I really like the new designs and hardware permutations on portable wireless speakers storming the markets. And the fact that they are water resistant too.
Mid-sized wireless portable speakers are becoming a separate category having taken off best things from both worlds – that of a pocket speaker you get below 2-3k like the JBL Go or the rugged Altec Lansing Mini H20 and the ones nearly as big as a magazine like SoundBlaster Roar or Bose SoundLink Color.
It’s true that they are neither as portable nor as loud, but quite perfect for travelling groups, home parties or even small presentations. The UE Roll I reviewed recently has a design you wear and flaunt in the same price bracket as the Creative SoundBlaster Free.
Free has a much more practical design, and just an exposed passive bass radiator at its back, too much for ‘out-of-the-box’ and ‘creative’ work, literally! It built sturdy and looks sober, weighs almost as heavy as filled bottle of its size.
It can be laid flat in a normal stereo setup, two speakers inside, on its either ends, would be on same horizontal level; or placed vertically to act like a ‘tube’ of sound emanating from it surface in all directions.
The second arrangement isn’t as impressive though as one might think. The driver units inside aren’t really pointing in multiple directions, only the front grille is, in a semi-circular arc. Yet it’s a great placement option resulting from a cunning design and does change the sound for personal listening to a very good extent.
Creative SoundBlaster Free houses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that could play the speaker for about 5-6 hours, completely on wireless usage. With mix use coupled with other playback inputs, it could last longer than that. It would auto shut-down within 10 minutes of no-use to save power.
There is no NFC, pairing needs to be done in conventional ‘find a Bluetooth device nearby’ manner. There are music control buttons on the back side, and the speaker control buttons on the side. The speaker control buttons includes the volume control buttons too and they are neither a good placement nor have tactile feel to them, only plausible if speaker is placed standing.
What you will love is the heavy and loud output SoundBlaster Free can create in its candle-length form. The music isn’t perfect if I try to listen from an ear of a connoisseur – the highs aren’t very pronounced and bass sometimes overpowers the music. In particularly the Bluetooth playback mode, you will find some distortion at full volume.
But its loud enough to justify its size and bulk; clear and very energetic on music it plays on Bluetooth.
Creative SoundBlaster Free is a loud, strongly build Bluetooth speaker, resistant to water splashes. It carries a sober build and a useful design advantage of positioning the speaker vertically and horizontally. Though its highs aren’t very pronounced in the music and the overall quality isn’t utterly fantastic, it can serve the purpose of group listening on travel or room party with enough clarity on vocals and major instruments. PS- There is a loud button to make it even louder.