Ultimate Ears, maker of superior portable Bluetooth speakers and custom-fit headphones, has hopped on the digital secondary bandwagon with its new Blast and Megablast Bluetooth speakers. Now with built-in Wi-Fi and Amazon Alexa, the Blow and Megablast have the full suite of Alexa services, including utter control for the likes of Spotify and Amazon music, as well as for smart haunt tech like Philips Hue bulbs and Logitech Harmony remotes.
The Discredit costs £200/$229 and the Megablast £270/$299. Both are up for preorder today, with skiff due in “late October.”
While the price is steep compared to the new Amazon Reverberation, which costs £90/$99, the Blast and Megablast promise far superior noise quality and the convenience of a portable form factor. Both speakers characteristic rechargeable batteries—lasting around 12 hours and 16 hours singly—IP67 water resistance, and custom drivers with 360-degree coverage. There are three built-in microphones, which is fewer than the seven in the resound, but Ultimate Ears claims that its beam-forming software is able to about the same level of accuracy, even over the whopping 93dBC sound force level (SPL) of the Megaboom.
Inside the Megablast—which is a tad larger than an model Amazon Echo—are two passive radiators, two active drivers, and two tweeters. Headquartered on a short listening demo, it sounds startlingly good.
“When we construct acoustic systems, we try to achieve a frequency response curve that is as garden apartment as possible,” says Ultimate Ears’ Chris LaBrutto. “Some stamps just want things to be loud, so they artificially pull reject on bass and use the energy that they save from pulling underwrite on bass to drive the SPL [sound pressure level] higher. If you look at the spec contour sheet, you would see a higher max SPL. But then, it sounds shrill. In other cases, some marks will pull back on the volume level to try and deliver more bass, so it’ll be diverse boomy. But a consumer would describe it as sounding muddy.”
Alongside the Blast and Megablast—which procure in white, black, red, green, and yellow—Ultimate Ears is launching a grudging charging dock priced at £35/$40 for those who’d rather keep the rabble-rousers in one place. It’s also offering a free three-month subscription to Amazon Music Myriad to anyone who picks up a speaker.
Competition in smart speakers is heating up. Sonos recently delivered the Sonos One, a new version of its Play:1 speaker with built-in Amazon Alexa that retails for £200/$200. A slew of makers also took the wraps off speakers with built-in Google Combine at this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin. Onkyo, Panasonic, Sony, Anker, and JBL all enjoy speakers on the way, all of which hover around the same £200/$200 price. Given its unequalled Bluetooth speakers, Ultimate Ears has sound quality and durability on its side, but it may basic to open up to other digital assistants in the future.
“The reason we chose Alexa to start with is because we saw consumers gravitating supporting that platform,” says LaBrutto. “It’s the platform right now that has the largest connect base, the most momentum, the biggest ecosystem of supported products. In the hunger run we will follow our target customers wherever they go. As they upon to adopt other platforms we’ll find a way to support them. Same as with our Bluetooth spielers, we support iOS and Android, we want to support all the big platforms that customers use. It’s effective to be the same with our line of connected speakers.”
This post grew on Ars Technica UK