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If you’re looking for speakers or audio systems that combine rich bass, quality sound, and all-round performance, then Mackie FreePlay Series may just be what you need.
The Mackie FreePlay Series has a lot to offer and is a strong entry in the wireless Bluetooth speaker segment. Meticulously designed by engineers, the Mackie FreePlay Series has some of the best audio in the price range.
In this Mackie FreePlay review, we will take a look at the Mackie FreePlay LIVE, FreePlay Home, and FreePlay Go speakers, comparing the features, performances, and other important factors.
Need a good speaker for your room but have limited space? Check out our list of the Best Speakers for Small Rooms in 2022.
Key Specifications of the Mackie FreePlay Series
|Model Name||FreePlay LIVE||FreePlay Home||FreePlay GO|
|Power||150 Watts||60 Watts||40 Watts|
|Weight||8.8 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs|
|Dimensions||7.75 ×14 × 7 inches||5.25 × 9.5 × 4 inches||3.25 × 8.25 × 3 inches|
|Frequency response||60Hz – 20kHZ||75Hz – 20kHz||80Hz – 20 kHz|
|Internal battery||Rechargeable Lithium-Ion||Rechargeable Lithium-Ion with USB charge out|
|Inputs||2 × Combo XLR-1/4″, 1 × 1/8″ Aux-in, Bluetooth||1 × 1/8″ Aux-in, Bluetooth|
|Outputs||1/4″ out, pre-master||N/A|
|Configurations||Tabletop, mic stand via included adaptor||Tabletop|
Features of the Mackie FreePlay Series
Typically, audio systems with PA often have a large form factor. The Mackie FreePlay LIVE is a compact and powerful device that offers pretty much everything a budget PA system offers. It’s made for performers and allows you to mix music and entertain a crowd.
FreePlay LIVE has a 6-inch woofer and dual tweeters with powerful speakers.
It weighs nearly 9 lbs and comes in an ABS molded box, containing all features equipped to likely meet all your daily music needs as a presenter or an artist. It has two combo XLR ¼” input ports for plugging up your instruments for mixing up your jam. It also has ¼” out for plugging an extra set of speakers for getting to gather a larger crowd. If you want to enjoy your jams in private, it also has a ⅛” generic AUX output to plug your headphones in to and enjoy.
FreePlay LIVE is a good entry in the budget PA audio system segment and works well in small groups and events.
The Mackie FreePlay Home is in the competitive compact Bluetooth speaker market, but does have a few features that make it worth a look. The sound experience is good enough for small to mid-sized rooms.
The FreePlay Home weighs just 4 lbs and has an ABS molded box of 14 inches wide and 7 inches tall, having ⅛” AUX output. It is equipped with a durable molded enclosure, coated metal grille, and robust internal construction and has all the components which should be available in a good Bluetooth speaker.
FreePlay Home has a lithium-ion battery that allows you to get 15 hours of battery backup. One great feature of the FreePlay Home is that it has USB 2.0 output for charging mobile phones and other electronic devices, which can be useful in many situations especially when you’re outdoors.
Rounding up the series is another Bluetooth speaker, the Mackie FreePlay GO. It has a pretty impressive output for such a small form factor. It compares well to the FreePlay Home so it’s a matter of personal preferences when choosing between the two.
The FreePlay GO is easy to carry around and durable enough to be used on a regular basis. It weighs less than 2 lbs, and is encased in an ABS molded box that is eight inches wide and 3 inches tall. Like the FreePlay Home, the FreePlay GO also has ⅛” AUX output and Bluetooth connectivity.
FreePlay GO also boasts 15 hours of battery backup, depending on the use, and that’s thanks to the Lithium-ion battery. Like the FreePlay Home, FreePlay GO also has an option to work as a power bank to charge your electronic devices on the go.
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Performance of the Mackie FreePlay Series
Mackie FreePlay LIVE
The Mackie FreePlay LIVE is a good PA system in my opinion considering the size and price range. I used it to play music and do karaoke in my living room and it did not disappoint.
Around 7 hours of continuous use and the FreePlay LIVE still had some mileage left. I let the battery run its course and it took me 8 hours to fully charge it. Faster charging would have been great but it’s not a dealbreaker for me as the performance lived up to expectations.
The next day I decided to mix things up a bit and plugged in my keyboard and mixer. The audio experience was quite decent and for the price, I was quite impressed with the low distortion and rich bass.
One thing that the FreePlay LIVE lacked was a strong bass. It’s good for a small audience in an indoor setting. However, I would not recommend it in crowded or larger settings and that’s not the intended purpose either.
The app made it quite easy to manage all my music mixes. Since I bought the FreePlay Home and GO as well, pairing the two devices with the FreePlay LIVE was no hassle at all.
Mackie FreePlay Home
The Mackie FreePlay Home is worth considering if you need a compact wireless speaker that has audio quality to match your expectations.
Pairing is smooth and to test the range of Bluetooth connectivity, I took the speakers with me to the living room from my bedroom, which is about 20 feet apart. The audio feedback was clear throughout and it only got affected when I kept the FreePlay Home behind walls.
The audio experience is great and that’s what you should expect from a brand like Mackie. I used the speakers with my computer for the better part of the day (around 9 hours) and it still had battery left in it to give me a few hours more. So this speaker does live up to the bill of its strong battery life.
Mackie FreePlay GO
The Mackie FreePlay GO is the smaller of the two Bluetooth speakers and one of the lightest ones I’ve tested. This naturally makes it easier to carry around. However, at the same time, I felt it’s too light so if you’re someone as clumsy as me there’s a risk of dropping the speakers.
The Mackie FreePlay GO has a power output of 40W, which is less than the FreePlay Home. I put it through a similar test and found that while the audio feedback and reproduction quality is better in the Home speakers, the FreePlay GO is not far off. If you’re someone looking for a compact, ultra-lightweight speaker that gets the job done then this is a great option to consider.
The battery life is impressive just like the rest of the Mackie FreePlay Series. A full day (9 hours) of use and the battery didn’t show any signs of dying so I’m quite impressed. It doesn’t have a lot going in terms of durability but this is one speaker you will have no problem carrying around.
- Wireless Connectivity: Mackie has some of the best wireless connectivity and all three models of the series are a testament to the fact. With a Bluetooth 3.0x connection and great range to go with it (they claim 300 ft!), connectivity is never going to be a problem with Mackie
- Great Battery Backup: A major concern with wireless systems is the battery but Mackie has addressed that. The preinstalled lithium-ion battery has 15 hours of battery backup, making it ideal for long-term and outdoor use.
- App Connectivity: The FreePlay Connect companion app comes in both iOS and Android, and allows you to connect your FreePlay LIVE, Home and Go with the app and each other. This makes a ton of tasks easier such as connecting multiple speakers, mixing audio, and more.
- Charge Your Phones Up: FreePlay Home and Free GO also have a USB 2.0 charge output for charging your smartphones and other electronics. Definitely worth considering if you have an active lifestyle.
- Build: Since the Mackie FreePlay series positions itself for great battery life and active use, it would be nice to have a sturdier build quality. That said a bulkier build would mean more weight of the speakers so it’s a matter of personal preference really.
- Expensive: The Mackie FreePlay Home and GO speakers are a little overpriced for casual listening, but if budget is not a concern then go for them. On the other hand, the Mackie FreePlay LIVE is the most price-efficient PA system available in the market.
- Output Level: The desired output level is only adequate for small gatherings and settings but that’s the intended use anyway. In larger settings or with large groups of people you may find it difficult to enjoy the sound of the speakers.
Alternatives to the Mackie FreePlay Series
Below are some Bluetooth connectivity wireless speakers for you to consider in comparison to Mackie’s FreePlay Home and FreePlay GO series.
Fugoo Tough XL
In comparison to the FreePlay Home and GO speakers, the Fugoo Tough XL is a speaker that’s supposedly a good match to compare. In fact, in terms of outdoor use, I would rank it higher than the Home and GO speakers.
It is compact but doesn’t sacrifice good sound quality. It’s also easy to use and connect while being dirt, snow, water and shockproof. I would say this is an all-terrain Bluetooth speaker unlike no other.
Sure, it’s not the most aesthetic speaker out there, but the features make me confident to compare it with the FreePlay Home and GO series.
One more great device in the array of Bluetooth speakers is the Klipsch GiG. It offers an exceptionally strong bass with clear audio and a great battery life-extending to a good 12 hours. It’s also equipped with a speakerphone.
While a little expensive, it is highly recommended if you value quality and versatility. It is light, sleek and has a stylish look with LED lights that can be changed according to the mood of the listener.
Last but not least we have the Braven BRV, which is a good, rigid outdoors speaker built to tackle all kinds of weather and terrains. In fact, I would rate it amongst the best all-terrain Bluetooth speakers available in the market today.
Braven BRV does pack a punch but it comes with an extra cost. The Braven BRV is a little less portable and a little heavier than the FreePlay GO series, but if space isn’t an issue, I think this can be a great alternative to the FreePlay series.
Drop and water-resistant, it also comes with an impressive 15 hours battery life and has great sound quality. It can be pretty loud when it has to be, and the best thing of all, a band can be connected to it to attach it to your backpack. You can also charge this speaker on the go using your smartphone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is FreePlay LIVE a PA (Public Addressing) Device or a Generic Speaker?
Answer: FreePlay LIVE falls into the category of PA device as it has the capability to serve an audience. However, the FreePlay LIVE can also be used as a normal Bluetooth speaker if need be. FreePlay Home and FreePlay GO are some options if you might be interested in using only a Bluetooth speaker.
Question: Do FreePlay LIVE, FreePlay Home and FreePlay GO Really Have 15 Hours of Battery Support?
Answer: Yes, that’s what Mackie claims and in my test, I was able to run down the battery to 11 hours for the FreePlay LIVE and about 12 hours each for the Home and GO. Keep in mind I used them throughout the day so how you use the devices will ultimately impact the battery life. That said, the Mackie FreePlay series has some of the best battery backup in the market today.
Question: How Do I Connect One Or More FreePlay Devices Together?
Answer: FreePlay comes with the Connect companion app which can help you connect up to two devices. You can easily connect both devices, whether speakers of FreePlay LIVE with either Home or GO, and have a richer audio experience.
Question: Can I Use My FreePlay Speakers While Charging Them?
Answer: Yes, you can use the speakers while they are on charge, whether with the standard charger or your smartphone. That said, it’s recommended for the battery life to use the devices when they are not plugged in to a charger.
Conclusion – Does the Mackie FreePlay Live Up to Its Name?
The Mackie FreePlay series is another good line of speakers and audio systems by the company.
FreePlay LIVE is a good introduction in the FreePlay series for a PA device in a compact body with a wireless connection. The option for connecting two or more musical instruments has also opened many new possibilities. One thing I liked the most is the capacity in the FreePlay LIVE to convert into PA and a personal speaker when needed.
FreePlay Home and FreePlay GO are great speakers in the compact wireless speaker market. They have a good output and are fit for a small room. The battery backup the devices provide will make them ideal for a lot of buyers who need speakers that sound good, are easy to carry, and deliver (seemingly) never ending performance.