Another entertaining, approachable outdoor speaker from Ultimate Ears, the Epicboom has plenty of charm and enjoyable sound to make outdoor parties and gatherings whizz by – a solid effort in pretty much all categories.
- Warm, yet punchy performance
- Strong Bluetooth connection
- Nice looks
- Solid battery life
- Not the sharpest performance
- Rivals offer more fidelity
Boom appCustomise audio profile and set up One-Touch playlists
WaterproofRated up to IP67 and can float in water
PartyUpPair with Boom 3, Megaboom 3, and Hyperboom speakers
Ultimate Ears is no stranger to the outdoor speaker, it’s got plenty of form from small efforts to big ones, and despite the name, the Epicboom falls somewhere in the middle.
Following in the footsteps of the Sonos Move, the Ultimate Ears Epicboom is the type of speaker that could be used in the garden or taken further afield to the park. It’s not as portable as the Wonderboom 3, but the tradeoff you get is a bigger sound and more features.
Is it a tradeoff worth making for the Ultimate Ears Epicboom? Let’s see if it lives up to its name.
- Distinctive looks
- Thoughtful design
- It floats in water!
The look of the Ultimate Ears Epicboom gives the impression that it was, at the very least, inspired by the Sonos Move. Though it is about as tall as either Move speaker, and thicker too, it’s not as wide, so the Epicboom is relatively compact compared to its outdoor rival.
It’s also not as heavy either – just shy under 2kg to the Move’s 3kg – making it easier to transport though it’s not as if this speaker will be accompanying you on your travels wherever you go. It does come with a fabric carry strap that makes it easier to carry, and I like the magnetic attachment on the rear of the speaker to stop it from flailing about.
Much of the speaker is covered in a fabric (a choice of white or black). The speaker itself is rated to IP67, which makes it dust-resistant, resilient against dirt, and waterproof. Ultimate Ears claims you could put it in a body of water and it’ll float, and having tested that claim out, the Epicboom does indeed float rather than sink. If it is submerged it can survive for about 30 minutes. Personally, I wouldn’t try it, the speaker retains water and takes a while to dry out.
Should you drop the speaker, it can survive a fall of about a metre, with the bottom of the speaker made from a tougher material. It’s also decked with tiny little spots, as if someone has flicked paint at the bottom – a messily endearing touch. Integrated into the bottom is a USB-C charging port, and there is no cradle like the Move to place the speaker in. Battery levels are represented by three dots above the volume controls, hidden beneath the fabric covering.
On top are controls for power, Bluetooth pairing, playback, and Outdoor Mode (more on that later). Playback also doubles up as the Magic button to serve up music playlists (jump to Features for more on that). The presses are nice and firm, which is exactly what you’d want. The volume controls are on the front, writ large in the usual Ultimate Ears fashion to stand out. I like how the Epicboom looks – designed to stand out rather than fade into the background.
Ultimate Ears, like other audio brands, is taking a more sustainable approach with its products. 59% of the plastics used are derived from recycled plastic, the fabric coating is 100% made from recycled materials. The battery can also be dismounted and recycled but Ultimate Ears doesn’t have a replacement scheme – this is only an option for when the speaker is at the end of its life cycle.
- Long battery life
- Strong Bluetooth connection
- App support
First off, there’s no Wi-Fi support – strictly Bluetooth streaming only. I’m waiting for word on which Bluetooth codecs the Epicboom supports from Ultimate Ears, and once I do, I’ll update this review.
Whichever version of Bluetooth the Epicboom supports, the connection is a firm one. Walking from one end of my garden to another with music playing (well over 20 metres), the connection to the Epicboom didn’t break up once. Ultimate Ears claims it’s strong enough to survive a distance up to 55m.
Battery life is said to be up to 17 hours when played at 45% volume. Having played music at around 50% volume, the speaker dropped 10% in about two and a half hours, which suggests you could get more from this speaker than Ultimate Ears claims.
If you have other UE speakers, specifically the Hyperboom, Boom 3, and Megaboom 3, the Epicboom can pair with them to create a bigger sound through the PartyUp feature. And if you’re familiar with the Wonderboom series, you’ll recognise the Outdoor Boost mode that redirects some of the power from the low frequencies and channels them to the mid and high frequencies for a bigger boost.
There is an app, helpfully titled ‘Boom’ and within it there’s scope to power the speaker off, engage Outdoor Boost, modify the playing volume, and check the battery levels. Hold down the Magic button and that’ll take you straight to your favourite playlists set up in the app. Spotify and Amazon Music are supported on Android, while for iOS devices it’s Apple Music.
You’ve a choice of four presets to fill in, edit, re-order or delete; and it’s as easy as selecting one, playing music in Spotify and saving it in the app. It’s a convenient feature but I found it’s slightly confusing getting back to this area to customise it more. You don’t, for instance, press the One-Touch feature in the app (it’ll ask if you want to log out) but press on the playback section on the main screen. It’s the one aspect of this very simple app that was unclear to me.
There is also a selection of EQ presets to choose from that includes Bass Boost, Game/Cinema, Deep Relaxation, Signature, and Podcast/Vocal. They do what they say on the tin like the obvious Bass Boost, while Deep Relaxation is similar but softens the treble response. If you don’t like them, there’s the option of creating your own EQ preset.
- Warm, punchy audio
- Not the sharpest performance
- Can hit loud volume levels with ease
Tonally, there’s a warmth to the Epicboom’s performance that’s not overly rich but does not make for the sharpest or most defined audio performance either.
Nevertheless, I find myself liking the Epicboom’s delivery. There’s decent presence and weight to the bass in Mako and Pusha T’s Misfit Toys in both indoor settings and outside. Bass often takes a hit in outdoor settings because of the lack of reflective surfaces to reinforce it, but the Epicbooms’ low frequency is not lacking for punch.
High frequency notes aren’t crisp in tone but in Flying Lotus’ Parisian Goldfish there’s a clear timbre/tone to the notes that stands out from the lows and midrange. Even better is the speaker’s focus on vocals – they’re always at the forefront of any track, clearly intelligible in Fall Out Boy’s This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race, and even better at ladling Amber Simone’s soulful vocals with clarity in Life’s Pleasure.
And despite not being the sharpest-sounding effort by Bluetooth speaker terms, there’s satisfying levels of clarity and detail afforded to The Chemical Brothers’ Galvanize, as well as a decent level of dynamism in a broader sense and with vocals. It’s not the most sprightly in terms of traversing the difference between quiet and loud, but the Epicboom is able to communicate the energy of the track’s rhythm and electronic beats.
And while you’d look at the Epicboom and think, like I did, that it’s not going to spread its sound out wide, there is an aspect of stereo panning in Galvanise despite the UE speaker essentially being a mono speaker. The sound doesn’t come from one place in the speaker’s body, it’s actually coming from all parts of the upper body, giving songs plenty of space and avoiding sounding bunched up.
In fact, the Epicboom can push sound away from its body too. Supertramp’s The Logical Song has the sound of maracas (I think) firing away from the speaker’s sides and expanding the soundstage. Though Ultimate Ears claims a 360-degree performance, that isn’t quite the case. Sitting in front of the speaker offers the best sound, and though you get a similar performance from behind, it does feel more distant.
The speaker, unsurprisingly, has more presence and radiates more energy at higher volumes, and at top volume the Epicboom can get loud without invoking distortion. Activating Outdoor Boost can make bass sound harder and flatter with Starkey’s New Cities, but the frequencies from the midrange upwards do get a boost, projected away from the speaker to hear them better.
Perhaps most of all with the Ultimate Ears Epicboom, I just enjoy its balance. Neither rich nor clinical in its approach, the Signature EQ works well across a range of genres from rock to pop, to R&B and electronica. This is an outdoor speaker with an agreeable character, and I think you’ll like it too.
Should you buy it?
If you can’t find the funds for the Move 2
The jump up in price for the Move 2 has widened the gap, and with its fun, warm presentation, the Epicboom is a cheaper, worthy alternative
If you want a small speaker
While it’s more portable than the Move 2 or even the B&O Beolit 20, if you’re after something smaller then Ultimate Ears’ own Megaboom and Wonderboom speakers are available.
The Ultimate Ears Epicboom is a fine, enjoyable outdoor speaker for those after a bigger sound for their gardens or larger gatherings. While it doesn’t boast the feature set of the Sonos Move 2, it is considerably cheaper, and arguably more fun.
It’s well-designed, easy to use, and offers decent customisation for those who want to personalise the speaker. The Epicboom is the type of speaker that’s hard to complain about: it looks good, sounds good, but isn’t the best in class. It’s another entertaining and fun outdoor speaker from the reliable Ultimate Ears factory. Check out our Best Bluetooth Speaker guide for more options.
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We test every wireless speaker we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested with real world use
Battery drain carried out
While the internal battery can be dismounted and recycled, Ultimate Ears doesn’t have a scheme in place for the owner to be able to replace batteries by themselves. The only reason to take out the battery is once the product has reached its end of life.
Ultimate Ears Epicboom
119 x 162 x 241 MM
Two 45mm active mid-high frequency transducers, one 120mm woofer