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Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Smart, waterproof and stylish to boot

Christopher Minasians Matt Breen
6 Jul 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
270
inc VAT

The Megablast is waterproof, robust and sounds great; it's one of the most versatile smart speakers money can buy

Pros 
Waterproof
Beautiful design and build quality
Overall sound quality
Cons 
Expensive
Lacks Alexa calling abilities
No Spotify streaming over Wi-Fi
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Most smart speakers require a power lead and cannot be taken on-the-go, but the Ultimate Ears Megablast is different; it has a built-in battery and is waterproof, so you can play your favourite songs by the pool, ask Alexa the weather and even order goods with your voice.

Intrigued? Read on to see how the Megablast compares to the Amazon Echo 2 and the Sonos One.

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Ultimate Ears Megablast review: What you need to know

The Megablast isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. It’s the most versatile Bluetooth and Amazon Alexa-enabled Wi-Fi speaker on the market. There’s nothing quite like it. Its fun sound signature, attractive design, simple setup and robust build quality all play a role in the overall experience, too.

If you’ve got money to splurge and want a smart speaker that does it all, the Ultimate Ears Megablast offers a high-quality package.

Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Price and competition

The Megablast usually costs £270, compared to its smaller variant, the Ultimate Ears Blast, costs £200. The closest non-UE branded rival is the £200 Sonos One, an Amazon Alexa smart speaker that requires power from the mains and isn't waterproof.

The Amazon Echo 2nd generation set the gold standard in this particular sector and it costs just £90, but again, it's a mains-based speaker, as is its more capable sibling, the Echo Plus, which costs £140

Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Build quality and design

The Megablast is built like a tank, and with its stunning design, it looks beautiful. The speaker is available in five different colours: Blizzard (white), Lemonade (yellow), Graphite (black), Mojito (green), Blue Steel (blue) and Merlot (red), and it's covered with a textured mesh textile not only looks wonderful but also feels great under the finger.

The speaker weighs 1.2kg, is 237mm tall and has a diameter of 88mm. It’s not something that’ll fit in your jacket pocket but it can be carried from hotel room to pool party in a messenger bag without too much trouble.

The cylindrical speaker has a hard rubber coating wrapped around the top, bottom and along one of the sides, too, and this protects the speaker from drops. It also provides a means of interacting with the Alexa-enabled speaker.

At the top, there’s a rectangular-shaped illuminated power button, which blinks and dims when Alexa is summoned. A smaller, dot-shaped button is used to interact with Alexa or activate the Bluetooth connection, and when you press the button at the same time as the volume down button, it mutes the mic. Oversized volume up and down buttons are found along the side of the speaker but there’s no physical play/pause button on the speaker, which I find rather annoying.

At the bottom there’s a metal D-ring, which can be used to hang up the speaker; alternatively, you can remove it to reveal a tripod insert and a set of charging prongs, which allow the Megablast to be charged by setting it down on the optional Power Up charging dock (sold separately for £35). This is a handy accessory if you don’t want any trailing wires sticking out of the speaker. You can also charge the Megablast through the micro-USB port that’s concealed under a rubber flap next to the 1/4 tripod thread.

The key feature that stands out from other smart speakers, is the Megablast's waterproof and dustproof design. It's rated to IP67, which means the speaker can be fully submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes. I’m a big fan of the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom due to its multi-purpose design and I’m glad to see it return in the Megablast.

Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Connectivity, apps and Amazon Alexa

As for connectivity, the Megablast supports dual-band 802.11abgn Wi-Fi and up to eight different Bluetooth sources. If you want to use the speaker over Wi-Fi, you can stream music from Amazon Music Unlimited, iHeartRadio and Tune-In radio. Pandora and Deezer are to follow soon.

The one big omission here is Spotify. It doesn’t work over Wi-Fi (even through the Amazon Alexa app), and though you can use Bluetooth to fill the gap you need to make sure the connected device is within range for music to continue playing. Disappointingly, too, there's no support for Bluetooth aptX nor a 3.5mm headphone jack present. And, thanks to its integration with Amazon Alexa, the Megablast can’t be daisy-chained with other Ultimate Ears products through the PartyUp feature.

The Amazon Alexa integration on the Megablast, however, is second to none. It works flawlessly and due to far-field voice recognition, I found the speaker able to pick up my voice from across the room, even while music or radio is playing. As with most smart speakers, there is a limit to this and you'll either need to raise your voice or lower the volume to get the speaker to pick up voice commands when the music is playing loudly.

And the Megablast will do pretty much everything Amazon's Echo speakers will. It can tell you the weather, play your music or favourite radio stations, set timers and alarms and control your smart home devices and can be extended with the same range of third-party skills. The missing feature is Alexa Voice calling, so you won't be able to use the speaker to call others in your house.

As for battery life, the Megablast lasts between 10-16hrs depending on how loud you play your music.

Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Sound quality

The Megablast shares the same sound signature as other Ultimate Ears speakers. It has a warm tone, a punchy mid-bass and an energetic treble response. The bass doesn't extend quite as low as the Sonos One, but its strong mid-bass response ensures there is a degree of low-end punch.

I'd also like it to sound a little more forward in the mids, but by and large, this is an excellent-sounding speaker, and it reproduces plenty of detail at the top end, too, without ever sounding harsh or strident.

That's not all, though. Thanks to its "Mega" size, the speaker is able to deliver impressive instrument separation, a surprising soundstage and it maintains a good tonality throughout. Its cylindrical design also delivers audio in the full 360-degrees so no matter where you’re sitting in the room you can enjoy your music. 

In terms of its sonic capabilities, I’d pick the Megablast for its fun sound signature over the more accurate, mid-centric Sonos One. Both are leagues above the Amazon Echo 2 and the Echo Plus, though, when it comes to sound quality.

Ultimate Ears Megablast review: Verdict

At £270, the Megablast isn’t cheap, but it certainly is an impressive smart speaker, with its waterproofing and built-in battery. With its stylish design, robust build quality and bright colours, Ultimate Ears has created a great-looking speaker as well.

It’s not quite perfect, though, as Spotify streaming over Wi-Fi is missing but even with that taken into account, this is the best multi-purpose, waterproof smart speaker on the market. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun sounding Alexa-enabled speaker.

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