This portable speaker packs a punch

The EarFun UBoom L is a portable, waterproof speaker that delivers great sound at a surprisingly affordable price.  (Photo: Rick Broida)

What does the “L” stand for? Loud, maybe? Lovable? Low price? All of this applies to the UBoom L. (Photo: Rick Broida)

Shopping for a speaker you can take to the garden, pool, beach or backyard picnic? Make sure it’s both waterproof and waterproof, or outdoor fun can be found without a soundtrack. (Sand and water tend to be deadly to electronics.)

EarFun’s new UBoom L is IP67 rated, meaning it can withstand pretty much anything your outlet can throw at it. In fact, the EarFun promises to not only survive a drench in booze, but to resurface.

I wanted proof, so I filled my sink and let gravity do its work. Sure enough, the UBoom floated and continued to play (albeit mostly submerged, so the sound was a little, er, fizzy).

More good news: Although normally $80, for a limited time the EarFun UBoom L drops to $60 when you clip the 10% off coupon on the page and then apply the promo code UBOOMLDS at the 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 makes a difference: not only does it double the overall volume, but it also produces the kind of stereo separation you simply can’t get from a single speaker.

Second, UBoom is specifically configured for indoor and outdoor use. Unfortunately, while the manual explains how to switch between the two modes (all it takes is a push of a button), it doesn’t explain the difference. Here’s the thing: Indoor mode is designed to give you the best balance, while Outdoor mode boosts bass and volume.

I found that I preferred the outdoor mode, even when I was indoors. Your mileage may vary. I suggest you experiment to see which one you like best. There is no law that dictates which function you must use where!

The EarFun UBoom L portable waterproof speaker survived the sink test.  (Photo: Rick Broida)

The EarFun UBoom L portable waterproof speaker survived the sink test. (Photo: Rick Broida)

Like many Bluetooth speakers, this lags a bit (meaning the audio is out of sync) when playing video. Fortunately, EarFun has added a special feature just for this purpose: When enabled, it eliminates 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, since you’d usually want to park your speaker very close to your screen.) And while you can’t use video mode when a second speaker is paired, it’s great to have when you want to watch TikTok, a movie or something similar without the need for headphones.

Thanks to its two 55mm drivers and passive radiators, the UBoom L can produce 28 watts of good sound quality — more than many speakers in this price range, less than some that cost more. (The Tribit StormBox Pro, for example, manages 40 watts, but is $120.) This matters more outdoors, where open spaces can swallow your music. You won’t be able to hear it well from across a field, but within, say, a 20-foot radius, it packs plenty of 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 relied mostly on the external mode. Only at maximum volume did the UBoom L reveal any distortion, and that only happened with certain tracks.

I also tried placing it next to the $250 Amazon Echo Show 10, which has a fairly robust speaker on its base. While the UBoom couldn’t quite match the Echo’s overall presence, it held its own. In fact, there were certain tracks that I liked better on UBoom, which seemed better balanced at times.

It would be nice if EarFun offered some kind of companion app for faster, easier mode changes, at-a-glance battery status, and so on. I also wish the speaker was smart enough to detect video sources and adjust its latency accordingly.

But these are minor complaints. Overall, I think the UBoom L is a very good speaker for its price. And if you can find it on sale, consider buying two: Stereo sounds even sweeter.

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