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I feel the new ultimate ears Blast and Megablast are two steps forward and one step back for UE. On one hand I think its awesome companies are starting to incorporate voice assistants into their products, but in the other hand both of these speakers are missing very basic functions that even their predecessors Boom and Megaboom had. And as a result these speakers are for a very specific type of consumer. So, are the blast and megablast right for you? Lets find out, don’t forget to like comment and subscribe and you can watch some of my other videos here after you’re doing watching this video.
Both of these speakers are very similar to one another and the main differences between them are size, battery life, and price. The smaller UE blast currently retails for $230 and the larger UE Megablast currently retails for $300. And they both come in the same color way options, blue, red, black or white. And they both come included with their own wall adapter and micro USB cables for charging. If you want to pick either of these speakers up I’ll have links in the description below and I’ll keep them updated so you can get the best deal possible.
First up lets go over build quality and design, theres no denying both of these speakers are very well built and super rugged. Their designs are very similar to JBL speakers. They both have fabric and soft touch rubber bodies that can take a beating. They both have very prominent volume up and volume down buttons on the front, a power button and bluetooth on the top, a D-ring on the bottom that you can also remove, and theres a rubber cover that keeps the micro USB port safe from water and dust. BUT the blast and megablast both have gotten rid of their AUX jacks which could be a deal breaker for some people. Both speakers are also IP 67 rated which means they are both water and dust proof. But unfortunately they do not float. And thats partly because they’r pretty freaking dense compared to other speakers. The UE blast weighs in at 652 grams and the UE Megablast weighs in at 1191 grams.
One of the biggest features of both of these speakers is Alexa integration. After you’ve connected either of these speakers to your home wifi and signed into your amazon account from the Ultimate ears App you’ll be able to tell Alexa to control your smart home, give Alexa commands, ask her questions, and you’ll also be able to control your music playback all by just speaking.
Basically either of these UE speakers will behave like an Amazon Echo Dot or standard Echo, but not an Amazon Echo plus which has a built in hub so your smart gadgets can talk to one another. And the microphone array on these speakers is pretty good, Alexa has no problem hearing me when I’m far away or even in the next room.
BUT, unlike the Amazon Echo Show I tested I few months ago which could still hear me when I called for Alexa even when I was playing music at full volume. The UE speakers will only hear the Alexa hot word when music is playing at a moderately low volume.
So this could be a problem if you’re playing music at max volume and you want to skip to the next track or pause your music, you cant tell alexa to do it cause she cant hear you so you’ll have to use your phone instead. And its also very important to keep in mind that these alexa voice controls for your music playback WILL ONLY WORK if you’re steaming music from Amazon Music, iHeart radio, or TuneIN. (but UE says theres more services to follow). But if you’re playing music directly from your phone or another source or streaming service (personally I prefer google play) then the Alexa voice controls will not work.
And oddly enough these speakers don’t have a multi purpose button to control your music playback or activate a different voice assistant. You cant manually play, pause, or skip a track. With the older mega boom if you tap or double tapped the top you could control your music. But thats not the case with these speakers, they want you to do it strictly with voice controls. And if the speaker themselves aren’t connected to wifi then the voice controls wont work period.
And not having a way to manually control your music playback directly from the speaker is a bigger deal than you might think. Personally I like to listen to music while I’m in the shower, so voice controls don’t really work and skipping or going back a track by pressing a touch screen with wet hands doesn't always work flawlessly. If there was a third button I could easily just skip a track by double pressing like I do with my Flip 4. If you have a few friends over and you’re playing music, your friend cant simply just pick up the speaker and pause or skip a track themselves if youre using an unsupported streaming service or if the speaker isn’t connected to wifi, they would have to tell you to do it directly from your phone. I just feel ultimate ears, a third party manufacturer is severely limiting themselves by relying so much on Amazon Alexa and as a result you the costumer aren’t getting the best product if you’re noting using the right streaming service or voice assistant under the ideal conditions. Cause again, In order for the Blast or Megablast to work to their fullest extent they need to be connected to wifi, and you have to use one of the supported streaming services.
But lets say all of the previously mentioned stuff isn’t a deal breaker for you, you probably want to know about their other tech specs and so on. First off bluetooth range on these speakers is pretty freaking impressive. I was able to get about a range of 120 feet with direct line of sight before the bluetooth started to stutter out. But unfortunately these speakers can not be connected to two devices at the same time. So you cant hot swap. So this means if you’re playing music off of your phone and you want to switch to your iPad, you need to go into your bluetooth settings and manually connect from the device you want to use and the speaker will disconnect from the previous device. Its not the most streamlined, but its ok cause the speakers can save up to 8 different devices.
regarding battery life, I feel its ok. Even with Alexa turned off I found myself charging these speakers more frequently than other speakers I’ve tested. UE advertises a battery life of 16 hours on the megabalst and I typically averaged about 10 hours of playback time with the volume set to moderately high and UE advertises a battery life of 12 hours on the blast and I typically averaged about 8 hours of playback time.
Both of these speakers are also 360 degree speakers and Ultimate ears did not lie when they said they have thundering bass. I’m assuming they have similar improved speaker set ups from their last gen counter parts, dual drivers and dual passive radiators. And for the most part the blast and megablast perform the same.
They both have a lot of bass but I feel the Miss are a little weak, the sound stage is pretty narrow and the highs tend to crash rather frequently. The blast at max volume likes to hover in the mid to high 70’s decibel range where as the Megablast at max volume likes to hover in the mid 80’s decibel range. What this really means is that when the blast is at max volume its like the Megablast is at 75% percent volume. The megablast obviously gets louder and theres more wall shaking bass in general. But overall sound quality doesn't improve.
But still since these speakers are very bass heavy I think they’re best for rap, hiphop, or EDM but not so much for everything else cause the mid are just so weak. Essentially if you decide to go with the Megablast over the blast you’re getting more bass in general and speaker that gets louder.
But another feature thats missing on both of these speakers which should be pretty standard is being able to chain them together. As of right now the UE blast and Megablast can not be paired together so you can’t play music simultaneously with them. I tried to pair them together through the app and I was even on the phone with tech support for over 2 hours trying to figure this out. UE also dosnt make any mention of being able to connect these speakers together in their marketing material. So, if you already have a boom 2 or megaboom and were planning on chaining the Blast or Megablast to them as of right now you cant. But Josh from tech support, Hi josh, did off handedly mention that maybe they were still waiting for an app to be released that would allow the blast and megablast to pair together. (but this under no circumstances means theres such app in the works) But still, paring speakers together is pretty standard and these speakers should be able to do so from day one.
So in conclusion, although these speakers are a great option for bass lovers I cant really recommend them. First off battery life isn’t that good for speakers of their size. But my biggest problem is their over reliance of Alexa. Like I said, unless they’re connected to wifi, and you’re using a supported streaming service they wont work to their fullest capacity. And not having a play pause button directly on these speakers is a major annoyance that you shouldn’t have to deal with when you’re paying upwards of $200. I think its great that manufactures are embracing voice assistants, but their products should be able to fully function as speakers first and voice assistants should be an add on that you choose to use, not be forced. Unless you’re heavily invested in the Amazon eco system I suggest you pass on these speakers. There are better options out there for much cheaper.