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There are a host of speakers competing in the portable, fit-in-a-backpack category. One of the better ones is the IP67-rated EarFun UBoom L. It’s the right size, its weatherproofed to the degree it can survive a dip in the pool, and it’s sonically competent despite the water- and dust-resistant materials used in its construction that make that dip survivable.
The UBoom L measures 3.07 x 8.26 x 2.83 inches (HxWxD), although it’s slightly shorter in the back compared to the front; i.e., the top of the unit slopes toward the back. It’s outfitted with two 55mm, full-range, front-facing drivers. These active drivers are powered by a Class D amp that delivers 14 watts per channel and are supplemented by with passive radiators on its right and left end caps.
The speaker is powered by a 2600mAh battery, with a promised listen time of 16 hours. It can be fully charged in about four hours.The entire deal is engineered to an IPX67 rating which means the UBoom L can withstand immersion in up to three meters of water for 30 minutes, and it won’t die from exposure to particulate matter like sand and dust.
Controls are on the back-sloping top: Power, Bluetooth, volume down, play, volume up, and sound mode (Indoor and Outdoor) respectively. The sound modes are different EQ settings designed for those environments.
Most buttons have alternative functions for playback and phone calls (Next, hang up, etc.) There’s also a pin-hole microphone for use during phone calls as well as Bluetooth, TWS (True Wireless Stereo), battery level, and power-status indicator lights..
On the back, under a captive, firmly ensconced, rubberized plug you’ll find a USB-C charging port, a 3.5mm auxiliary audio input, and a factor reset button, should the unit misbehave. Thanks to TWS (True Wireless Stereo) support, two UBoom L speakers can be paired up for left/right stereo performances.
The UBoom L delivers very good audio performance
Considering its not overly large dimensions and portability, the UBoom L pumps out clean, generally well-balanced sound. There’s a decent amount of bass, and a distinct hint of sub-bass. It won’t rattle the table–or your teeth–but you’ll know it’s there.
The top-end is also well represented. Any deficits reside in the mid-range, which isn’t as well-defined as it could be. Single-speaker stereo separation is decent–about as good as you’ll hear from any single-body stereo speaker.
EarFun did not send me a second UBoom L to test them as a pair, but TWS has improved the listening experience notably in every instance I’ve lived through to date, so I see no reason why a pair wouldn’t sound significantly better than a single unit.
I already mentioned the indoor and outdoor (LED on) sound modes. This seems to function like an old-school “loudness” control, accentuating both the lower and high frequencies. I liked the outdoor mode, as I have always liked the “loudness” setting for extended listening. I also perceived Outdoor as being slightly louder.
Weatherproofing requires materials that often are not sonically optimal. The UBoom L does better than most with them. EarFun says the speaker was “tuned” by Oluv Lubansky, a European chap I’m not at all familiar with.
I tested the UBoom L daily for more than two weeks at medium volume levels, and had yet to pass the halfway mark on the battery indicator when I stopped to write this review. I’m thinking that 16-hour listen time estimate is largely accurate. I can also attest that the unit floats, and that it didn’t die in my shower.
EarFun’s UBoom L is a great speaker for the price
The UBoom L is extremely competitive both sonically and feature-wise compared to like-sized, weatherproofed efforts from a number of companies. I’m confident you’ll enjoy your listening experience should you pick one up.
That said, sound is a matter of taste. It never hurts to kick tires before you buy.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.