Quick Hit: Mackie FreePlay Live Review
Room-filling sound from a PA that doesn’t quite fill a backpack.
Clip 1: Slight bass cut, slight mid bump, slight treble bump.
Excellent sound for size, mic-stand mountable, can wirelessly link with a second unit for stereo operation, onboard reverb.
I’m personally not a fan of relying on a phone for tone control.
Ease of Use:
Portable sound options for musicians are aplenty these days, and the fact that some acoustic performers prefer a powered speaker/portable PA over an acoustic amp is nothing new. Mackie’s new personal PA in their FreePlay line, however, has upped the portability/power ante that’ll make smart-design nerds take notice.
The FreePlay Live is a 150-watt system that weighs under nine pounds and houses a 6" driver and a pair of high-frequency tweeters. It’s stealth in that it’s void of control knobs (adjustments are primarily made through Mackie’s FreePlay Connect app), and one doesn’t have to fiddle with finding a wall outlet since it has up 15 hours of battery life. When I first gave it a go with a Selmer-style guitar, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the clear, crisp, and full tone it projected. The bass response is decent for its size and the operation overall was super quiet with no hiss. Nope, it won’t shake the windows in your living room, but the volume belies its footprint. And projection is helped with the cool feature of being able to mount the FreePlay Live on a standard mic stand.
With a pair of TRS/XLR combo inputs, wireless streaming for backing tracks, and room-painting clean sound on battery power, it’s ideal for buskers, house-concert regulars, and coffee-house performers. It’s nothing short of a breeze to carry around—even with a couple of fingers—so your music goes wherever you’d like to perform it.
Test gear: ’97 Dell’Arte Dark Eyes with Bigtone pickup, ’77 Washburn W600 with L.R. Baggs iBeam active system.