We’re generally fans of small, outdoors-ready speakers and so were excited to see and hear the upgrade to the short, squat nearly pocket-sized original Ultimate Ears Wonderboom speaker, which was the best-sounding speaker for its tiny size, price, and super-indestructibility.
And the new Wonderboom 2 is absolutely an improvement over the original; as we’ll discuss below, it goes a bit louder and the bass end is a bit stronger.upgrade recommendation if you’re willing to carry a speaker that’s just a bit taller and sounds even better than either Wonderboom 1 or 2: the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. It goes louder, offers more convincing bass and instrument separation, and otherwise generally has the same features as both Wonderbooms.
Regardless, for those who really want a speaker that’s super-small and able to withstand a lot of abuse, especially outside, either the Wonderboom 1 or 2 would both be excellent choices. We’re here to help you decide if the upgraded version is worth it, or if you should just go with the older version and save a few bucks.
- Side-by-Side Comparison: The Original Ultimate Ears Wonderboom vs Wonderboom 2
- An Overview of Ultimate Ears' Update: How Much Better Is the Wonderboom 2?
- Which Wonderboom Is Right For You, and Getting the Best Prices
Update History of This Article
Side-by-Side Comparison: The Original Ultimate Ears Wonderboom vs Wonderboom 2
An Overview of Ultimate Ears’ Update: How Much Better Is the Wonderboom 2?
We’ll first hash out the feature differences and then discuss reactions to the improvement in sound (and yes, there has been some actual improvement).
The Upgraded Features of the Wonderboom 2 Compared to the Original
Ultimate Ears has made the following feature improvements to the Wonderboom 2 vs the Wonderboom 1:
- The headline improvement is an “outdoors mode”, activated by a button on the base. It boosts the midrange in particular and makes the sound seem about 10-25% louder, helping it to carry in particular in noisy, outdoorsy environments. So this is the perfect speaker to carry outside for a game of frisbee, a bonfire, the beach, etc.
- The hang loop is larger and a bit stretchier; we’d recommend also getting a carabiner if you don’t have one so that you can clip the speaker to a belt, pack, tree, picnic table, or anything else.
- The waterproof rating is upgraded from IPX7 to IP67. This means that both the Wonderboom 1 and 2 are completely waterproof and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes under a meter of water with no damage (do close the flap over the USB-charging port though). But the Wonderboom 2 is also dustproof (that’s what the 6 means) so you can expect it to be even better sealed off from the grimy outside world.
- If you buy two of either the Wonderboom 1 or Wonderboom 2, you can pair them at the same time for bigger sound. But only the Wonderboom 2 allows you to pair for actual stereo, with one speaker serving as the left channel and the other serving as the right channel.
- The Wonderboom 2 has an advertised battery life of 13 hours versus 10 hours for the Wonderboom. Reviewers across the board have found the speakers to nearly meet or sometimes exceed these ratings, depending on volume settings.
- The Wonderboom 2 charges slightly faster, at 2.6 hours to full charge.
Meanwhile, the following features remain the same in the Wonderboom 1 and 2:
- Both have smooth 360-degree performance and sound great from any side.
- Both are extremely well-built. Ultimate Ears claims that they’re drop-proof, and indeed both professional reviewers and customer reviews report a ton of dropping and even kicking of the speakers with no ill effects.
- Both have surprisingly good Bluetooth connectability through walls and over relatively larger distances (over 50 feet no problem). And they can be paired to two different devices at the same time to allow two sources to alternate in controlling the music. I use this feature for example to switch between using a laptop and a phone. Other, nicer folks may allow a friend to throw in music this way.
- The Wonderboom 1 and 2 have volume buttons and a track pause/play button on the unit.
- Both are very lightweight and nearly the same tiny size; they can easily be carried in one hand; the Wonderboom 2 is just 2 mm taller and 5 grams lighter.
- Both offer two-year warranties. (Better than the one year of many competitors.)
Neither the Wonderboom 1 or 2 offer voice assistant integration; if you want a great-sounding smart speaker you can compare to the Ultimate Ears Megablast (you’ll see that we’re not huge fans of smart speakers in general though).
They also don’t have speakerphones, which is a feature that’s falling off of most Bluetooth speakers. Just use your phone’s own speakerphone function instead.
They don’t have a line-in mini audio jack, which we think would be nice for backwards compatibility in some cases. But a lot of modern phones don’t have mini audio jacks anymore either, unfortunately.
Which Sounds Better, the Original Wonderboom or the Wonderboom 2?
Ultimate Ears has made some actual, solid improvements in the sound quality for the Wonderboom 2. The basic profile is the same and the differences are not extraordinary, but they are tangible.
As usual, we don’t just offer our two cents but also survey the opinions of a wide range of tech reviewers and speaker snobs. The geeks and audiophiles who listened to the original Wonderboom generally put it near the tops of their lists:
- There was punchy performance for such a small size.
- The bass is strong and quite well felt, especially when placed on a flat surface.
- The 360-degree delivery is particularly good; sounding even and giving a similarly pleasing version of the audio no matter which side of it is facing you.
- Some felt that the bass was overemphasized a bit, but not to the extent of some of the cheaper, sillier options on the market.
- There isn’t as wide and detailed instrument separation as you’d find with larger speakers.
- The Wonderboom 2 mainly improves its bass performance, sounding a bit more convincing and powerful at the low end.
- The outdoors mode really does help the sound carry outside by boosting the sound a bit, especially the vocals.
- The overall sound was “richer” and “cohesive” and there were not the complaints of the bass sounding overemphasized, in spite of the better power on the low end.
- It still doesn’t offer the strong separation of instruments that you can get with larger speakers, especially on the high end.
Speaker sound quality is almost always a tradeoff between size and sound quality; bigger speakers will sound better in general and usually be able to go louder. If you’re willing to carry something bigger, see our reviews of larger Bluetooth speakers.
Which Wonderboom Is Right For You, and Getting the Best Prices
The whole premise of this website is that we’re inveterate cheapskates, so we’re hardly out to recommend buying the latest thing.
If you already have the original, excellent model of the Wonderboom, we don’t think there’s enough of a difference that you’d want to upgrade to the Wonderboom 2. And if you’re looking better / louder sound, you can take a small step up in size to the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 (reviewed here), or a huge step up to the boombox-sized (ah, those were the days!) JBL Xtreme 2 (reviewed here).
If you’d prefer a loud little bassy beast that fits in the palm of your hand, though, the Wonderbooms are just right. The original Wonderboom was loud, well-built, and sounded great. The Wonderboom 2 has a bit more bass presence and the outdoor mode is a genuinely useful feature. You decide if it’s worth the extra layout.
The prices below are updated daily from Amazon, but they can vary a bit especially by color. Click through to these listings and check various colors (especially red!) as there can be some surprisingly good deals at times if you’re flexible on that.