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Turn it up: Creative’s Sound Blaster Roar is a lion in a den of housecats

It’s a jungle out there in Bluetooth speaker land. Seriously, Amazon has over 5,000 options to choose from … 5,000! To get noticed anymore, a Bluetooth speaker practically has to do your laundry for you, never mind function well as a wireless speaker. That puts manufacturers in a bit of a pickle, because there’s only so much you can cram into a little box before you run out of room and ideas. Or is there?

Creative Labs, perhaps best known for its sound cards and other computing accessories,  recently unleashed the Sound Blaster Roar, a relatively compact portable Bluetooth speaker highlighted by its ability to get really, really loud. And while it certainly can “roar” when called upon, the speaker offers enough add-on features that it deserves attention for its fancy functionality as well.

Clearly, the Roar was designed to be the musical backbone of a party. A dedicated “roar” button offers one-press access to a bolder, louder sound signature with beefed up bass and more scintillating treble — a bonus in the outdoors, where a lack of reflective surfaces can make a speaker sound anemic. In addition, the Roar features bass equalization that pumps up the low end when the volume drops, helping the speaker to sound full at all volume levels, not just when it’s roaring.

Related: TDK Trek Max A34 Bluetooth speaker review

You might expect all of that from a cutting-edge Bluetooth speaker, but how about a siren? Sure enough, the roar has a siren (labelled as an alarm) which should help call attention your way when needed. To allow social sharing of music, the Roar also allows multiple Bluetooth devices to connect simultaneously so that several people can hop in and play DJ. Of course, if you don’t want your playlist hijacked, the Roar can also be locked down to just one Bluetooth pairing.

Finally — and this is one we really didn’t see coming — the roar offers the ability to record any calls you have routed through its speakerphone to a micro SD card. This is a big deal for anyone who conducts interviews (you can see why we’re stoked on this featured) or for anyone who needs to get that nasty customer service rep on record (we’re looking at you, Comcast). You can also use that micro SD card slot for playing back MP3, WAV, or WMA music files.

The Roar delivers all of this for $150, which we find pretty remarkable. For a closer look, be sure to check out our first look video above.

Available at: Amazon