I’m a sucker for a great portable Bluetooth speaker. I’ve tried more than I can count and I’ve got one in almost every room in my house (kitchen, bedroom, office, living room — even in my master bathroom for listening to music or a podcast while in the shower). And those are just the speakers I’ve kept; I’ve gotten rid of several speakers that didn’t make the cut (and have only kept the very best around the house). Which leads me to the Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2: a feature-packed little speaker that looks good, sounds good and has some interesting surprises. Will it make the cut and find a place in my speaker-packed house?
Let’s start with the looks. If a speaker sounds good but is ugly it has no place in my life — or yours (in case you needed my opinion).
The Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 I tested was the white model which has a white front with a grey stripe across the top where the main buttons live. It’s bottom, top and back are also white and the sides are black. Personally I love anything white like the Apple products that debuted around the time of the original iPod (or like the interior of the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey with the white walls, floor, chairs, etc.). In this case I really like the contrast of the sparkling white and the pure black on the sides of the speaker — it’s a bit like a stormtrooper (and you can’t go wrong with that).
The speaker’s also not too big — and that is a good and bad thing depending on your tastes and desires. If you’re looking for a compact, portable Bluetooth speaker that you can take anywhere and that basically fits anywhere: this is a great bet. And for it’s size it really packs a BIG sound (and big base — we’ll get to that). But a speaker can’t physically be this small and produce chest-thumping sounds. So if you’re looking for a more permanent speaker (that you won’t need to take with you anywhere) that is a “heavy hitter” in terms of being able to produce massive, intense sound (rather than just being loud) then no portable Bluetooth speaker will fit that bill (including this one).
So if it looks good, how does it sound? I’d say it definitely punches above it’s weight; meaning although it’s compact and truly portable, it gets very loud and produces a really solid, enjoyable sound. How could it not considering the fact that it’s got five different drivers inside (including a built-in subwoofer)?
I love speakers that don’t meld everything together into one driver. This speaker separates the highs and mids from the lows (as my favorite speakers and headphones tend to do). This always gives better sound clarity; the effect is noticeable and is somewhat akin to the difference between stereo and non-stereo sound. If I could describe the sound in one word it would be punchy.
But this speaker’s namesake feature — added bass — is the main draw. There are lots of portable Bluetooth speakers (and even a good amount that sounds really, really nice). But there aren’t many Bluetooth speakers that have the ability to add (and adjust) the amount of bass flowing out of them.
On the top of the Sound Blaster Roar 2 is the “Roar” button. There are two extra bass modes: ROAR and TeraBass. ROAR is for pulling out all the stops when you want to crank up the sound in terms of loudness and overall output. TeraBass boosts bass when the sound is at a lower level — without overdoing it. Both modes are very welcome — I like that I don’t have to tap around in an app to adjust bass (and I like the fact that I can adjust the bass at all, for that matter).
In terms of quality the Sound Blaster Roar 2 feels very sturdy and solid. It’s mostly plastic with a metal mesh on the front. True, it’s not rugged or waterproof as some portable Bluetooth speakers I’ve reviewed in the past, but it’s anything but fragile. It would be perfect for use in any room of the home (or at the office) and could be a great system for a dorm room or student. The weakest spots in the “armor” of this speaker are the passive radiators on the site (the moving parts that show you that the sound is pumping) — but with “normal” use this speaker will last for several great years
Now Creative has included several features in this speaker that you might not expect it to have. With a couple exceptions, these extras don’t matter too much to me but they are enough to differentiate the Sound Blaster Roar 2 from it’s rivals and possibly give it a bit of an edge.
I really like the fact that you can use the Sound Blaster Roar 2 as a battery backup that can charge your phone while on the go. I also like the fact that it works as a speakerphone. Both features are truly useful.
The fact that you can play MP3s off a memory card is somewhat… old school in the age of Spotify and Apple Music where everything streams. Still, I’m sure there’s a niche of users out there who will find some use for this feature.
You can also record your voice (or any other sound for that matter). Again… I want to think that is cool, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a use case. The fact that I can record right onto my phone and then edit that audio seems to negate this feature entirely for me.
Finally, as one would almost expect from a speaker these days, you aren’t limited to Bluetooth connectivity alone: if you’re phone is capable you can pair it via NFC.
I’m really a big fan of Creative’s products. The T4 Wireless 2.1 speaker system I reviewed recently was a major hit in my house. It makes a great Bluetooth/NFC speaker system with MAJOR bass (while managing to be pretty compact despite NOT being a portable system). And the Sound Blaster Roar 2 is excellent for the size and price (it retails for $199 but can be had on Creative’s website for $159.99 at the moment).
If you’re looking for a great portable Bluetooth speaker (both in terms of sound quality and features) that also looks good enough to leave out in any room of the house (and cool enough to hang out in a dorm room), this is an excellent choice. There’s nothing at all that would make me hold back from fully recommending the Sound Blaster Roar 2.