When Creative founder Sim Wong Hoo showed me the Sound Blaster Roar 2 in September, I was a little sceptical.
The original Roar is a powerhouse in the audio delivery department, delivering great bass and sharp acoustics in a not-so-tiny package. Would miniaturising the hardware result in poorer audio quality? Would making the device smaller not diminish the roar of the powerhouse?
Not so. The Roar 2 sounds better than the Roar.
But before you start grousing about Creative making unnecessary changes to the soundstage of the Roar, which they did, you need to understand that these tweaks are a necessity.
Shrinking the Roar by 20 per cent to arrive at the Roar 2 necessitated two changes. In the original, the woofer was upward firing, or up firing, while the twin tweeters were front firing. In the Roar 2, all three are up firing, so the grille mesh in front has been removed.
This allows the speaker to be orientated in two ways.
In the Roar, having the woofer pointing towards you meant that the tweeters were aimed at the surface on which the device sat.
The passive radiators were then housed at the sides behind metal grilles. No longer. Now, a thin protective plate of aluminium is placed over each radiator.
So, both radiators vibrate with the bass, delivering audio punch that you can feel.
When comparing the Roar and Roar 2, I realised that the bass on the Roar 2 has been dialled down substantially, while the highs now have a sharper presence.
If you thought the Roar provided a good balance of bass and sharpness, the Roar 2 does even better.
Because the tweeters have been positioned differently, and the radiators have been altered physically, the engineers have had to retune the soundstage. They have tried to duplicate that of the Roar, but certain changes had to be made.
Personally, I am a bigger fan of the smaller device. Otherwise, the features have not changed much.
The positions of the music playback control buttons at the top rear have been switched around.
But the rear control panels, which are used to make audio recordings, set alarms, plug in a microSD card for direct MP3 playback and a USB slot to charge mobile devices, are still laid out as they were in the Roar.
If you already own a Roar, all that is holding you back from an upgrade would be the price.
The Roar is now $199; the Roar 2 is priced at $329.
If you have yet to enjoy the Sound Blaster Roar experience, Creative's Roar 2 is worth the extra cash.
Speakers: Far-field tweeters x 2, passive radiators x 2, subwoofer x 1
Features: Built-in MP3 player and voice recorder, microSD playback
Dimensions: 51 x 188 x 109mm
Value for money 5/5
This article was first published on April 1, 2015.
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