Starting off as a PC multimedia solutions provider in the 90's and also one of the first companies to take PC audio to full home theater levels, Creative has come a long way. As other contenders entered the space, Creative too widened its product portfolio. Wireless Bluetooth speakers are all the rage these days and Creative is now making its mark in that segment. After the Creative Roar, we get our hands on the Sound Blaster Free, which is more portable as compared to the Roar, but impressive nonetheless.
You are most likely to be impressed by the look of the Sound Blaster Free. The cylindrical shape can be used both in horizontal and vertical position-which is handy.
You can fit it in almost any place. At the side of the unit, you get access to basic controls including volume control and power button.
On the rear, you get more controls like playback, mute toggle along with a 'Loud' button.
The build quality is good and the speaker comes with IPX4 certification. You can safely keep it beside a pool and play some groovy tracks to indulge in dance with friends. However, it is not meant for submerging in water.
Interestingly, Sound Blaster Free comes with plenty of input options- Aux-in, USB and a Micro SD slot. If your laptop has weak sound output - you can even connect the Free as an external sound card via USB. It also supports call answering through Bluetooth and has a microphone in-built for that purpose. The Bluetooth works up to 24 feet smoothly.
Sound Blaster Free is quite good for filling a mid-sized room with sound and it can be cranked up without audio distortion. The tight bass is ideal for belting out hip-hop, but you will be happy with its handling of other genres as well. The Loud button does make the output... erm, loud and even creates a great soundstage if you're sitting right in the front. But that works only with higher quality audio inputs like high-bitrate MP3s, FLACs or even high quality music services like Apple Music and Gaana. Lower bitrate files will only distort more with the Loud feature, which is expected. While taking calls on it is simple, the mic tends to catch ambient sound a little too much. As for battery life, the Sound Blaster Free can last for 8 to 9 hours on a single charge.
What we like
The Sound Blaster Free is a great looking speaker that fits easily in a car's cup holder if need be. The audio performance when placed both vertically and horizontally was really good, and will satisfy most users. It's loud without distortion - and that's more than what we can say about the competition at that price point.
What we don't like
Though we appreciate the option to use it as an external sound card, it would have been perfect if it could read the Micro SD cards from its slot as well. That would make it so much easier to add and remove tracks. Also, it should have had an option for a mic jack, especially considering that the on-board mic isn't that good.
Should you buy it?
For its mid-range price, the Sound Blaster Free offers good performance and some really useful features. The sound output in general is good and additional playback options are also handy. Call receiving and the 'Loud' feature can be both hit and miss though. The IPX4 certification earns it some brownie points and Battery life is also decent. Though its MRP is Rs 7,999, it's going for a great discounted price on Amazon.in. At both rates, we think it's definitely one of the better portable speakers in the market today.