Review: Creative iRoar Go Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Creative's iRoar Go ($200) is the latest variation in its Roar series, which has included a number of similar speakers, including last year's Sound Blaster Roar 2, which earned our high recommendation. iRoar Go is a lot like that speaker — it's a five-driver portable speaker with a number of additional features not seen on many competitors. iRoar Go is differentiated by its smaller footprint, its IPX6 splashproof rating, and its "SuperWide" technology, which purports to create a larger sound stage than you'd expect from a relatively small speaker. Changing the speaker's orientation or placement is said to have a noticeable effect in its sound presentation. Creative claims that iRoar Go delivers up to 12 hours of audio playback.
iRoar Go is a bit smaller than Roar 2, at 2.13” x 7.56” x 3.8”. It weighs about 1.78 pounds. Despite the smaller size, iRoar Go also includes two 1.5” tweeters, a 2.5” woofer, and two passive radiators on each side of the speaker. The speaker itself looks like a smaller Roar 2. It’s not a minimalist design, as Creative isn’t shy about emphasizing iRoar Go’s features. The speaker’s top (when in horizontal orientation) has power, volume, Bluetooth/speakerphone and source buttons — users can switch between Bluetooth, NFC, an SD card, USB, or aux connections. There’s certainly no one way to connect to iRoar Go.
The rear side of the speaker (or top when in vertical orientation) has playback controls, and the ROAR button for boosting volume and bass, and using the speaker’s digital signal processor. Two rubber flaps conceal a port for the 15V AC adapter, aux-in, a 1A USB charging port, a micro-USB port (which can connect to a PlayStation 4), and a microSD slot — songs can even be played from a microSD card.
Overall, iRoar Go has high-quality, full-bodied sound, and compares favorably to other top options within its price range. Though it was rare, we thought the treble could be harsh at times when listening at higher volumes, even when compared to the Sound Blaster Roar 2. That being said, you could have a whole listening session and hear nothing out of the ordinary. Bass is strong for a speaker of its size, and the speaker’s louder ROAR mode also features a bass boost.
To our ears, some songs benefitted more from the ROAR button than others, which does leave open the question of when you should actually use it. We’d prefer to not press a button repeatedly when switching through genres, but generally speaking, ROAR should be used when more loudness is required.
Changing the orientation of iRoar Go also makes a bit of a difference. The vertical orientation makes the sound more focused and direct. Using the speaker in its horizontal orientation gives more of the wider sound stage that Creative hinted at with its “Super Wide” tech. It’s not as effective, as say, the $600 Mass Fidelity Core in this way, but that shouldn’t be expected. It does well for its size.
While many users likely won’t take advantage of all the features iRoar Go offers — we don’t know too many folks listening to music from a microSD card at this point — it’s nice to have all these options available. Speakerphone performance was also very good, especially on our end. The speaker even comes with a microphone adapter, so it can be used as a sort of mini PA system.
There’s a lot to like about the iRoar Go. A few quirks aside, it has very good sound, and the speaker has a number of features other portable speakers don’t bother to attempt — if you’re looking for something versatile, this should be a top option. The splashproofing also brings an extra dimension that Sound Blaster Roar 2 didn’t have. However, the older Roar 2 is cheaper and is probably still a better option as an indoor Bluetooth speaker. iRoar Go is another strong effort from Creative, and it earns our strong general recommendation.