Creatives original Roar product was often praised for its performance and features…but nothing is perfect and the industry moves on. So today we take a look at Creatives smaller, feature packed portable speaker, in our Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review – Packaging and Bundle
Creative package the Roar 2 in a compact box which gives us a nice clear image of the product on each side and notes many of the key features on the back. Inside the box the Roar 2 is wrapped in protective plastic, suspended in cardboard and separated from the bundled items. Those are the product documentation, mains plug, various travel adapters and a USB cable.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review – The Roar 2
The Roar 2 is available in 2 colour schemes ours which is white and black and another which is black and silver. Both have identical designs which are approximately 20% smaller than the original Roar at 51.0 x 188.0 x 109.0 mm with a weight of 1kg. Much of the chassis is plastic base, back, button area and the grill is metal. On the sides there is soft touch material surrounding the creative panel which actually sits on a rubber, vibrating with the bass.
Inside the Roar 2 we find an active high-excursion driver in the centre and dual 1.5″ drivers at each side of it. These all combine with the side bass radiators to provide a wide soundstage. Placing the speaker flat on the desk provides that wide experience or we can make it more directional by sitting on its edge and pointing the drivers at yourself. Also present inside are two amps, one for the the lows/mids and another for the highs.
Looking round the device it is clear that there is a high level of connectivity and functionality. Starting with the black panel we have the power button, volume, multi-function button (calls/Bluetooth pairing), status LEDs (on, recording, charge) and at the end is a NFC logo. By tapping our NFC enabled device, for example a smartphone, on this location we can immediately pair with the Roar 2 which supports multiple device connections, bluetooth 3.0 and A2DP, AVRCP and HFP. Audio codec support includes aptX, SBC and AAC.
Starting on the “front” of the Roar 2, as we look at it above the left most connector is the power input which allows us to use the mains adapter to power the unit, or charge it (approx 2hrs). Next to that is a standard 3.5mm Aux connector which allows us to connect any device with a standard audio out. Next up are two USB ports. One allows us to connect to PC/Mac or PS4 (and charge) the other is a USB out which allows us to charge our mobile device from the Roar 2’s internal 6000mAh Li-ion battery.
The next item on this surface is a microSD card slot which has two functions. Firstly we can play MP3/WMA/Wav audio files from the card (up to 320 kbps/16bit 48Khz). Secondly we can use the Roar 2’s internal mic as a voice recorder, storing on the removable card (up to 32gb, 16k ADPCM wav.). We enable that using the first group of buttons, which include a mic mute. The second group of buttons are for the media playback features (including random/shuffle on the card content) and at the end is a switch that changes us from USB audio to USB storage.
That leaves one button, ther ROAR button. Using this we can cycle through three profiles. The first is standard. The second is TerraBass which enhances bass levels at low volumes. Finally there is ROAR mode which is designed to boost overall volume and utilize the inbuilt DSP to widen audio output for maximum impact (e.g. at a party).
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review – Software
On the software front Creative provide a control panel for PC and MAC which allows us to get a little deeper into the features of the Roar 2. On our first screen we can apply various profiles, depending on our use for the speaker. Then by clicking Edit we can access features such as the ability to enable virtual surround, enhance dialogue and so on. Finally there is the ability to tweak the equalizer.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review – Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the Roar 2 we have a product which very much impresses. Of the two, probably the black version suits our tastes more… and for a product which is to be used on the move it will likely stay looking nicer for longer. The finish is decent, good chunky plastic, some soft touch areas and a sturdy metal grill make up the majority of the external components and the various buttons and switches feel decent quality, requiring a firm push to action which is ideal.
From a purely geeky point of view one of the highlights of the product appearance is the side panels as watching them vibrate with the bass is cool. The Roar 2 is much more than just some fun, retro styling though and on the connectivity front it offers a lot. We’ve got PC, Mac, smartphone/mobile device, aux and PS4 connectivity… playback from SD card, voice recording, call functionality all built in and then even quirky little extras like bedtime mode which will gradually reduce audio levels and turn off after up to 30mins. Or the ability to charge our phone/tablet from the device if needed. The Roar 2 also offers audio feedback, for example explaining via a built in voice what mode is active however its a bit annoying/wastes time and we turned that feature off…we do also find it a bit odd that Creative don’t offer an Android/iOS control panel for the Roar 2, they do on other products.
On the performance front, our only significant problem was the distance we could make it from the speaker without signal loss. If for example you think you will be able to play music from your phone in a pocket and walk away to do some housework while still listening, or pour a drink in another room at a party, forget it…even in the average building. So we’d have liked to see the latest Bluetooth tech make an appearance here to ensure maximum range of signal however for those who want to stay within 10 paces of the Roar 2 there should be no issue. Voice calls were perfectly clear on both ends of the conversation which was great and we were pleased to hear an enjoyable, clear, powerful experience from movie playback with nice vocals when watching Youtube streams too.
For music playback, everything worked well. The standard profile offers decent bass and nice clear highs. We did like the overall feel which was created by the Warm Sound profile in the software control panel too. TeraBass will likely be the least used profile in our opinion, though it does noticeably enhance the bass in environments where pure volume may not be appropriate. Roar mode is nuts… for such a small speaker and when you enable maximum sound through using it on the mains, the volume on offer is surprising. Easily enough for a decent sized gathering in a large room while offering playback that has minimal distortion even at the products limits.