wider sound dispersion to create its signature 360-degree audio impact that prospects have come to anticipate from the Growth, Megaboom, and supersized Hyperboom. The speaker is coated in the identical material mesh as different UE merchandise, with a sturdy rubber base that affords some drop safety. There’s a carrying strap on the again that’s held in place with a magnet so it doesn’t flop round. 

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On the Epicboom’s entrance facet are UE’s telltale big quantity buttons, with different controls for energy, Bluetooth pairing, and play / pause positioned on the highest. There’s additionally an “out of doors mode” button that cranks the speaker’s loudness for those who’re utilizing it whereas tenting, tailgating, or in different wide-open areas. Whenever you maintain down the play button, it prompts UE’s “magic button” function, which might play a preset playlist out of your chosen music service. Round again is a USB-C port coated by a protecting flap that’s tight sufficient to forestall any water from getting by for those who toss the Epicboom in a pool; it does float, in any case. The USB-C port is strictly for charging and doesn’t assist line-in audio, nor does this $350 speaker embrace any sort of Wi-Fi connectivity for higher-fidelity music streaming. It helps fast tap-to-pair by way of NFC for you Android telephone homeowners at the very least.

Controls apart from the large quantity buttons are positioned up high.

When testing a speaker, I all the time inevitably land on a tune that sounds prefer it was completely combined for that {hardware}’s tuning and drivers. And there had been a handful of circumstances the place I most popular the Epicboom’s output in comparison with the costlier Sonos Transfer 2, however they had been few and much between. On the entire, Sonos’ speaker sounds extra detailed, distinct, and higher balanced than the Epicboom, which veered into boomy and ill-defined territory when listening to sure tracks on 1989 (Taylor’s Model). A number of the vocals on that reworked album really feel a bit phoned in (like on “Model”), however the combine is certainly superior to the unique — and the Epicboom fails to showcase that like an over-$300 speaker ought to. In case you’re a basshead to the extent that you simply wish to rattle your condominium, the Epicboom will possible disappoint when pushed to its most quantity, the place there’s noticeable compression and a few bass crackling. 

Sure, that’s (lastly) a USB-C port on an Final Ears speaker.

The rubberized base helps with drop safety.

Final Ears says that the speaker options adaptive EQ, that means it adjusts the sound profile primarily based in your surroundings. I didn’t actually discover any pronounced variations when shifting the Epicboom between rooms massive and small, although it did fare surprisingly properly as a toilet speaker. It had no hassle slicing by bathe noise and got here by with stunning readability regardless of the echoey acoustics. However $350 for a loo speaker is prone to be a stretch for lots of people. You possibly can modify the EQ to your personal liking with UE’s cell app, which can be used to stereo-pair two Epicbooms or hyperlink it with a military of different UE audio system in celebration mode. 

The Epicboom isn’t far off in dimension from a Sonos Transfer 2.

There’s nothing inherently improper with the UE Epicboom, save for its worth. Throughout the firm’s lineup, it slots into a wise place between the cylindrical Megaboom and big Epicboom celebration speaker. However there’s merely not a lot to this factor, and the omissions are costly. Right here’s what it doesn’t provide you with:

  • AirPlay 2
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Chromecast
  • Deeper multi-room audio assist
  • Google Assistant
  • Line-in (by way of 3.5mm or USB-C)
  • Speakerphone performance
  • Spotify Join

The adaptive EQ dealt with rest room acoustics fairly properly.

With an IP67 score, the Epicboom can face up to rain and dunks underwater.

If I went out and paid $350 for an Epicboom, I’d shortly really feel shortchanged by such a condensed function listing. It doesn’t must pack in all of these issues, but it surely might definitely profit from some of them. As is, the value simply doesn’t make sense for what you’re getting. Maybe if the audio high quality blew my thoughts, I might have a look at it in another way. However whereas this speaker recurrently sounds good, it’s not next-level good. It handily outperforms the Growth 3 and Megaboom, positive, and if for some cause, you’re bizarrely loyal to UE merchandise, possibly that — and the lengthy overdue USB-C port — shall be sufficient. However the Bluetooth speaker market retains evolving, and different producers will provide you with decidedly extra to your cash. The Epicboom delivers on the basic UE strengths like a “lifeproof” exterior. It’s reliable and sounds fairly good. However till a considerable worth reduce comes alongside, the worth of this product is something however epic.

Images by Chris Welch / The Verge

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