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Shopping for a speaker you can take to the garden, pool, beach or backyard picnic? Make sure it's both waterproof and dustproof, otherwise your outdoor fun may find itself without a soundtrack. (Sand and water tend to be deadly to electronics.)
EarFun's new UBoom L is rated IP67, meaning it can withstand pretty much everything your outing can throw at it. In fact, EarFun promises that it'll not only survive a dunk in the drink, but also bob back up to the surface.
I wanted proof, so I filled my sink and let gravity do its thing. Sure enough, the UBoom floated and kept right on playing (albeit mostly submerged, so the sound was a little, er, bubbly).
More good news: Though normally priced at $80, for a limited time the EarFun UBoom L drops to $60 when you clip the on-page 10%-off coupon and then apply promo code UBOOMLDS at checkout.
Although the 1.4-pound UBoom L looks like your average black speaker, it's notable for a few reasons. For starters, you can pair a second one for true stereo sound, a feature that really does make a difference: It not only doubles the overall loudness, but also produces the kind of stereo separation you simply can't get from a single speaker.
Second, the UBoom has been specially tuned for both indoor and outdoor use. Unfortunately, while the manual explains how to switch between the two modes (all it takes is a single button press), it doesn't explain the difference. Which is this: Indoor mode is designed to give you the best balance, while outdoor mode amps the bass and loudness.
I found that I preferred outdoor mode, even when I was indoors. Your mileage may vary; I recommend experimenting to see which you like better. There's no law dictating which mode you have to use where!
Like a lot of Bluetooth speakers, this one lags a bit (meaning the audio isn't in sync) when playing video. Fortunately, EarFun added a special mode just for this purpose: When enabled, it all but eliminates the lag. It also "shortens the connection distance" to your phone, though EarFun doesn't specify by how much. (This probably won't be a big deal, as you'd typically want to park your speaker pretty close to your screen.) And although you can't use video mode when a second speaker is paired, it's a great thing to have when you want to watch TikTok, a movie or the like without the need for headphones.
Courtesy of its two 55mm drivers and passive radiators, the UBoom L can crank out 28 watts of audio goodness — more than many speakers in this price range, less than some that cost more. (The Tribit StormBox Pro, for example, manages 40 watts, but it's $120.) This matters most outdoors, where open areas can swallow up your music. You won't be able to hear it well from across a field, but within, say, a 20-foot perimeter, it has sufficient juice.
I listened to all kinds of tunes, both indoors and outdoors, and came away mostly satisfied. As noted above, my ear prefers a bit more bass, so I mostly relied on outdoor mode. Only at maximum volume did the UBoom L reveal any distortion, and that happened only with certain tracks.
I also tried placing it alongside my $250 Amazon Echo Show 10, which features a reasonably robust speaker in its base. Although the UBoom couldn't quite match the overall presence of the Echo, it held its own. In fact, there were certain tracks I actually enjoyed more on the UBoom, which sometimes seemed better balanced.
It would be nice if EarFun offered some kind of companion app for quicker, easier mode changes, at-a-glance battery status and so on. I also wish the speaker was smart enough to sense video sources and adjust its latency accordingly.
But those are minor complaints. All told, I think the UBoom L is a very good speaker for the price. And if you're able to get it on sale, consider buying two: Stereo sounds even sweeter.
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