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.
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.
- 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:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.