Logitech UE Boombox review

Pros

  • Quality sound at moderate volumes
  • Portable and rechargeable
  • Simple and sleek design

Cons

  • Overpriced
  • Distorts on bassy tracks at top volume
  • Bassy sound not for audiophiles

We've seen plenty of earphones from Logitech since the company bought Ultimate Ears a few years back, and now the UE brand is being expanded into a speaker line. The Logitech UE Boombox (£199 direct) has a sleek, minimal design, and streams wireless audio via Bluetooth.

It's also portable and packs quite a punch for its size, with a markedly boosted low-end response. At lower volumes, the bass-heaviness of the frequency response is quite noticeable, but at top volumes, it is the UE Boombox's undoing – and we'll discuss that shortly. First off, however, let's take a look at the unit's aesthetics.

Design

The UE Boombox design seems inspired by a silver bullet, with all matte metallic surfaces, rubberised sides, and smooth, rounded edges along its 386 x 79 x 165mm (WxDxH) body. The right hand panel houses a rubberised blue surface with large Plus and Minus icons for volume, while the left, which is also blue, houses the Bluetooth Pairing button, Power switch, battery indicator, and 3.5mm aux input.

Behind the speaker grille, two 0.5in tweeters, two 3in woofers, and four 2.6in passive radiators deliver the audio, with the radiators playing a key role in the significantly bass-heavy frequency response. A handle for easy carrying runs along the length of the 2kg system, and a rechargeable battery is housed in a compartment along the bottom panel. Logitech estimates battery life at roughly six hours per charge. The UE Boombox supports audio streaming from Bluetooth A2DP devices. The pairing process with an iPhone 4S was simple and quick, and re-pairing was just as easy.

Performance

Audiophiles expecting a balanced frequency response will probably want to look elsewhere – as mentioned above, the Logitech UE Boombox delivers a seriously bass-heavy experience (not surprisingly, given its name).

At moderate-to-loud volumes, the system sounds full and powerful – impressively so, given its fairly modest size. There's not a whole lot of sub-bass presence here, but the lows and low-mids are quite boosted. This focus on low-end unravels at top volumes – on tracks with extremely deep bass, like the Knife's "Silent Shout," the UE Boombox distorted pretty heavily.

Luckily, the extra bass generally sounds more powerful than muddy. The added low-end doesn't do wonders for tracks like John Adams "The Chairman Dances," which doesn't sound awful on the UE Boombox, but does have moments of slightly comical exaggerations of the deeper bass percussion.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," the low-end thump sounds intense without feeling over-the-top, though at maximum volumes the speakers do begin to sound a bit overwhelmed again. When the volume isn't maxed out, the UE Boombox does a nice job balancing the highs and mids with the low-end thump on tracks like "Default," the new single from Thom Yorke's side band, Atoms for Peace. Classical, jazz, and folk tracks tend to feel a bit too loaded in the lower frequencies, but pop, rock, and hip hop sound fine.

The UE Boombox sounds exciting at moderate volumes – like something you might want to crank up to power your next party. That makes its issues at higher volumes all the more frustrating. If you're looking for more oomph without distortion from a Bluetooth system, the JBL OnBeat Xtreme is a better bet, and a truly quality offering – but be warned, it will hit your wallet a fair bit harder, priced at around £350. If that just sounds too much, and portability is a big concern, then you should also consider the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker, which is a bit more compact and weighs in at the £250 mark.

Verdict

If you like your low-end, the £199 Logitech UE Boombox delivers a sculpted, bass-heavy response in a portable and aesthetically pleasing design. But this wireless speaker suffers from distortion at top volumes, and at this price, that shouldn't happen.

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