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Sound Blaster Roar Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with NFC
A portable Bluetooth wireless speaker no larger than a booklet that doesn't just look great, but also has powerful audio and kickass thumping bass. On top of that, it must have a big battery, great killer features and an unbeatable killer price.
How could all these be possible? It was like defying the law of gravity!
We razed through countless designs and built many different prototypes to stretch the limits of the possibilities. Numerous times we crossed into the terrains of the impossible...
Find out how »
Mind-blowing 5 drivers powered by 2 high-performance amplifiers. Built-in subwoofer for kickass thumping bass. Further enhanced with proprietary ROAR, TeraBass & MegaStereo technologies.
Award-winning stylish and compact design. Bagged the prestigious international 2014 Red Dot Award for its amalgamation of precise audio engineering and minimalist design.
AAC & aptX for high-quality audio, NFC, MP3 player, voice recorder, speakerphone, 6000 mAh Li-ion battery, battery bank, Bedtime listening mode, USB Sound Blaster, siren, and Link Security to configure Bluetooth for different usage scenarios.
Outperforms wireless speakers twice its price! Made possible by removing the middle-men and going direct.
Most portable speakers utilize a single amplifier to reproduce the entire audio spectrum. With a single amplifier design, most of the demand goes into producing the lows and mids, which thus compromises the delivery of the highs. On the other hand, the Sound Blaster Roar utilizes two amplifiers - one dedicated to driving lows and mids, and another which is solely dedicated for delivering the high frequencies. This allows the speaker to produce uncompromisingly clear, high definition, well balanced music. The top-firing bass and mid-level driver is also laid horizontally, reducing the speaker's center of gravity, thus stabilizing it.
While many other portable speakers produce small, constrained sound, the Sound Blaster Roar is designed to deliver space-filling audio. That's because we have incorporated far-field high frequency drivers in the Sound Blaster Roar, and these project audio further than most other speakers in its class. This is complemented by the boxer-style layout, which also delivers a room-filling, nonsweet spot-specific audio experience.
Most other portable speakers either focus on audio power thus compromising audio fidelity, or vice versa; this removes the power of choice from end users. The Sound Blaster Roar is designed to be different. By default, it produces balanced, high fidelity audio. And in scenarios where sheer audio power is needed - such as in large parties and social gatherings - users can press the ROAR button that instantly boosts the loudness, depth and spaciousness of the audio.
The Sound Blaster Roar's TeraBass feature intelligently provides bass boost to compensate for the loss of perceived bass during low level listening, such as at night or in less than ideal acoustic environments. The bass compensation level is reduced as the playback volume increases till it reaches the maximum dynamic output, where no processing is applied. TeraBass can also be switched off if the bass compensation is not desired.
The Sound Blaster Roar already delivers an amazing stereo audio performance on its own. Now, imagine the audio performance you will experience with two units of Sound Blaster Roar! Using the MegaStereo Cable, you can link up two units of Sound Blaster Roar to create a mega stereo experience of left+left and right+right channels to achieve a wider sound stage, giving you even more powerful, all-encompassing audio for your music, movies and games! Only audio playback from Bluetooth®, MicroSD card and USB audio via PC/Mac are supported when the MegaStereo Cable is in use.
You can also have fun "enslaving" other speakers by connecting them to the Sound Blaster Roar with the MegaStereo Cable.
The Sound Blaster Roar supports aptX and AAC - advanced HD codecs that deliver high quality audio for Bluetooth transmission. These codecs supported by branded Android phones and the iPhone - are crucial for great wireless audio and is not even found on many expensive wireless speakers.
Sound Blaster Roar's built-in 6000mAh battery makes it highly portable, giving you the flexibility to place it anywhere or to bring it along with you.
Play your music non-stop for up to eight hours2. And, when it's out of juice, simply charge it using the proprietary power adaptor or the micro USB cable.
With its high-capacity built-in 6000mAh Li-ion battery, Sound Blaster Roar can be used to charge your smartphone, so you'll always have backup power whenever you need it.
Holding on to your phone throughout a lengthy call can be tiresome. Conduct hands-free conversations with Sound Blaster Roar by simply speaking through its built-in microphone.
All it takes is a tap, to pair your NFC-enabled device wirelessly to the Sound Blaster Roar.
If your phone doesn't come with NFC, you can always connect via Bluetooth the good old-fashioned way.
The Sound Blaster Roar is not just a wireless speaker for smart devices. Users can connect it to their PCs or Macs via USB to enjoy clear digital audio from their desktops or laptops.
Connecting the speaker via USB enables for advanced PC audio processing through the downloadable software - the Sound Blaster Control Panel and full access to the SBX Pro Studio™ suite of technologies that intelligently enhance audio in real time.
AMAZINGLY POWERFUL AUDIO PERFORMANCE. Mind-blowing FIVE Drivers powered by TWO separate sets of high-performance amplifiers. Features a built-in subwoofer for kickass thumping bass. Sports more features than any other wireless speaker and even outperforms speakers that cost over twice its price!
PORTABLE BOOKLET-SIZE. Defies the laws of acoustic engineering by shrinking the 5-driver system, a voluminous acoustic chamber, an intricate patent-pending heatsink system, a 6000 mAh Li-ion battery, and a host of killer features into a compact size that sits on your palm.
HD CONVENIENT WIRELESS. Supports aptX and AAC for high-quality Bluetooth audio. Comes with NFC Technology for convenient one-touch pairing. Bluetooth Link Security control allows you to configure the Sound Blaster Roar for different usage scenarios.
KILLER FEATURES. On top of the 'no holds barred' ROAR audio enhancement mode, Sound Blaster Roar also comes packed with a whole range of surprisingly useful features, including a built-in MP3 player, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, a battery bank, Bedtime listening mode, TERA BASS, and even a handy siren. Also doubles as a USB Sound Blaster for your PC or Mac.
CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED WORLDWIDE AND SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES. 1 unit sold every 30 seconds at launch during a 4-day cash & carry tech show. Customers kept coming back for more. An amazing piece of tech NOT TO BE MISSED! Don't take our word for it. Compare it with any speakers out there. We are confident that you will keep the Sound Blaster Roar.
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Average Customer Review:
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 140 found the following review helpful:
The best Bluetooth speaker I have ever heard!Jul 04, 2014
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3NRWCYAL0231V 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 ¾ 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.
110 of 126 found the following review helpful:
Powerful accurate sound, features galore. An outstanding speaker for the priceJul 05, 2014
By M. Erb
Watch Video Here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2I72TUYIBV117 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.
54 of 64 found the following review helpful:
Best sounding speaker at this price rangeJul 07, 2014
By Stephen M. 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!
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.
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
Great sound for the price
Tons of connection and playback options
Loudness (Roar) button helps fill a packed room with sound
Great build quality
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)
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.
15 of 17 found the following review helpful:
Forget what you may think you know about portable one-piece wireless speaker systems!Aug 03, 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?
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).
21 of 25 found the following review helpful:
Good speaker Good sound quality - not Great. Beware of the "compensated endorser" reviews.Aug 20, 2014
I've come to heavily rely on Amazon reviews, and base purchasing decisions around those reviews.
I purchased the New Creative Sound Blaster Roar about 1 month ago on the basis of outstanding reviews. It was returned because the Bluetooth dropped - even at close range. But apart from my experience (which I consider an individual unit flaw) I want to address the larger issue of the unit's sound quality in view of the effusive reviews.
The audio quality was OK - not great. My sister has an older first generation Bose Soundlink - which is better than the Roar (and to be fair twice as expensive). Admittedly, it is in different price range; I mention it because there have been many wild comparisons to other products Bose Soundlink (not just the mini), Bose wave radio, $30,000 stereo systems, etc, .... The Roar's audio quality was dependent on location - moving slightly off-axis changed the sound. Was the Roar's sound quality terrible - no. Was it good yes - I'd say even quite good. Was it "audiophile quality" no..... not even close.
But there are so many breathless reviews throwing around terms like "best bluetooth speaker ever" "masterpiece" "audiophile." I would urge caution on buying on the basis of these reviews.
Many of the glowing reviews have coincided with the reviewer obtaining a free Sound Blaster Roar - and while many reviewers candidly acknowledge that fact, I think many more have not. When I received my Roar, I believe there were 100 or so reviews - now about 1 month later - there are 511. One reviewer commented: "Creative has a promotion going on now. Write a review for the sound blaster roar on amazon and get a free carry bag for the roar." I don't know if that is true or not, but based on the wild claims and zealous tone of some of the reviews, I would not be surprised.
An example of a typical review that I would characterize as "breathless"
"Holy Moly! This thing is AWESOME! My buddies have a BOSE in which is bluetooth also, but I gotta say the price versus what you get with Bose is not as good as this deal! I AM IMMEDIATELY BUYING A BACKUP UNIT!!! This thing BOOMS... Talk radio sounds so natural and clear, the connection is a snap, speakerphone works and sounds good.... er, uh.... argh... confusion, excitement, gosh I wanna just keep on writing about this awesome boom box but Brooklyn 99 is on.... So just buy this product already"
"If you are reading reviews on the ROAR your wasting (ROAR) time. you will not find a better product. I even ordered a second one. This is a show stopper. Everyone will want one. At least 5 of my friends ordered one after hearing the pure sound quality. Not much else [sic] to say this unit speaks for itself. THIS IS A MUST HAVE BEST PURCHASE OF 2014 and I buy a lot"
". . .all my friends love it 4 of them ordered one."
"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."
In sum, I value genuine customer feedback on Amazon.
I use to value Yelp - but Yelp has gone the way of pay-to-play - and good actual unfiltered unbiased customer reviews are getting harder to find.
I don't want Amazon reviews to go the way of Yelp.
So, in sum, apart from my bluetooth problem, the Soundblaster is a good unit with decent sound - not a fantastic unit with exceptional sound. If you are motivated to get a good speaker for a reasonable $150 - I would say it is a good deal and you will be happy. If you are motivated to get a fantastic audiophile quality speaker that is the best of its kind (i.e. a great deal) on the basis of these reviews, you may find yourself disappointed and deceived by what are "compensated endorsers."
My criticism is directed at the strategy to overhype what is otherwise a fairly good product.
Above all, I hope Amazon's reviews stay genuine, authentic, and unbiased.
See all 630 customer reviews on Amazon.com