High-quality sound does not come cheap, and no one knows it better than homegrown company Creative, which impressed the market with its Sound Blaster Roar Bluetooth speaker in 2014.
The follow up to that last year - the Sound Blaster Roar 2 - packed a smaller form and was priced higher at $329.
This year's version, the Creative iRoar, is pricier still at $499. And it is not just a cosmetic upgrade, as the company looks to build an ecosystem out of it.
Measuring almost the same size as the original Roar, the iRoar is a rectangular-shaped unit with two front-firing speakers, a larger top- firing one and two side-firing passive radiators.
Aside from the power button, the remaining controls - for playback, taking calls and changing volume - are all touch ones and located on the top of the unit.
There is also a 7-by-6 dot matrix display that shows battery life, as well as the Bluetooth mode. Instead of the grey and white chassis of its predecessors, Creative has opted for an all black look, with gold trim gracing the edge of both sides.
The rear panel has also been streamlined, as most of the physical control buttons have been moved. Creative continues to support music playback via a microSD card, and there are optical and USB audio ports as well.
What makes Creative speakers stand out is the app that gives users better control of the device. The company has carved out a new app for the iRoar. Here, users can customise the audio levels, create audio profiles for video games, movies and night time use, and control the range of the microphone.
Slot in a microSD card and you can install add-ons, such as a customisable alarm clock. If you turn the device over, there is an eight-pin connector port that allows the unit to be attached to an iRoar dock.
This yet-to-be-released external subwoofer dock aims to deliver a better soundstage while indoors.
The company intends to make the iRoar software open to other companies, to allow them to create apps and accessories, such as a 5.1 surround sound docking system, for the iRoar.
This probably explains the higher price tag. But if you are a fan of their previous Roar devices, the iRoar is another great addition to the family.
The sound stayed pristine when I cranked up the volume, while background instruments were well-defined and sharp. The great bass that Creative is known for has been maintained.
I find the sound closer to the original Roar than the Roar 2, which traded audio strength for a smaller form factor.
Verdict: The iRoar does not skimp on projecting rich audio, and it is powerful enough to match some soundbars in the market.
SPEAKER DRIVERS: 4
ACTIVE DRIVER: 1
PASSIVE RADIATORS: 2
SUPPORTED CODECS: AAC, aptX, SBC, aptX-LL
BATTERY: 9,000 mAh (Up to 20 hours of playtime)
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
This article was first published on Feb 17, 2016.
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