Portable Bluetooth speakers are in vogue. The compact design, the convenience of carrying them around wherever you go and the lack of any wires needed for connecting your phone just make these a must-have accessory for complement your smartphone or tablet. However, not all are the same. With audio speakers, the simple physics always come into play. The larger the speaker system, the better the audio quality—that is the conventional wisdom. Trust someone to go against the flow, and Ultimate Ears have done exactly that with the Wonderboom Freestyle micro-Bluetooth speakers. These are priced at Rs6,995.
For starters, the very compact design of the Wonderboom Freestyle is what takes you by surprise when you first hold it. Photos don’t do this speaker any justice, and the colour options as well as designs add a dash of persona to the entire experience. You can pick from the finish options such as Raspberry, Unicorn, Avocado, Concrete and Patches.
The Wonderboom Freestyle has a diameter of 93.5mm and a height of 102mm. Put an iPhone X next to it, and in comparison, the phone is significantly taller at 143.6mm. The Wonderboom tips the scales at 425 grams. While the compact form factor has been established, it is not that Ultimate Ears have skimped on other features either. The speaker has a waterproofing rating of IPX7, which means the Wonderboom Freestyle can be immersed in water up to a depth of 1 meter, for up to 30 minutes. Great then, to use this for a pool party.
The attached elastic loop at the top means you can carry it to your backpack, hang it on the wall or even attach it to your treadmill—such are the diverse options available to you.
Bluetooth connectivity is a breeze, and pairing doesn’t take more than a handful of seconds to complete and get you on your way.
Ultimate Ears have done a solid job with the sound quality. At moderate and even medium volume levels, the clarity is fantastic. Yes, detailing isn’t the richest because of slightly weak mid-range frequencies, but what you get is a good balance between treble and lower frequencies, considering the compact size of the speaker. In fact, this is one compact speaker which does very well when it comes to reproducing powerful bass. In many ways, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Freestyle does come into competition with the Bose SoundLink Micro (priced at Rs8,990). Both these compact speakers approach sound very differently. Bose has a warmer sound signature that is a better bet for vocals or instruments, for instance. Alternatively, the Wonderboom Freestyle is great for up-tempo and bass heavy music. You will notice slight distortions if you really push the volume up, and the most prominent is the muddling of the lower frequencies.
Battery life is a strong point. If you are using this at 50% volume or lesser, the battery lasts close to 11 hours on a single charge. This is actually quite great, for a compact speaker.
The compact size of the Wonderboom Freestyle does mean this has its limitations beyond a point in terms of sound volume and clarity, but the fact still remains that the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Freestyle is one of the better sounding speakers at this price. Yes, there is the huge challenge of competing against the Bose SoundLink Micro, with Bose brand recall quite strong in the Indian market. In terms of sheer performance, the Wonderboom Freestyle does do very well however. The rather cute designs are a bonus.