There are certainly no shortage of wireless speakers on the market but Pioneer’s FreeMe has leapfrogged a bunch of the rest by looking spectacular. Both in and out of the box it screams “John Lewis” and it has the look and feel of something that costs £129. In a way it’s pointless talking about the box a speaker comes in, but the presentation is very chic – almost gentlemanly and it sets expectations pretty high.
Out of the box the FreeMe is smooth digital pebble that blends in with most locations I put it. There’s also a slightly more expensive leather version that comes in brown or black, which blends in anywhere you might find a midlife crisis. The speaker is tiny – like a pocket bible or three C90s on top of each other. It is slightly too large for a normal pocket – more baggy jeans than skinny, but can easily pop in a bag.
The rechargeable battery gets a decent seven hours, which isn’t life changing but is certainly respectable. What is life changing – or at least very impressive is the 360° sound the generates. Inside the smooth walls are two 40 mm full range drivers with neodymium magnets, aided by a passive radiator. This is great for portability as you can plump the FreeMe anywhere in the house without having to worry about sweet spots or positioning. The sound isn’t earth-shattering but is surprisingly loud for something so small. My favourite sounding BlueTooth speaker of late has been Polk Audio’s Camden Square, which does sound more powerful but is twice the price and five times the size. For its size the FreeMe does a great job across all genres of audio. I listened to podcasts, radio shows and bass heavy music. Performance ranged from fine to spectacular.
The FreeMe isn’t a party speaker as much as it is an elegant dinner party speaker (a category I should dub “The Stephen Fry”). If you’re looking for a refined way to punch up the audio in your house, it’s definitely worth a listen.