Ultimate Ears HyperBoom Review: Boom Is an Understatement

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $399.99
A large portable speaker leaning against a tree.
Josh Hendrickson

A little Bluetooth speaker is a quick way to bring some music to the party, but they can be lacking volume and bass due to their size. Ultimate Ears’ $399.99 HyperBoom settles on the most obvious solution to that problem: Go big in every way possible. And boy, does it succeed.

Here's What We Like

  • Ear shatteringly loud
  • Sound isn't distorted at max volume
  • Multiple Bluetooth device connections

And What We Don't

  • Expensive
  • Heavy (but the strap helps)

If you like Bluetooth speakers, you’ve probably heard of Ultimate Ears, which has a whole device line like the MegaBoom and the WonderBoom. Those fit into the usual category of portable Bluetooth speakers you’d stick anywhere in the home or take with you to the park.

Even though the HyperBoom is “another portable Bluetooth speaker,” it’s a beast that belongs in its own category. Ultimate Ears refers to it as a “party speaker,” and that sounds about right. You won’t stick this in your bag and haul it to a hotel because it’s much too large for that. You’ll take this to a party, in your home or at a friend’s place.

A Massive Speaker with Massive Sound

A large portable speaker next to a smaller Xbox Series X
It’s a big boi Josh Hendrickson

Let’s get that size detail out of the way. The HyperBoom weighs 13 pounds—or a few pounds more than a gallon of paint. And at 14 inches tall by 7 inches wide, it’s larger than the similarly shaped Xbox Series X. You’ll feel how big the HyperBoom is every time you lug it around. Thankfully, Ultimate Ears includes a hefty rubber strap for just that purpose, and it does the job well.

But that ginormous size gave Ultimate Ears plenty of room to pack in large speakers and a large battery. Inside, you’ll find two 4.5-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters, and two 3.5 x 7.5-inch passive radiators in an arrangement that fires out audio in nearly every direction. If you think of it as a diamond formation, that puts the two 4.5-inch woofers on the “back side” of the diamond, which lets you put it in a corner to increase the bass. The sound reverberates off the walls, and everything will start shaking.

That’s because this speaker can get really loud. Although it’s not the most accurate method, I used a decibel meter on my phone to test the HyperBoom at full volume, and it measured at 90 decibels, about the same as a gas lawnmower. That’s within the range Ultimate Ears promises, and my ringing ears agree. Sure it’s no heavy metal concert, but when you’re in the same room as the speaker, it’s still body jumping heart-stopping volume, usually accompanied by someone yelling, “Holy crap, that’s loud!”

A topdown view of a speaker with volume controls.
The top plastic really shows smudges and dirt. Josh Hendrickson

But rather impressively, playing music at volume doesn’t ruin the sound. Sure, it sounds better at a reasonable level, but if you’re at a party and you want to go all the way up, everyone will still enjoy it—except maybe your neighbors. But go ahead and blast away without fear that your favorite song will sound worse for it. Whatever tuning Ultimate Ears did to make this sound good even at its loudest, it worked.

It’s not perfect, of course. At the end of the day, this is a single speaker, and despite Ultimate Ears’ attempt to give it a stereo sound, it just can’t overcome physics. You can buy a second speaker and pair it up, but that seems like overkill. And naturally, a true surround system will sound better, but that will cost even more and you can’t take it everywhere. For a portable speaker, it sounds great.

The other benefit to the ginormous case is an equally large battery. Ultimate Ears promises 24 hours of playback at about half volume, and that tracks. Granted, I haven’t made the thing play music non-stop for 24 hours; I have a family that I want to love me after all. But we all use it, and even in our inconsistent hour or two here and there, it lasts so long that it feels like a surprise when it finally dies. Then you’ll have to hunt for the charger because annoyingly it’s a barrel-jack affair instead of something like USB-C or more universal. But that barrel jack is one of many ports and tricks you’ll find in the Hypberboom.

Connect All the Things and Take it Outside

A closeup of a large speaker showing several ports.
Josh Hendrickson

Just below the rugged rubber strap, you’ll find another sliver of rubber running along one edge of the Hyberboom. Lift that, and you’ll find a bevy of ports, including the barrel jack charging port, an auxiliary port, an optical port, and a USB port that can charge a device like your phone. That means you can connect multiple devices simultaneously or even use this in a surround system setup if you really want.

But while it could do those things, that’s not the real “party trick” to this party speaker. Look at the top, and you’ll find the usual volume (the giant plus and minus) and power buttons. But you’ll also find buttons for optical, auxiliary, and TWO Bluetooth connections. That’s to avoid the worst part of sharing a Bluetooth speaker at a party or social gathering.

Typically with speakers like this, if someone else wants to play music, you have to go through an awkward process of disconnecting the previous device, connecting the new device, and starting the music. Not so with the Hyperboom; you can pair two Bluetooth devices simultaneously. When you’re ready to switch connections, just hit the appropriate button. You can switch connections (including the wired options) mid-song, and it will gracefully fade from one source to the other.

And if you download the Ultimate Ears Boom app (for Android and iOS) you can set up one-touch playlists. The app lets you choose up to four playlists from various streaming services, and then you can start them either from the app or by pressing the playlist button on the speaker.

It works with Deezer Premium, Amazon Music (with a subscription), Apple Music, and Spotify (Android only). And in the app, you can enable PartyUp mode to connect multiple speakers from Ultimate Ears together. You can also turn on an adaptive EQ function that tunes the sound to your surroundings. When you place a speaker in a corner, the close proximity to wall, they will amplify bass too much and hurt the sound profile. With Adaptive EQ on, the speaker uses a microphone to “hear” the issue and tone down the bass. On the other hand, put the speaker in the middle of the room and the speaker turns up the bass to better fill the space. I thought Adaptive EQ would be a gimmick, but I could hear the improvement in those two scenarios when I turned the feature on and off.

As for that rubber sliver covering the ports, that gives the Hyperboom some protection from the elements. With the rubber gasket closed, the speaker nets an IPX4 rating for splash resistance. You wouldn’t want to drop the HyperBoom in the pool, but don’t worry too much if you get some rain on it. You can take it outside with confidence that you won’t immediately ruin your expensive speaker.

Expensive But a Good Buy

A large speaker with all ports sealed away.
Josh Hendrickson

But here, we have to address the elephant in the room. The HyperBoom costs $399.99. Or, you know, more than the entry-level iPad. Let’s be frank, that’s pretty expensive for a Bluetooth speaker. And that fact that it’s JUST Bluetooth with no Wi-Fi option adds to the pain of that price.

But is it worth it? It might be a stretch if you don’t listen to music much or don’t host parties. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we haven’t had any family parties at home in a very long time. It still came in handy when my family rebuilt our deck and did other work on the home. You can think of it as the Boombox of old for those purposes. I was honestly surprised by how often I encountered my family using it.

I wish it had a better IPX rating and Wi-fi like the similar priced Sonos Move, but that device doesn’t have hardware connections or the ability to switch between multiple Bluetooth devices gracefully. When it comes down to it, save the 7.1 surround system that I can’t take out of my living room, no other speaker in my home comes close to sounding this good. And that means my whole family enjoys the HyperBoom. It’s a dance party everywhere in the home. And during a global pandemic, sometimes a $400 giant speaker-powered dance party is just what the doctor called for.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $399.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Ear shatteringly loud
  • Sound isn't distorted at max volume
  • Multiple Bluetooth device connections

And What We Don't

  • Expensive
  • Heavy (but the strap helps)

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support Review Geek.