Creative iRoar Go – The swiss army knife of portable speakers
Today I’ll be taking a look at the Creative iRoar Go, a weather and splash-proof portable Bluetooth speaker with SuperWide technology that packs in a bundle of features. How does this reddot design awarded speaker measure up in this somewhat saturated category? Let’s find out.
This product was provided for the purpose of an honest review. I’m not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own.
I had my first experience with Creative a long time ago. In fact it was so long ago I’m embarrassed to say exactly when it was. Let’s just say that at the time AMD was leading the computer graphics card race, Pentium CPUs were all the rage and ribbon IDE cables were still a thing. Anyone who has been into computer audio solutions has probably at least heard of Creative and particularly their Sound Blaster sound cards which were first launched in 1989.
Founded in Singapore in 1981, Creative has become a veritable giant in the Personal Digital Entertainment (PDE) market with a user base of 400 million worldwide. Yes, you read that right, 400 million.
My first ever multimedia speaker upgrade was a Creative 2.1 speaker system that served me well for several years. Since then I’ve had quite a few of their 2.1 offerings as well as a couple of their PCI internal sound cards. Even my current computer has a Sound Blaster Recon3D taking care of the onboard audio duties.
Some say staying at the top of the game is harder than getting there in the first place. Not content to sit on their laurels, the company has this to say:
Today, Creative is spearheading new product categories with its groundbreaking Sound BlasterAxx audio enhancement devices and solutions, highly-acclaimed Creative D5xm Signature Series of modular Bluetooth wireless speakers, Aurvana premium headsets, Sound Blaster wireless gaming headsets, and cross-platform Sound Blaster Recon3D for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC or Mac.
Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. I have no affiliation with the company and all observations and opinions are my own, based on my experience with the product. The iRoar Go currently retails for $199 and can be purchased directly from Creative’s website or one of the many other retailers that carry Creative stock.
Packaging and accessories
The iRoar Go portable Bluetooth speaker is presented in a tiny, little, high quality, black box with a glossy image of the speaker on the front plus some features and accessories on the back. At first sight, I was surprised at how small the box was and thought that I had received a gimmicky, toy trinket speaker but when I picked the box up the reassuring weight of it told me there was a substantial object within.
Opening the box I found the speaker wrapped in a protective foam bag and held securely by a cardboard insert. It’s unusual to see something like this without any foam padding but I suppose that Creative either have a high regard of mail couriers worldwide or are confident in the robustness of the speaker. I’m guessing it’s the latter.
What’s in the box
Creative iRoar Go
Interchangeable adapter plug(s)
Micro USB Cable
3.5mm microphone adapter
Build and design
Weighing in at 810g the iRoar Go portable Bluetooth speaker feels great in your hand. The design is what I would call mature and utilitarian with its basic box shape and Creative’s classic black with silver accents colour scheme. On the front side are a metallic, black grill and a control panel at the top. On this panel are (from left to right):
Bluetooth pairing/answer call button
Source select button
Selected source indicator LEDs
There’s a bunch of stuff on the speaker’s top panel. Starting with the left side, there is the iRoar button along with media playback/record buttons. On the right side of the top panel is the I/O section complete with a rubber gasket (from left to right):
15V power socket
Micro USB port
Micro SD card slot
On each side of the speaker is a machine-finished passive radiator with the Creative branding and silver-coloured metal borders that add some razzle-dazzle to the speaker’s modest appearance.
Internally the speaker has a total of 5 drivers including 2 far-field tweeters, a subwoofer and 2 passive radiators. It’s actually a bi-amplified design with one amplifier powering the bass and midrange while the other one is dedicated purely to the high frequencies.
Overall the iRoar Go is very well constructed, rugged and practical. With an IPX6 rating, it’s water and dust resistant so is ideal for the poolside or beach as well as anywhere around the home.
There are a whole bunch of options for music sources available. From the Bluetooth 4.2 which also supports AAC, SBC codecs, to the USB up to 128GB and microSD card (SD and SDHC) of class 4 and above, up to 32GB. On top of that there’s the 3.5 mm auxiliary jack that can be connected to a phone or DAP and even the ability to connect your computer via the micro USB port. I did find the omission of aptX a little strange but it really doesn’t seem to have a detrimental effect on audio quality. Maybe it isn’t necessary with Bluetooth 4.2, I’m not sure but I can say that I couldn’t discern any signs of inferior sound.
The speaker’s built-in music player supports MP3 and WMA up to 320kbps and FLAC up to 1.3Mbps. Playback can be controlled via the speaker’s top panel, your Bluetooth source or via the downloadable SoundBlaster connect app which also gives easy access to the custom or preset EQ options.
Bluetooth connection is easy peasy. Works just as you’d expect. You can either connect the old way or if your source has NFC you can just tap it on the hotspot and let it take care of business.
The Built-in Li-ion, 5200mAh boasts a 12-hour battery life which is pretty good but even more impressive when you can see the diminutive size and hear the amount of sound that comes out. When the battery is getting low you can simply plug in the 15V charger and you’ll be up and running again in no time. There’s also an auto power down function that will kick in after 15 minutes of no signal coming from any source which will help extend the speaker’s battery life.
The iRoar Go portable Bluetooth speaker can be used in two different orientations each with its own properties. Horizontally the speaker has a wider, more room-filling sound while the vertical orientation produces a louder and more direct audio sound field.
So how does this speaker sound? In a word great. I can scarcely believe what this minuscule thing can blast out. When playing “Only Your Mother” from Scarface’s Balls and My Word it was able to fill my entire house with the music and maintain the tidy bass and clarity without distortion.
Bass is punchy but not overdone and even when playing at low levels still has a weighty presence thanks to Creative’s Terabass that “Intelligently Boosts Bass When Audio Levels are Low”.
The mids are clear and engaging with natural tones, good detail and separation. Because of the iRoar Go’s dual amplification system, it’s able to avoid the mid-bass bloat and congestion that some similar speakers suffer from and maintains more accuracy.
Higher frequencies are handled by the two far-field tweeters and are balanced well with the bass and mids. There’s plenty of energy there and for me at least the treble never sounds harsh or overly bright.
For most of my testing I just left the ROAR setting on as I enjoyed the fullness of it but for some types of music the custom, preset and flat EQ settings that are available add a lot of versatility to the already excellent sound.
The MP700 and iRoar Go are very near in price but there are some significant differences. The most glaring difference is in size and weight with the MP700 being roughly twice the size and a lot heavier than the iRoar Go. In terms of pure audio, I’d say the Edifier comes out ahead with a bigger, meatier sound but you’d expect that coming from the bigger speaker andthere’s not a whole lot in it. You’ll get about 8 hours of playback time with the MP700 compared to 12 on the iRoar Go.
There are other things to consider though. The MP700 does have aptX but it’s only running Bluetooth 4.0 compared to 4.2 on the Creative. Both have a 3.5 mm auxiliary input, NFC and both have the ability to charge a phone via their USB ports. That’s about all these have in common when it comes to features. The iRoar Go adds a MicroSD card slot, voice recording, the ability to be used as an external sound card for PC, voice prompts, a built-in music player and custom or preset EQ options.
Overall these are both fantastic speakers and I’d easily recommend either one depending on the features that are most important to you. If you want the biggest or absolute best sound then Edifier’s offering is the way to go. If you want smaller form factor, lighter weight, longer battery life and the other extra features then the iRoar Go would be the ideal candidate.
The current state of portable Bluetooth speakers continues to surprise me. With their battery life, large lists of features, build quality and sound they’ve become a very viable product, even for people who demand better quality audio than average consumers.
The iRoar Go portable Bluetooth speaker is no joke. Not only does it get loud but it does so without compromising its very capable sonic performance. Add to that the multiple connection options, custom and preset EQ settings, the SuperWide iRoar technology and IPX6 rating making it splash and weatherproof and you’ve got an amazingly versatile and great sounding portable speaker that you can pick up and take anywhere.
Are there better speakers out there? Well yes, there are but are there any the same size or smaller, with the same number of features and at the same cost or lower? None that I know of (let me know in the comments if you do).
It’s not cheap but I truly believe that what the iRoar Go has to offer makes it worth the admission price. If you’re still unconvinced try to audition one and hear it for yourself. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.