What is the UE Blast?
The Blast is the smaller possibility in Ultimate Ears’ present line of sensible audio system, sitting beneath the corporate’s large Megablast sensible speaker.
From a distance, it appears to be like all however similar to the older UE Boom 2. Dig beneath the hood, nonetheless, and also you’ll discover quite a few bodacious upgrades – chief of which is the addition of Amazon Alexa help.
The sensible features, coupled with ear-splittingly loud volumes and marathon battery life, make the UE Blast probably the greatest Alexa-powered moveable audio system available on the market.
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UE Blast – Design
From afar, the UE Blast appears to be like nearly indistinguishable from its predecessor, the UE Boom 2. It’s a vertical-standing cylinder, with a wraparound speaker grille that’s damaged up by a rubber strip that runs up the unit’s lengthy aspect and prime and backside faces. Up prime sits the facility and Bluetooth pairing button, whereas down low is a port that grants entry to its Micro USB charger. The Blast may even work with UE’s Power Up stand charger, however that may set you again an extra £35.
On the entrance of the speaker you’ll discover clearly marked bodily quantity controls. Plus, this unit shares the identical IP67 waterproof and dust-proof certification of the Boom 2, which means it’ll survive being submerged in liquids of depths as much as 1m for as much as 30 minutes.
Following an encounter with my neighbour’s labradoodle, which by chance mistook the Blast for a chew toy, I can affirm that this speaker is fairly darned rugged. Despite Princess’ finest efforts, the Blast continued taking part in Meatloaf all through the ordeal, surviving the assault scratch- and mark-free.
Any bodily variations between the Blast and Boom 2 solely turn into obvious on inserting the 2 audio system aspect by aspect – as soon as I’d given the Blast an intensive wash, clearly. The Blast is roughly a centimetre or two taller than its sibling, measuring 188mm. It additionally has Ultimate Ears branding etched into the underside of its entrance band.
There are extra vital variations beneath the hood, with UE having tweaked the speaker design and added two omnidirectional microphones to accommodate its new Alexa help.
Alexa help features because it did on UE’s bigger Megablast speaker. Setting it up requires you to obtain the Ultimate Ears app (iOS and Android). From there you observe a collection of on-screen directions to pair the speaker to your Wi-Fi and Amazon account. After a minute or two of “setting issues up” and putting in software program updates, you’re good to go.
Alexa works just about the identical method as every other sensible speaker. Shout the voice-assistant’s identify with a command and he or she’ll soar into motion. These embody every thing from skipping or pausing music, to taking part in a particular style or band from Amazon Music. Note that the speaker comes with a three-month free subscription to Amazon Music, which is a should; Alexa nonetheless doesn’t play good with Google’s personal music service.
Commands work properly sufficient. In my house workplace, which is concerning the dimension of a double bed room, I by no means as soon as struggled to get her to listen to my instructions. Alexa nonetheless isn’t the neatest digital assistant round, battling complicated instructions and multi-layered questioning, however she’s greater than adequate for primary music taking part in.
If something, I used to be shocked by how properly she used my Amazon information to discern my tastes. On one event I flippantly advised her to “play one thing good”, solely to be met with a playlist dedicated to Rush and different traditional prog bands. The machines are studying.
As earlier than, my concern with Alexa stems from the marginally fiddly pairing system. To work, Alexa wants to connect with the web by way of Wi-Fi. This is okay, however it implies that everytime you attempt to ask her a query while streaming music by way of Bluetooth – which is what most individuals do – she’ll take over and change the Blast to Wi-Fi, killing off no matter you had been streaming.
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Personally, I’d like Amazon and speaker makers to supply a extra clever system that is aware of to return to the unique audio connection’s supply. However, provided that no speaker gives such performance, I can’t be too harsh on the Blast for it.
I’m somewhat extra irritated that one in all UE’s extra fascinating options has been reduce to make room for Alexa. Unlike UE’s non-smart audio system, the Blast doesn’t help “Party Up”. Party Up was a staple promoting level for UE’s merchandise; it allow you to pair a number of audio system by way of Bluetooth. I can’t see any true audiophile viewing audio system with this characteristic as a real multiroom resolution, however Party Up is nice for home events and frolics within the park, and its absence is somewhat disappointing.
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UE Blast – Sound high quality and battery life
If you’ve been skilled an UE product earlier than, you then’ll be properly conscious of the characteristic for which it’s most well-known: eardrum-splittingly loud, 360-degree audio. Every UE speaker I’ve examined because the authentic Boom has been louder than its dimensions initially counsel, which is a superb contemplating their give attention to celebration and outside environments. The Blast continues this pattern and is among the best-sounding, small-form-factor sensible audio system I’ve examined.
Although it might look near- similar to the Boom 2, the Blast has a barely tweaked inner speaker setup. Specifically, the Blast options two 35mm energetic drivers and two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators; the Boom 2 homes two 45mm energetic drivers and two 80mm x 45mm passive radiators.
Testing the 2 aspect by aspect, I couldn’t detect a lot of a distinction between the 2’s max volumes. However, that is primarily as a result of on reaching 70%, I used to be already properly into ‘annoying the neighbours’ territory.
Audio high quality does really feel somewhat extra refined right here than UE’s earlier choices. Highs and trebles aren’t as ably dealt with because the competing Bose SoundLink Revolve 360 speaker, however they’re a clear-cut above what you’ll discover on the Amazon Echo, or Google Home.
Listening to post-rock, the reverb-heavy guitars displayed a satisfying twinkle and had been splendidly indifferent from the rumbling base and mid-heavy drums. Jazz piano sounded suitably sparkly, and generally the Blast handled extra complicated preparations surprisingly properly.
The speaker additionally managed to stay distortion-free at volumes the Boom 2 started to indicate indicators of battle. Blasting out mid and excessive heavy punk music, the guitars and drums managed to retain their chew and dynamism with none signal of sibilance creeping in.
The low finish is somewhat fats and warbly on extra bass-heavy genres, however generally is OK and somewhat extra forceful than that of the Bose Revolve – which at occasions can sound somewhat lean.
All-in-all, the Blast’s sound high quality is a reduce above what you’ll expertise with the Amazon Echo, and greater than adequate for non-audiophiles searching for a Bluetooth sensible speaker for informal listening.
Battery can be strong. Though I by no means acquired the complete quoted 12 hours when taking part in the Blast at excessive volumes it constantly lasted a full working break day a single cost.
Why purchase the UE Blast?
If you’re available in the market for a rugged sensible speaker then the Blast is among the finest choices on the market proper now.
It gives considerably higher audio than Amazon’s Echo and even comes near matching the Bose SoundLink Revolve. Add to this its close-to-indestructible design and insane most quantity ranges, and the Blast simply earns its place as one in all 2018’s finest moveable audio system.
The draw back is that it solely helps Alexa, which is annoying for these embedded in Google or Apple’s ecosystems. For the latter, the Bose Revolve stays a greater possibility.
The UE Blast with Alexa is the probably the greatest moveable Bluetooth audio system with Alexa cash can purchase.