Excellent pricing, Strong waterproof build, Good battery life, Full and smooth sound with volume compensation, Two sound profiles
Some male vocal muffle, Limited mid-bass extension, Limited codec support
The UBOOM is a versatile speaker suiting mixed-use cases, especially with its tough, waterproof build and excellent battery life.
Earfun is a new audio manufacturer from China with a focus on the ultra-budget market. Their team comprises of industrial and acoustic engineers in addition to music enthusiasts that enable them to bring some surprisingly refined products to life at reasonable prices affordable to all. The UBOOM is one of their lesser discussed models on the net, but to my ears strikes as one of their most impressive. Fundamentally, this speaker competes with market leaders such as the UE Boom but at a very palatable $60 USD asking price. And from first listen, that money gets you one hell of a Bluetooth speaker. You can read more about Earfun here and treat yourself to a UBOOM here.
I would like to thank Earfun very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the UBOOM for the purpose of review. I purchased the Oluv X Earfun Free with my own funds from their Indigogo campaign and was contacted by the company after releasing impressions online. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review, however, I did conduct a paid photoshoot for the company. Despite receiving the speaker itself free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
Tech Specs –
Bluetooth Version: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP)
Transducer: 2 x 45mm
Output Power: 2 x 12W
Signal-to-noise Ratio: >=80dB
Battery: 7.4V, 2200mAh
Input Power: 5V/2A
Play Time: Up to 16 hours (varies by volume level and audio content)
Charging Time: About 4 hours
Dimensions: 166.5x88x88(mm) / 6.5×3.5×3.5(inch)
Weight: 585g / 20.63oz
The Pitch –
The UBOOM features a sophisticated driver setup with two 12W 45mm full-range drivers paired with dual passive radiators and DSP to achieve full sound over a wide listening field. Passive radiators increase the effective volume of the enclosure and therefore, permits better low-frequency extension, but only with wide excursion drivers as they possess no voice coil of their own. As such, these speakers often sound anemic at low volumes.
Source: Earfun UBOOM Product Page
However, much like the more premium Envaya Mini, I hear some volume compensation on behalf of that sound processing chip too. This aids a warm, punchy sound throughout the volume range by increasing bass at lower volumes and tapering it off at higher volumes where this isn’t necessary and may cause further distortion. The speaker also features two eQ presets, a fuller setting for indoor listening and an outdoor setting for greater intelligibility and volume output sans distortion.
The Speaker is simple yet appealing with a tough fabric exterior and rubber end caps that absorb shock and prevent the speaker from vibrating on solid surfaces. A yellow tag adds some accent while aiding portable use by enabling attachment to a backpack when used outdoors. It can only be used upright but is stable and without rattles or wandering at high volumes due to its thick rubber base and pleasing density. The speaker feels very solid in the hand and well-constructed on a whole with no give or rough edges.
The top panel contains the power, pairing and music control buttons housed beneath a rubber fascia. They are embellished for tactility and provide good feedback. Meanwhile, aux and power input are located on the rear of the base with grommet sealed lid for ingress protection. The UBOOM charges over USB-C which is good to see on a budget speaker. This is a medium-sized speaker overall and reasonably heavy at 585g, so it isn’t pocketable but is certainly still very portable, its round form factor slotting comfortably into cup or bottle holders especially.
Pairing the speaker is very simple as there is a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button and once connected, it will auto-connect to previously paired devices. When paired, connection was stable with no dropouts and very decent range too. I was able to cross two rooms with double brick walls before audio became intermittent and with line of sight, the range will be substantially higher. The speaker supports BT5.0 and can be paired in stereo alongside a second UBOOM unit. Codec support is limited, however, with no higher bitrate codecs such as LDAC, Apt-X or AAC being supported. Arguably, there isn’t enough fidelity in a portable BT speaker to appreciate the difference, and I can agree with cost-saving here especially considering the asking price and that the rest of the wireless experience is sound.
Latency was quite low too, with noticeable but not obtrusive lip sync when watching videos. Meanwhile, ingress protection is rated at IPX7 meaning the speaker can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes, great for pool parties and the beach where these types of products excel. The speaker also floats and the fabric itself is tough and plasticky so it resists fraying and doesn’t pick up water meaning the speaker can easily be dried after use. Meanwhile, battery life is excellent rated at 16 hours. Of course, this depends on volume and content being played, at medium volumes, I saw a consistent 14.5 hrs of playback time which remains an excellent result. Besides the basic controls, a 6th button toggles between two sound profiles. The outdoor mode lowers bass quantity and rolls-off extension but increases clarity and maximum volume. I preferred to keep it off, however, I can see applications where this feature would be very welcome too.
Testing Methodology: Paired over BT (SBC) to Google Pixel 4.
I’ve found it good practice to include some disclaimers in my sound analysis and a reference for my comments. I find the gold standard for Bluetooth speakers to be the Denon Envaya mini which showcases strong end to end extension, respectable balance and even some stereo separation. That said, I do not expect chest-thumping sub-bass or pinpoint precise transients. These are portable speakers with small transducers, I believe a successful design may convince me that this is not the case. Some do, most do not.
With that said, the UBOOM is pretty darn convincing. This speaker offers a warm, laid-back top-end with smooth, intelligible vocals and impressive warmth and fullness down low. Bass extension is no surprise, there’s no sub-bass and just a little mid-bass thump, warmth and body being derived from the upper-bass. The midrange is well-present, lightly warmed and mostly clear. Highs take a backseat and carry little crispness or detail presence. It’s a punchy and full sound that’s easy to like at first impression as it really carries no critical flaws. Similarly, there’s nothing spectacular about it technically or tonally, simply a safe and palatable experience. At a low asking price and alongside a convincing set of features, I see nothing wrong with that.
I have never been enthusiastic about the low end on small-medium Bluetooth speaker that either lack fullness entirely or offer some thump but only at high volumes. Few buck that trend, the UBOOM is one of them. There isn’t any sub-bass and little mid-bass as aforementioned, but a punchy low-end nonetheless. Notes are full, inflated by virtue of a hump in the upper-bass. Timbre is off and it sounds tubby and bloated but also thick, warm and full, even at low volumes which already makes this speaker a winner in its size category.
Furthermore, there’s still some note separation and definition with enough punch to maintain rhythm and pace in addition to enough fullness to suit outdoor listening. The outdoor mode is basically a low-pass filter, cutting out the mid-bass entirely and serving mostly to clean up the midrange. This isn’t a HiFi low-end but a pleasant one for a small Bluetooth speaker, yet alone one so affordable.
I was relieved to hear that such fullness didn’t come at the cost of vocal intelligibility especially as buyers investing in portable speakers may also want to use them to stream videos. As there is a dip in the frequency response between bass and midrange, vocals are not overly warm and they have a pleasing sirrupy smoothness without any stridence or shoutiness. There’s a hint of muffle creeping into male vocals and they can be a touch laid-back at times. However, for the most part, vocals are defined and separated from the low-end.
Female vocals are well-represented, smooth, euphonic and lightly warm yet balanced with the bass in presence and possessing good clarity. This is improved with the outdoor mode that enhances the upper-midrange, aiding clarity and vocal extension in addition to filtering out some warmth from the bass which contributes to a more transparent image. As such, the eQ system serves to increase the versatility of its sound. There’s greater fullness when off, suiting music, while turning the mode on cleans up the male vocal muffle, well-suiting videos and other media.
The top-end is smooth and unoffensive, providing a bit of presence in the lower-treble but without much crispness or note attack yet alone extension higher up. Of course, you would be hard-pressed to find a portable Bluetooth speaker with a real treble response, the 1st gen UE Boom has basically no treble just to name an example and the Envaya Mini is the only one I would call even mediocre. But critical listening has never been the intention of these products so instead what the UBOOM provides is smooth, laid-back highs with just enough presence to create some openness and to remind the listener that the instruments are there in the music.
Percussion is blunted but there also isn’t a hint of fatigue or sharpness. This is a palatable result and fairly common for consumer gear; I find it aligns well with the ethos of the product, giving the bass and midrange more room to breathe whilst avoiding stridence at high volume listening. Additionally, though the UBOOM is technically a stereo speaker, due to its design there isn’t real stereo separation, rather favouring a wider listening field. I also hear some sort of cross feed effect which contributes to this impression, so while there is some directionality, it’s clear this isn’t the purpose of this speaker.
Blitzwolf BW-AS1 ($59): Now the same price as the UBOOM, the AS1 brings a more conventional stereo form factor with similar driver setup and a more premium aluminium build. In so doing, it has no water resistance, less output power (20W vs 24W), an older BT standard and a lower battery life rating. The AS1 has better bass extension with better balance between the mid and upper-bass but also less bass overall, meaning it sounds deeper but also leaner. The UBOOM will probably please more listeners with its fuller and warmer sound here. This works to the AS1’s advantage in the midrange, however, which is more defined and balanced with no muffle. On the contrary, the AS1 is rather thin in the midrange so though clear some may prefer the UBOOM’s smoother, warmer sound even at the cost of occasional male vocal muffle.
Highs are a touch crisper on the AS1, there’s more note attack and a bit more separation and detail retrieval. The AS1 also has better directionality and stereo separation though off-axis it drops off in volume where the UBOOM projects over a larger field. Both have very high maximum volume, the UBOOM especially so with outdoor mode. I think this will come down to user preference. The UBOOM is a warmer, smoother and more musical sounding speaker, the AS1 is cleaner and clearer. The UBOOM has the benefit of two sound profiles which to me, makes it more sonically versatile.
Denon Envaya Mini ($99): At a modest price premium, the Envaya Mini brings a more premium sound and build and similar feature set. In addition, it is more compact and supports Apt-X but also has substantially shorter battery life, around 5 hours, and lower max volume by a fair degree. However, within its volume range which I’ve found sufficient for smaller outdoor get-togethers, the Envaya sounds noticeably better, more balanced, more controlled, more extended on both ends. It has a real mid-bass response, delivering more extension and definition in addition to less of a humped presentation in the upper-bass while retaining enough presence to uphold fullness and warmth.
As it is more linear, its midrange is clearer and cleaner with less muffle and more separation and vocal intelligibility. The female vocal presentation is actually a bit better on the UBOOM, being a bit over-smooth on the Envaya. However, the Denon is more balanced between male and female vocals in terms of presence. The Envaya Mini also has a more substantial treble. It’s crisp with a lot more detail. The Envaya also has a soundstage with directionality and some form of imaging, very impressive stuff for a portable speaker. If you can find one, hold onto it as this market isn’t really innovating at the moment. Still, it’s good to see some great value products come out such as the UBOOM.
The portable Bluetooth speaker market has come far from the first generation and we’re now reliably seeing some bass reproduction and more recently, the ability to work that into a more coherent whole. The UBOOM is a strong option, not just in its price class but amongst smaller speakers in general. It keeps up well with consumer options costing multiples more such as the UE Boom and provides a warm, full sound that is easily likeable and appealing. In a nutshell, the UBOOM doesn’t do things competitors can’t, but nails the same fundamentals with similar refinement at a lower asking price. The entire experience feels polished and quality while the RRP is kept affordable for the consumer. The two sound profiles serve as a great addition for those with mixed-use cases, making the speaker very versatile, especially alongside its tough, waterproof build and excellent battery life. If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker, the UBOOM will leave the majority of buyers wanting little more. If you’re looking for a bit more balance without sacrificing fullness, expect to pay quite a bit more.
The Earfun UBOOM is available from on Amazon (International) for $49 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.
Track List –
Bazzi – Soul Searching
Chance the Rapper – The big Day
City Girl – Neon Impasse
Eagles – Hell Freezes Over
Jackson Lundy – Calypso
Keshi – skeletons
NIKI – Zephyr
Post Malone – beerbongs & Bentleys