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Sound Blaster Roar Pro review: Stepping up to the Pros

By Marcus Wong & Liu Hongzuo - 12 Apr 2016
Launch SRP: S$349

Performance findings

 
 

Audio performance - General experience

Testing out the Sound Blaster Roar Pro, we found that its sound signature is rounder with a compact soundstage, when compared with something like the Sony SRS-X 55 wireless speaker that's competing at a similar price point. The soundstage gives a very different closed-door performance feel to the Sound Blaster Roar Pro, but we found that it rounds off the midrange frequencies too much as well. The bass handling is not overdone, but it’s quite clear to us that the Roar Pro remains bass-heavy and aggressive in general.

Compared to the Sound Blaster Roar 2, the Sound Blaster Roar Pro easily pumps out more sound, and it seems the sound signature is slightly different too. The new speaker is slightly warmer and more forward, bringing more immediacy to vocal tracks. For example, on a recording of Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me we found the speaker did a nice job with the raspy vocals of Miss Jones, presenting her with good separation from the backing instruments. There was a nice, warm timbre to her voice too, making for an enjoyable rendition overall.

 

Audio performance - Formal test tracks

On to our formal test suite, we felt that the Sound Blaster Roar Pro handed the distortion and bass well in Adele’s Melt My Heart to Stone, but the keyboards and guitar parts felt a little muted compared to the other frequencies at play. Adele’s vocals are again nicely warm and round though, and so remains the centerpiece of this track.

We expected Tiesto’s Elements of Life to do well due to its hard-hitting nature, but even this electronic song seemed a little too complex when trying to render the less noticeable details, such as the full synth sound and galloping beats.

Moving onto Hotel California by The Eagles, we were a little surprised to find that the strings felt slightly muted towards the end this time round. We also missed a bit of the live energy of the crowd, but we did like how the bass was nicely rounded on this piece. Henley’s vocals remain very much the center piece for this track, and these were nicely fleshed out.

Ending off with Buckethead’s Sail on Soothsayer,we thought the speaker rendered the piece fairly well with a nice warm reverb. We would have liked the distort to have been handled with a bit more clarity, but Buckethead’s electric guitar remains front and center of this piece.

Audio Performance Summary
MP3 Testing Score
Hotel California - The Eagles 8.0
Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead 8.5
Elements of Life - Tiesto 8.0
Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele 8.0


Conclusion

For a long while it seemed like the Sound Blaster Roar series would easily remain supreme among portable speakers, but the introduction of new HRA-capable models from companies like Sony at comparable price points means that Creative now has strong competition. For that matter, the fact that the original Sound Blaster Roar and Sound Blaster Roar 2 remain as purchase options on Creative's site alongside the more powerful Sound Blaster iRoar means that the Sound Blaster Roar Pro is going to face serious competition from within its own family as well.

The earlier two models also provide great audio performance while at a much lower prices, and the new Sound Blaster iRoar while pricier, offers much more power and added smarts, so it really comes down to what you value the most. That said, the fact remains that the Sound Blaster Roar Pro is a reasonable performer. And if you need the PA system capabilities desperately but aren't willing to fork out over $500 for a portable speaker, then the S$349 Sound Blaster Roar Pro is pretty much a no-brainer. 

Pro tip: The best time to get a Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro is during special online offers at Creative's website or during the quarterly tech shows where you can get it nearly $100 cheaper!

8.0
  • Design 8
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 7.5
The Good
New features allow it to do more than just play music
Still one of the more powerful speakers in this class
The Bad
Requires purchase of an additional mic to fully take advantage of the speaker's capabilities and it isn't cheap
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