This UK Company has been working furiously around their Kickstarter program lately, aiming for the stars and attempting to shatter the conventional designs of headphones in general.  Previously, they’d achieved a very Planar Magnetic type of sound signature in what I would consider a hybrid-dynamic driver design in their full size R1 model.  Innovation is what these guys are all about and their new IEMs are no different.

I suspect Flare’s Kickstarter program may or may not have ended by the time you read this review, but they’ve offered their R2A at £79 for anyone interested while their Kickstarter is live.  Those who have jumped on that deal are in for a real treat, probably the IEM deal of the year.  At that price range, I’ve never come across anything that sounds even remotely that clean and spacious, so high five to anyone who was able to snag any of their IEMs at such a discount.  Once their Kickstarter program ends, the prices will go up to what I consider uncomfortable levels on the Pro model.

  • R2PRO – Titanium, £200 at KS campaign price, £400 after
  • R2A – Aluminium, from £79 during KS campaign, £175 after campaign
  • R2S Stainless steel – £150 KS price, £300 after

Even at the normal MSRP of the R2A, the price to performance is still excellent.  What Flare Audio has done here is attempt to create one of few IEMs that I’ve found to be hyper realistic in terms of a natural presentation shape, tone, impact and dynamics in this price tier.  Almost no other IEM’s that I’ve ever heard, including my Jh16 that cost me $1100, were able to achieve this type of imaging.  Both of these Flare IEMs have achieved a level of physical impact that I find to be extremely addictive as well.  True, both IEM models are different so let’s jump right into build and materials first before detailing the sound qualities offered by these magnificent IEMs.

The Tech and Accessories

The most important factoid to note about these IEMs is that they are pressure balanced: an attempt to create as non-fatiguing of an experience as possible.  I think they did very well with this jab at creating a natural appeal to the presentation, but there are certainly other normal dynamic IEMs out there that have also achieved a similar, effortless physicality, but not anything quite on this level that I am aware of.  Both IEMs come with Comply memory foam tips, which allow for excellent fit and sealing properties.  These do indeed offer a fair amount of noise isolation, but that is to be expected with a memory foam sealing tip from Comply.  You are intended to gently squeeze these tips in attempt to flatten them out prior to insertion.  After that, the foam will expand and seal the IEM into your ear canal.  It is vital to know that proper seal is essential for these IEMs to really shine.

tech-and-accessories

You’re going to have to squeeze those Comply tips a fair bit and burrow them in your inner ear canal, otherwise the seal will remain broken and lopsided. One side could sound nice and the other may not, this has happened to me often with these IEMs.  Once a proper seal is achieved, the sound is magnificent.  The experience is very comfortable due to the extremely small housing and light weight design.  Also, these Comply tips simply vanish in your ear once a proper seal is achieved.  Rummaging around downtown Cleveland with these in my ear equates to me feeling like I have a high tech implant in my ears that pipes music directly to my eardrums.  All I can feel is the cable swaying on my neck and over my chest sometimes.  I think most people will be rather shocked by just how small these IEMs really are: 12mm by 7mm.  They are adorable to say the least, super cute and tiny.  I’m not fond of larger IEM housings, so it is a refreshing experience to swap to these after using my custom monitors or some of the typical universals available.  The R2Pro will come with a nice carrying case and 3 sets of Comply memory foam tips.

Durability

Build quality varies between the model you wish to use, in this case the R2A comes with an all-aluminum housing and the R2Pro is made of grade 5 Titanium.  It feels very light but I am not exactly able to test durability with a crush test…also unwilling.  But, I can say that the cut of metal feels rigid and solid enough. They remind me of the Fischer Audio Silver Bullets, so I can’t see the Pro version taking any serious damage while rolling around in your bag or pocket.  Flare used a robotic lathe to craft each of their housings down to an accuracy of 10 microns.  The strain relief is unneeded, as Flare’s CEO has told me.

Durability

“The sides of the cable entry in the body have 250 micron thin chambers that don’t damage the cable when pulled. This removes the need for a strain relief which we have extensively tested by repeated pulling and snagging (the cable itself breaks first nowhere near the R2 and usually at the point of being pulled very hard).” –Davies Roberts: Flare Audio’s CEO

I tend to agree for the most part, the R2A is plenty tough and doesn’t need the added bulk of an extra piece of material to bridge the end of the cable to the metal housing.  If damage ever occurs to the cable, Flare allows you to remove the cable completely and replace it yourself for a fee of £35.  The rear side of the housing unscrews and exposes the innards that may need replacement.  My units were pre-production models, but once released officially the design and cable option selection will change.  They will be offering a remote mic version and a braided version, over ear option for stage musicians and lastly both 45 and 90 degree cable adapters.

The Cable

I think the Pro IEM desperately needs a fabric braided cable, something that screams higher quality than a typical rubber casing.  I do feel the stock cable to be overly thin; I can’t help but to have day dreams about the cable snapping off or shredding somehow.  I prefer a stronger exterior sleeve.  I can’t really justify that on the cheaper R2A, but I would expect it to exist on the Pro version which will sell for just over £400.  As those who know me and my reviews, £300 is the magic price tag value that I feel to warrant nicer, fabric cables.

the-cable

At that price point, I want to see higher quality exterior sleeves that protect the cable more.  Cable noise is also not an issue on either model, although this is only in regards to my experience with the stock rubber single strand cable.  I can’t comment about the potential braided cable noise factor since I don’t have it to test.  I also think the Pro version should come with a very nice 3.5mm adapter.  Maybe they will offer a very high quality and durable adapter in the future, again I’ve not seen any of the adapter options first hand to judge just yet.

Page 2: Sound Impressions – The R2A

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About The Author

Senior Reviewer

Self Proclaimed Musicality Guru, Photographer, Audiophile and part time Ninja. I started my audio journey back in 96' and haven't looked back. My ultimate goal in this life is to experience as many Hifi rigs as possible...because I am an audio addict.

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  • ShahDizzle

    Great review mate. I am sold on the R2A. I am not a basshead in the conventional senses but I do appreciate quality bass and mostly listen to top 40 music with the occasional acoustic music.

    I am deciding between the R2A and R2Pro. Do you feel the price difference is justified? Will I be missing out on much if going for the R2A vs the rest? Your review sold me on it and I can get it for 150 canadian which isn’t too bad of a price but the r2pro costs 380 canadian. I am just trying to reassure myself that I am making the right choice before I back the project 🙂

    Thanks in advance!

    PS I saw your review posed on head-fi so and people are already being sold on the R2A from this review. So good job 🙂

    • 24bit

      I do not feel it is justified, no. But they are different and the Pro is better. Is it worth double the price for clarity? Nope. But it is worth it for the added smoothness and realism factor upgrade over the R2A. If you don’t care for that, then grab the R2A.

      There is a noticeable different in fidelity between how well formed and solid things feel on the Pro model over the R2A. At this price, it is absolutely the best in class IEM ( Around $619 us ). You’ll notice more depth of field, more density on the mids and treble. However, the R2A has superior bass density and is more yummy, more musical. The Pro model is what I would consider reference in setup, the R2A is more musical and “fun” to me. I prefer the setup and bass of the R2A, but there is no denying the magnificence of the Pro models depth of field and solidity. It is exceptional.

      • ShahDizzle

        I backed the R2A based on your reviews and a few other impressions over at head-fi. I am backing a KS project for the first time so I am excited. I hope I am making the right choice in choosing R2A over the R2Pro.

        I am not stranger to good iems. I am currently using Sony XBA Z5 and I also owned the MDR EX1000 before selling those off. I use a Sound Magic HP150 for my over ears so I am no stranger to treble monsters haha.

        Would you say that the R2A would be a step down from the level of fidelity i am used to? I snagged em for 79 pounds so its not a bad price. I mostly listen to EDM and Top 40 music and the occasional vocal and acoustic music, so I am not a basshead in the conventional sense. But I am shifting more and more towards warmer gear as bight trebles seems to be giving me tinnitus these days.

        Sorry for the verbiage, but given what I have said, would you say the R2A would better suit my needs than the Pro? I don’t really listen to “audiophile” recordings and I stream most of my music from spotify and youtube.

        Thanks bud 🙂

        • 24bit

          You won’t be let down if you have some experience with iems. There are already some people on Head Fi who confirmed the quality of these Flare iems, so I feel much better about my review at the moment haha. I am also SUPER thankful everyone trusted me on this and didn’t ignore it and say I was just exaggerating. I am so happy about that, massive respect to the head fi’ers and this community who stood behind me and listened! Glad to know I won’t be getting rocks through my window or the majority hating on me, seems everyone who hears them says the same thing.

          I’d say you are upgrading based on those iems you’ve had in the past with regard to raw clarity and staging properties. It is impossible for me to say it works nice with EDM, because you’ll make a sacrifice with either set you go with. The Pro will give you more depth and solid feeling to the mids and treble, but will sound less bassy. The R2A will give you that tastier bass quantity, but you’ll miss the depth of field of the Pro.

          I predict you will be super happy with your R2A based on the price range of those other Sony buds, I think you are getting a much better deal financially as well as sonically. So, its a win win either way if you ask me.

          • ShahDizzle

            Thanks for the detailed reply, much appreciated! yes, people in Head-fi specially have referred to your review and I wouldn’t have backed it if I hadn’t read it myself to be honest.

            I am part basshead and part fan of balanced signatures, if that makes sense. Thats why I have several different iems with varying signatures.

            If the R2A beats my Z5 I am going to sell the Z5 and might use that to fund an R2Pro purchase haha. But in this case how much of the R2Pro performance would I be getting with the R2A, percentage wise? Like is the R2A 70% as good or 80?

            Thanks again.

          • 24bit

            Gosh, I couldn’t possibly justify a percent rating. I would need objective measurements of some sort for that. But, my ears tell me the R2A is 85% as good as the Pro. I really don’t know, the value of 85% feels right to me. I hope nobody listens to me on that statement though, it is entirely subjective.

          • James Lei

            Another idea, Flare Audio backed with 14-days trials, you could test R2 and return if you’re not satisfied.

  • Logical Reason

    How are these vs. the Baldoor E100?

    • 24bit

      Not sure if you are serious or just messing with me hehe. Either way, the Baldoor sounds paper thin, bright and sharp. But, shockingly the stage is still impressive on the Baldoor next to the Flares.

      • Logical Reason

        No, not kidding. This is Android from Reddit, the one that was asking about trying these out. Still blown away with the E100…actually working on getting them custom shelled.

        • James Lei

          There’s one which E100 can’t handle Bealties “Help” or those metallic songs quite well. To create an amazing stereo imaging is more important than just having clarity and deep bass. Especially on gaming, virtual reality and virtual 3D.

          I feel with R2, our ears become the mics. Still you can back R2 and enjoy 14-days refund if you’re not satisfied that everyone gets to try as much as you can. 🙂

  • quodvadis

    Do you think R2Pro has enough bass for modern music? I’d love the better mid and treble but I don’t want them at the expense of the bass. I don’t actually need big bass but I also don’t agree what most audiophiles calls as “flat” since that almost always mean “no bass” for me, I just want to have it in enough quantity for it not to feel anemic. Would R2Pro be right for me?

    Thank you!

    • 24bit

      Absolutely. Both sets have plentiful bass deepness, firmness, interesting texture and are very good with adapting to EQ ( bass boosting ) if you need it. Neither of them sound anemic to me, but bass heads will enjoy the R2A much more. Those who might want more of a reference quantity that doesn’t feel a bit elevated should opt for the R2Pro instead.

  • chrisare

    I see you’ve also just reviewed the Focal Spirit Pro, which I just got recently and love.

    How does the R2A compare to the FSP sonically?

    • 24bit

      The Focal Pro feels much darker in the background color, I find it unnatural in tone. The bass on the pro reaches much deeper and hits much harder than the Flare iems. But, even so, the presentation of the Focals just doesn’t feel as well formed. The Focal Pro is more neutral sounding and typical studio monitor in tone, I do not consider them natural sounding. The Focals all have more treble brightness, by rights the Focal Pro well into the realm of bright treble response by comparison to the Flare iems. Clarity is definitely better on the Flare iems than these Focal full sizes.

      Also want to address a users comments on Head Fi named G_T_J, who I am told is interested in comparisons between these Flares and other iems. I would be more than happy to compare anything you want me to that I have available, but the review was 9+ pages in Word…its a big review and I thought it more important to compare them to the best normal iem out there currently ( the Sennheiser IE800 ) and some popular customs, instead of random iems in the price tier of these Flare iems. I tried hard to imply there are no other iems in the price tier of sub $600 that compare to these Flares that I’ve experienced thus far. There are hundreds of popular models out there so if you want something specific for a comparison, please ask! 🙂

  • JFw

    Dont think they are on the same level, but how do these compare to the Altone 200? I got the altone for a very good price. Good iems but a little too v-shaped for my liking.

    • 24bit

      I’ve never heard an Altone product, sadly.

  • Damon

    The pressure-balancing aspect of this sounds *very* similar to what 1964Ears is doing with their ADEL technology. I’m sure these sound great, but it makes me wonder if it’s worth pre-ordering these when I already have an ADEL Control on it’s way…

  • Carl

    After reading this review I find myself “getting from you” that pretty much full-size over ear ‘phones up to and including the Z7 are cast in a pretty bad light after listening with these …?
    So my question would be (bearing in mind I am considering purchasing the Focal Classics after reading your thoughts on those!) : Forget about in-ear versus full-size, or portability versus at-home, on pure sound quality, musicality and just enjoying the music, how would you compare these to the Classics?
    Any thoughts you may have would be hugely appreciated.
    Be well.

    • 24bit

      I would say yes to that, now those full sized headphones I mentioned are cast in a bad light. The Flare’s, even the R2A, don’t offer nearly that much bass depth in quantity and they also are much smoother and with much less impact than the Focals. The Flare iems sound more natural, more well formed in physical setup. The Focals are more powerful, the Focal Classic is very musical in tone, the treble is a bit bright and very plentiful, and the bass hits and reaches deeper than the Flares. Both Flare iems trump the Focals in stage depth and clarity, realism factor and smoothness.

      • Carl

        Appreciate you taking the time for this thoughtful response.
        One last thing I forgot to ask – did you personally find the fit & comfort of the Classics to be okay for you? Nothing problematic?
        Be well.

        • 24bit

          Definitely problematic, did not enjoy their comfort and exterior design in the slightest.

          • Carl

            Many thanks.
            Just want to say that this site has become my favourite go-to site for reading about headphones; the look, feel, content – everything.
            And I find the writing style of your and Marcus’ reviews to be really cool too.
            Be well.

          • headfonics

            Thats awesome Carl! Glad you like it and hope you can continue to enjoy Headfonics 🙂

          • 24bit

            Wow, thank you!

  • Ben Clayton

    Just pledged for the R2A on the basis of your review. Looking forward to hearing them. Can you confirm which size Comply tips they use?

    • 24bit

      Hi Ben! The R2A’s come with medium comply’s.

      • Ben Clayton

        Cheers. Managed to find on the KS page that they ship with the medium TX200 Isolation Plus.

        • 24bit

          I might have to buy myself a small set, my right ear canal is a bit f’ed up and i never get a good fit no matter what I do with any tips. My left side gets a perfect fit with the mediums, but i wonder if the sound would be affected if I use a small comply on the right and the mediums on my left. I’ll do it for Science!

          • Ben Clayton

            Take one for the team!

  • Kristian Lindecrantz

    Wow great review of what sounds like a great product! Ive pledged for the R2A, wish i could get bott the A’s and the pro’s but realy cant justify the price. Im no bashead but hoping the A’s will delight either way. Any thoughts on amping? Thanks for a great site, and my referens when it comesta to head-fi.

    • 24bit

      Thank you!

      No amp needed unless it is for clarity or tonal change purposes. Runs Nice off my Fiio X1 and Sony A17 without me feeling it requires more. Both of these iems are fairly efficient and don’t benefit from extra amping, although both scale up quite a lot in quality depending on the quality of your source or amp. Meaning, they dont sound nearly as good through my Sony A17 as they do my CalyX M portable player.

  • Dennis L.

    I know this is such a long shot, but I’ll go anyway. Have you ever listened to the Bowers & Wilkins P5? If so, how would you compare those to the R2Pro’s? Specifically the bass in modern music. Which would you choose of those two?

    • 24bit

      Hi Dennis.

      I do have experience with all of BnW’s line up! The P5 is a really nice headphone, has a pure bass type but when I had them I found them to be unclean in the mids and treble for the price tier. They are not as clean as the Z7 nor nearly as spacious. The problem is the Bowers P5 doesn’t have the quantity to compare to the Z7. Both headphones fall very short of the Flare R2Pro. Easy pick here, the Flare wins this battle.

      • Jacky

        Hi, how if you were to compare them (P5 & Z7) to the R2A’s? Would the R2A easily win the battle too (in your opinion)? Thanks.

        • 24bit

          Absolutely, my Z7 is better than the P5 and the R2A is better than both in every way an iem can be superior to a full size. Of course, the stage still isn’t as large in the iems as it is the Z7, but clarity is definitely superior on the Flare R2A. The Pro model is just a bit better, and much more realistic, natural and effortless.

          • Jacky

            Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. That’s quite informative. I think I’ll be sticking to my pledge to get an R2A as all current reviews (including yours) seem to suggest that it has the best price-to-performance ratio of the range, and that the differences aren’t as significant as the price differences suggest. I listen mainly to large scale classical orchestral recordings and clarity is especially important. Your likening of the R2A to the Alpha Dog has made me quite curious as I’ve managed to listen to the Alpha Dog at a meet recently and was quite impressed with its clarity and presentation. My favorite headphone at the moment is the smooth-sounding HD650 (which to me sounds very natural with classical music), so it’ll be interesting to see how the R2A’s sound signature compares.

          • 24bit

            Hope you enjoy it.

  • Patrick

    Great review! I have already pledged for the R2A+R2Pro combo and can’t wait to get my hands on them 🙂 The only thing is that I wonder how the R2Pro compares with some top-of-the-range universal IEMs especially Shure SE 846 and Westone W60. I was actually deciding between them before getting the R2s and I am not sure I have made the right decision.

    • 24bit

      Thanks Patrick! Wish I could help on that front my friend, but I’ve never heard the W60 and have only demoed the Shure once. I really can’t see anyone being let down by these iems, both are best in class for their price tier. I don’t think anyone considers the Shure and the Westone the best iems in their price tiers, but I could be wrong.

  • Tonacas

    How do the R2Pro version compare to the Dunu DN2000?? It would be a nice comparison because they are both probably at the top in terms of price to performance ratio iems.

    • 24bit

      Hope someone else can chime in on this for Tonacas, I’ve not heard that Dunu model.

    • Damon

      A better comparison, IMHO, would be to the new DN-2000J, a souped-up, significantly more resolving version of the original meant for the Japanese market. While I haven’t heard either the R2Pro or DN-2000J yet, but the latter is being compared favorably to the $1,000 AKG K3003 (the Dunu is $350 in the States).

      With the competition delivering such good value, it should be interesting to see if and how the more established manufacturers react…

  • Marco Epicoco

    Too bad I’ve heard of the R2A’s just now, when the Kickstarter campaign is over… The preorder price has been pushed up to 175 GBP, which is an increase of basically 100 pounds! Although it is still a preorder… I wish I would have read this nice review at least a few days ago! 🙁 It’s very well written and it offers quite a lot of useful comparisons! Well done indeed!

    • James Lei

      You can still watch out on eBay or here if someone want to sell off at a lower price.

      • Marco Epicoco

        Thanks! This is something I may consider, should there ever be someone who wish to sell such apparently good sounding IEM’s…

        I still believe, though, that the price difference after the Kickstarter campaign is somehow awkward… The preorder price is more than double the price ( x 2.26!) of what has been asked on Kickstarter for the R2A’s.

        Personally, I’ve never witnessed such a huge difference, which has usually been fluctuating around still very convenient 25-35% savings.

        I do believe that all the above should make even more sense, since those who are late (just like me!) would still be paying for a product not yet available but announced to be released around late July.

        At least, as a product still on preorder, the price should have been more conveniently set within a 119-129 GBP range, in order not to over penalize those who missed the Kickstarter campaign. This price would still be higher, logically, than the one offered to the backers so that nobody would have a reason to complain… This is obviously just my humble opinion.

        At the preorder price indicated above, I would have absolutely nothing more to argue and I’d gladly proceed with the purchase and patiently wait for those two months before the product is delivered. But at the current overly pushe up price point, it’s all a different story … even if just as a matter of principle.

        • James Lei

          Welcome. For other option, you should purchase it directly from Flare Audio for a 14-days risk free return and that should give you a firm decision on getting R2A.

          Anyway, R2A is worth every penny even at retail price since we will use them for the next 3 years or I believe it has a high resell value like Apple products since it’s a revolutionary in IEM and simple but sophisticated R2 shell design. I can’t believe I call this a masterpiece for the first time.

        • 24bit

          James is right. Even at full no discount value, the R2A is a hell of a deal. So, any discount in the form of the pre order ( even if it is more than the kickstarter price ) is still an immense value. But, thank you for the kind words on the review, very appreciated by the community.

          • Marco Epicoco

            You did a very good job on this review! … to the point that I can only “complain” even more for having read it just today! :-/

            Anyway, I’d like to ask if you could kindly clarify the following statement in your reply:

            “So, any discount in the form of the pre order (even if it is more than the kickstarter price ) is still an immense value.”

            Does that mean that the preorder price of 175 GBP is still a discounted price, which will further go up when the R2A’s will be released (late July)?

            Honestly, I got the impression on the Flare Audio website that the 175 GBP now asked for the R2A’s is the normal retail price, with no special discount applied for those who will preorder before the release date.
            That’s why I was sort of arguing that, while on preorder, the R2A’s should be listed at a price obviously higher than the Kickstarter one, but still slightly discounted in consideration that they are not available but on… preorder! Even more so, since the Kickstarer campaign has ended just a few days ago.

            But, again, I’d really like to understand if your comment was meant to clarify that the 175 GBP price is still a slightly discounted price!

            Many thanks again for your wonderful contributions here on Headfonics!

          • 24bit

            You are right and I was wrong, I assumed their pre order price was a discount, the current price is normal sale price and they are not offering a discount it seems. 175BP is the normal price and still worth it.

        • Jom Gaard

          I think people have to understand the whole business model in the consumer audio industry.

          Firstly, Sadly the dealerships selling products ask for a massive margin and will always push up a price by 30 – 55% depending on the type of product (cables have the most dealer margin as I understand it). Secondly, sadly again, dealers want to make profit and many will be tempted to push an inferior product if it makes them more profit. Think of a £800 iem they might sell, and imagine they might have a 40% profit margin for selling that. That’s £320 for the dealer. Why would they then bother trying to sell a cheap iem even if it’s superior in many ways? It could be business suicide. Therefore anyone offering an iem to the market has to offer it for sale which comes some way to enticing the dealers and their profits.

          At the moment, Flare Audio are still out to find dealers to sell the full production R2s. They can’t undermine those negotiations by offering them for pre-order at less than the potential dealers will be asking – dealers will be pissed off and perhaps refuse to sign anything, plus it creates a false expectation of price in the consumer’s mind, again undermining dealer’s sales.

          You could argue that they should instead sell direct but Flare Audio already have a business in Pro Audio and I doubt they want to be all consumed in a new venture which has an unpredictable future – better to leave that to other people who are already the go-to guys in the industry for consumers, let alone worldwide distribution and promotion issues you’d have to cope with.

          So… understand the politics of bringing anything to market via a dealer and realise there’s nothing to be cross about other than bad timing.

        • Kuba Gaj

          Hi Marco,

          I will be selling a pair of R2A or R2S (depending on which one my wife decides to keep) with ~25% off retail price

  • Ab 7

    Is this even real !!, near the score of CIEM .waw

  • Miles Jason Romain

    Would the R2A be a good match with the Ibasso DX90 ?

    • 24bit

      Yes!

  • Jom Gaard

    Have your views between the R2As and R2Pros changed since reviewing them? Sometimes it takes a while for people to appreciate certain aspects of sound a bit of kit gives so I’m wondering if this might be a case with these.

    Or do you still prefer the R2As?

    • 24bit

      My preferences changed, absolutely. I started using the Pro more and more and I just can’t stop using it. I hope this doesn’t change when I receive my K10 soon from Noble. But, my views on them haven’t altered at all. I’ve found myself not caring so much on a personal level about the more natural tone of the Pro model and using it a lot more than the R2A. Although, there are certainly more than a few tracks that I love to listen to that just sound nicer and more fun on the R2A’s.

      • Jom Gaard

        I’m not sure it’s called a mini stroke.. but I guess you have to tone down language on here 🙂

        Well, that’s interesting to note – you’re right that things like effortlessness factor will come out over longer term listening (perhaps follow up reviews could be a good thing to start writing?). I imagine they are just more easy on the brain as it’s perhaps closer to what it’s used to in normal life, therefore less fatigue relatively speaking.

        I pledged for the R2A and Pro combo so will hear for myself very soon – expecting to personally like the Pro presentation more but can well imagine wanting some of that R2A sweetness you describe for certain situations.

        I gave up on the Noble K10 dream when these came along (K10 too expensive for me at the moment..) so I will be keeping an eye out for a comparison between the two when you review the K10.

        • 24bit

          Hope you love them as much as I did! Nothing really changed about what I thought about them on an objective level. I simply started to adapt to the tone of the Pro model, which is something I really didn’t expect to do. That sentiment doesn’t change anything about the review though, just means that I am not so bothered by the idea that the Pro doesn’t share the R2A’s tone.

          • ShahDizzle

            Loved the youtube review. I pledged the r2a based on your review. Am starting to regret not ponying up for the pros 🙁

            I’m a more discerning basshead like yourself and if you’re loving r2pro as well, maybe they will suit edm as well for example.

            Hmm it was hard for me to justify the price difference. It was 150 canadian dollars vs 370 canadian dollars or something like that.

            Please assure me I made the right choice lol

            The r2a is still kick ass right?

          • 24bit

            Thanks! My mic was having issues :[

            The R2A’s absolutely kick ass, you can’t go wrong with either of them, just depends on your preferences and which one suits you more for what you want or enjoy most. I love both and enjoy qualities of both. I love the tone and quantity of bass and treble of the R2A. I love the more realistic stage and smoothness of the Pro. I flip between them multiple times a day, but I am just getting more used to the Pro’s less colored tone the more I use it.

          • ShahDizzle

            I haven’t met any other basshead audiophiles such as myself actually so I relate a lot to your reviews.

            Care to recommend any good over ears closed back under a thousand dollars? 🙂

            quality bass of course.

          • 24bit

            A used Fostex TH900 or Fostex TH600 is just about the only worth wild mention for closed backs under $1000. I’d opt for the TH600 with some dynamat modding, no need to go full woody unless you want a different tone.

  • Dc

    Why are you selling a review unit of both the r1 and r2a? This is not allowed and i hope you dont continue selling review units.

    • 24bit

      You are absolutely right.

  • Richard Yee

    I was about to head into the Stax area, a 007 to be amped later by a KGSSHV, but for now a loaned SRM252 so I don’t waste money on a lesser amp. Then a friend showed me your review, saying how it has the tonality of Stax Sr-009, of course for a fraction of the price. So I was wondering, would these be a “Stax replacement” or perhaps a compromise… a “mini Stax” for on the go?

    And also, personally I am not a basshead. I just really love vocals, and even in bass heavy music, I want to hear an effortlessness, a forward ness to the vocals. I want the bass to assist the vocals, not overpower them. So I was wondering if the R2a/pro do fulfill that taste.

    • 24bit

      These will never replace nor compare to a full size electrostatic. They simply share qualities of the 007, 009 and Koss ESP950. It is rare for an iem to sound that effortless and smooth in my experience, plentiful from top to bottom but also not sound at all harsh, bloated or ugly. The R2Pro is similar to the Koss ESP 950 in that regard, but is more like the 009 in tone only, they share a similar uncolored bass and midrange. As good as they are, they are still not 007 level, let alone 009. People who liked the 009 will like the R2pro because they share similar traits. The 009 is super slick and effortless feeling, balanced feeling and shares a similar uncolored tone in the bass and midrange. However, the 009 has more bite to the treble and is definitely more bright up top.

      If you know and understand what effortlessness is, then you are in for a real treat. To date, I’ve not heard an iem quite like the R2A or the Pro, but then again I’m not a supreme expert with experience in every single iem out there haha. I’ve owned a lot of customs and a ton of iems, I’ve yet to experience iems like these. I can only speak for what I have experienced and I consider the R2Pro the most effortless and smooth iem I’ve ever heard. I absolutely recommend the Pro if that is your preferred sound. It is mine as well, I just prefer the tone of the R2A more. I would like a mesh of both: The R2A’s amount of bass, mids and treble, as well as the tone and shape of the stage, but I want the Pro’s smoothness factor more fluid feel to everything.

  • Clarence

    Do you think Chord Hugo and R2A is a good match

    • 24bit

      Absolutely, yes. The Hugo sounded damned great with it.

      • Clarence

        How would you rate R2A/R2APro against Sennheiser IE800 which is on my whishlist.

  • Bernard Walker

    Open window . With curtains back. Yeaa like that

  • asherchill

    Thanks a lot for the great reviews and information on this site. I recently had my bowers and wilkins p7s stolen. And thought why not switch back to iems. And this review has helped me make up my mind. I will be getting these R2As. I used to have some b&w c5s. And comparing the reviews on the both of them. I am very excited for these to come in the mail.

    • 24bit

      *Hi-Five

  • Adam Kim

    Thanks for the wonderful detail review. Also read your review in the
    Dunu D-2000J and I know they are slightly different animal How is the
    R2pro compared to Dunu D-2000J and which one do you prefer?

    • 24bit

      Another writer wrote the Dunu review. Wish I could help you on that, but you might want to ask Smit if he has heard the Flares. I’ve not heard the Dunu’s, so Im just as curious as you 🙂

  • Adam Kim

    My bad…Since you made comparison MrSpeakers Alpha Dog and Fostex Th600, have you heard the

    Meze 99 Classics?. It would be nice to have someone critical to review this pair of headphone. The reviews on Headfi is very “sugar coat” they are paid to say so. They almost sound like they are on par with other flagship model or height end models like….MHA-1000, AK T5p or Th-900 (not exactly sealed).

    • 24bit

      I’ve not heard them either. But, considering the fact that Fostex is due to release that new Fostex x00 headphone at $399 ( basically an improved TH600 ) then I’d probably be opting for that in the sub $500 tier right now.

  • Adam Kim

    Good to know that. They looks very good too on massdrop with mahogany!!! Is its true that they don’t seal very well and if you on an airplane the person next to you could hear what you are hearing?

    • 24bit

      If they share the same design as the th600 and 900, then ya. Sadly, they will leak quite a lot. But…who cares! Crying kids are allowed to annoy everyone on a plane, why not some good music as well? 😛

  • Adam Kim

    Ha! LOL…thats ture!

  • TheIEM coll.

    are Flare r2 pro very high end iem like shure se 846 or noble K10 u ? or should I go to ciem under 800 $

    • 24bit

      They have similar qualities and features, but I would rate the K10 universal higher. Fit in ciems will always be better than universals. If that is important to you, then I suggest customs under $800 instead.

      • TheIEM coll.

        I don’t know but I’m dizzy after I read the whole thread in head fi and let me tell you , I’m very nervous to order the R2 pro, not very positive picture out there .
        why did like them more than many high end Iem like sure se 846 and ie 800 .
        are the r2 pro bigger in soundstage than Ie 800 or akg 3003 how did you compare the soundstage to noble k10 ? is it 3d presentation or oly upfront your head ?
        there is no IEM or full size achieve that yet .
        I read many said the treble isn’t that good .
        please convince me to buy them I will 2 for me and my brother !

  • TheIEM coll.

    I bought r2 pro and I’m little disappointed , the air isn’t there ,the separation between mids and high is also not there I feel the sound is close in and concentrated all together .
    I feel r2 pro isn’t up there with ie 800 and shure se846 both sound more exciting when I comes from r2 pro which sound lacking in excitement element and sometimes dull . The treble is very weak .
    If I where you I won’t give it more than 8.3 and the value isn’t that good too
    for 400$ I can get way better IEM .

  • Joshua Goh

    Are these supposed to have cables which are worn out at the point in which it enters the housing for the drivers? Because when I got them brand new, they were worn out at the entering point, and I’m thinking of replacing them as the wires could get broken in future since they are exposed from the cable wear. I’ll prefer replacing them to buying the replacement driver and cable set as I don’t wan’t to spend an extra 50 euros on them unnecessarily. Or should I refund them and get something like the sennheiser hd598’s or hd 25s? Those seem to be pretty good too.

  • Ceyer Solomon Waki

    Do you by any chance know when the over ear design may come out or where I may be able to learn more about it?

    • 24bit

      Sorry for the delay. I’ve no information on anything else coming from them, outside of their new line of iems due soon. I’ve heard nothing about any potential new over ear from Flare. If they do make something new in that design, I hope they improve it dramatically over the R1.

  • Airom

    Not sure if you have heard of TFZ S5 but in case you have them, How would you compare them with these IEM, they are in the same price range.

    • 24bit

      I have the S5 in my ears right now and am in the process of reviewing them. Check back soon!

      • Airom

        nice, looking forward to your review before i pull the trigger on these.thanks in advance.more power to headfonics!

        • 24bit

          Did you buy the generation 1? If you didn’t please cancel your order! Make sure you got the gen1 and not the gen2 of the S5. The original is noticeably superior.

          • Airom

            I have not bought them yet. Do you mean the one with new cable are the gen 2 while gen 1 have the same cable with tfz series 1?

          • 24bit

            The S5 comes in two versions. A gen1 and a gen2. The Gen2 has a braided cable and different internal structure, don’t buy that one. It doesn’t sound as good as the gen1. 🙂 If possible, ask the seller to insure it is a gen1 before buying. This iem is absurdly great. Yes, better than the R2A.

          • Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            Headfonics is one of very few sources that I really value. I take your opinion for granted.
            So I’ve already found shop that have first gen of S5… Just one question before I order… Is it absurdly great with some mods or right out of the box? I’ve read that many people do some vent opening mod… Before that it supposed to sound very bassy.

          • 24bit

            People mod it to reduce the bass, so far as I am aware, intending to make it more linear by poking holes in the film over the nozzle. They also wrap a piece of material over the nozzle to reduce treble. This iem has plentiful bass and treble, so those mods are in attempt to linear-ize them. I am not one of these people. In fact, I crank it up +2dB on the bass and usually try to leave the treble as is.

            It sound very bassy, but it’s not overwhelming for me. I do again consider it bass heavy, but even then I desire more. I am a nutcase when it comes to my desired bass level and my preset for usage with the S5 is to raise the bass just a bit. I am probably going to review them although I expect literally nobody to believe what I have to say about it (it’s really that good).

            The iem is very responsive to EQ, so I am vividly against physical modding. Just EQ the bass up or down, same for the treble. The iem responds well to it and permanent mutilation of the iem is just about the dumbest thing anyone can do. I advise you to fully ignore anyone who tells you to physically mod it when the iem is THAT responsive to EQ and that can be achieved through your source to the exact same effect. 🙂

            best of luck and thanks for the kind words, hope you enjoy them if you get them. Again though, make sure you get the first generation and not the second. The second has a braided cable and doesn’t sound like the original generation one.

          • Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            Well, after that description how could I not get them 🙂 ?
            Thanks.

          • Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            A..M..A…zing
            They’re still burning-in but… I’m still waiting for my Harmony 8.2 to get back from second refit but I’m not sure they can actually put a fight with TFZ 🙂

          • 24bit

            Would be a close call IMO. TFZ really did something insane with that S5 and I personally think it was totally an accident, just like the Baldoor e100, where the first model was just beyond understanding in value and price to performance, but then the next gen2 of it was back to total garbage. TFZ gen2 of the S5 sounds good, but it is noticeably inferior to the gen1 S5. Whatever happened in the S5’s original design, it was clearly a fluke (my theory).

            Either way, the S5 sounds better to me than the R2A here from Flare and comparable to the Pro in some ways, definitely even bested my K10 in staging properties across the board as well.

          • Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            The thing about Flare is I’m not sure R2pro is actually better than R2A. I’ve realized that each Flare sounds best with different source and they shouldn’t be compare with the same DAP or DAC/Amp. R2A with for example QP1R sounds so good that it’s hard for me to tell which one is better R2A or R2pro. What’s weird – usually when one gets good synergy with some source, the other one doesn’t… Just to my ears at least.

            Don’t know if you’ve tried R2S? They might be my favourite ones. R2A and R2pro have somewhat similar qualities and tonality but R2S is different – my guess it’s due to metal density (Aluminium is around 2700 kg/m3, Titanium 4500 kg/m3 and Stainless Steel is closer to 8000 kg/m3). It’s more precise, a bit harder sounding, more armature like but it’s still Flare with its great tonality.

            I’m using JRiver because it’s less problematic for me with different DACs and Windows in general. I’ve had some issues with Foobar so i ditched it.

            TFZ S5 to my ears sounds like a combination of of best open-back full-size headphones (soundstage capabilities, amount of air, precision, the crystal clear sound) and closed-back headphones (bass quantity, richness/fullness of the sound). Simply brilliant 🙂

          • 24bit

            I’m with you on that, I thought the R2A was the much better value and still has some superior “qualities” of the experience that I felt to be superior to the Pro.

            I haven’t heard the S version in a while, I had one on loan briefly late last year so I couldn’t honestly say anything about it. As for those S5’s…also, yep. Lol. I’ve a custom Noble K10 reshell review coming up soon and I’ll be mentioning it there. I am not still sure if I want to even review the S5…I don’t think most readers would believe me. Hell, I didn’t believe anyone who said anything about it until a friend basically smacked me and insisted I buy it. He was right about it, and I feel like 99% of the community will not believe that the $75 (and less used!) S5 generation 1 is pretty much on par with 1000+ customs in various ways. It really accelerated past the Flare iems in overall fidelity, is much more precise and spacious, much better with EQ, easier to drive than the Pro, reaches deeper with bass than any iem I’ve heard in years, images fantastically, looks nice and feels nice in my ear and I am not fond of universals at all like that in design, has fantastic customer service from TFZ (they replied to me and helped me fast through amazon mail)

            I’ll certainly get crucified by the majority of the community for any review of it. I’ve still not decided what to do about it…but, I am going to briefly talk about it in a near future K10 reshell review.

          • Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            I know what you mean. I’m still not sure if something is wrong with my ears or are they really that good 🙂

            I’m still waiting to write about it on my local forum (head-fi is losing value to me – too many misguided hypes, too many worthless opinions and posts, too hard to verify who knows what they’re taking about:) ). I think I’ll stick to direct recommandations for now… Like you’ve said – no one would probably believe it anyhow:)

            O, and they sound great even with smartphone (well with good smartphone at least). Of course the magic happens with great source but stil.

            Too bad they don’t isolate that good. So they can’t really fight with Flares and CIEMs on that front…

          • DSM

            Hey.
            I’m from the UK and looking for the TFZ S5 gen1. Impossible to find.
            Any tips on where I can pick up a pair?

      • Digins

        Hi Michael!

        Any progress on S5 review? Really curious about Your final toughts.

        • 24bit

          I’ve decided not to review it. There isn’t any competition at that price point, so I have nothing to compare to that I am aware of or that I’ve experienced. Wasn’t able to get a response from the company about details and such, so I’ll not be reviewing it. I think the pure quality is somewhat inferior to the R2A for the most part now after getting to compare them for extended periods of time. Bass quality/quantity/staging properties to the S5, everything else to the R2A.

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