Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20 review

 I am a travelling man. I spend bigger part of a year outside my home, working offshore and travelling in my free time. One of the most painful facts of that situation is that I can't take my sound system with me :( this means whenever I am outside my home i miss my music, reproduced with good quality. I'm not a fan of headphones or in-ears, because they restrict my freedom of moving around and isolate me from outside world. Lately i decided to give a try, and buy a small portable speaker. My first thoughts went to Bose catalog, because i had an opportunity to hear both, Bose Soundlink Mini and Soundlink II few times, and they always impressed me with their big, full sound from a small,premium package. Unfortunately not only quality of Bose products is premium. The same goes for the price and I'm not fan of spending big, so i started my research. What i found is a product that we are going to review today. Creative Sound Blaster Roar.




 So let's take a look at Creative's attempt to steal some costumers from Bose and their well regarded Soundlink bluetooth line of speakers. In term of size, Creative roar sits somewhere between Bose Soundlink Mini and Bose Soundlink II. In terms of price its cheaper than both of them, with price around 2/3 of soundlink mini price and almost half of Soundlink II. Lets see if we can call Creative's product a giant killer and bargain.



Creative Roar is book sized portable bluetooth speaker, that weight around 1kg with a lot of features. Some of them are rather useless, and some are very usefull. Lets start with physical dimensions and looks. Roar is rather small in size, and that makes it bigger and heavier that Bose Soundlink Mini, and both smaller and lighter than Soundlink II. Whole construction is very sturdy and chunky. When we look at design, we see a very nice looking, simple design that was most probably influenced by Bose design language. The choose of materials, consisting of aluminium grill, covering speaker drivers, and rubberized panel with all the controls, as well as colors of our speaker are something Bose often use. All in all, its a well built and designed speaker that look and feel premium. Creative was a winner of well regarded Red Dot Award for Roar's design and i think it's well deserved, especially given the price we pay for the device.





Under all that metal grills and rubber, we have 5 drivers. Two 1.5 inch drivers on the front, one 2.5 inch driver on top and two passive drivers on sides. Internal design is fully active with separate amps, one for front firing drivers and and one for bass driver. Everything is powered from 6000mAh battery. On top of device we can find controls for volume, power, bluetooth pairing and button called ROAR used to boost trable and bass. On back of device we have, controls for playback from micro sd card, micro sd card slot itself, micro USB port, USB port for charging of external devices, AUX IN 3.5mm port and port for charging of speakers internal battery. Other controls on back of Creative Roar are controls for alarm feature. Purpose of this feature is a mystery to me so I will just mention it and leave it there.





So let's get to the features. Of course the main purpose here is to play music, but You can send it to Creative Roar through different ways. Main one is bluetooth, but You can also connect via 3.5 mm jack input or use USB cable to connet it to computer. When we use USB connection, Creative Roar acts as external DAC, converting digital to analog on it's own. Big internal battery can be used to charge external devices via big USB port. 


Sound


Creative Roar sounds big and can go loud for its size. Sound is not only big and capable of filling bedroom sized room, but also good quality. Bass is good for the size, thanks to 2.5 inch driver on top and side firing passive radiators. When You listen to it on normal levels, its well balanced and gives impression of good depth. On higher volume levels it starts to be boomy and looses some of its body, becoming hollow, but we are talking about levels You would not think, are available from such a small speaker. Going up in to the midrange, I have to say that this is the star of the show here. Midrange is full, and detailed with voices coming out strong and natural. You hear everything You need to hear and more, there plenty of detail and sound is fast with no muddiness. The only complain about the midrange is that it's very directional, with sound changing a lot, especially when You change Your position vertically. The best position for the speaker to place it is on ear level. Another important thing to remember, is to place speaker on the edge of surface with front of speaker at the edge, because sound bouncing of the surface in front of the speaker makes lots of mess in the sound. High notes are also good, with nice zing to it and enough detail to make overall sound of speaker spacious and well balanced, full and really enjoyable. You just have to remember that it is still a very small speaker, so despite surprising bass ability it will not shake Your guts. Also dynamic range is limited, but not as much as one would suspect. Only complains I have are mentioned directivity, and sound pumping at highest levels.




When You compare Creative Roar with Bose products, You have to admire Creative for its sound capability at this price point. I've had Bose Soundlink II for comparsion. Bose definitly is more premium looking speaker, especially with brown lether cover, but it is also bigger and havier. When You compare the sound quality, there are few major differences. First one is bass. Bass on Bose is much bigger, actually it is huge for the size of the speaker, but it sounds boosted compared to the rest of frequency range. Crearive on the other hand, have bass that is much more natural sounding. It is not that strong and it does not go as deep as bass on bose, but its has better control, and its well connected with the rest of frequency range. When it comes to midrange and trable, Creative is much better, with good clarity and lots detail. Bose is very muddy in comparsion with weak, muddy midragne with very little detail. Treble on Bose is its weakest point, it is really bad with no detail at all and lots of digital artifacts. Last thing i want to mention is directivity of sound. Creative's sound is much more directional, you have to place it quite high in the room, preferebly on ear level to get the best of it. Bose is much less directional so it is no problem to find good place for it. Overall i find Cretive to be better sounding speaker, but if You love huge bass and dont care for clarity that much, then You will like Bose more.




Conclusion 


This way we came to the end of Roar's review . Creative did great job designing and engineering this small portable speaker. Sound quality, great host of features, excellent design, and all that at price point well below premium offerings from Bose makes it excellent choice for anyone looking for versatile, portable bluetooth speaker. Maybe not exactly giant killer, as there are better sounding speakers, but a good speaker and great bargain indeed.



Pros:
+excellent built quality and clean look
+supervising loud and dynamic
+very good midrange quality
+sounds big, can fill room with clean sound
+lots of features
+good Bluetooth reach
 +good price


Cons:
-Bass could be more extended 
-not as loud out of grid
-mediocre battery time 7-8h max


Verdict: 7.5/10


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