Published on August 20th, 2016 | by Greg0
Creative iRoar: An Everything Speaker
Normally, we spend an initial paragraph setting a scene, laying out the background for a product or category. But today’s speaker packs enough features in that we’ll get right to it, starting with the basics: inside are two high-frequency 1.5-inch speakers as well as a top-facing 2.75-inch driver, plus side-firing passive radiators. Two separate amps handle the low/mid-end and the rest of the spectrum individually, and combined it adds up to a lot of power and also a wide sound dispersion that can fill a room. Boasting a 9,000mAh battery, it’s not a truly small or lightweight portable unit, but is meant to be a capable all-arounder that can last for 10-20 hours between charges or even stay plugged in.
That’s the Creative iRoar, which bills itself as the “most intelligent speaker on the planet”. A CES 2016 Innovation Awards Honoree, one thing that grabbed our attention was the involvement and endorsement of Wyclef Jean. At it’s most essential, it’s a Bluetooth speaker using version 3.0 of the protocol and apt-X support, but a quick glance will show how it’s different- not only does it offer the a fairly typical USB mobile device charging plug and auxiliary 3.5mm input, but also an optical input and even a micro SD card slot, and even connectivity to an external subwoofer (sold separately). For use as a PA system or presentations, they even offer a small iRoar mic as well.
Creative is probably best known for their computer speaker systems and audio gear under the Sound Blaster name, like the X7 that we checked out late last year. Some of that same DNA carries through here. But they’ve clearly learned from the computers too, in several important ways. Dual microphones allow the iRoar to serve as an impressive speakerphone, with what they call Mic Beam technology. Included in the box are all of the cables you need plus a carrying pouch, but in a slightly surprising absence for units in this price range, there is no remote control. All of the necessary controls are right on top though, with a nice touch screen and display, though pairing is a little unusual and might require a quick peek at the manual (NFC is as simple as always though).
Meant to lay flat, the orientation might be confusing initially, but there’s plenty of volume and decent bass for a speaker in this class and it looks good as well. You can pair a couple of them together, but one of the smartest parts is one we haven’t even mentioned yet: the sophisticated free app, with abilities like equalization (normal) and voice morphing effects (random and occasionally funny). You can even enable ‘night mode’ to turn down the bass and push forward details so you can still hear crisply at lower volumes. The Creative iRoar isn’t weather resistant or waterproof, and it’s too bulky to simply throw in a bag and take anywhere, but it’s the sort of speaker that can get the party started at a picnic and might be enough for any room in your house. And yes, there’s even a ROAR button. Available now, online and in stores, expect to spend around $369 for the Creative iRoar.