Singapore-based Creative markets a lot of products under its Sound Blaster brand, including its current range of wireless speakers such as the Creative Sound Blaster FRee. Last year, we were introduced to the Creative Sound Blaster Roar, which managed to impress us despite its high price.
Today, we're reviewing its successor, the Rs. 16,999 Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2. This new speaker changes a few things around, but still retains the premium feel that made the first Roar so good. It directly takes on some established favourites in the market, such as the Bose SoundTouch 10 and Ultimate Ears Boom 2. We go into the details and find out everything there is to know in our review.
Design and specifications
The Sound Blaster Roar 2 doesn't look very different from the first Roar, sticking to the clean design and metal build that we quite liked. The general shape remains the same, with the speaker firing upwards in the normal listening position. The biggest change is the two woofers at the sides, which pulsate and reverberate heavily while driving the low-end audio. It's also 20 percent smaller than the first Roar and a bit lighter as well, and we love the sophisticated, premium feel of this speaker. Despite feeling solid, it's still light enough to store and take along with you on trips.
The button layout at the top has been shifted slightly from the right of the top to the left, while the 'Roar' mode button has been moved to the back. There's also a three-LED indicator for battery level, as well as the NFC chip at the top. The buttons feel a bit better as well, and are easier to use. The three main drivers are top-firing in the standard position, but you can also place the speaker upright to make it front-firing. There are two amplifiers within the unit to cover the frequency range, which helps a lot with the openness of the sound.
The back of the Roar 2 has the inputs and many more controls, including a switch for USB audio or mass-storage audio mode, a microSD slot, a Micro-USB port, a USB Type-A port, an auxiliary-in socket, and a DC power port for the charger. Apart from this, there are controls for the voice recorder (which works if you insert a microSD card for the recordings to be stored on) and the built-in media player as well. There's also a microphone for hands-free use, but performance is a bit weak on calls.
The Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 has a 6000mAh battery and can be used as a power bank to charge other devices using the USB Type-A port. Battery life when using the speaker itself is a bit weak at just about 7-8 hours on a full charge. This is expected to some extent when you consider that there are five drivers and two amplifiers to power. On the whole, the Roar 2 is a well-built, feature-filled speaker with a lot of power on offer.
We used a OnePlus 3 (Review) paired over Bluetooth for most of our listening while reviewing the Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2. We also used an auxiliary cable and a microSD card for listening on occasion. Sound performance is fairly uniform across modes, with very little reduction in quality when using Bluetooth.
We started with Hot 8 Brass Band's simple yet satisfying version of Sexual Healing. As the track started off with its trombone riff, we could see the woofers really flex and pulsate heavily, creating reverberations at the low end. The bass is not what we'd traditionally call tight, but certainly feels strong and aggressive, even when the light vocals kick in. Sound is clean through the frequency range, and remains capable even with the volume turned up. At the highest volume levels, there's surprisingly little distortion to be heard, and the speaker manages to fill even a medium-sized room with sound.
Moving on to Flo Rida's I Cry, the thump in the bass can finally be felt. The sub-bass is particularly good for a wireless speaker, considering that units such as this often tend to be poor with the lowest audible frequencies. However, it's notable that the speaker doesn't obviously favour bass and the low-end despite its 'Roar' branding. Highs and mids sound as good, and although there is a sensitivity spike in the low-end, it doesn't drown out the rest of the frequency range.
We also tried the 'Roar' and Terra Bass modes, which serve to slightly amplify the sound without maintaining any sense of detail or fidelity. We could barely tell the difference between the two modes, and indeed left both of them switched off for most of our time with the device.
Finally we listened to an uncompressed, operatic version of Walking On The Moon by Sting. We immediately noticed excellent sound imaging, no doubt helped along by the fact that the speaker has five distinct channels that open up the sound considerably. Instrumental and slow tracks such as this don't have quite as much impact as more exciting tracks, but the sound is not bad by any means. It's also quite clear that detail is helped by the use of high-resolution audio files, while compressed ones don't sound as clean. The reverberating sound and strong bass tend to define the sonic signature of the speaker, with a striking sound that can often be felt more than heard.
The Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 costs a lot of money, but it feels like great value. It's well-built, looks good and is filled with features that make it versatile and easy to use. Above all it's got good sound, with a clean sonic signature that's open, exciting and punchy. The slight favour towards bass will no doubt satisfy most listeners as well.
Although battery life is a bit weak, the speaker more than makes up for this in all other ways, and is loud enough to fill up a medium-sized room with ease. While it doesn't have the waterproofing and rugged usability of the Ultimate Ears Boom 2, it's great for home use. The Sound Blaster Roar 2 is definitely worth an audition if you're shopping for premium Bluetooth speakers.
Price (MRP): Rs. 16,990
Ratings (Out of 5)