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Creative Sound Blaster Roar review

Richard Easton
23 Dec 2014
Creative Sound Blaster Roar front angle
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

The Creative Sound Blaster Roar is a smart looking Bluetooth speaker that sounds good and throws in lots of extra features

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Creative has produced audio products since the 1980s, and it seems to have crammed all of that expertise into the Sound Blaster Roar. It’s one of the most multi-functional Bluetooth speakers we’ve seen. To label it just a Bluetooth speaker might in fact do it a disservice, as it does a lot more than just play music wirelessly.

We were pleased to see that the Roar supports the less-lossy aptX codec, as well as AAC. NFC pairing makes connecting a compatible smartphone as easy as a tap, and you can even connect two devices simultaneously. To switch between the two devices you just need to stop music on one and start it on the other.

A 3.5mm audio jack on the back lets you connect wired devices, and you can also connect a PC or Mac over USB to turn the Roar into an external DAC. It then plays sound from its speakers via USB audio. If that wasn’t already enough methods to play your music, there’s a microSD card reader on the back that can play MP3, WAV and WMA files.

You can also use the Roar to record audio, either from a connected device or to record voice through the Roar’s built-in microphone and this will save to the installed microSD card. This could be useful if you need to record phone calls from a connected phone or to save voice memos to yourself. The built-in microphone can also be used for hands-free calling and the microphone was surprisingly sensitive with our voice being picked up from 1.5 metres away.

The Roar itself is large and bulky compared to many Bluetooth speakers, measuring 202x115x57mm and weighing a substantial 1.1kg. It’s designed to lie horizontally, when many speakers sit more upright. A monocoque metal dotted grille on the front extends along the top, where you’ll find rubberised, soft touch buttons The back of the Roar, where you’ll find a number of connections and additional controls, is made from rubber. The silver and grey design is simple and understated, and we would happily place it on display on a desk or bedside table. It also feels incredibly well engineered and is a nice balance between retro and modern.

The Roar is very well equipped for a portable Bluetooth speaker. A 2.5in active driver fires upwards to stabilise the speaker and deliver more impactful bass, while two passive radiators on each side broaden the soundstage. There are also two 1.5in tweeters to handle high frequencies. 

All of these components come together to provide an incredibly rich and warm sound. The solid weight and rigid chassis helps to reduce any low-frequency distortion or vibrations, and we were surprised at how wide the soundstage was. There was a lot of bass presence for a speaker of this size and mids and trebles remained gentle. We were able to pick out the sound of cymbals from the pluck of a bass guitar in our test tracks but instruments weren’t quite as delicate as would have liked owing to the overall warmth of the sound. The Roar does still deliver very good sound quality overall and it is especially loud. At maximum volume it can be easily heard from a distance, even outdoors, making it a great choice for garden parties and barbeques. There’s also a bedtime mode that gradually reduces the volume before turning the speaker off. This is great for anyone who listens to music or podcasts in bed.

We managed over seven hours of playback from a single charge, which is respectable. You can also connect a smartphone to the Roar through USB and use it as a portable charger, although this will reduce the amount of music playback time you’ll be able to achieve.

Overall the Roar is a very good Bluetooth speaker with a smart design and good sound quality. How much use you’ll from functions like the voice recorder will be subjective, and there are other features such as the siren that probably won’t see much use at all. If you don’t need so many functions, the Cambridge Audio G2 is a fabulous sounding Bluetooth speaker that is also slightly cheaper.

Hardware
Speakers2
RMS power output33W
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
WirelessBluetooth (SBC, aptX, AAC)
NFCYes
App supportNone
Battery capacity6,000mAh
Dimensions202x115x57mm
Weight1.1kg
Buying information
Price including VAT£130
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Supplier
Detailswww.creative.com
Part codeSound Blaster Roar SR20