No sooner had we put together a guide to buying Bluetooth speakers than another option worth consideration was announced. Creative's Sound Blaster line, probably once most associated with computer soundcards, is about to be joined by the Roar SR20 portable Bluetooth speaker. The book-sized device has five speaker drivers in a bi-amp configuration and promises a long battery life.
The Sound Blaster Roar certainly looks like it would slot neatly into the "high-end portables" category of our Bluetooth speakers buyers' guide. At 57 x 202 x 115 mm (2.2 x 7.9 x 4.5 in) and 1.1 kg (2.5 lb), it is similar in size and weight to both the Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile Speaker and Jawbone's BIG JAMBOX that were included in the guide, but it's not quite as pricey.
The Sound Blaster Roar has five speakers, three 3-inch drivers for mid-range and bass are powered by one amplifier and two 1.5-inch high-end drivers are powered by another amp. The speakers are aimed in three different directions, as a means, Creative says, of filling a room with sound instead of creating a specific sweet-spot. This is theoretically beneficial for use in loud environments, such as parties. Users can also press a button that, according to the company, "instantly boosts the loudness, depth and spaciousness of the audio."
Another nifty function for use at parties is the option to connect two Bluetooth devices to the Sound Blaster Roar at the same time, and have them play alternately (the audio source can be manually toggled if required). Users also have the option of inserting a microSD card filled with tracks that can be played using an integrated MP3/WMA/WAV player.
Devices can be paired with the Sound Blaster Roar using NFC or Bluetooth 3.0. Audio, meanwhile, can be streamed over Bluetooth, or sourced from devices plugged into a USB port or 3.5 in jack input. The Roar has an in-built audio and voice recorder and can be used as a speakerphone when connected to a smartphone over Bluetooth. A 6,000 mAh Li-ion battery is reported to give up to 8 hours of playing time.
The Sound Blaster Roar also has a few more quirky features, including a bedtime mode that gradually reduces the output volume as a user nods off, a life-saver mode that plays tones and sounds at random intervals to keep users alert, and a one-touch siren that, according to Creative, "lets you instantly grab attention when you need to – for instance, at an outdoor group activity or during an emergency."
Creative says the Sound Blaster Roar will be available "very soon in different regions" and will retail at US$199.