Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro Review

👤by Tony Le Bourne Comments 📅16-04-16
Performance Testing

Setup, Design & Observations
There are many ways to 'setup' a Creative Roar, and it will entirely depend on your own preferred use. For Bluetooth connection, you can either connect via NFC if your smartphone supports it, or by holding the 'multifunction' button a few seconds and connecting manually. The Roar accepts two connected devices at one time, and to swap between the two, you simply pause any audio output, then play from the other. Alternatively, you can connect your MP3, Smartphone or any device with an audio out to the Aux-in port using the supplied cable. Then you have the option of using mass storage by means of a microSD card to which you can save WMA/MP3 and play stored music via the integrated controls on the Roar Pros back panel. Finally, you can also play music via the microUSB port which can connect to your PC/Mac or PS4.

Should you wish to make use of the voice recording feature, you can turn the microphone on and press the REC button, with the traditional red dot, then press again once finished and the Roar Pro will save it to the microSD card in a WAV format and can be played back using the play/pause button next to the record button. Another feature that returns with the Roar Pro is the sleep/bedtime mode, this is activated by holding the play/pause button in the Recording section, 1 beep for 15mins, 2 beeps for 30mins. After said time, the Roar will gently fade out and turn itself off.

The ROAR button and Tera Bass buttons return, the former gives a boost in audio loudness, the latter lifts the bass for a more balanced listening at low levels. This time, on the Pro, there is also a built in audio EQ profile switch. There are three to choose from, labelled 'WARM, NEUTRAL, and ENERGETIC'. During some listening tests, I was unable to notice much of a difference, other than 'Warm' felt like it wants to melt into its bass a little, and 'energetic' sharpened the highs a bit. So its nice to have if you do have a set preference.

Something I noted during use with USB was that at max volume with ROAR enabled, I found that it kept disconnecting itself. This became rather tedious but then I found that the vibrations from the speaker were shaking the USB cable and that my front USB port was a little loose from years of insertion, so once I had addressed this, the problem was gone.

The maximum volume is a little higher when plugged into the mains, though the wireless volume level is rather deceptive because Creative have used far field drivers, this means that wherever you are positioned, you will hear the audio with a nice degree of focus and precision. Normally desktop stereo speakers tend to be what are called 'near field', meaning for optimised audio quality you need with be within a set distance, normally sat in front of them at your desk, as expected. I mention this because at first I felt like the Roar Pro wasn't as loud as I remembered the Roar to be. This subsided when I moved away at a distance for a better perspective. The audio quality at a distance sounds great, travelling with an even balance that is capable of filling a Medium/large room.

Testing the microphone for phone usage, the Roar Pro's own built in microphone sounds decent and does a great job of cancelling and interference from the speaker itself. Using it for hands free calls allows it to be the perfect speaker phone for conferencing without sounding too washed out or noisy. To answer a call, you press the multifunction button once, once again to end the call or you can hold the button down to reject a call.

After around 6 hours use, the battery indicator was still on its second/middle LED indicator, so there was plenty of gas in the engine, though it seem like the loudness suffered a touch while in wireless use. While using the battery, the Roar will automatically power down after an audio source is disconnected or after 15minutes to preserve the battery. If you leave plugged into the mains, it will automatically enter a power saving mode after 28hrs mode, if you want a permanent ON/Mains mode, you can do so by turning the Roar Pro on, disconnecting any devices, and press the '+' and power button together, the LED indicators will blink once to tell you that the power saving mode has been turned off. To re-enable, you do the same thing but using the '-' and power button together.

The Roar Pro has a solid construction and feels high quality, each button and switch presses or clicks nicely. There are various other controls such as being able to disable/enable voice prompt by pressing '-' with the multifunction button (use + and MF button to re-enable), disable/enable advanced audio codec which is done in a similar fashion by pressing '-' and the ROAR button, using the '+' and ROAR button to re-enable the advanced audio codec.

The Roar Pro keeps in with its family of portable wireless speakers by providing a well balanced, smooth high quality music playback. The audio quality overall still sounds a touch cramped but this is a limitation of portable, Bluetooth speakers generally so isn't something to hold againast it. The bass level is decent, while the mids and treble are clear and precise without sounding sharp or unpleasant, you can choose an audio profile to your preference to alter the audio signature. You can control the master volume using the onboard volume buttons which means you can limit the max volume should you wish. The ROAR does exactly what it suggests by giving a bump to the overall loudness, though it is advised that ROAR mode is better used while plugged into mains for best volume, and it likely adds a drain to the battery life. Overall the Roar Pro sounds like a Roar, which is pretty damn good. Some may want a deeper, punchier bass from their speaker, though we feel that the balance is ideal.

iRoar Mic
When paired with the iRoar Mic, the Roar Pro becomes a compact, wireless PA system (Public Announcement or Address). Though relatively pricey, the iRoar Mic is wireless and has a relatively long battery life rated at 10hrs. On the controls you can adjust the volume of the Roar, as well as the sensitivity of the microphone to get the ideal settings to your situation. In testing, we found it difficult to discern if the Roar Pro has the volume/power needed for such activities as busking, but in the right hands, this setup could serve wonders. A small community bingo hall, presentations, classrooms, or even as suggested by Creative 'Story telling'. each of these scenarios are wholly reasonable and believable situations where the Roar Pro and iRoar Mic would be usable, and its quick and easy setup makes for little hassle. The main concern regarding setup is distance from the Roar Pro itself, this is because if you plan on having the microphone more than a few centimetres away from your mouth, you risk causing a load of reverb. At a decent sensitivity level with the iRoar Mic clipped to your shirt, you will need to be 2-3m away from the Roar Pro unit. This however isn't a huge problem as I could foresee that in a presentation/classroom situation, the speaker would be positioned in the most convenient manner so those farther away can clearly hear you and will entirely depend on the dynamics of the room and situation at hand.

The iRoar microphone has a super low latency to the extent that trying to hear yourself speak through the Roar Pro to see if it working can be confusing, and you may need a second opinion to reassure you. The microphone does a great job at blocking out noises, though it will pick up and noises, bumps, knocks and rustling if you are holding in your hand, so make good use of the mute button. Should you wish to speak directly into it, it would be best to use the included foam windscreen that attaches to the microphone with a magnet as this will block your puffy wind noises (plosives) coming out of your mouth.

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