Gadget Review: Go boom with Creative's new speaker
Creative has always impressed us with its portable Bluetooth speakers, and it has done it again with the new splash-proof Free
Creative Sound Blaster Free
Build and Design: The speaker looks chic, weighs light at 450gm, and despite its strong build, it’s slim enough to fit in smaller places including the water bottle pouch in your bag or water bottle carrier in your cycle. The Free is also designed such that it can sit comfortably on any surface. Though the body is made of plastic, it gets a metallic grill at the front, which adds to the charm. There are two control panels, one on the left with power, volume and connectivity buttons, and the other at the back featuring MP3 playback controls.
Also read: Gadget Review - Creative Sound Blaster Jam
Hardware and Performance: The device has two speakers on the side and a mini woofer at the centre. Both speakers are loud enough to fill a medium-sized living room, of 15 ft x15 ft. But anything larger, and it begins to falter. Free comes with an auto equaliser, which by default produces slightly high on treble sound. You need to select the loud button at the back to get the maximum performance out of the woofer. It’s good to have the option, but we would expect more bass by default. But the above problem is peculiar to smartphones and tablets. Using your smartphones equaliser or installing the Sound Blaster Central app from the Play Store or App Store may solve the problem. If you have Free connected with your PC/Mac, installing the Sound Blaster Free drivers from Creative’s website, will give a better and more balanced performance. What works for Free, though, is its design, which offers quality listening experience from all directions. Though, we wouldn’t call it a 360-degree sound experience as Creative says, we are satisfied with the sound output from the other side of the table. The device also offers IPX4 certification, which means it can withstand water splashes to an extent.
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Connectivity: Free is not just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s also a portable MP3 player. It comes with controls for play, pause, stop as well mute and unmute at the back. It offers an Aux-in port to help you connect your legacy devices, or if you are looking for more original sound output. There’s also a micro USB port to help recharge the battery that easily lasts for 8-9 hours, and to play USB audio. The device offers decent Bluetooth connection up to 10 metres, but only when placed in line of sight with the streaming device. Any obstruction including living tissue tends to break the signal when the streaming device is slightly far. However, we are glad to see that it can connect with two devices at one go.
The guide verdict Despite a few shortcomings, the Creative Sound Blaster Free is a great choice for those looking for a lightweight portable Bluetooth speaker. The sound quality was impressive, and up to our satisfaction. We hope Creative launches a Sound Blaster control panel for mobile phones too.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB audio, Aux-in, MicroSD card
Speakers: One woofer, two side speakers
Battery: 8-9 hours
Functions supported: MP3 player, handsfree
Weight: MP3, WAV, FLAC
Price: Rs 7,999
Available on: Amazon.in