Soundfreaq originally sent me a limited edition Sound Rise Flower Freaq for inclusion in the GeekDad Mother’s Day Gift Guide. The combination alarm clock and Bluetooth speaker quickly migrated to my teenage daughter’s room, where it has apparently found a permanent home. After three weeks of use, it’s time for a review of this funky, multipurpose device.
Is this an alarm clock or a Bluetooth speaker?
Technically, it’s both, but based on its features, the Sound Rise leans more toward alarm clock. Or think of it as a bedroom-based speaker.
On the alarm side, there is extensive functionality and customization options. The display has multiple brightness settings (including a total blackout mode). You can set two alarms — perfect for a student who has different wake-up requirements for weekdays and weekends. You have the choice of waking up to a chime, radio, or music from a connected device, with gradually increasing volume to avoid the shock of abruptly having a loud alarm blaring in your ear. You have control over the maximum alarm volume. Snoozing doesn’t require hitting the “Snooze” button precisely — you can mash the buttons in the general vicinity to get that effect (again, perfect for teenagers). You can even customize the snooze duration. Want to fall asleep while listening to music? You can do that and have the Sound Rise automatically turn off the music after a set time has passed. The unit is also vertical instead of spread out, helping to reduce its footprint on a bedside table.
So yes, the Sound Rise has your alarm needs well covered.
But the Sound Rise is also a capable speaker. It doesn’t have a battery (other than the backup battery for the alarm clock) and if you listen to FM radio there’s an included flexible antenna. So while compact, it’s not particularly portable.
Sound is better than pretty much any alarm clock you’re going to encounter and on par with a decent portable Bluetooth speaker. There’s a 2-1/4-inch driver inside powered by a 3.5 watt amp, with Soundfreaq’s UQ3 spatial sound enhancement and push button EQ settings (flat, warm or bright). It’s not going to blow your ears off, but for a small room it can pump out the tunes — or be used to enhance audio from a computer, tablet or TV.
You can listen to radio (with 6 FM presets), plug in with an auxiliary cable or pair any device using Bluetooth.
Making the Sound Rise even more useful, both as a bedside alarm and a speaker, is a USB port for recharging a mobile device.
Some people may point to using a USB cable for recharging instead of a built-in dock as a downside, but I prefer this method. I’ve had bedside speaker systems that dock an iPhone (or iPad) before and do you know what ultimately happens to them? Someone reaches over to hit a button, accidentally hits the iPhone and breaks the docking mechanism. Besides, by including a USB port instead, recharging isn’t limited to iOS devices.
Overall, the $99.99 Sound Rise Flower Freaq is a very capable little device. It looks good, visually stands out from typical glossy black alarm clocks (although there is an all-black option if that’s your style), packs a ton of sleep-related functionality and offers decent audio too.
My daughter thinks the limited edition flower patterned cover with wood grain cabinet is pretty cool-looking. If you like the device but prefer a more subdued (but still unique) finish, Soundfreaq offers the Sound Rise in a Wood + Taupe finish for $20 less, or the old standby black at under $70.
Come to think of it, that Wood + Taupe version would make a great gift idea for Father’s Day…