5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful accurate sound, features galore. An outstanding speaker for the price, Friday, July 4, 2014
By M. Erb
Length:: 9:26 Mins
UPDATE: Aug 6, 2014 - After doing some digging, I have been able to unearth some performance specifications for the Creative SoundBlaster Roar. The source of this information is Creative.
- Frequency Response: 47Hz- 20kHz
- Total System Power: 33Watts RMS at 1% THD
Keep in mind that Total System Power is also at the expense of battery life. Also realize that a lot of engineering went into the design of the drivers, enclosure and the tuning process to eek out the best performance relative to battery life.
UPDATE: July 15, 2014 - As I discuss in my review, the battery is not user-replaceable. This leads to the question, "what happens when the battery no longer can hold a charge?" I posed that question to Creative and they have responsded. They told me that if the battery fails within the warranty period, they would do a one-to-one exchange for another speaker. If the battery fails outside of the warranty period, they will do a one-to-one exchange for $60. That seems quite reasonable to me as the battery should last for at least 500 cycles as is typical of Li-ion batteries.
UPDATE: July 11, 2014 - As I've spent more and more time listening to this speaker, I continue to be so impressed with the quality of sound. It is so accurate, spacious and clear with perfectly balanced bass. I did have a scare though... just now I turned the speaker on (battery power) and the speaker volume was very low, No matter what I did to increase the volume, nothing was working. I checked my volume on my computer, it was at max. I checked the speaker controls and the volume was also maxed. Roar was cycled on and off. Terra-bass was cycled on and off, Nothing made a difference, I thought my speaker had become defective,. Then I plugged it into the AC adapter and within a minute, the volume was restored. So the takeaway is that when the internal battery is getting low, it will reduce the volume of the speaker. Had I looked at the status LED's on the top of the speaker I might have noticed that only 1 LED was lit and it was blinking. This indicates that the battery is very low, your cue to hook up to AC or at least turn the speaker off and charge the battery. I breathed a sigh of relief and admire that Creative has even built in protection so that the battery does not deep discharge itself. Another reason to love this speaker.
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I have reviewed many bluetooth speakers over the last several years. The Creative Sound Blaster Roar is easily one of the best of the bunch.
The speaker has so many features that it requires an in-depth review. If you're interested in just a pertinent summary, I'll try and put the most important stuff up front. If you want to know more, simply read the entire review.
This is a beautifully crafted speaker. It's hefty and feels solid. The wrap around metal grill and metal grills over the passive bass radiators on the sides of the speaker give this a very sophisticated look. The top row of buttons lie beneath a rubberized membrane which extends to the back of the speaker where there are additional ports and controls. It's very stable because of its low center of gravity. It's not a speaker that will topple over.
A large capacity, non user-replaceable, Li-ion battery (6000mAh) not only powers the speaker for up to 8 hours of continuous music playback depending on the volume, but can also charge another USB powered device via the 1A USB output on the back panel. I view that as ancillary to the main purpose of this bluetooth speaker but it can come in handy if you have your device near the speaker and want to charge it. I'm also somewhat concerned about what the battery replacement procedure and cost will be since this does not have a user replaceable battery. Of course it will take roughly 500+ charging cycles before this becomes an issue. I have contacted Creative to discover the answer and will update my review when I've received their reply.
The bi-amp design results in a cleaner overall sound with less distortion since the bass speaker and the front-facing drivers are powered separately. This is essentially unheard of in any other bluetooth speaker that I'm aware of. This is the sort of amplification scheme that high-end audio has been using for years and now it's in this very reasonably priced bluetooth speaker.
So how does it sound? Fantastic. The sound is clean, clear and accurate. No boomy bass here, just well balanced sound. I don't hear any buzzes, rattles or unusual sounds whatsoever. It is solidly built.
One thing I notice when listening to it is that it actually sounds better when you're a little further away from it. That seems to be due to the fact that the front drivers are a "far-field" design which means they are meant to throw the sound further. So if you're listening to this when at your desk and it's right in front of your face, it doesn't open up as much as when you are a greater distance away from it. This makes it great for large rooms and big groups of people (ie: parties.)
[Included in the box:]
- Power supply with folding plug: 100-240V, 50/60Hz. 6' cord length.
- USB to Micro USB cable. 30" cable length.
The quick summary is... get it. It's an incredible value and produces fantastic quality sound that is powerful and accurate (un-colored). If you want to play it loud, it responds. If you want to play it soft, the Terra-Bass enhances the bass at low listening levels for a very satisfying sound.
--More in-depth information --
This bluetooth speaker has features galore running the gamut from great to somewhat frivolous. But even without all the features, the sound that this speaker produces makes it worth the price.
[Feature Summary]
- Can be used as a wireless bluetooth speaker
- Can be used as a wired speaker using an AUX input from an MP3 player or other device. No Aux cable is provided.
- Can be used as an audio output for your computer when connected via the included USB cable to your computer
- Has a built-in digital recording function that can record your voice, a phone call using the handsfree feature or any sound that is being sent to the speaker from whatever source.
- Has a MicroSD card slot (up to 32GB capacity) that can hold MP3, WMA or WAV files for playback
- Has the ability to shuffle music from the MicroSD card during playback, or just repeat all the music in the order in which it was placed in the music folder on the memory card.
- Has the ability to use the MicroSD card as a mass storage device when connected to your computer.
- Has the ability to allow 2 simultaneous bluetooth connections (multipoint technology) and has a Link Security feature that gives you even more flexibility in determining who will be able to connect to the speaker.
- Has a gimmicky Alarm function that sounds a loud, warbling alarm sound when invoked.
- Has NFC pairing for use with devices that support NFC like some smartphones and tablets.
- Supports aptX and AAC
- Has the ability to charge other USB devices using the 1A USB output
- Has a bedtime mode that plays music for either 15 or 30 minutes then gradually reduces the volume before automatically shutting down. This was inoperative for me.
- Terra-Bass feature gives the speaker enhanced bass at low to medium sound levels
- Roar feature let's you put the speaker volume into overdrive by a simple press of the button. Loudness, depth and spaciousness is increased and works best when connected to the power supply. But it seems more of a gimmick.
- Works as a handsfree speaker phone with your smartphone. Answer, reject and end calls from the speaker.
The "Roar" has 5 discreet speaker drivers and features a bi-amp design
- On the front are two 1.5" forward facing, far-field high frequency drivers
- On the top is an active, high-excursion 2.5" driver that handles bass and mid frequencies.
- On each side is a passive bass radiator. These opposing radiators enhance bass response and widen the soundstage.
It's really mind boggling that the speaker has so many features. Some may be frivolous but he majority are useful t and work quite well. Even the goofy Siren Alarm has some use for getting peoples' attention during a party. I could get picky and say that the digital recorder is a bit weak because you can't delete files using only the speaker controls. But it's pretty easy to delete the files either by connecting the speaker to your computer using the USB cable to do so, or to remove the MicroSD card and insert it directly into a card reader or memory card slot of your computer. I mean, the fact that this can even record voice, music and phone calls at all is powerful. The "Roar" feature, after which the speaker is named, is of dubious real value and seems unnecessary to me.
This speaker screams to be compared to the Bose SoundLink III. To me the Bose has boomy bass. The Sound Blaster Roar has cleaner sounding bass with clear, defined mids and highs. The Roar also has a wider soundstage than the Bose Soundlink III which gives the speaker a bigger sound that belies its size.
I love the Terra-Bass feature that enhances the bass output at low volumes. It makes a huge difference in sound quality and turns what otherwise might be described as thin or anemic sound into full, rich sound particularly at lower volume levels. In fact, you shouldn't use the Terra-Bass at all when listening at louder levels... that's when you'd want to use the Roar feature. When using the Roar feature it's best to be connected to the power supply for even louder sound.
I've played many different genres of music on my Roar... from Baroque to Miles Davis to EDM. It handles all genres well. The sound is accurate with tight well-defined bass, clear highs and well-formed mids. But you can even tweak the sound further by installing the Sound Blaster Control Panel which I discuss later on in more detail. Once this is installed you have additional ways to adjust the output from the speaker when connected to your Mac/PC via USB.
Regarding the "Sound Blaster Control Panel," it is really not named properly. It is not a "Control Panel" as most Mac users would understand it. It is not located in System Preferences where control panels are generally located. It is actually an Application that when installed, is put in the Applications Folder, in a subdirectory Creative>SoundBlaster. The Sound Blaster Control Panel is only functional when you have the speaker connected to your computer via the USB cable. You also have to choose the Sound Blaster Roar speaker so that it can be used as a sound output device in the "Sound" control panel in system preferences. Once you have it connected and have sound playing through the speaker you can then launch the Sound Blaster Control Panel application and use predefined audio presets to tweak the sound. You have the following options:
[Music]
- SBX Default - simulates a surround sound system and opens up the soundstage even more.
- Warm Sound - restores detail to the sound
- Smart Volume - kind of an audio level adjuster
[Movies]
- Dynamic Boost - Boosts the high and low-end frequency responses of the speaker
- Night Mode - Reduces the volume of sudden volume spikes while preserving dialog clarity
- Clear Dialog - brings out the dialog in movies for maximum clarity
[Gaming]
- Stadium Surround - recreates the immersive audio experience of being in a stadium
- Clear Comms - boosts in-game communication audio to more clearly hear your teammates
- Cinematic Action - Brings a cinema audio experience to your games
You also have the ability to enter a customizable SBX profile mode screen where you can set and save various options such as Surround, Crystalizer, Bass, Crossover Frequency, Smart Volume, and Dialog Plus. There is a cool little audio demo that showcases the sound capabilities of the speaker. There is also a 10-band equalizer that enables you to completely customize the output sound characteristics manually or use predefined equalizer presets: flat, acoustic, classical, country, dance, jazz, new age, pop, rock, and vocal.
Wow, this is such an impressive speaker. The feature list can honestly be a bit overwhelming but it is actually easier to comprehend and use than you might think.
There is not much I would change about this speaker. But there is one huge, glaring omission in the feature set... there are no track selection buttons. Many speakers have dual function volume buttons where a tap will control volume, while a press will change tracks. This speaker lacks the ability to change tracks. The Bose SoundLink also lacks track selection buttons so it's not unprecedented, but does seem like it should be there given that you can change tracks when playing music from the internal memory card.
One tiny tiny suggestion is to have some indication on the back panel that the Alarm button is also the Terra-Bass button. The alarm button only works as the alarm button when the Arm switch is set to "on" otherwise the Alarm button is the Terra-Bass button (when the Alarm Arm switch is set to "off." Creative could also include an Aux cable to facilitate a wired connection to this speaker. I also wish the included USB cable were longer. You can only use the Sound Blaster Control Panel application when the speaker is connected to your computer via USB. So in order to place the speaker optimally, you need a longer cable than what is provided.
Gorgeous looking speaker with fantastic sound.
PROS:
- Gorgeous build quality
- Feature rich
- Full, balanced sound with terrific bass and wide soundstage
- Great battery life
- Speaker can be charged, albeit very slowly, via the Micro USB port
CONS:
- No Aux cable included
- Remarkably, there are no track selection buttons on the speaker. That must be done from your device.
- Some of the features seem more gimmick than useful
- Included USB cable should be longer for it's intended purpose
This is a remarkable speaker. For the current price of 149, it's an outstanding value.
Watch out Bose Soundlink III, there is a new kid on the block at a fraction of the price.
I was provided a free sample for review.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mellifluous, pleasant and powerful - A thing of beauty, Tuesday, August 12, 2014
By Crooked Tree
Received my CSSB Roar today. I was impressed with all the good reviews and decided to jump on. As lots of reviewers have written about the various features, I will avoid such details to avoid redundancy but instead simply mention my experience with the unit and the quality of sound. First my background - I have 2 separate home theater setups (one dedicated setup with two 18 inch subs and matching custom LCR's putting out 7500 Watts; and another in the den area with two 15 inch subs and matching Martin Logan tops with around 3000 Watts output). I am also a performing singer and drummer. So I guess I know a thing or two about sound systems in general.
I listened to various genres and types of music. Specific singers/groups chosen -
Newer - Imagine Dragons, Macklemore, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Pink, Ed Sheeran, Bastille,
Easy Listening / Rock - Beatles, Dire Straits, Queen, Billy Joel, Bob Marley, Bruce Springstein, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, John Meyer, Eagles, Elvis Presley, Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkel, Sting, Wham, Tom Petty, Abba, Aerosmith
All-time classics - Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Lionell Richie, Marvin Gaye, Neil Young, Patsy Kline, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke
The soundstage - the CSSB Roar manages to create a large presence with balanced sound that filled the entire house. The sound was very pleasing and melodious. No jarring, booming, hissing sounds heard at all at any volume. The 'roar' feature makes the sound come alive when a song (or the recording) seems a bit feeble. I loved the the terra bass feature for low volume bass enhancement.
The blue tooth range was at least up to around 30 feet in the house. I placed the speaker on the kitchen counter where there was a boxy area, which was the sweet spot. All songs were played from my Macbook air or iPod touch, which seemed to connect up very easily.
The sound quality - The sound reproduction is exactly as it is on the recording - no coloring or processing involved. It just lays bare the song as it is on the recording. Which is exactly what my $30k sound system also does. Creative has done a great job on that. I heard the Bose, UE Boom, Beats and Sony SRS and TDK systems to compare. Nothing comes anywhere close to the Roar. The only speaker that is close in my opinion is the TDK, which however seemed a bit feeble, but the reproductions of the TDK were accurate too. Now back to the CSSB Roar - The melodies and counter-melodies of the Queen and Beatles bass came thru with clarity and authority. The sexy breath of George Michael in Careless Whispers was as audible as it was on my Martin Logan electrostats.. The lead guitar of David Gilmour and Mark Knopfler had real punch. The male voices were accurately reproduced, as were Abba's and Aretha Franklin's voices. Good balance on vocals. What really impressed me was the accuracy of the bass notes, which Bose and lots of others manage to make it boom. The kick drums really kicks ass. The mid-frequencies are also very well reproduced.
I can't believe this is possible from such a small speaker. Creative has really created something amazing. Can it compare favorably with my $30K system which has multiple subwoofers? Certainly not. It would be unrealistic to expect that. However Creative is right on with the Roar speaker design. My recommendation would be for them to take it to the next level by including a 6 inch woofer and more tweeters. And now the bonus - it looks beautiful and is very portable. And for $150, this is a real steal.
Full disclosure - I am NOT paid by either Amazon or Creative Sound to write this review. I am simply an audiophile who appreciates good music and sound systems. I am yet to play with the many features of this speaker. But based on my listening so far, this is a keeper. I am sure my friends will be eager to buy this also.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Bluetooth speaker I have ever heard!, Friday, July 4, 2014
By JJCEO (Greenwood, Indiana)
Length:: 9:42 Mins
Update:
I just left a party with family, friends and neighbors from around the area getting together for a cook out and a pitch in dinner. I set this speaker up on the window ledge outside of the home we were at and played music for 6 hours. I had put about 100 songs on a Micro SD card and just had the speaker randomly play through them. About 40 people asked me what kind of speaker I was using and where they could buy one. I hadn't even told them that I brought the speaker but they asked the hostess of the party and she directed them to me. Yes this speaker is that good.
In 6 hours the battery still has 2 of the 3 LEDs going strong and the sound quality was outstanding. Everyone commented on how good the speaker sounded and they even took photos of the speaker and told me that they planned to buy it. I had the speaker on about 50% of the volume and it covered a deck area about 45 feet long by 20 feet wide. It made a great background music atmosphere for the party! People could still talk and carry on a conversation but you could see them singing along or dancing as they walked and mingled. It was a lot of fun!
+++++++++++++++++++
This is the best speaker of this size that I have reviewed. If I could honestly rate it as a 10 star product I would. This speaker came to me for review along with a net carrying case for it. I am not sure if the carrying case is a standard part of the product or not.
This speaker has been developed by Sound Blaster who is a leader in audio for digital and computer systems. I have used their sound cards in computers for as long as I can remember. This speaker is an engineering marvel and the sound volume and quality proves it. This speaker is worth every penny they are asking for it. The speaker is simply exceptional in its performance!
What's in the box?
* The speaker itself that weighs in at 2 pounds and 6 7/8 ounces of pure power!
* A 30 inch Micro USB to USB cable to charge the speaker with your PC or Mac computer and play your audio from your computer.
* An AC power wall charger that comes with a 70 inch cable. It operates on 100 to 240 VAC at 50/60 Hz. The AC wall plugs fold out for use and fold in for portability. The output is 15 VDC at 1.6 Amps and the unit is UL approved.
* The test unit came with a nice net carrying bag but I am not sure if it is a standard item with the speaker or not as it came in a separate product box.
* A Quick Start Guide
* A Handy Guide for the Sound Blaster Roar
The first thing that you want to do is to charge the speaker and I used the supplied AC wall power adapter. The speaker has an internal 6000 mAh Lithium-Ion battery inside of it that can power the speaker for up to 8 hours of continuous operation in playing your music. As I mentioned you can also charge the speaker and play your music by using the supplied micro USB to USB cable. When the unit is charging you can see three LEDs on the top of the speaker flashing to indicate that charging is taking place.
On the rear of the speaker there is an Auxiliary input port so you can play your devices that do not have Bluetooth using a 3.5 mm audio cable. The cable does not come with the unit. There is also a USB output power port that is rated at 5 VDC at 1 Amp. You can use your phone's charging cable and you can charge your phone with just the speaker's internal battery or you can charge it with the speaker having the speaker's AC wall adapter plugged in. when using just the speaker's internal battery the speaker is acting as an emergency battery pack for your phone. Nice Feature!
Also on the back is a Micro SD card slot in which you can plug in a 32 GIG Micro SD card and you can load up 32 GIG of your favorite songs from your computer and play them for the SD card. In this mode you do not need to use the Bluetooth and this saves battery power and lets you play your music a bit longer.
The speaker has an internal microphone in it and you can make and answer hands free phone calls. When we did this the connection was so good that the people on the other end of the phone call did not even know that we were using a hands free system. In our test this feature worked perfectly and there was no feedback on either end of the call. This same microphone lets you record your conversations and it will store the recording on the free space of the Micro SD card. You can turn the microphone on or off. You press the record button to record and you have a play/pause button to listen to your recording.
There is a continuous play button on the back and your can switch it to shuffle while playing songs from your SD card. There is also a skip forward, skip back, play or pause button for your SD card songs. There is a Life Saver function on the speaker that you can turn off, to mode 1 or to mode 2. Mode one randomly plays a loud sound bite at ? of max volume and mode two plays a sound bite at max volume. This is a feature to randomly make that noise to keep you awake and focused when studying.
This speaker even has a siren button on the back and when you short press it the siren will go off. It is loud and it will attract attention. If you long press the siren button the speaker will say Terra Bass on and it will boost the bass output of the speaker. The speaker does use voice prompts but you can turn them off by pressing the Bluetooth/phone button and the minus button simultaneously. Pressing the Bluetooth/phone button again with the plus button will turn the voice prompts back on.
The speaker has NFC (Near Field Connection) and Bluetooth 3.0 built in and in the video I show how to pair the unit with an iPhone 5S. There are several Bluetooth pairing options listed in the manual. I walked about 35 feet away and the speaker and my phone stayed paired and working perfectly even shooting through 2 walls. On top of the speaker is a power on/off button. There is also a ROAR button with boosts the volume output for you when you need it as at a very loud party. The Plus and minus buttons are to control the volume of the speaker. Please remember to have the volume also turned up on your smart device. Pressing and holding the Bluetooth button will make the white LED flash and put the speaker into the pairing mode. The same button will also let you answer a phone call.
Sound System Quality
This is where this speaker shines. It has 5 drivers with dual 1.5 inch high frequency speakers and a 2.5 inch speaker for the pulsating bass sounds. There are also two passive bass radiators and this speaker really sounds good. It actually has two amplifiers and one controls the high end sounds and the other controls the mid-range and the bass. This speaker has excellent sound, great bass and crystal clear treble. It has good stability at high volumes with no noise or rattling. The wireless music sounds as good as the wired connections using state of the art data transmission technology. This speaker was built to party!
There is a Sound Blaster Control Panel software for a PC or a MAC that lets you control the speaker's functions. There are even features I don't cover and this speaker has so many options. When I say it is outstanding, it is outstanding! This speaker is a 5 star and it deserves even a higher rating. I play small pieces of a couple of songs just to give you an idea of what it sounds like. You will enjoy this speaker.
I was supplied a sample for test and evaluation. A review was not promised to the supplier in exchange for the sample but I stated that if I provided a review that it would be fair and honest.
5.0 out of 5 stars Roar vs. Bose Mini Soundlink vs. Big Jambox, Monday, September 1, 2014
By Roger L. Calvert
Ok first let me say that these small bluetooth speakers have come a LONG way. Let's face it. They all sound good and the sound quality differences tend to be minimal. I must admit that I am fascinated with the quality that can come from these small speakers so they have become a bit of a hobby for me. I have bought, sold and traded for a lot of them. I currently have this speaker, a Big Jambox, Bose Soundlink Mini, Altec Lansing The Jacket, Altec Lansing IMW 725, a couple of Ion Clipsters and a Mini Jambox. I have had a JBL Charge and Flip, I have had a couple of Eton speakers also so I have had numerous comparison opportunities. However in this review I compared the Roar, the Soundlink Mini and the Big Jambox. Up front, they all sound great and you would be happy with any of the three but here is what I hear when I compare them. I'm going to make this short and sweet.
Volume: Obvious winner is the Big Jambox, however it did distort a little at full volume. Second would be the Roar with no noticeable distortion at full volume and last the Soundlink Mini with very little distortion at full volume.
Bass: Contrary to what other reviews have said the three are close here with the Jambox probably having a little more low end than the other two simply because of the size but they are all close. The Soundlink Mini seems to have the richest low end of the three but the Roar doesn't lack bass as some have said. All three have solid low ends. What makes the Bose stand out is its size being the smallest of the three. With the Terra Bass on the Roar stands toe to toe with the other two. Again the Bose seems to have the richer sounding low end but I guarantee you will be satisfied with any of the three.
Treble: All three are good. The Big Jambox sounds a little brash to me at times where the other two sound crisp and smooth. The highs distort a bit on the Jambox at higher volumes but are smooth on the other two. Bear in mind that the Big Jambox is louder so it will sound good and comparable volumes. Again you will be pleased with the treble of any one.
Midrange: To me it seems better on the Roar. They all sound good but the overall sound of the Roar, to me, is more pleasing.
Overall Sound: I have to go with the Roar for overall sound because it seems more balanced. It probably does have the weakest low end of the three but it is not anemic by any means. Apart from comparison you will be very satisfied with its low end. Again, as far as sound goes, they all sound GREAT. It's really just a matter of preference. I would be, and am, satisfied with the sound of all three.
Price: No brainer. The Roar is by far the best value.
Features: No brainer. The Roar. Though i don't find all of the features useful I find some outstanding like the ability to use it as a stand alone MP3 player. Very useful and just downright neat. The ability to record conversations is also neat. It is also great as a speakerphone. Card reader and outboard DAC feature is cool. The alarm, nice gimmick. The loud noises. Why? The sleep feature, meh kind of neat. Still the number of features this thing offers is amazing. Second in features is the Jambox. It is a GREAT speakerphone and the live audio is amazing with certain music. The upgradeable features is really neat. The only thing that the Bose offers feature wise to compare with these two is an easily replaceable batter and a charging stand. Bose evidently was not too concerned about features.
Build Quality; They all have solid, quality builds. The Big Jambox is probably the more fragile of the three if dropped due to its metal screen covering. The Mini and Roar are built like tanks.
Battery LIfe: Big Jambox wins. It seems to play forever. The Roar comes in second with excellent battery life as well. The Bose comes in last with the shortest battery life of the three.
Charging: The Roar. You can charge with the provided adapter or a micro usb. The Jambox offers micro usb charging as well but it would take days. You pretty much have to use the provided adapter which is acceptable given its incredible battery life. The Bose loses here because you have to use the provide charger or stand.
The overall winner is.......The Roar. The speaker is just so innovative and contrary to other reviews it really sounds good. As stated before I prefer its overall sound to the others. When you consider sound, price, features and convenience you have to go with the Roar. I still like listening to the other two, however, because I just like a variety.
Summary: These three speakers are three of the best on the market and they all sound great. It really depends on what you are looking for in a speaker. Again at $149 the Roar is just hard to beat as far as value especially given the feature set.
Hope this was helpful.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best sounding speaker at this price range, Monday, July 7, 2014
By Stephen Lerch
My short review:
If you have the money to spend on this speaker, don't walk, RUN to the order button and just buy it. This is easily the best sounding portable speaker I have ever heard, and if you pair them it is likely the sound from these two devices will trounce what most normal people usually listen to music on at home.
I have heard several Bose options from the higher end BT speaker side, and countless BT speakers from the low end side from all sorts of vendors. This is the first time, in all my testing, that I can say that the price belies the tremendous capability of this speaker.
Very highly recommended.
UPDATE - A month later, and as cliche as it sounds, I am constantly amazed every time I turn this speaker on. I have received quite a few free to review BT speakers since then, and I still can't get over how amazing this one speaker sounds compared to all of them. Definitely a great purchase, and I'm really happy to have 2 and the mega stereo cable!
Longer review:
Creative Labs was the audio darling of the PC sound card world. Their cards were top of the class, providing advanced features and capability that PC gamers and audiophiles craved. Then Intel and others begin including audio components on their motherboards and chip sets, and Creative lost their way. The mighty fell.
Thankfully, they have soldiered on, continuing to provide top of the line audio cards and audio capability to computer users, but at a lesser capacity than their heyday. Now they are focusing on other areas of audio, and this speaker is just one of the areas they spent a ton of research and development time/resources to make it sound nothing short of amazing. And they succeeded, hands down, making me realize how much I miss the old days of PC building.
.
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The sound from the Roar Portable Bluetooth Speaker is nothing short of amazing. I received a free sample from Creative for review purposes and wasn't overly excited by the idea of reviewing yet another Bluetooth Speaker. But then it arrived, I opened it and connected it to my computer and... my jaw was on the floor. I have never been this surprised by a BT speaker in my years of reviewing on Amazon.
Opening the box, you don't get the "Apple Ecstasy" of a premium product opening. To me, that's not a huge deal, but the feeling of wow of unboxing could match the absolute feeling of WOW when you power it on and hear how amazing it sounds.
There are a ton of ways to provide audio to the speaker, they include:
Bluetooth (you can connect up to 2 devices at a time, though only one will play audio obviously)
NFC (if you aren't aware, NFC is just an easier way to connect BT devices that support it)
3.5mm input
MicroSD (up to 32 GB capacity only, higher capacity does NOT work, I tried)
USB input to your computer as a USB sound card (this offers a ton of control for your audio if you choose this option)
Added features:
You can charge your phone w/ the built in battery via USB
There is an "alarm" feature for getting people's attention
Bluetooth is using BT 3.0, instead of BT 4.0, but don't let that fool you, it still sounds amazing and supports A2DP (can also be used as a speaker phone).
The audio out of this single speaker is nothing short of amazing. Highs are high. Lows are low. Mids are mid. It sounds exactly what you should expect from a high quality speaker.
Part of why this sounds so amazing is that it utilizes two amplifiers. One amp is focused on lows and mids. The other is focused just on providing accurate highs. At max volume, there is no distortion. And the amount of bass from this, when it is sitting on a flat surface, is quite thumping. There are essentially 3 speakers in the box. Two are 1.5 mm and a single down firing 2.5 mm driver that is designed to pump out bass. The grills on the side are designed to throw the bass around, and filling a room with sound is an easy proposition.
When using the Roar, be sure to place it on a flat surface with the power button facing UP. This will ensure audio plays back correctly in terms of audio quality. It CAN play in other configurations, but the problem there is that you really change the acoustics, and in the case or putting the power button facing down, the sound becomes harsh. Most people wouldn't do this, so I'm just mentioning it, just in case.
I am, right now, placing an order for a second speaker to use this is true stereo mode. Just the quality from a single speaker is this good, I can only imagine how great it will sound with the stereo feature working.
Features:
Speakerphone
Volume up/down
Power on/off
mic input for recording audio to MicroUSB (and a built in mic for speakerphone that can be used to record audio notes and record calls)
LS1 and 2, plus the off switch just allow 1 or 2 devices to connect to the speaker, turning this off allows everyone to pair with it
Terrabass (also works as the siren button) for more intelligent bass as you turn the volume down, similar to night or midnight mode on a stereo or surround receiver
Roar mode turns on a loudness option. You lose audio fidelity with this setting, but in a party setting you won't notice and it will toss sound more fully and completely around the room.
.
.
.
Playback time from the battery seems to be in the 6-8 hour range for me. If you connect your phone to charge, and if you are using Bluetooth for connectivity, expect lower battery life. If you are using this at maximum volume, expect the battery life to be lower.
Overall:
In the end, at the current Amazon price, this speaker's audio quality is impossible to match elsewhere for even $50 more. It is also packed with features. I can't wait for my second speaker to arrive to test this is stereo configuration.
Very. Very. Highly recommended.
(As stated, I received a free sample from Creative for review purposes, and now I'm purchasing a second)
Pros:
Great sound for the price
Tons of connection and playback options
Loudness (Roar) button helps fill a packed room with sound
Great build quality
Cons:
Battery life can take a beating
Placement certainly helps to ensure proper audio response
When using the stereo option (2 Roar speakers together), you can only playback via BT/NFC, USB to a computer or MicroUSB (disappointing IMO, since I would love to connect this to my AUNE amp with this configuration)
For those wondering what I listened to via this speaker (this is over BT and connected to my PC through my AUNE and a 3.5mm cable):
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary
Halo Combat Evolved
Several Mozart pieces
David Bowie - Space Oddity/Earthling/Ziggy Star Dust
Moody Blues - Days of Future Past
Hikaru Utada - Various tracks
Guns N Roses - Best of
Derek and the Dominoes (Eric Clapton)
Lord of the Rings Complete Recordings (various tracks from the 3 sets)
Urusen
Trans Siberian Orchestra - Dreams of Fireflies
Cannibal Corpse - various tracks
Napalm Death - various tracks
Everything sounds great. I prefer my B&W 683s through my receiver, but from my computer, this is more than good, it's great.
EDIT 15/7/2014 - I have found that if you have a USB cable connected to your ROAR and you then use the stereo input, you may hear some buzzing interference. I solved this by simply unplugging the USB cable while using the speaker w/ stereo in.
Also, I purchased a second ROAR to test the stereo capability. Unfortunately, the Mega Stereo Cable isn't available from Creative in the US yet. And you can't order from the Singapore site (which has it in stock). I tried a standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo cable, it doesn't work. I tried a Beats audio cable (the Creative picture shows 3 connection points, so I thought maybe a mic cable would work). This didn't work either.
EDIT- the Roar "Mega Stereo Cable" is now available and I have had the absolute pleasure of hearing 2 Roar speakers roaring in unison. The effect is nothing short of phenomenal. The inner audiophile inside of me is all sorts of tickled and amazed at just how great one speaker sounds, and how much BETTER it sounds with two. Don't get me wrong, you don't NEED 2 Roar speakers to get some fantastic music, but just know that you CAN connect 2 and get sound that will truly knock socks off and give true stereo sound.
I am now anxiously awaiting Creative listing the Mega Stereo Cable on their website so I can order it. If the effect isn't awesome, I'm sending the second speaker back and will eat the cost of the Mega Stereo. I'll update my review once I have the ability to test this out.
EDIT- I received the Roar Mega Stereo Cable today. I've been listening intently for quite some time and I have to say, just as I edited within the review proper, the sound is absolutely fantastic. Very, very impressive. I wish you could connect analog to the master speaker and have it play, but coming over the USB connection to my PC, and via BT on my phone, I don't hear any issues at all. If you have the means, two Roars are better than one, and one alone is still nothing short of phenomenal.
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget what you may think you know about portable one-piece wireless speaker systems!, Sunday, August 3, 2014
By 24 Track
Forget what you may think you know about portable one-piece wireless speaker systems, the Creative Sound Blaster Roar represents a sea change in what will now be expected of products in its class. This is simultaneously due to what the Sound Blaster Roar is, and paradoxically, what it is not!
Before we wade too far in to the specifics, let's take a quick look at the salient features of the device:
First of all, this is primarily a device that is designed to be used paired to wireless Bluetooth devices. In addition to the familiar standard coded Bluetooth connection schema, the Roar features a mode that allows it to pair to multiple devices, or even act as an open connection (one that any device can connect to without needing a password.) That said, wired operation (either analog through a 1/8" mini-jack, or USB tethered - in conjunction with a Windows or Macintosh computer) is certainly an option. Standalone operation is also possible through the use of the on-board micro-SD card slot. Two units can even be hardwired together to act as a dedicated "left" and "right" speaker with an optional cable.
One thing that separates this unit from most of the units in the marketplace today is that it shies away from the ubiquitous "boom tizz" (too much bass with an overly bright high frequency response) type of sonic voicing. This is a direct result of both the construction characteristics of the unit, and the goals of the design team.
A major design difference between the Roar and its competitors is that it features a total of five drivers (three active and two passive), where typical units feature just two. The two drivers on the side of the unit are passive (not electrically connected, though acoustically connected), the two drivers in the front handle the mid/highs, and the driver on the top handles the low frequencies. This increased radiating surface is one of the major reasons behind the Roar's spacious sound-staging and impressive clarity.
The mid/high and the low frequency drivers are powered by separate amplifiers. This has multiple benefits, including preserving sound-staging (preventing a low frequency transient in one channel from collapsing the soundstage when the amplifier runs out of power) and allowing amplifier and speaker characteristics to best suited to their intended task.
Another (obvious) physical difference between this unit and most all of its competition lies in its form factor. The Roar is oriented like a hardcover book laying flat...rather than the "on-edge shoebox" design of similar sized devices (think Jambox or Bose Soundlink). Creative contends that this design makes for a more stable physical and sonic presentation. They compare it to the boxer type engine that Subaru uses for its cars, and BMW for its motorcycles.
Now that we've covered the physical plant, so to speak, lets take a quick look (not easy!) at some of the additional features of the unit:
Ability to play music from a Micro-SD card
Ability to record from its built-in microphone or Bluetooth source
A great sounding speakerphone
Ability to charge a phone or other device via USB
Ability to pair with multiple devices at the same time
A built in personal safety alarm
A sleep timer mode
A legitimate eight hour battery life
Ability to function as a high end sound card for a computer
Ability to physically connect two units together for greater response
Ability to enable multiple sonic profiles (when used as a sound card)
TeraBass function acts as a loudness contour button
Roar button for use in "loud" environment adds increased clarity
The amazing thing is that as long as that list is, it's more than likely that I've neglected something about the unit!
That said, all of the above features would be 100% meaningless if the unit didn't sound good! The truth is, that the unit sounds much much better than just good.
If you've read my reviews over the years, you'll know that I've been in and out of recording studios during the past 30 years and have heard hundreds of speakers (as well as components of all kinds).
If you have an unlimited budget, it's easy to make a device that will play at 120 dBA with a 0-100K bandwidth. Even with that unlimited budget, however, there are no guarantees that that the device you build will actually be musical!
Musicality is a funny thing, it can't be summarized in a single technical specification, or even multiple specifications. Some very high dollar devices are not musical, and some budget devices are! Even more interesting is that there is no one topology that produces great sounding amplifiers, or speakers, or microphones for that matter. One could say that there are many ways to Nirvana...
So, what does all of that have to do with the Soundblaster Roar?
Everything!
I'm not going out on a limb at all if I tell you that the Roar is the least expensive, truly musical device that I've heard in years...maybe ever.
Realize that there are multiple ways that you could listen to the Roar. You could put it on your coffee table or counter and listen to it from across the room. You could take it outside and sit under a tree. You could take it in the bathtub with you (just kidding, DON'T DO THAT!).
Or you can put it in a place where you can really listen to it carefully, with the drivers on the face of the unit at close to ear level. When you listen to the Roar in that way (in the close field) you begin to appreciate just how good the unit is at putting across the music in a way that lets you really connect with the intentions of the artist and producer..
The first night that I had the Roar, I listened through a large variety of material, including classic rock, jazz, rap, pop, and many songs that I either produced or mixed. I noticed right away how the unit had almost no sonic signature. In other words it just sounded like the source material, rather than overlaying its own identity on each recording. A certain four letter word of a brand is notorious for this behavior. I'm sure you know the one I mean!
Truth be told, I've lost track of just how many true audiophile systems I've heard (and I'm talking about systems ranging from 25K to 400K) that were far less satisfying to listen to.
It's important for you to understand that I'm not trying to tell you that the Roar can give the same level of impact in a 750 square foot listening room as a pair of Martin Logan electrostatics driven by a Pass Labs Class A amplifier. That would be patently impossible...but when listened to in the close field (also incorrectly known as the near field - which is a term describing a specific kind of speaker developed by engineer Edward M. Long) the Roar just seems to disappear and leave the music intact.
There is no higher compliment in my book.
Interestingly the Roar's multi-surface driver arrangement also (when listened to in the close field) recalls the sonic signature of some of the venerable dipole speakers of the past, like the DCM Time Windows, Dahlquist DQ-10's, and Apogee Stages, providing a deep and wide sound stage, all the while sounding quite dynamic.
Of course there are limitations to what any device can do, and the Roar has no dispensation from the laws of physics...you won't be rattling anyone's silver fillings with the bass response of a 15 Hz sine wave. Honestly, you couldn't even reproduce a 15 Hz sine wave on the Roar! That's okay.
Similarly, if you are the type that enjoys the boomy and inaccurate bass response that some brands augment the BEATS with, you might find the Roar a little bit lean for your tastes. The Roar aspires to honest timbral and dynamic response. That said, you can add a little bit of "fatness" by engaging the TeraBass function which essentially acts as the familiar loudness button on a stereo receiver. Happily, even at maximum volume, the TeraBass function never causes the Roar to sound strained or congested.
When I needed to get the maximum output out of the unit in a noisy area or needed a little bit of extra clarity or sparkle (or even maximum output volume from the Roar) the Roar Button came in handy. The Roar button function might also be useful for increasing the speech intelligibility on some video presentations and for books on tape. I tended to leave it off for critical listening sessions.
From a practical standpoint, the Roar appears to be very well made and has the most solid Bluetooth performance of any device I've used. Using a Samsung Galaxy 4S phone, I noted distances of more than 50 feet in a wood framed building of perfect no-dropout connection.
Speaking of phones, I got more than a few compliments on the sound of the speakerphone when paired with my Samsung. You'll also be pleased to know that the battery performance is very very good.
Overall, I can (and do) recommend this unit without hesitation.
At it's retail cost of $149.99 It simply crushes its immediate competition (and some competitors at double or triple the price).
Buy one!
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Trust This Strangers Advice, Saturday, August 9, 2014
By Dale Torbet
I looked all over the place in malls, online, and electronics stores for a quality Bluetooth speaker to be used primarily outside. I made a few mistakes based upon other reviewed products and manufacturer claims. I came across this product recently on Amazon and continued reading about it on other sites as well as watching the overwhelmingly supportive reviews continue to climb on this site. I hit up my wife for early approval to buy my own birthday present and made the purchase. When it arrived, I opened the box and within 60 seconds I had it paired to my phone and playing. It had also received the attention of my three kids and drawing them out of their bedrooms. We listened to it for almost two hours over many different genres of music from Disney to Metallica. I am very pleasantly surprised by the volume, but more importantly, the quality of the sound. I research endlessly and tirelessly when making audio purchases. It took me over a month to buy my home surround audio system. It took me the same amount of time roughly to buy my last pair of headphones because of the traveling that I do. Please trust, I did the same thing here, despite the reviews, because hearing is believing. This is one of the best purchases that I have ever made from a tech standpoint and will encourage friends and family to buy it also. Trust the time that I put into it as well as the other reviewers and just buy it.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best. PERIOD. Crystal clear!, Monday, July 21, 2014
By Blockay (Arizona)
Wow sounds amazing. Highs, mids, and lows. The bass is not superb like the treble, though it blends nicely. However it's there and gets the job done well. It gets VERY loud and is impressive every time I hear it. I can see it doing great for any type of party, its such high quality audio and is dispersed so well..amazing output from such a small system. Your friends will be impressed!!
I wanted hear what movies sound like with the roar. So I went ahead and plugged it in. I found out my tv is able to turn the roar up about 3x the volume that my phone can. No, I didn't try maxing it out..sorry, but I got it loud enough that I thought my neighbors would complain for sure. Let me also state I live in a good sized 1 bedroom apt with brick on the outside. Anyways, movies sound phenomenal, the roar plays every sound, makes each one distinguishable, and sound great.
I lIke all the options you have with the sound blaster. The terra bass makes a bigger thump and the roar option seems to fill a room better and increase the overall sound. But keep in mind these features will both drain the battery much quicker. There are many other things the sound blaster is capable of which contribute to make it the superior speaker in its price range.
Bluetooth connects quick and has a very good range. However it seems to drain the battery pretty quick. The Battery life could be improved on. Lasts about 6 hours with high volume levels and connected via auxiliary. The Battery does a "good" job but could be better for a $150 speaker.
This is the best portable bluetooth speaker for its price. I compared it to a TDK A34 and the a34's volume turns up a lot more, so the volume will be a LOT louder than the Roar when playing from a phone. But if you have a tv or receiver or any sound output system then you can amplify the volume on both systems a lot more. In the end, the roar sounds crystal clear and is better quality sound.
The a34 has a very directional sound, all the speakers are aimed to the front. Where as the Roars sound comes out from 4 sides of the speaker. The decision between the two was simple for me. This speaker is so good that I use it alone as a sound output for my tv. I've never spent so much time on a review but I want recommend this to everyone! It makes sound so much more enjoyable!
Cons:
After some time I've noticed two flaws that I see as major..When charging the unit it will display 3 flashing lights to indicate that it's charging, however they never stop when the unit's fully charged. I have to unplug it and plug it back in to find out if it's done. The second flaw I found is that the sound decreases when the battery has less than 1/3 of a charge. The Battery life is another con but it's more tolerable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Competes with Bose and UE Boom and WINS!, Tuesday, July 29, 2014
By FLgator93
After doing hours of research and going to stores to actually listen to products, I decided to buy the Sound Blaster. I wanted a bluetooth speaker below $300 that was loud, clear, and had a full sound. Based on various reviews and websites, I concluded that the best products for my description were the Bose sound link mini, UE Boom, or (for a little more) the Bose Soundlink III. The soundlink mini had a good sound, but it didn't get as loud as I wanted. The base was good but for $200 I felt like I was paying for the name. The UE boom got very loud, but it lacked the base that I wanted. Honesty, the UE would have been my second choice because for $200 it offers more than the soundlink mini in terms of battery life and ruggedness. Then I heard the Soundlink III. The sound was awesome, but I felt the base was a little overpowering. It was also $300, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to dish out that kind of money on a bluetooth speaker.
It was actually through a review for the Soundlink III that I found the Sound Blaster on amazon. The reviews seemed too good to be true, but I assure you this product delivers, and for a fraction of the price of the comparable products I listed above. This thing gets loud and the base is perfect. The sound is crisp and remained clear from the low levels all the way to the maximum volume. This is a product that puts the comsumer first, as it offers an abundance of features and delivers as it promises. I don't feel like I was paying extra for a name or that this product lacked anything that I wanted. Surprisingly, it has features that I didn't even consider until I found this, such as the Link 2 bluetooth mode which allows 2 devices to be linked simultaneously for a jukebox-type experience.
Personally, I think you get more quality for your money from this product that either Bose or UE. I'm not saying those products are bad, but I believe creative has made a great product that, for me, is better that anything else on the market for my price range. I highly recomend this and believe anyone will be more than satisfied with it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Much happier with this than the Bose Soundlink Mini, Friday, September 19, 2014
By Njrg
I've had sampled/owned nearly a dozen, a literal dozen, portable speakers this past year seaking the perfect model for my needs, and the Creative Sound Blaster Roar is among the top tier of them. It's damn near close, but not without it's faults. From Carbon Audio, to Ultimate Ears, Damson, Bose, and others to name a few, this is the best speaker yet of my collection in terms of output of sound quality. Its got a little more base than than the Ultimate Ears Boom, and less than the Bose Soundlink Mini, that in my opinion is a perfect balance.
This unit comes with Apt-x (aptx) and for some of you who aren't aware, is said to offer the same kind of sound quality you'd expect from a wired connection. Most Bluetooth AD2P compresses audio from the source and decompresses it at the sink (Speaker or BT Headset), so you lose audio quality from normal Bluetooth, as well as gain background noise. Often this degradation of quality isn't noticeable to most people, and they're fine with the loss because the output still sounds great. With AptX, you keep much of your source quality, and little no no noise compared to standard Bluetooth. For AptX to work though, both your source and sink need to support the codec. Some phones, mediaplayers, and transmitters do support aptx, so make sure your device supports it as well or you won't get the benefit of Aptx. Aptx gives you greatly superior sound over traditional AD2P and the Creative Sound Blaster Roar does not disappoint.
The sound quality is crisp, clear, does not distort, and has the least amount of background noise in any portable speaker I've tried yet, even less than the $50 more, Bose Soundlink Mini.To my personal preference, this is the best sounding speaker under $250, as well as the best sounding portable speaker, period. The battery is said to be at 8 hours, which really is much less unless you're willing to listen at below half, but it isn't the worst battery life I've seen. Its also one of the least portable, It's about a Soundlink Mini and a half-wide and just as thick. Unfortunately there is no removable battery either. It also comes with half a dozen comical features that I'd never use. It's 6000mah batter can also be used to charge a phone, it can play music off SD card, it can be used as a card reader, it has a sleep timer of sorts, an alarm just for attention for some reason, and the most unique and unexpected, can be used as a USB DAC apparently.
Some direct comparisons vs Creative Sound Blaster Roar, Bose Soundlink Mini, and Ultimate Ears Boom:
Sound Quality: Creative > Bose > UE
Bass: Bose > Creative > UE (I personally prefer less Bass though)
Volume: Creative > UE > Bose
Background Noise Performance: Creative > Bose > UE
Bluetooth Range: UE > Creative > Bose
Size/Portability: UE > Bose > Creative
Battery Life: UE > Creative > Bose (UE has 15 hours, as much as Creative and Bose combined)
Practical Features: UE > Creative > Bose
Price: Creative > UE > Bose
Overall: UE > Creative > Bose
My overall favorite speaker of all time was the Ultimate Ears Boom, which was as small as 20oz bottle, water resistant, 15 hour battery life, connected to another UE Boom, had it's own Mobile app to unlock features and information, and would clearly receive a transmission from 50ft away. And even though I love them the most, I don't like their irreplaceable battery.
The creative sounds the best, and the Bose I'm most disappointed in. I had purchased the Bose because it had a user-removable battery, but had no additional batteries to buy. It wasn't that portable, could never find it on sale or less than $190, even used, had no features, was too bass-y for my taste, and worst of all, would start to cut out at 20-25ft range.
With the Bose, you get lots of bass, great sound quality, but no features, ok battery life, horrible range of BT, and pay a premium because they're Bose.
With Creative, you get Best sound quality, clarity, ok battery life, good BT range, sacrifice portability. And it cost $50 less than the others.
With Ultimate Ears, you get really great sound quality, the best range, the best battery life, the best features, the best portability, but you give up Bass, and background noise can be heard when the volume is jacked to max, and the source audio is quiet.
Update October 8 2014:
Since my review, I've been using it alot more and have discovered even more features than I was led to believe before I purchased the device, and while I was trying it out before the written review. I've discovered the Tera Bass toggle that adds more Bass without messing up the sound. The Bass boost is noticeable and you can feel it. I've also discovered USB charging so you CAN extend your 8 hours without the need of a wall by carrying a power bank. I find that Powerbanks between 6000-9000 mah can be your best companion. I've also discovered Mega Stereo feature, which requires a 2nd Sound Blaster Roar and a Mega Stereo cable which will play the two speakers in Stereo mode as a left and right speaker from a single audio source, Bluetooth or wired. And I've also been able to get as much as, and sometimes over 40ft in range indoors with or without minor obstruction.
If you buy 2 Roars, you get a free Mega Stereo cord, all for the price of a Bose Sound Link 3. I personally haven't sampled the Soundlink 3, just the mini, but given my impression of Bose through the Soundlink mini, I cannot expect the Soundlink 3 can come close to the performance of two SounBlaster Roars in Mega Stereo Mode, for the same price.
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