JBL Charge 3 vs Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3: Our Total Outdoor Speaker Battle

We’ve gone all out in our head-to-head comparison of the features and sound of the JBL Charge 3 and the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3.

These are very similarly sized waterproof portable Bluetooth speakers, they both go quite loud, and they are both consistently at the top of critics’ lists in terms of sound quality.

But as we’ll explain below, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 just barely comes out on top in terms of sound quality. In fact, it’s our overall favorite among the larger waterproof Bluetooth speakers. But the JBL Charge 3 does have a few very convenient features that could make it the better choice for some people — and price matters too.

We’ll start with a nifty little side-by-side table comparison, and then dive further into what we and others think of them.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on October 6, 2018.

Side-by-Side Comparison: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 vs JBL Charge 3

A Deeper Dive into the Contrasting Sound and Features

As with our usual meta-ways, we’ve combined our thoughts along with opinions from audiophiles and tech geeks from most major publications. These are both well-loved speakers but there are definite differences.

Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 Wins Out For its Clarity, Strong Bass, and 360-Degree Sound

Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers generally do well with the press, and this recent update of its Megaboom is no exception. Audio criticsgeeksand tech sites all came out hard in favor of the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 just after its release.

The Megaboom 3 impresses for delivering a lot of clarity and evenness in a relatively portable unit, and the bass is strong and impresses without overpowering. The high end is sweet and clear as well, even at top volumes. The speaker can fill a large room with sound and also animate an outdoor dance party — here it’s helped enormously by its ability to be placed in the middle of the action and sound great from any angle.

That’s because Ultimate Ears continues to refine the 360-degree signature it created for its Boom-series speakers, and this is further perfected in the Megaboom 3.

The JBL Charge 3 doesn’t impress quite as much, but still has been a strong contender in the ears of many critics. It doesn’t “sparkle” in the highs and the mids are “muted” or “muddled” to some. The bass is strong, but for some listeners a little over-emphasized or distorted. But it remains, a couple of years after its release, on quite a few lists of the top larger, rugged Bluetooth speakers.

Both Have the Essential Speaker Features; JBL Charge 3 Has a Few Extras We Like

Both of these speakers have everything we think that such party-on-the-go, rugged, outdoor speakers need.

  • If you buy two of either model, you can pair them at the same time with their dedicated Android or Apple apps to create a stereo pair. This is a greatly improved listening experience, and for outdoor parties it’s great to be able to pair multiple units for more volume. (Obviously there’s an incentive here to convince your party friends to buy the same model of speaker.)
  • Both have 20-hour advertised battery life, and while real-world results vary, both are consistently reported to last for quite a long time — longer than you’d ever really need in practical terms.
  • Both have volume and play/pause buttons on the speakers themselves.
  • Both are svelte cylinders of just about the same size, and available in multiple colors. The Megaboom is just slightly larger and a bit lighter, and has a more shimmery coat than the Charge 3.

The JBL Charge 3 has a couple of features that we really like and that the Megaboom 3 lacks:

  • First and foremost, in a pinch you can use the JBL Charge 3’s battery to charge your phone or other USB device should you be running out of juice on that. After all, your smartphone’s battery limitations are much more likely to put an end to the fun than the speaker’s battery.
  • The Charge 3 has a speakerphone function that works great, although you’re much more likely to just use your smartphone’s speakerphone.
  • It can play music from older devices via 3.5 mm cable input.

And here are the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 features that the JBL model lacks:

  • A fabric loop on the top is useful for hanging the speaker, for example with a standard carabiner.
  • In addition to waterproofing, the Megaboom 3 is fully dustproof (this is known as the IP67 rating). This is a binding guarantee from Ultimate Ears that dirt won’t get inside the unit according to specific ingress standards.
  • The Megaboom 3 can be turned on and off via its app.

Overall these feature differences will be of minor concern for most users in most situations.

Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 vs. JBL Charge 3 Wrap-Up: What’s Best for You? What Are the Best Prices?

We think both units are great, and that the Megaboom 3 is slightly better if you can afford it.

Current pricing is shown in the boxes below and updated daily. But whichever model you’re leaning towards, we strongly recommend that when you click through to Amazon you also check various colors’ pricing; Ultimate Ears speakers can often vary quite a bit in cost according to color. We always try to link to the cheapest color, but things change.

JBL Charge 3
An excellent sounding large waterproof speaker; can charge other devices
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
The best-sounding large waterproof speaker; wears a snazzy two-toned jacket