We've run a thorough investigation of the Ultimate Ears MegaBlast and compared this new smart speaker to the company's similar critical darling, the UE MegaBoom.

Both speakers are excellent portable outdoor options; frequently people want to know which has better bass, which is louder, which sounds better, and if the hefty price premium of the Alexa-powered MegaBlast is worth it.

We'll go into the details, but our overall view is that Ultimate Ears MegaBlast is a slightly better speaker, though really not worth the extra money. We'd recommend the UE Megaboom instead for most people. In our category of louder waterproof Bluetooth speakers, it's the best buy we've found.

Update History of This Article

This article was originally published on January 22, 2018.

Side-by-Side Comparison: Ultimate Ears MegaBlast vs MegaBoom

What Critics Say: The MegaBlast vs. the MegaBoom

As you might guess from the "Mega" in the names, these speakers are a bit heftier than the mid-sized top portable Bluetooth speakers that we recommend (the ones that you can just toss in a handbag or picnic basic without a thought to extra weight). But as usual with speakers, there is a tradeoff between size/weight and sound performance — these bigger speakers sound better.

They're also both designed to take quite a bit of road abuse. Both have IP waterproof ratings of 7, meaning that than can be submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes with no ill effects. The MegaBlast also has a fully dustproof rating, meaning that it is designed to withstand grime, though the fully waterproof MegaBoom is unlikely to let in much dirt either. Customers report that their MegaBooms and MegaBlasts have withstood lots of abuse in terms of drops and rough handling, typically being toppled from a table to a hard floor without issue.

The Marshall Kilburn is a bit bigger and not waterproof, but overall a better-sounding speaker than these UE offerings.

We bring this up first because this durability is their major advantage; we recommend other large Bluetooth speakers  that are slightly less durable, especially the Marshall Kilburn, if the issue is simply sound quality.

But in the ears of most critics, tech sites, and consumer testing organizations, the UE MegaBoom is a fantastic-sounding speaker — at or near the top of rankings for its size and price. As usual with Ultimate Ears, it delivers an even mix and offers gorgeous detail, warmth and solid, satisfying bass in a portable package. And it's not just durable enough to go anywhere, it's loud enough to be heard over crashing waves or a noisy, crowded patio party.

The critical reaction from similar audiophiles and techies to UE's newer smart speaker, the MegaBlast, is also highly positive. Those that have compared the two found the MegaBlast to sound just a bit better and — mainly — to go just a bit louder.

There is a minor complaint that the 360-degree performance isn't as smooth with the MegaBoom and MegaBlast as with say the Bose Soundlink Revolve and Revolve+ (which we compare here) — that is, the UE speakers sound a bit better from the front than from the sides.

The Megablast (and its smaller sibling, the Ultimate Ears Blast) easily stand out as the best-sounding of the smart speakers such as the Amazon Alexa Echo, Google Home, or the (still unreleased) Apple HomePod. The Blast and MegaBlast feature Amazon's Alexa which means that they are speakers you you can talk to and interrogate for information — as long as you're connected to WiFi. But the Blast and MegaBlast lag much more than Amazon's Alexa products, don't have a light to show that they're listening, and tend to be more fiddly and prone to failure.

If you really want to talk to a great-sounding speaker, we think you're generally better off getting an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini for their voice assistant functions, and connecting them to a MegaBoom and/or your home speaker system for actually listening to music.

A major downside of the MegaBlast is that if you buy two of them you cannot pair them together for stereo or for more oomph, as you can with two MegaBooms. At last check you can nearly buy two MegaBooms for the price of one MegaBlast, which we think is by far the better portable aural experience.

Boom vs. Blast Wrap-Up: Which UE Mega-Speaker Is Right For You?

We think that most people will be better served by buying the cheaper (and nearly as great-sounding) UE MegaBoom. It's widely recognized as one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers of its size and price that is also nearly indestructible. And if you've got more money to drop on your portable sound experience, consider buying two of them and using them as a stereo pair.

That said, the UE MegaBlast is a great speaker that sounds just a bit better and goes just a bit louder. And it's by far the best-sounding smart speaker currently on the market. We are a bit doubtful of the utility of smart speakers in general, and especially of one built for the great outdoors, but if you'd like to do lots of hands-free music changing or Alexa-enabled information requests in the yard (while still connected to Wifi), this would be the best option.