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Computer Speakers item created by lin0003, Sep 4, 2015
Pros - Good sound quality, good level of loudness, excellent Bluetooth, feature rich.
Cons - Slow battery charging when using USB charger.
Many thanks to Creative Singapore for the review sample of Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2!
I supposed to post this review early this year, but it has been delayed quite a while due to unforeseen high workload this year.
Sound Blaster Roar 2 is the improvement of the 1st version of Sound Blaster Roar, mainly on the size and weight. Being 20% more compact and around 9% lighter, Sound Blaster Roar 2 is claimed to offer similar performance to the predecessor.
And here is the user manual that I find very useful to understand the operation of Roar 2:
A few features have been removed from the 1st version of Sound Blaster Roar, like USB security option which is cool but probably may not be frequently used by many users, and the stereo setup option which I think is good to have. For most users, I believe, the reduced size and weight are practically more important than those extra features.
Before I start with details, I would like to share an experience. Soon after I received Roar 2 from Creative, I brought it to the office to get general opinions from friends about it. Long story short, 3 of my friends soon bought Roar 2 after they listened to it. I guess this experience is no doubt a proof of how good the Roar 2 is.
Very good sound quality and level of loudness considering the size.
Very good Bluetooth implementation, very sensitive and stable connection.
Good battery life.
Various inputs: Bluetooth, USB, Line Input, and micro SD memory.
Very slow USB charging. Cumbersome to carry additional 15V adapter when traveling.
The power button is prone to accidental press.
Suggestions for Improvement:
A little increase in treble response and extension.
Better placement or recessed power switch. When kept in the pouch, sometimes the power button may accidently be pressed.
Soft switch for microphone mute function, to avoid switching noise when muting or unmuting the microphone.
USB fast charging, like adopting Qualcomm® Quick Charge technology.
To include the Silicone pouch as default accessories.
My first impression, when tried Roar 2 for the first time, was, 'Wow it sounds big!'. It is pretty loud for a relatively small speaker. Roar 2 could easily fill a small to medium size living room with music at pretty good loudness. It has decent level of bass that not many speakers at Roar 2 size are able to achieve. Besides that, I was impressed especially by its vocal presentation. Both male and female vocal rendered very nicely by Roar 2. It doesn’t have those typical ‘thin’ vocal sound generally associated with small speakers. Vocal sounds full with good body and clarity. Vocal is really one of the Roar 2 primary strength.
The classic problem with a small speaker is always the ability to produce a decent level of bass. Roar 2 has nice bass tuning, so despite the small size, there is decent level of bass to make music sounds rich without sounding thin. But don’t expect bass level like from proper bookshelf speakers, still not there yet. I used Roar 2 to watch sci-fi and action movies, and I was surprised that Roar 2 has sufficient bass and dynamic to make movie sounds enjoyable, especially for a small setup like watching a movie on PC, notebook, or tablet. Thanks to the excellent implementation of the passive radiators.
Clarity is good without causing any listening fatigue, especially good for Pop and Jazz kind of recordings. Compared to UE Boom that I borrowed from a friend, Roar 2 is less bright with more bass. Perceived brightness is better on UE Boom, but UE Boom might sound a little bright sometimes. It would be nice if SB Roar 2 could have a simple treble adjustment to adjust the treble when needed. It does have ‘TeraBass’ and ‘Roar’ mode to add some oomph, and I find it especially useful for low volume listening. But when listening to a classical chamber music or solo performance, it would be nice to have a little increase in treble.
SB Roar 2 is pretty well tuned. So far I didn’t hear any annoying peaks or dips in the tonality, and tonality is actually sounded quite nice. A little mid-centric, but in a nice way, and quite expected from a speaker in this size. The tonality tuning is very good and sounds pleasing. I would say Creative did a good job on SB Roar 2 tuning!
Due to the one side placement of all the active drivers, Sound Blaster Roar 2 has dual orientation, and can be positioned either vertically or horizontally. So far from my experience, somehow horizontal placement sounds nicer and more pleasing. A subjective observation definitely, but I prefer to position it horizontally. Solid surface is also important, as Roar 2 performs best when placed on a solid surface. Give some distance from the wall and other objects, it sounds better with more space around it.
Here are some highlights of the sound quality:
Well tuned, sounds pleasing and enjoyable without any annoying peaks and dips on the tonality.
Sounds best on vocal and slow to medium pace music such as pop, jazz, and vocal. Still good for classical chamber music, but doesn’t sound fast enough for complex orchestra and fast paced music, which is generally expected from such a small speaker.
Bass is good, decent level of bass for such a small speaker. In a small setup such as watching a movie using laptop or tablet, with Roar 2 placed around 1 meter away from the listener, we can actually feel the bass from this little speaker.
Midrange is probably the strength of Roar 2. Vocal is naturally and beautifully rendered, sounds full and clear.
Treble is a little soft, level wise slightly below midrange. Good treble level for modern genres to have good clarity without causing any treble fatigue, but for classical recordings, I do prefer a little more treble.
Best placed on a solid surface, with some distance from a wall or other objects.
At max, loudness reach around 85-86 dB SPL when playing pink noise, measured 1 meter from the speaker. Pretty loud for a small to medium size room.
Loudness was measured using an SPL meter, around 1 meter from the speaker. Roar 2 was placed on a table and the SPL meter was positioned around listening height when I’m on sitting position, as shown in the picture below. This small speaker is pretty loud, playing Pink Noise through Bluetooth, at maximum volume, reached around 85.9 dB(C). Practically, in small to medium room, I rarely set the volume to maximum.
I did some simple non-standard frequency response measurements, in a 2.8m x 5m x 2.6m (W x L x H) room, using the well known REW program and MiniDSP UMIK-1 measurement microphone. SB Roar 2 was in horizontal position on the floor in the middle of the room, measurement mic was around 1 meter directly above the speaker, pointed down facing the speaker.
Speaker frequency response is room dependence. Measurement in a different room will show different frequency response graph. Therefore this measurement (Psychoacoustic smoothing applied) is just to show an example of the Roar 2 frequency response in a room, comparing the default setting when Tera Bass and Roar were disabled, and when Tera Bass or Roar were enabled.
Looking at the graph and the hump around 500-600 hertz, one might think that the speaker might sound a bit honky, but in reality, it doesn’t sound honky. As mentioned earlier, Roar 2 tonality is rather mid-centric, but in a natural way, where vocal is rendered very nicely, clear, full, and natural sounding. So don’t worry about that hump, it is probably just room resonance or something, and it doesn’t cause any annoying sound. Tera Bass or Roar give some boost around the bass area as shown by the graph. Though it is not shown in the frequency response graph, there are some small differences between Tera Bass and Roar. Besides bass boost, Roar mode gives a little clarity boost as well and increasing the overall loudness. But the effect is not very obvious in loud volume setting.
SB Roar 2 is designed for indoor use, and not ruggedized for outdoor use. In my opinion, the silicone case should have been included as default accessories for additional protection. At around 1 kg, it is not particularly light for a Bluetooth speaker, but not particularly heavy as well considering the performance. SB Roar 2 has 3 active drivers and 2 passive radiators on the sides. The active drivers are 2x 1.5” tweeter & 1x 2.5” woofer. It used Bi-Amplified design, using 2 amplifiers, one stereo amplifier to drive the 2 tweeters, and another amplifier to drive the woofer. The passive radiators on the sides are pretty tough and durable. I personally like the simple rectangular design of Roar 2, looks simple and elegant.
Before going into detail on other features, in my opinion, one very important feature that every Bluetooth speaker must have is the voice prompt disable feature. To me, it is even better if the speaker doesn’t have any voice prompt at all. No matter how good is the sound of the Bluetooth speaker, if the voice prompt cannot be disabled, to me, it is a deal breaker. To me, Bluetooth speaker with voice prompt is really annoying. The good news is, Roar 2 voice prompt is not very annoying, and can be completely disabled. Let me quote the steps from Roar 2 FAQ:
How do I disable the Voice Prompt on the Sound Blaster Roar 2?
With the speaker powered ON, press both the Volume "-" and Multifunction button at the same time. You will hear a voice message indicating that the voice prompt is successfully disabled.
Press both buttons shortly at the same time. Long press doesn’t work.
If for some reason it needs to be enabled:
How do I enable the Voice Prompt on the Sound Blaster Roar 2?
On a speaker with a disabled voice prompt, ensure that it is powered ON. Press both the Volume "+" and Multifunction button at the same time. You will hear a voice message indicating that voice prompt has been successfully enabled.
Source & Connectivity
Creative approach to playback from multiple sources is to mix them all. For example when it is connected to my phone via Bluetooth, and I connected the auxiliary input to an audio player, at the same time having a microSD card with MP3 files in the mSD card slot, and play audio from all the 3 sources, Roar 2 will simply mix the audio signal from all the sources and play them all together. So, no switching between sources, and mixing the audio sources is the approach taken for Roar 2 for operational simplicity.
Roar 2 has 4 inputs for audio signal: Bluetooth, USB, MP3 from micro SD slot, and analog auxiliary stereo input.
Bluetooth can be paired by a simple NFC tap or manual Bluetooth pairing. The Bluetooth version is 3.0 and supports AAC, aptX, and SBC. More detail on SB Roar 2 page. I never had any issue with BT connection so far, receiver sensitivity is very good and stable. I did a ‘line of sight’ distant test with my Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S4), and music still playing smoothly at staggering 40 meters of distance between the phone and Roar 2. I tested it in a corridor, probably the walls help to channel the BT signal, but 40m still a very long distance for Bluetooth. At home, I put the Roar 2 in a room, closed the door, placed my phone on other room, not line of sight, solid wood door and concrete wall in between, BT reception was still good for like around 7-8 meters distant. aptX codec works well so far, good audio sync with the video signal when watching movie. Besides that, there is a cool feature to connect 2 Bluetooth devices at the same time to Roar 2, and it will seamlessly switch between two devices for audio playback. Only one BT device playback at a time, not mixing the sound from the 2 devices. 1st device stop, the 2nd device can play and Roar 2 will automatically switch to the 2nd device. In summary, the Bluetooth implementation in Roar 2 is really good.
Roar 2 has USB Audio functionality. Only 16bit - 44.1kHz mode is available which is acceptable for such a small speaker. That means, if a PC or laptop lacks BT interface, it can be connected to Roar 2 via USB connection, and stream the audio signal digitally to Roar 2. The computer will detect Roar 2 as another playback device, and no driver required for Windows. Roar 2 charges its internal battery when connected to the PC USB at a slow rate. There is a switch to switch between ‘USB Audio’ or ‘Mass Storage’ mode. Switch to USB Audio for streaming music digitally through USB.
On Roar 2 specification it is mentioned that it supports microSD or microSDHC cards up to 32GB formatted in FAT/FAT32. I tested 128GB microSD formatted in FAT32, and it works fine with Roar 2. The only audio file format that is supported is MP3. File playback is either sequential or random. Sequential will follow the order of folder names and file names.
Analog auxiliary stereo input is must have for any Bluetooth portable speaker, and I found it to be very useful. Aux input allows other audio devices without Bluetooth interface to use Roar 2 as an external speaker. In church, we have a keyboard that has no built-in speakers. Every Time we need to use it, we need to connect it to a sound system, and sometimes this can be a little impractical in certain circumstances. Roar 2 comes in handy for this kind of situation, for example, a simple rehearsal. Just plug Roar 2 to the headphone output of the keyboard and it is loud enough for the purpose. Sometimes the keyboardist also needs a close speaker monitor when playing on stage, where the sound from the main PA system may not be clear enough from the place where the keyboard is positioned, Roar 2 is very useful for this kind of situation.
I bought another unit of Roar 2 to test it as a stereo pair. I cut a long 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable to become a stereo cable for the 2 units of Roar 2. The result was very satisfying! It is loud, and the stereo setup expands the stereo imaging. Perfect for small to medium room solution. To achieve balanced volume setting, both Roar 2 volume were set to maximum, and listening volume was set from the audio player. Roar 2 in the stereo setup is simply more than double the fun!
Roar 2 has a built-in microphone, mainly to use Roar 2 as a speakerphone. The speakerphone function is good, loud and clear. The microphone is pretty good as well. To record the conversation, simply insert an FAT32 microSD, and press the record button. There is Red LED to indicate recording is enabled. Press the record button again to stop the recording. There is a minor problem with the microphone, the mute switch is mechanical, therefore the other party can hear a soft switching noise when we mute or unmute the microphone. It is recommended for Creative to use a soft switch for the microphone mute function to avoid audible switching noise.
Battery & Charging
SB Roar 2 has built-in 6000mAh Li-ion battery. I tested it with continuous music playback at loud volume, almost max, it last for slightly more than 8 hours. Pass 8:11’ hours, the overall loudness dropped around 6 dB, and the battery completely exhausted at around 8:31’ hours. Creative specification for 8 hours playback is proven. Also noted that no heat issue during the continuous playback, only slightly warm at the back of the speaker.
Internal battery can be charged by either using the 15V adapter that comes with it, or a generic USB charger through the USB port. USB charging is extremely slow, drawing current only around 0.5 - 0.63 Amp. Below are the measured charging duration using both 15V charger and 5V USB charger (smart & high capacity 2.4A charger), from completely discharged battery to 100% charged:
15V Volt charging (max current 0.96A) : ~ 2:18’ hours
5V USB charging (max current 0.63A) : ~ 9:00’ hours
In my opinion, Creative should have adopted the Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ technology, either QC 2.0 or the newer QC 3.0. But even if Creative is not adopting Qualcomm® Quick Charge™, still they should have designed the 5V charging to draw higher current when connected to 2.0A or 2.4A USB charger. All USB charging port has USB coding (from the D+ and D- USB pins) to give the indication to the device connected to it, of the maximum current the port is able to supply for charging. For example:
PC USB 2.0 with D+ and D- pins open : Max. Current 0.5A
PC USB 3.0 with D+ and D- pins open : Max. Current 0.9A
Generic USB Charger with D+ and D- shorted with max. 200 ohms : Max. Current 1.5A
Apple USB Charger with D+ voltage 2.8V, and D- voltage 2.0V : Max. Current 2.1A
Apple USB Charger with D+ voltage 2.8V, and D- voltage 2.8V : Max. Current 2.4A
Quick Charge 9V : D+ voltage 3.3V, and D- voltage 0.6V : Max. Current 2.0A
Quick Charge 12V : D+ voltage 0.6V, and D- voltage 0.6V : Max. Current 1.5A
There are more USB charger codings than what is listed above. If Roar 2 USB port can detect those coding like what most smartphones do, it can easily use 1.5A to 2.4A USB charger to draw higher current for battery charging, that may resulting 3 or 4 times faster charging than the current 0.5A USB charging. These days we have so many gadgets require battery charging. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, camera, etc. It is simply inconvenient to bring another 15V power adapter just to charge the Roar 2. If everything can be charged using a powerful multi-port USB charger, it will make things simpler and more convenient. I hope Creative would consider improving the USB charging speed for all of their Bluetooth speaker models, and simply remove the unnecessary 15V charging port and adapter. It will also save some production cost.
Besides the micro B USB port for charging the internal battery, There is another USB type-A port for charging external devices, to make use the Roar 2 internal battery functions as a power bank. The USB A port is capable to output 1A current to charge other devices. But please take note, I observed that the output voltage is only around 4.77V at 1A, a bit low for 5V charging. Maximum discharge output capacity is approximately ~ 3900 mAh. Maximum discharge capacity, at 0.5A and 1A discharge rate:
0.5A discharge : 3858 mAh
1A discharge : 3923 mAh
Measured discharge capacity will always be less than the internal battery rated capacity due to several factors such as step up the voltage from 3.7V to 5V, converter efficiency, etc. So measured output capacity at 65% or more is considered good for a power bank.
Currently Creative has expanded the successful Roar product line with some new models. Here are the Roar models with timeline:
2014 September : Creative Sound Blaster Roar
First generation of Sound Blaster Roar. 2x 1.5” tweeter & 1x 2.5” woofer. The 2 stereo full range speakers are placed on the side, while the woofer facing up.
2015 June : Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2
Smaller and lighter than the 1st generation Roar, while offering similar performance.
2x 1.5” tweeter & 1x 2.5” woofer. All drivers are placed on the same side of the speaker.
2015 November : Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro
The 2 stereo full range speakers are now placed on the side similar to the 1st Roar.
2x 1.5” tweeter & 1x 2.5” woofer.
2016 January : Creative iRoar
The 2 stereo full range speakers are placed on the side similar to Roar Pro.
2x 2.0” tweeter & 1x 2.75” woofer.
2016 August : Creative iRoar Go
2x 1.5” tweeter & 1x 2.5” woofer. All drivers are placed on the same side of the speaker, similar to Roar 2.
Creative iRoar is currently the biggest and the most advance Roar speaker. While Creative iRoar Go with IPX6 ratings seems to be the Roar 2 with improved outdoor durability.
Even when compared with the newer model, Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 is still a solid and good sounding Bluetooth speaker that holds its own value pretty well. It is feature rich and has good battery life. A nice solution for music lovers on the go, or those who need a small and simple, but good sounding speaker. Sound Blaster Roar 2 is a perfect companion for modern multimedia gadgets. Kudos to Creative!
2 rubber strips at the bottom of the speaker.
Equipment used in this review:
DAP & Smartphone:
Samsung Galaxy S4
MiniDSP UMIK-1 (measurement microphone)
Dayton Audio iMM-6 (measurement microphone)
ZKE EBD USB+ (battery bapacity tester)
Some recordings used in this review:
Pros - Sonics, form factor, versatility, connectivity, portability, build quality, company support/service
Cons - Weight, lack of sub bass, PC software suite a little ‘gimmicky’
For larger (1200 x 800) images - simply click the photo INTRODUCTION
I don’t think there would be many people of my vintage who are into computer audio, and haven’t heard of Creative Labs. My first venture with Creative Labs was a very old Sound Blaster Live 24bit desktop unit (I still have it somewhere I think), and later my X-Fi Titanium PCI card (now in my son’s machine). Both were excellent – build quality and sound quality – and I can honestly say that I had hundreds of hours of fun with both units over a number of years. They weren’t perfect (anyone that’s used Creative sound cards will have had the odd driver issue), but for the money, they were incredible value. I also still have a pair of Creative Labs T20 Series II desktop 2.0 speakers (now with my son – I graduated to JBL LSR 305s), and while I had them, I enjoyed their clarity and overall value for money.
So when Lucas from CL ran a thread on Head-Fi asking for testers / reviewers of their Roar2, Aurvana 3 and E5, I immediately put my hand up to test and review the Roar2 – and was lucky enough to be chosen as a reviewer. I’d just like to thank Lucas and the team at Creative Labs for making this opportunity available.
ABOUT CREATIVE LABS
For those who haven’t been fortunate enough to try a Creative product, and was unaware of the Creative legacy (where have you been?!), here’s a little history on the company.
Creative was formed in Singapore in 1981 with a vision that multimedia use on personal computers would revolutionise the way we interact and entertain ourselves.
Creative’s original fame came with the Sound Blaster range of internal and external sound cards, which became a staple amongst gamers and audio enthusiasts alike. Since then, Creative have moved from strength to strength, expanding their network globally, and moving to cover all aspects of digital entertainment – including sound cards, speakers, high quality amplifiers, headphones, audio players, webcams, and full suites of software.
According to their website, they have a user base of in excess of 400 million (and growing), and are experiencing massive growth in the lifestyle portable digital entertainment sector. And I guess this is where the review starts – with the Roar2 portable Bluetooth speaker system
I was provided the Roar2 as a review sample, for the purpose of evaluation and feedback, and it is my intention to offer it for tour around New Zealand at the completion of this review, so others can also experience this wonderful little unit. I am in no way affiliated with Creative Labs - and this review is my honest opinion of the Roar2.
PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
(This is to give any readers a baseline for interpreting the review).
I'm a 48 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (Fiio X5ii, X3ii, LP5 and iPhone 5S) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5ii/X3ii > HP, or PC > E17K > HP. My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD600, and AKG K553. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile). For speakers at home I use JBL LSR 305 nearfield monitors.
I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880.
I have extensively tested myself (abx) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively redbook 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line).
I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables, and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 48, my hearing is less than perfect.
For the purposes of this review - I tried to test the Roar2 in as many different scenarios as I could (this thing is like a swiss army knife!). Primarily though I was looking mainly at use as a portable Bluetooth speaker.
This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
WHAT I WOULD LOOK FOR IN A PORTABLE SPEAKER SYSTEM
I’d never really tried a lot of portable speaker’s before – just some small wired Apple ones I’d bought back for the kids (from the US), and of course the occasional Bluetooth speaker system I’d encountered other people using. So what would I personally look for if I needed one?
Clean, detailed, but neutral signature
Good quality bass representation (sometime hard to get on a small speaker)
Ability to take a variety of different inputs – but primarily Bluetooth
Good battery life
Easy to use and configure
Value for money
So how did the Roar2 fare? Well actually it almost ticked every box in my list above, and the more I uncovered with the Roar2, the more I was impressed by its versatility.
THE REVIEW PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
When the courier pack arrived at the end of August, I was pretty impressed with the care and attention Creative had taken with external packaging to ensure the contents were well and truly protected.
Retail box front (lid)Retail box profile - looks exactly like the Roar 2 would OOTBRetail box underside
The Roar2 arrived in a 225 x 200 x 85 mm white retail box and lid style outer packaging – adorned with photos of the Roar2 which are actually pretty nicely arranged. If you stand the box on its side (i.e. how it would be displayed in a retail store), the front face shows the Roar2 as it would be standing in front of you, both sides display the bass speakers / ports, and the top displays the controls. I thought it was a really nice touch – you get an idea of exactly what it looks like. On the underside of the box is a list of the features, history of the Roar family of portable speakers, and a list of the accessories.
Opening the box reveals the Roar2, nicely bagged and protected, and also a lift out compartment which contains the charger and USB cable. Creative also include a full featured manual, warranty and safety information, and stick on feet.
Inside the box + add-on soft caseRoar 2 inside the soft caseSnug fit but well protected
The plug I was given has North America, UK and European connectors – unfortunately no NZ / Australian style plugs – but I have a suitable adaptor, and the USB cord takes care of power charging anyway.
Creative also included their neoprene soft carry / protection case – which is a really nice addition, and one I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone considering buying the unit. It offers really good protection, fits the Roar2 like a glove, and is relatively easy to slip on and off.
Walwart + USB cableManual, paperwork, and bottom feet
Impressions so far – very positive.
The tables below list most of the relevant specifications for the Roar2
USD 170-200 (Amazon)
188 x 109 x 51mm
Weight (unit only)
1000 g (997g on my scales)
5 – 1 woofer, 2 tweeters, 2 side firing radiators
1 x micros USB, 1 x micro SD, 1 x aux in
DC out 5V (for charging portable devices)
Bluetooth V3.0 with NFC
SBC, aptX, AAC
Up to 10m
Lithium rechargeable 6000mAh
Supported Micro SD
Up to 32 Gb class 4 or higher
Supported Formats (Micro SD)
MP3, WMA, WAV (16bit 48kHz PCM)
Approx. 8 hours
Walwart (supplied – 100-240 VAC, 15VDC 1.6A), USB
BUILD / AESTHETICS
The first time I handled the Roar2, my reaction was that it feels reassuringly sold, but also that it is quite a bit heavier than I was expecting. In talking with Lucas, I was able to determine that the outer shell is indeed hardened plastic, but the reason I had to check was that it looks and feels like a premium alloy has been used.
The corners of the Roar2 are nicely rounded, edges on my unit are generally nicely joined, sockets are firm, and the front mesh is clean, clear, and uniform. The buttons themselves are firm with nice tactile feedback. The two side firing ports are nicely flush, look really gorgeous (jet black with Creative logo emblazoned on each), and when music is playing there is a nice little vibration – so you can actually feel the output. Behind the grill (there is a single woofer, and two tweeters) and you can’t really see a lot of them on this unit – so I’ve borrowed Creative’s cut-away photo to show you the driver configuration.
Roar 2 - upright / direct orientationRoar 2 - horizontal orientation (more spacious sound)Underneath the unit and view of the side ports
The Roar2 is designed to be used in two different configurations, and both give quite a different sound (which is actually kind of neat). Lying down flat – the sound is projected upward, and is ideal for a small to medium sized room, as it gives a greater sense of openness and space to the sound. Sonically it’s probably my preferred orientation. Standing upright the sound is more directional, and I guess this would do more for a single user scenario, or when you wanted the Roar2 to give a more directional oriented sound. One thing I did find with using it upright was that sonically it started to sound a little narrow and closed in – hence my preference for lying the unit flat. It is great being able to have the choice though.
Underneath the unit (feet added)NFC connection slot + lights showing battery levelOn/off, volume controls and bluetooth / call button
Standing upright, on the front face, there are buttons for power, volume, Bluetooth connection / calls, a recording indicator, battery/charging indicator, and NFC connectivity zone. At the top (from left to right) are a USB options button (storage/audio), Terra Bass / Roar button, play / pause / advance / reverse buttons (for using with micro SD cards), play / record / microphone buttons (recording to micro SD), a micro SD slot, mini USB port, 5V 1A DC out USB (for charging external devices), 3.5mm aux-in, and 15V socket for walwart charging. The rear of the unit has two strips (feet) prefixed for horizontal orientation. Included in the box are two shorter strips you can affix yourself for upright use.
Connectivity portsUSB mode, bass config, and SD card buttons (play / record / navigate)Side port and mesh - the Roar 2 is really well built
I have no issues at all with any of the build – a solid and extremely well put together unit.
Connecting to the Roar2 couldn’t be easier – and there are a heap of options. The easiest Bluetooth option was with my wife’s Android phone. Turn on NFC, tap the phone to the NFC indicator on the Roar2, paired – play music. Simple and effective.
With my iPhone 5S it was equally as simple. Press the connection button on the Roar2, go to the Bluetooth screen on the iPhone 5S, select “SB Roar 2” when it appeared. Instant pairing. The nice thing about the 5S as well is the battery indicator for the Roar2 which appears in the iPhone’s top panel.
iPhone connected - note battery icon in top rightExploded view of speaker configuration (Creative photo)
Another thing which is nice about the Bluetooth on the Roar2 is that you can have two devices connected at once. So I was able to sit with my daughter – and take turns exploring our libraries. The Roar2 is an ideal device for sharing with a friend.
As far as distance goes, Creative say up to 10 meters (open space), but I was getting a lot more than that. In fact I was getting close to 15m with three walls between, and the connection was rock solid stable. YMMV – but I love the overall Bluetooth quality Creative has built in.
Aside from Bluetooth, you can also connect via USB (more on that below), via 3.5 mm aux input, and you could also use a micro SD card – although for this you are limited to 32 Gb cards (class 4 or higher) and MP3, WMA or WAV up to 16/48. Regretfully I had no smaller suitable cards available to test the SD system.
For this I just used one of my Fiio players, and it couldn’t be simpler. Connect its lineout to the aux-in, select your track/album, press play on your DAP – instant music. Control is all done via the DAP, although you still control the volume using the front buttons on the Roar2. It’s probably not a feature I would really use that often (the aux-in), but it’s nice to know it’s available should you ever need it.
With the USB audio, it’s a simple matter of plugging in the USB cable, ensuring the switch on the Roar2 is set at USB Audio (instead of mass storage), and then waiting for the driver to load (windows).
The device shows up (in the windows sound stack) as “Sound Blaster Roar2” speakers, and then it is a simple matter of selecting it as default, and playing music.
I tested briefly with a Debian stable based Linux distro (MX-14) on my netbook, and the Roar2 wasn’t recognised when plugged. I didn’t have Bluetooth support configured on MX-14 either, so this was not tested.
So I listed above my preference for a detailed but neutral sounding unit, with a good bass representation. To test the sonics, I decided to treat the Roar2 like I would for any other headphone review. So the following is what I hear from the Roar2. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline).
All of the following testing was performed with the Roar 2 in its horizontal (lying down / speaker up) position – and Bluetooth connectivity via my iPhone 5S. Terra bass was on – I just prefer it that way (read about it in the Other Features section).
Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.
Thoughts on General Signature
If I was to describe the signature in a few words – I’d choose the words “neutral”, “clear” and “balanced”.
My daughter and I actually played some test tones to see where the audible range was. Emma (12 yo) helped me because I know at 48 my hearing tends to suffer from ARRO (new term – age related roll-off). Anyway we could hear tones down to 50 Hz and up to around 16 kHz – but after that, it pretty much disappeared. You could still feel the side ports vibrating at around 20-30 Hz but no really audible volume. So they have a similar range, and also a similar tonal balance to my JBL LSR 305’s. The JBL might be slightly brighter – but I consider this an amazing endorsement for the Roar2.
The mid bass and lower mid-range has a little warmth, but it’s equally matched by the slight emphasis on upper mid-range, and the result is a well-balanced and exceptionally clear overall sound signature.
Overall Detail / Clarity
I used Dire Strait’s “Sultans of Swing” as there is a lot of micro detail in the track, and the recording quality is excellent. Balance was really good – the cohesion between bass guitar, vocals, and the sharper pitch of electric guitar and cymbals was really good. Micro detail was very good also – with snare and cymbals easily heard, but not too prominent or peaky.
Sound-stage & Imaging
Normally I’d try to use Amber Rubarth’s Binaural album to test headphones – but for speakers it wasn’t appropriate – so I fell back to using Amanda Marshall’s track “Rain” and Lorrena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer”. Both were able to give me really enjoyable dynamic presentations – but the Roar2’s limitation is the close proximity of its speakers, and as such – the ability to project a sense of spatial staging or imaging suffers accordingly. There just isn’t the separation or localisation you get from a true stereo image projected by separate headphones or speakers. For all that though – the sound is very open, and equally as enjoyable. Just don’t expect this speaker set to act like a headphone or pair of well-placed speakers.
Bass Quality and Quantity
I already knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of low bass with the Roar2, but it was worth trying my usual tracks anyway. “Muddy Waters” by Mark Lanegan is a track that I usually use to test impact and also bass bleed. The Roar2 was clean and clear, but lacking really visceral impact. It didn’t stop the track being quite enjoyable though. Next was Lorde’s Royals – and this really did highlight the missing bass below 50 Hz. The track was decidedly lean.
So definitely not a speaker for bass lovers, but what about some other electronic music? I first up tried Little Dragon’s “Little Man” – and this was much better. The mid-bass was well represented, and this track (while again leaner than I’m used to) was thoroughly enjoyable. I finished with AVB’s “This is what it feels like” (trance) – and again, doesn’t have the visceral impact, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Roar2 actually presents the track well. Once you get used to the slightly more “polite” presentation – it’s different but not bad at all. The good thing is that the bass is clean and clear, and well defined.
60-65% of my music revolves around female vocals – be it jazz, pop, rock, electronic, or even opera. I’m an unabashed fan. For me the sign of a successful headphone, IEM or speaker is how successfully it conveys emotion and timbre with my female vocalists.
First up is always Agnes Obel – as some of her recordings can become quite strident or shouty if the mids aren’t quite right. The Roar2 was downright gorgeous (euphonic definitely!) with the track “Aventine” – Obel’s vocals were sublime, and the contrast with the cello was enough to give the track some enjoyable dynamics.
And this was a trait that was repeated with every other female artist I tried. Yes – there could have been a little more low bass to make things perfect – but the vocal presentation itself was incredibly clear, and sweet. London Grammar was excellent (Hannah’s vocals were intoxicating), and both Feist and FaTM had good dynamic contrast between mid-bass and vocals. Florence’s new album (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful) was really good with the Roar2 – and Emma and I actually played through half a dozen tracks before I realised I was still supposed to be taking notes.
So big tick from me for female vocals – what about the male counterparts?
Missing low bass aside, I find the Roar2 really good for my rock and acoustic tracks. 3 Doors Down “Away from the Sun” was up first, and the vocal presentation is exceptional – deep (slightly warm), with good timbre. Plenty of upper end detail too. Classic rock was exceptional with the Roar2 – especially acoustic classic rock, and standouts for me included Seether’s “Immortality” (unplugged) and the Eagle’s “Hotel California”. People familiar with my reviews will know that Pearl Jam remains my litmus test. Vedders vocals were deep, rich and had plenty of texture. Good detail throughout as well.
Short Genre Specific Notes
I’ve already covered Rock above. For Alt. Rock – both Floyd and Porcupine Tree were presented well, with a lot of detail and cohesion throughout.
Jazz was generally good, although the double bass could have used just a little more substance, but again the overall detail presentation was extremely good. Blues (Bonamassa) was exceptional, and that little upper mid-range lift seems to really bring guitar to life.
I’ve already covered EDM and Electronic in the bass section – and while it wasn’t ideal, I still enjoyed a lot of my electronic music. This is not going to be a suitable speaker for “big bass” fans though, so it depends on where your tastes lie.
Pop / Indie were again very good (for my tastes), and with Indie in particular (Band of Horses and Wildlight), I could have listened for hours. Somehow the Roar2 just ticks my boxes with its sonic signature.
Classical and Opera were pretty good – just lacking some depth with the really low notes on piano and cello, but very good with orchestral pieces otherwise. Netrebko and Garanca were heavenly.
There were some features I didn’t get to try because I didn’t have some required hardware (connectivity with an Apple Mac, or playing from an SDXC card). I also didn’t try the sleep mode (not one my wife would approve of). But what I did try included:
Using the Roar2 connected to the phone to make a call (as a speaker phone). I did this when calling one of my clients, and the audio was crystal clear and clean. The inbuilt mic picked everything up well – and when asked, my client said that he had no issues hearing me.
Accessing a micro-sd card in mass storage mode (USB connection). Worked easily and I was able to perform any function on the card as if it was plugged into the PC (this was with a 64 Gb card).
The bass enhancements – “Tera-bass” and “Roar” mode. Pushing the appropriate button once cycles the differ modes. Tera-bass adds a little intelligent bass boost – which is useful especially for quiet listening – but I generally found I simply left the button engaged all the time. Roar mode seemed to be more like again switch – just making everything louder, so I really didn’t use it much.
iPhone / iDevice battery meter. When connected with Bluetooth, both my iPad and iPhone display a small battery meter in the top panel of the screen (see photo) which tells you how much battery the Roar2 has left. A nice touch.
I also installed the software suite for the Roar2 from the Creative website. To me this simply installed single button options for Creative’s DSP frequency alterations, and I really didn’t find any I liked. For me personally, I’d just use an EQ from the device I had connected. Some people may like it – but I personally found it clunky, and the options chosen for tweaking the sound were not what I’d consider “upgrading it”.
Charging a device via the USB DC out. Brilliant! I took it into work a week ago, and my iPhone was down to 20%. On a whim I decided to try it out, and it worked really well. Best part, I could continue to play the Roar2 via Bluetooth, while it was charging the iPhone. Less than a couple of hours later, the iPhone was almost 100% and there was still plenty of battery left on the Roar2 as well.
BATTERY LIFE / RECHARGING
Creative advertise up to 8 hours playing time, and I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of the battery yet – although I have spent a lot of hours with it. At the end of the day (or 2-3 days depending on how much I used it), I’d just put it on charge for 2-3 hours, and I’d be back to full again. Although I didn’t wind the battery right down, I’d suggest the 8 hours stated by Creative would be pretty accurate, and I’d peg recharge time (wal wart) at about 2.5 hours.
CREATIVE LABS SERVICE
My review is a little later than the others because the first Roar2 arrived DOA. It wouldn’t switch on. I wasn’t perturbed – things happen – I’ve had it with other audio gear before. What tells you a lot about the company though is how they handle the situation. Lucas followed up with prompt contact, gave me some troubleshooting options to try, and when it was clear the unit needed to be RTB, he immediately dispatched a replacement, plus prepaid packaging to get the first unit back. Communication at all times was clear, friendly and professional. The impression it left on me was lasting. I would definitely buy a Creative product with no hesitation – this Company is serious about customer service. Bravo.
VALUE & CONCLUSION I’ve seen the Roar2 advertised at as low as $170 USD on Amazon, and anywhere between $170 and $200 elsewhere. For the features, build, and sonics, it is an absolute bargain IMO.
If I go back to my original check-list, the Roar2 has definitely ticked the box for me on sound quality and overall signature, connectivity, portability, battery life, ease of use, and overall value. The only question marks I have would be on the weight (it’s a great size – but it is a little hefty), and the missing sub-bass. Neither are really a detraction for me personally, but in case they are important to you, it would pay to audition first.
The Roar2 has a wonderfully balanced sonic signature with very good clarity and overall sound quality. It has a host of features, and as a portable Bluetooth speaker for a small gathering, heading away to the holiday home, or just chilling with friends, I haven’t personally heard any better options for the price.
I would have absolutely no problems recommending the Roar2 based on my time with it.
My thanks go again to Lucas and Creative Labs for giving me a chance to use and review the Roar2. It really is a wonderful unit, and full credit for the thought which has gone into the overall design. Now if any of my fellow Kiwis is interested in taking the Roar2 for a test drive, I’ll see what I can do to arrange to get this one to you for a couple of weeks.
Pros - Great Value, Good Sound, Multiple Inputs, Numerous Features, Wonderful Build
Cons - Heavy
First thing I noticed when pick up the Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 box was, how heavy it was. I thought to myself, this is a portable Bluetooth speaker, or a big paper weight? Once I pulled it out of the box and began to use it, I quickly understood why it had such a substantial weight to it, because it is a powerful, full bodied speaker.
This can be done one of four ways: By Bluetooth/NFC, a microUSB Cable, a 3.5mm Audio cable and by inserting a MicroSD Card. All of which work flawlessly.
Bluetooth connection is easy through normal setup or through NFC. Both are quick and painless to connect.
Let’s go back to the weight and build of this small speaker. Want to know why it is so heavy? Because it has two amps, not just one and 5 drivers! All tightly packed into this small footprint, beautiful housing. I honestly do not know how they got it all to fit.
There are also some other interesting features, including a built in microphone for phone calls. Though I did notice I had to be somewhat near the Roar 2 for the other caller to hear me clearly. On the other hand, as long as the other person was talking directly into their phone, I could hear them very loud and very clear.
The Roar 2 also comes with a voice recorder. This is a feature I could gather might be good for someone who uses this in the office, or needs to remember to do some tasks. Again, like phone calls, you are going to want to be fairly close to the unit for recording purposes. Playback of recordings is easy to understand and hear.
It must be noted that this is a small portable unit. It was not meant to replace a stereo system. That said, sound quality is still very good for the price. It will be hard to find a Bluetooth Speaker that sounds better while spending less. Value is very high for the Roar 2, you get a good sounding device for an affordable price.
Bass – Is surprisingly controlled. Never overpowering, though can be a little thin at a distance. I personally like the TeraBass enabled. I think it gives the sound a nice little “roar”.
Mids – Stay in the middle, that is the best way I can put it. Vocals come through beautifully without being forward and never are reassessed.
Highs – Are rolled off early. Maybe just a tad too early for some tastes. But for me, it helps the sound signature stay on the warmer side and never becomes piercing or tiresome.
Soundstage – Is on the smaller side. This is the case with any unit of this design. Sound only comes from one place, thus harder to create a surround feeling. Though, I will say that the Roar does the best it can to create some distance and instrument separation for such a small unit.
I’m going to touch again with is what most important with the Roar 2 and that its value. You get so much in such a small footprint. Great sound from a portable device, multiple/easy connections, nice additional features, all within a great build.
I will also note that my family loves it as well. We enjoy using it while preparing and eating meals. It is great to have some good quality background music that is easy on the ears. Plus if we get a phone call, it is easy then to switch over for a quick conversation. All and all, a wonderful, full featured Bluetooth Speaker.
Pros - Sound, Features, Design
Before I start this review, I would like to thank Creative for sending out a Roar 2 unit to me. I’m quite surprised myself that prior to this, I had never heard a Creative product before, despite them having some interesting products. I chose the Roar 2 to review because I wanted to take a break from the usual IEM and headphone reviews that I do, I thought that speakers would be a nice change. This is my first speaker review, so take this with a grain of salt, the only thing I can really compare them to is the Audioengine A2s that I have with me, but even then, that is a not a great reference point considering they are 2 separate speakers.
What intrigued me about the Roar 2 was the appearance and the abundance of features. It looked like a lot packed into a relatively small package, and I was curious as to how they would stack up against headphones of a similar price point. The Roar 2 is Creative’s updated version of the original Roar, which seems to be quite highly regarded by some. I’ve heard that the drivers in the Roar 2 are the same as the original Roar, but as I have not heard the Roar before, I can’t comment on whether they actually sound different.
Coming in at a price of around $200, the Roar 2 is priced in the mid-range of portable speaker market and will appeal who are looking a versatile all-in-one solution. It employs a 5 speakers in the enclosure, with a bi-amplified design. It really does look like a complete portable audio solution if you want to travel down the speaker route, let’s get on with how they fared.
**Disclaimer** These were provided to me by Creative in return for an unbiased, honest review.
Unboxing & Accessories The packaging of the Roar 2 was simple, but also very nice. Mine came with a carry case in a separate box, not sure if that is for everyone who purchases a Roar 2, but it will certainly come in handy when I take it out. The front of the box says “smaller, lighter, sexier”, which sums up the Roar 2. The back of the pox provides all of the features and specifications of the speakers. Upon taking the cover off, the roar 2 is safely wrapped in some foam and there is a section with all the accessories that it comes with just beside. The packaging is not extravagant, but it does feel like an expensive product.
The Roar 2 doesn’t come with a lot of accessories, but it comes with all the necessary ones. There is a micro USB cable, which I’m sure everyone is familiar with, a charging wall adapter with different adapters for whatever region you are in. There is also a user manual, and in that package there are 2 rubber feet which you can put onto one of the sides to make sure that you don’t scratch the speakers. The case that was included to me fits the Roar 2 very snugly, but once again, I’m not sure if this comes alongside the Roar 2 or is a separate accessory that you can purchase.
Design & Features To me, the Roar 2 is a very well designed speakers with all the features that one could possibly ask for in a portable speaker of this price. The aesthetic design is very appealing and I really like the way that it looks, especially the black model. I found the fact that it has a serial number on the back quite odd, but a nice touch nevertheless. The black and grey colour theme works very well together and the sides are emblazoned with the Creative logo. Altogether, this thing looks awesome and there is nothing to complain about as far as the physical design goes.
I wasn’t expecting the Roar 2 to be so feature packed. It has Bluetooth functionality and you can make calls on the speaker as well, it comes equipped with a microphone. It is a sound recorder as well as a music player, you can simply stick an SD card in and it will play music off it. There is a switch which allows you to change between using it as a music player or for streaming music straight from the computer using the internal DAC. There is, of course, also an option for the good old 3.5mm input. The USB slot lets you use the Roar 2 as a power bank. On the face, there is the power button, the volume up/down buttons and the Bluetooth/call button. Creative really seem to have thought of everything and jammed all of it into the small body of the Roar 2.
The battery lasts 8 hours, which is quite decent. On to the Tera Bass setting – it is certainly a nice bass boost, but sometimes I felt like it was a little much. The bass becomes considerably stronger and there is very slight bleeding into the midrange. Surprisingly, it did not become boomy or bloated at all, which is the case with many devices with a boost feature. The boost is definitely not subtle, but it remains very controlled and still very nice to listen to.
Testing Gear I considered running the Roar 2 with some of the sources that I have on hand, but I felt that a fair assessment would require me utilising the internal DAC of the unit, so for the review, I linked it up to my PC and streamed music from foobar2000 with a regular micro USB cable through to the Roar 2. I did feel like with better sources, the Roar 2 sounded better, the results varied with different sources. Most of the time when I was using it, I used my Z2 as a source and fed the Roar 2 through Bluetooth, which is what I suspect most people will do because it is the most convenient option, but the sound was not as good as when it was wired. For most of my testing, I was using the speaker lying flat and facing upwards instead of facing directly towards me. I felt like it provided a bit more of a natural presentation, but it sacrificed just a little bit of detail. When it was facing me, I also thought that the sound was a little bit nasally on the vocals, but this was not the case whatsoever when the Roar 2 was flat.
Sound Quality I feel like I have to reiterate again that I am not very familiar with speakers and therefore probably cannot give an accurate judgement as to how they match up against other similarly priced units. Comparing them to the similarly priced A2 was also a little odd considering there are 2 speakers for the A2 compared to the single unit of the Roar. The A2s are also by no means portable at all. I was very impressed with how well the Roar performed after I fiddled with the positioning and feel like it provides rather exceptional sound for the price that it comes in at.
Bass For some reason I was expecting a bassy sound from the normal setting, but I was wrong. The bass is visceral and punchy, but not at all overly heavy as I initially suspected it might be. The positioning made a very big impact on the bass, when it was closer to me, the bass was stronger, but when it was further away, the bass tended to be a little on the thin side. Personally, I found the optimum distance to be around 1 metre away facing upwards. At no time did I find them to bleed into the midrange or lacking in impact, they felt very balanced. Detail is quite good, it captured the bass lines well. Those who may be seeking a more Bose or Beats type of sound, the Tera Bass is excellent for strong bass without sacrificing much from the midrange and treble. I enjoyed the Roar with the bass boost off much more than with it on however, but the boost is definitely very well implemented and isn’t too strong.
Midrange Vocals on the Roar 2 are in-between what I would consider to be neutral and warm. While it isn’t really what I would classify as warm, it has a somewhat warm tinge to it. Turning it up resulted in zero sibilance, which was nice, and the vocals did not sound veiled at all. Remember, however, that these findings are with me using the Roar facing upwards, not towards me. In the other configuration, I found that the midrange was considerably brighter, but as a result, there was a little bit of glare on the upper midrange. The 2 configurations both lie slightly north and south of neutral and I prefer the midrange when the Roar is facing upwards, it just sounds more natural to me. Instruments sound sharp and clear, they have very good clarity. Pianos especially are very well presented with a natural timbre to it. Overall, the midrange of the Roar is one of the best I have heard in the price range, regardless of IEMs, headphones or speakers. It manages to be slightly laid back yet exciting.
Treble If I was let down in one area, then it would have to be the treble. While it isn’t bad by any means, it isn’t quite on the same level as the bass and midrange. My personal preference is to have a slightly elevated treble region, but the Roar 2 is slightly rolled off on the top end. I do, however, understand Creative’s reasons for doing so, it makes for a much more consumer friendly sound and reduces sibilance. I did not detect any sibilance or glare whatsoever from the Roar and it was a very solid performer in the treble region. Detail was crisp, but decay was a little quick for my taste. Cymbals had a nice rig to them and they did not sound harsh at all, even at high volumes. The result is a detailed treble which does not come at the expense of sibilance at high volumes. While I would have liked the treble to be a hair brighter, I’m sure others will appreciate Creative’s decision to tone it down a notch.
Soundstage & Imaging Being a single speaker unit, I expected the soundstage to be rather restricted and this was the case. This doesn’t have anything to do with the Roar itself, but is more about the portable speaker itself. It cannot really create a stereo image because of the small size and the fact that the sound comes from one area, unlike headphones or the A2s. I did find that the stage presented was very close up , and when the speaker was pointed upwards, the height was quite good. Don’t expect great soundstage from the Roar or any portable speaker, because you just won’t get it.
The imaging is quite good, but also not on the same level as other headphones that are in the same price bracket. Because of the limited soundstage, it is kind of hard to tell where instruments are placed. It is just not as clear as “stereo” headphones or speakers. However, it does work rather well with the small amount of space that it does have and all things considered, the Roar 2 is actually quite adequate in this department. The shortcomings in the soundstage and imaging are because of the size of portable speakers and is not a problem limited to the Roar 2.
Separation, Detail & Clarity The clean, unobtrusive sound signature of the Roar 2 makes it a rather detailed speaker. The separation is very good, on par with some of the best headphones in its price range. They sound very coherent at all times and I did not feel like details were masked in the background. Obviously they aren’t as good as high end headphones, but I am definitely very impressed with the Roar 2’s separation, it really did surprise me.
While the Roar 2 isn’t the most detailed unit I have heard by quite a length, it is quite a detailed speaker. The detail is a little better when the unit is facing towards you, but the difference is not very large. Personally, I found that the slightly reduced detail was a trade-off I could deal with, I still prefer listening to the Roar 2 pointing upwards. Microdetails that you can hear in IEMs such as the B2 are not quite there, but the roar 2 manages to retain quite a lot of detail and presents it in a polite manner. It doesn’t shove it to you like the B2 does, but instead lets it sink in gradually.
Once again, the clarity is somewhat dependent on speaker placement; facing upwards will result in slightly worse clarity compared to it facing towards you. Instrument clarity is very good on the Roar 2, while vocal clarity lags a little behind. The slightly warm signature of the Roar 2 means that the clarity isn’t as good as other headphones with a colder sound signature. However, whether you prefer a warm or cold sound signature is up to you – kind of like whether you prefer the HD800 or LCD-3.
Summary Creative have really impressed me with the Roar 2. It is feature packed, sounds great through all the connections and Creative seem to have crammed everything they can think of into it. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who genuinely dislikes the sound that comes from the Roar 2s, they seem to cater for everyone, even bassheads with their Tera Bass option. Even though I have never heard the original Roar before, I feel like the $200 price tag is very easily justified, and if you are looking for a portable speaker in this price range, the Roar 2 is worth at least a consideration.