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Hands-on Gear Review
UE Roll 2 Review
Price: $100 List | $61.49 at Amazon
Pros: Good sound quality, completely waterproof, lightweight and portable
Cons: Bass is slightly weak
Bottom line: A solid sounding speaker that you will be able to take with you everywhere
The UE Roll 2 packs a surprising amount of sound into its tiny, discus like body. That combination of of slim profile and decent sound earned it our Top Pick for Portability Award. At just 11.2 ounces you barely notice that you're carrying the roll along with you, and its nearly flat profile allows it to slide into even the most overstuffed of backpacks. Even if you manage to stuff your backpack so tight that you can't fit anything else in, the roll's built-in bungee cord lets you lash it to the outside in seconds. On top of that, the roll has an IPX7 rating and can handle being fully submerged in water. No matter where your travels take you the UE Roll 2 will be able to keep up. If you're looking for better sound quality in something that can at least stand up to some rain and splashes, check out the Bose SoundLink Color II, or, if you don't mind spending a bit more, the exceptional Bose SoundLink Revolve.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The UE Roll 2 was by far the most portable speaker we tested, and really the only one we'd always throw into a backpack without a second thought. UE's other offering, the Boom 2, isn't quite as portable as the roll, but is still completely waterproof and a good bit louder, if you're looking for something rugged that has more power.
The UE Roll 2 was one of the top overall scorers in our testing (shown in blue in the graph below), mostly due to its portability and great battery life.
The following sections detail how the roll 2 performed in each of the individual tests that comprise our overall score.
The roll 2 was an average scorer in our sound quality testing, earning a 6 out of 10 in a metric where scores ranged from 3 to 10.
While the roll 2 can't match the quality of larger, less portable speakers, it really rocks for a speaker of its size. The clarity is quite good, but occasionally complex sound melodies can get a bit distorted, especially if you're listening at a higher volume. The dynamic range effectively communicates the intended effect of loud and quiet notes, but not to the same degree as some of the larger speakers we tested. The biggest flaw in the roll's sound quality is its bass, which sounds relatively thin, but is still much more lively than any of the other small and portable models we tested. Overall the roll's small size does come with a sacrifice in sound quality, but probably not nearly as big of a one as you'd expect.
This is where the roll 2 shines. It picked up a perfect 10 out of 10 in our portability testing, putting it well ahead of the low score of 2.
While not the lightest speaker we tested, the roll 2's weight of 11.2 ounces never felt cumbersome throughout our many speaker testing trips. Almost more impressive than its light weight is the roll 2's shape. The tiny disc can wiggle its way into almost any backpack or suitcase, no matter how full. The attached bungee cord on the back is surprisingly useful and allowed us to easily hang the speaker in the shower and strap it to the outside of backpacks when we felt like our walk to the coffee shop deserved an epic score. The IPX7 rating, which certifies the roll 2 can survive submersion in one meter of water for up to half an hour, is just icing on the cake. We repeatedly dunked the roll 2 during our testing (the first time was in the name of science, all the rest were just for fun) and it always came out the other side unscathed. Right after getting wet the speaker would sound a bit garbled. But one wipe down with a towel and it was as good as new.
Despite its small size the roll 2 hung tough in our volume testing, earning a score of 6 out of 10. This put it right in the middle of a metric where scores fell between 4 and 9. The roll 2 definitely starts to sound tinny when you crank the volume up high, but even at lower, more harmonious volumes it provided a decent amount of volume. It could just barely fill up the entirety of our testing apartment with sound, though conversational tones could drown out the music when standing far from the speaker. It did, however, easily turn the living room area into a listening lounge. Outdoors the roll 2 was plenty loud enough for a few people hanging out on the beach or around a campfire.
The roll 2 lasted 14 hours in our battery life test, outlasting its claimed battery life by a full 5 hours. Lasting for more than half of a day is impressive, but we had some stellar performers in our battery life testing, so the roll 2 earned only a score of 6 out of 10.
A Note on Connectivity
We would feel remiss if we didn't mention that this speaker was the only one that we experienced connectivity issues with. In our testing it seemed to form a monogamous relationship with one particular iPhone and didn't want to pair with anything else. We did eventually get it to pair with other things, but it took some coaxing. We've scoured hundreds of online user reviews and talked to people who own the roll 2 and haven't heard of this issue anywhere else, so it is likely that we received a unit with a very uncommon manufacturing flaw.
The UE Roll 2 lists for just $100. Considering its solid sound quality and exceptional portability we feel this represents a great value. Additionally, because it is so easy to carry the roll 2 around you'll probably end up using it more than you'd expect, so it is money well spent.
The UE Roll 2 offers good sound in an almost unbelievably portable package. It is perfect for anyone that wants a speaker that can follow them wherever they go.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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