Technophile

Freedom for your tunes

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on November 18, 2015

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Creative's Sound Blaster FRee is an excellent all-in-one audio package



There are a lot of pretenders in the portable speaker space. The low-end is populated with devices of extremely questionable quality and the high end options seem to be intended only for the ears of the super rich. Creative’s attempt at a solution, the rather poorly named SoundBlaster FRee, is a device that aims to deliver the goods at a price that doesn’t break the bank. And it mostly succeeds.

The SoundBlaster FRee employs the same cylindrical design that has become increasingly common among portable Bluetooth speakers lately. The rear of the speaker features a built-in subwoofer, a rarity among such devices. Flanking it on either side are the ports and buttons. Aside from the standard play/pause and skip tracks buttons, Creative has also included dedicated controls for shuffle mode and muting the microphone. There is also a ‘loud’ button, which turns the dials up to 11. The left side of the device houses the volume, power and call answer controls.

The design is simple and functional, but also looks quite appealing. The device comes with IPX4 certification, which means that it is impervious to accidental splashes of water.

Paired performance

The FRee can pair with Bluetooth devices and play music files stored on them, but it can also pull tunes from a few other input sources. It has ports for connecting auxiliary and USB cables, through which it can be plugged into anything from a desktop computer to an old-school MP3 player.

If that wasn’t enough, the FRee has another trick up its sleeve. It has a microSD card slot which enables it to act as an independent music system without any source devices. Implementing this feature isn’t a major technological leap by any means, but it is a game changer for sure, especially because most other portable speakers don’t have the provision. For a small speaker, the FRee produces excellent audio. The dual speaker units handled everything from punk rock and jazz to dialogue-heavy films perfectly, delivering rich and clear sound reproduction.

The loud button provides an extra bit of heft, but doesn’t push it over the edge into crackling territory. Creative claims a 10-hour battery life for the device, but we came close to that figure only while playing music off a microSD card. With Bluetooth as the audio source, the device’s uptime was closer to 7 hours.

The SoundBlaster FRee is an excellent value-for-money product from the Creative stable. It combines great design with a few obvious but earth-shattering features which other manufacturers had mostly ignored. And the speakers are good enough to displace most low-end USB desktop units with the added benefit of being portable and equipped with a variety of audio sources. It is the closest we've come to finding an affordable one-stop solution for our audio needs.

Love: microSD support, IPX4 certification

Hate: Name

Price: ₹7,999

Published on November 18, 2015
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