The Sound Blaster Roar is a compact speaker, designed to punch way above its weight in sheer audio power.
Over the past few years, audio has gone portable. No one wants to talk about large speakers and even larger music systems anymore. The smaller is better, especially when small does not mean a compromise in audio outputs. The deluge of Bluetooth speakers has given users choice ranging from the very affordable on-the-go speaker to the high-end flaunt-in-the-living room units. But how many of them can appeal to an audiophiles demands? Well, I think the Creative Sound Blaster Roar comes close, very close.
I first saw this small box during IFA in Berlin. Or should I say I heard it first. It was a real showstopper for every one was stopping by to see how such a small unit could be so loud and so clear. The Roar isn’t larger than a regular 1980s transistor and even look a bit like one of those. But it has buttons all around, suggesting that it can do more. Much more than a regular Bluetooth speaker for sure.
What is great? Well, the Creative Sound Blaster Roar plays music out of your smartphone, tablet and laptop…or any other device that can connect with it over Bluetooth or USB. Now there is nothing great about that. That is what any Bluetooth speaker is expected to do. But then this one has Roar at the end of its name and button of the same name on top. Click this and the audio output gets a 2x boost. Of course, the audio is loud. But it is also clear, full and full of detail. I played a wide range of genres and was equally happy with the way I heard Louis Amstrong’s What a wonderful world and Diana Krall’s California Dreaming. This is one versatile little box.
Talk about versatility, you would be wondering that the buttons peppered all along the side and top of the device would have a part to play here. Well, it does. The Roar can play music from your smartphone and tablet using an USB too, while charging the device in the process. Pairing is as easy as tapping the phone on top of the speaker, provided you have an NFC-enabled smartphone. In fact, this is among the few speakers that can pair two devices at the same time and toggle between the two using buttons or by just pausing and playing on the paired devices. A great feature if you want to ensure peace and harmony in your home.
Like a lot of other speakers these days, this one too can play music from a SD card. But there is an extra trick up the sleeve. The same card can be used to record anything that is playing on the Roar, as well as any call you receive on it.
What is not so great? To start with, bass junkies might be a bit underwhelmed by the Roar. If the roar is not enough for your rounded sense of music, there is an extra Terra Bass button to give it a boost. Personally, I don’t like a lot of bass and was perfectly happy with the tinny notes hitting my years.
There are far too many buttons and knobs on this small device to let you live in peace. I make it a point to not open the manual of a device before a review, but with this one I had to for there was no other way to figure out that ARM means alarm. The Roar even has a siren feature. Yes, it’s free and we should accept anything that comes for free with open arms, right. But I just could not figure out why you need a siren in a music device. Unless of course the music you are playing is boring enough to have out the party to sleep and you want to wake them up.
Should you buy it? Oh yes, if you are looking for that perfect, versatile Bluetooth speaker that will let you sell your old Philips Powerhouse on OLX. Just ensure that you read the manual from cover to cover before you start playing with the buttons. The Creative Sound Blaster Roar is without doubt among the best value for money music devices in the market at the moment. It just gives you more than you bargained for, in every sense.
Estimated street price: R15,999