Wireless speakers are attractive because they don’t have to be physically connected to the source of the signal. By removing that limitation, speaker placement is limited only by mounting method and imagination. Outdoor and garden installations are obvious applications, as are uses where wires would either detract from the aesthetics or would not be practical. We have reported on quite a few wireless speakers and headphones over the years (BlueAnt, Logitech, Saitek, BlueTrek Duo, Jaybird). However, FreeWheelin from SoundRyder is the first to combine the open sound of speakers with the mobility of headphones. We are going to take a FirstLook at them today.
The FreeWheelin speakers are designed to be attached to different kinds of helmet (cycling, skiing, etc). They can also be mounted to a stand for use in the car or on a desk. Because FreeWheelin uses Bluetooth V.2.1 for connecting, it will communicate with any device which supports that protocol (2.4GHz, 10 Meter range). It also means there’s no transmitter or dongle to lose or leave behind.
The system is comprised of left/right speakers (20-20K Hz) and a Class D audio amplifier (4 Ohm, 2 W, 80dB S/N). The amplifier is powered by a 5V-450 mAh Li-Poly battery (15 hr play/talk time, 500 hr standby, 1.5 hr recharge). The FreeWheelin system is not just for music. There is also an integrated microphone with wind/noise suppression and echo cancellation for clear cell phone conversations.
The “Off Ear” design allows the speakers to be easily attached to any helmet. DualLock fasteners are used for the attachment. They are better than velcro because they are stronger and should hold even in extreme situations.
In addition to being a wireless speakers/speakerphone, the FreeWheelin can, with the use of a visor clip, be converted for use in the car or on the desk. It also comes with the necessary cable to allow it to work with any non-Bluetooth capable music source (MP3 player, iPod, etc).
Why not just use ear buds? you might be asking. Well, because completely drowning out external sounds may not be such a great idea for a cyclist. Yes, these speakers are a specialty gadget, but for those of you who love listening to their tunes while on your bike, FreeWheelin may keep you on the road rather than becoming part of the pavement.