Ultimate Ears is joining the steadily growing ranks of voice assistant-equipped speaker manufacturers with the new Blast and Megablast Bluetooth speakers, which feature the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
Smart Speakers are officially everywhere. In the case of the new speakers from Ultimate Ears, it's Amazon's Alexa artificial intelligence that is running the show.
The main difference (aside from Alexa) is that the Blast and Megablast will only work on their own or in tandem over a WiFi network. Whichever you pick, they're IP67 rated for dust and water. In other words, these speakers are ideal for blasting music by the pool, hot tub or on a boat. The standard white and black options are there, but you also have the choice of blue, red, yellow and green in rich jewel tones.
Both the Blast and Megablast feature 360-degree audio speakers, for sound which really fills the room, regardless of positioning. Battery life for the BLAST is listed at 12 hours with the MEGABLAST nabbing 16 hours. According to Ultimate Ears, this means the Blast is capable of producing sounds as low as 90Hz and as loud as 90 dBC, while the Megablast can reach significantly lower and louder with a 60Hz floor and 93dBC top volume. The larger Megablast features two 55mm active drivers and two 25mm tweeters, with two 85-by-50mm passive radiators to improve bass response. The Blast has less power and instead sports two 35mm active drivers and two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators.
For many, Ultimate Ears has been the go-to for portable Bluetooth speakers; now, the company is making Amazon Alexa its go-to assistant. Plus, Deezer controls are apparently going to be added soon. Volume control is via the large plus and minus buttons on the front, or of course you can ask Alexa to change the volume.
When you are connected to Wi-Fi you'll be able to make full use of Alexa's abilities including hands-free music controls, smart home device controls and access to food ordering. From lighting and heating to cooking and cleaning, Alexa is one of the most widely-connected smart assistants. This ensures that you can play your music anywhere, even if you don't have a Wi-Fi network connection. Right now, you don't get multi-room playback, which was recently added to the Echo, and nor does do they support the "arbitration" which allows only the closest Echo to you to respond. This promotion is only available to new subscribers of Amazon Music Unlimited.
The Ultimate Ear Blast is, as the more affordable option, priced at £200 here in the UK.
A new optional charging dock, called Power Up, is also available for £35. This new line was built explicitly for the Amazon Alexa ecosystem of apps and features, and along with the Power Up charging base, offers always-on functionality to cater to your verbal demands.