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Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
August 17 2022
95.3mm x 104mm
Blasting music through smartphone speakers to your entire gathering of friends really shouldn’t be acceptable these days. The quality is always abysmal, with the sound grating and heavily distorted. Luckily Bluetooth speakers are at a really mature point now, making it easy to play music for everyone with a decent speaker that fits inside a purse or backpack. The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is one such device, and it’s excellent for playing music at house parties or on deep wilderness camping trips. But does it have an Achilles’ heel?
What you need to know about the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3: $99 USD / $129 CAD / £89.99 / €99.99
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a big focus on being small and easy to use on the go. It has two active drivers and two passive radiators, which make it pretty good at delivering a full-range sound. It’s IP67 rated, meaning it’s dust resistant and water resistant enough to handle submersion in a meter of water, so it’s especially good for outside (it also includes an “Outdoors Boost” button, which changes the sound accordingly).
The speaker uses Bluetooth to receive audio, and there’s no option for a wired connection. It can be paired with a second WONDERBOOM 3 to deliver sound in stereo. There’s also support for Bluetooth multipoint, which works with up to two source devices at the same time. The controls are extensive, with physical buttons being available for every included feature, and the speaker charges using Micro-USB.
What’s good about the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3?
Overall the audio quality is fairly good. It’s plenty loud for its size, and the frequency response seems fairly even, with nothing being excessively exaggerated. Of course, it lacks the more powerful bass of larger speakers or a setup with a subwoofer. Additionally if you’re using the WONDERBOOM 3 in the great outdoors, you’ll want to enable the Outdoor Boost button found on the bottom of the speaker. This adjusts the sound slightly to better suit the outdoors, taking into account the lack of walls and corners for sound waves to bounce off of. It’s a pretty nifty feature.
If you’re using the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 in the outdoors you’ll also appreciate the IP67 rating, which indicates it’s waterproof for up to thirty minutes of submersion, and dust resistant. Ultimate Ears also claims the speaker can handle drops from up to five feet. We’re not keen to test that ourselves, but our general impression is that this is a fairly sturdy and well-built unit.
I really like the general design of the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3. The focus on physical buttons for controlling every single feature of the product is something that isn’t found on a lot of Bluetooth devices. This also means that it can be paired to almost any device that supports Bluetooth audio without having to worry about having an app to configure it, including laptops, game consoles, newer Bluetooth turntables, and Bluetooth-enabled media players.
It’s nice that the speaker attempts to deliver rudimentary stereo audio. Unlike some cheaper portable speaker options the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 has two drivers, allowing it to represent both channels of audio when listening to music without down-mixing the input to a monophonic track. However, it can only do so much with a closely spaced pair of drivers. Good stereo audio typically relies on space between the two speakers, so pairing a second WONDERBOOM 3 will definitely yield better results.
What’s not so good about the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3?
By far the most immediately apparent issue with the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is the older charging standard. For a product released in 2022, it seems quite egregious to not ship with USB-C. Not only does the micro-USB mean you’ll have to carry another charging cable, it also means that the speaker won’t charge as fast as USB-C devices with the newer Fast Charging standard. Considering especially that the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is targeted at portable users (hikers especially) the addition of an extra cable puts a bit of a damper on things. Backpackers who want for a speaker that uses the same charger as their phone and laptop if space will have to look elsewhere.
Beyond that, the issues are minimal—some may even be a positive to you. The WONDERBOOM 3 isn’t supported by the Ultimate Ears app, but this just means that it’s easy to set up for any Bluetooth devices, any configuration can be handled by the physical buttons on the speaker, no app required. It’s also not a large speaker, which means you may want to pick something more substantial if you’re looking for a speaker for your bookshelf. It’s great for throwing in a backpack or using when out and about, but I wouldn’t recommend treating this as your only home speaker.
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 specs
There’s a lot to keep in mind when looking at the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3, so for your convenience we’ve put together a full specifications sheet.
|Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3|
95.3mm x 95.3mm x 104mm
Wireless audio connection
No, takes 2.6 hours for full charge
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 review: Should you buy it?
As far as portable Bluetooth speakers goes the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is pretty solid. It has an enjoyable sound quality, it’s well priced, and it’s quite durable. By far the most glaring issue is the micro-USB charging connector, which making it less convenient compared to some of the other USB-C options on the market. Ultimate Ears clearly knows its customers however, as the Outdoor Boost mode, the IP67 rating, and the WONDERBOOM 3’s overall design generally make it a great option for anyone who wants a portable Bluetooth speaker for small gatherings, long hikes, and parties.
However, if you’re looking for a speaker that you plan to keep at home there are some better options! Additionally if you’re wanting other options for portable Bluetooth speakers you may want to consider the JBL Flip 6, a rugged and durable option that mercifully has a USB-C port. Another good option is the JBL Charge 5, which sounds pretty good and has the added benefit of being a portable battery bank for your other devices. The Bose SoundLink Flex is another option with a focus on portability, but with the addition of an onboard microphone (and again, USB-C).
Frequently asked questions about the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3
No, the stereo mode is only compatible with other WONDERBOOM 3 speakers.
Yep! The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is IP67 rated, meaning it’s dust and water resistant. We can’t recommend submerging it too deep, but it’ll stand up well on poolside or in the shower.