The Mackie FreePlay series offers three speakers of different sizes in the FreePlay GO, FreePlay Home and FreePlay Live. Weighing in at under a kilogram, the FreePlay GO is the smallest of the three speakers, but that doesn’t hold the GO back from packing a punch. The GO pairs very easily with a smart phone or computer, has its own volume and play/pause controls that sync with your sound source, and the offers a crisp, full-spectrum sound from this tiny lithium-ion powered Bluetooth speaker.
The sound of the FreePlay GO was sincerely surprising, partly because of my presumptions about its size and speaker configuration, because it sounded like the GO was handling music with ease. There was no struggle, no need to max out the volume or push the GO to its limits. The GO produces a rich and full-bodied sound that fills a room within minutes of pairing it via Bluetooth. Alternatively, it also features a 1/8” auxiliary input (a standard aux/headphone jack size connector) for manual connection. The GO can also be linked up to a second FreePlay GO for a multitude of uses that can be tweaked via the FreePlay Connect App available through Mackie. The sound delivered is even and clear, even at low volumes, with plenty of headroom thanks to the dual passive radiators featured in the GO and Home speakers.
Obvious uses for the GO are as a home or mobile speaker system. It can easily be stowed in a bag or case and taken outside the home without a worry because of its robust build and tiny size at 8.3cm x 21cm x 7.6cm. Besides this, the GO could be used as a great reference speaker for professional or budding audio engineers. It’s common practice to check a mix in a car, but a lot of people consume music on portable speakers so it makes sense to have a decent one handy, and the GO is a very decent one. The auxiliary input could make it available as a speaker set on a monitor controller, so mixes could be easily referenced on a different source. In a Sound on Sound interview, Cenzo Townshend of Decoy Studios (Snow Patrol, Florence + the Machine, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand) discusses his use of a little radio speaker to reference his mixes and admits that he couldn’t live without it. In a professional sense though, beware. The GO has a very flattering response and is not a very accurate depiction of your music, albeit a pleasing one.
If the GO can’t satisfy your volume needs, the FreePlay line also includes the Home speaker, a speaker designed as a more permanently installed speaker for home listening to music, podcasts or linked to a television or movie configuration. The Home features many of the bells and whistles of the GO, but in a larger format that can produce a richer, more filling sound with even more headroom for a crystal clear listening experience.
The FreePlay series offers three different speakers for three different uses that do their job with ease and style. The GO is a portable, handheld speaker with astounding volume and headroom for its size. It is practical, handy, well-designed and portable, perfect for listening to music as it was intended to be heard, whether inside or outside the home, via auxiliary or Bluetooth that can be controlled remotely. It could be used in a professional or social environment, and would handle either or both jobs without breaking a sweat (sweat is very bad for speakers, you see). The FreePlay range from Mackie is a home-run.
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