The Flare Audio Flares PRO 2 is the next-generation successor to the original wired and wireless Flares PRO universal monitor. It is priced at £299.00 and available online at the Flare Audio store.
Disclaimer: The Flare Audio Flares PRO 2 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank Flare Audio for this opportunity.
To read more on previous Flare Audio reviews on Headfonics you can click here.
Note, this 2-page review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
From high-end earplugs to high-end earphones, Flare Audio keep moving. And moving and moving. I consider the original Flares Pro to be one of the most complete earphone packages out there.
How’s that? Well, it’s got a great accessory set, among which is included not only high-quality, comfy ear tips and a really handy semi-hard carrying case, but a completely convertible wireless DAC that also translates Flares Pro from 3,5mm TRS to L+/- R+/- balanced.
Name another product that does the same at Flare Pro’s price point and so completely and with such quality from an established company that stands behind their product. I’ll wait.
I’ve got to be honest, before asking, I had no idea what Dual Jet technology really did. I’m a sometimes writer, always advertising photographer. What did you expect? If you want a proper explanation, check out Flare Audio’s Flares 2 Pro page. TL;DR?
It balances the pressure on either side of the drivers. And stuff. Acoustic Lens technology and sundry others mean outside their marketing language. Flare Audio basically patent each Flares experience and generational copy-speak. There is a lot of jargon to learn. That goes for Pro right on up to Gold, and now Flares Pro 2.
While my brain wraps very poorly around all of that, I do know that the tiny 5,5mm beryllium driver sitting at the center of these earphones packs a punch. Perhaps that’s to do with Dual Jet. Or, perhaps it’s because of Acoustic Lens technology. I have no idea. But, whammo! Boom! Wow!
What’s interested me since the original Flares Pro is how Flares are able to catch Bluetooth 4,1 signals so stably and carry them to such crazy distances. In good weather, my lowly iPhone SE and Flares Pro 2 can get up to 25 meters from each other as the crow flies. Nary a hiccup mars that experience. And that is with my back turned to the iPhone.
Facing the iPhone, I can eke out another 5 meters, though with some chuff. With the back turned, hiccups start in earnest from meter 26. Would Bluetooth 5 net better, longer, reliable connections? I’m sure of it. But how much longer is anyone’s guess. I’ve tested certain Bluetooth 5 devices which topped out at 30 meters (FiiO BTR3), and other ones (FiiO BTR1K) that went all the way down the block and into the reeds.
Do I think that being stuck with Bluetooth in the current year plus four is bad? No, but it is a spec that people will make note of. Of course, apart from amp noise, the current BT DAC/amp is amazing. There’s nothing broken to fix, but if the Flares’ connection could be further improved, count me in.
Apart from a few fragile fragile foams (noted in Marcus’s review of the original), Flares Pro 2 is as hard as nails. It’s got a strong, nearly yank-proof cable, a solid aluminum body, a tight neck cinch, and snappy MMCX connectors. I’ve not had trouble with the ear tips, but I can see where they might separate from the stock. I’ve not had trouble, but YMMV.
The package is well branded and in general, the machine work is top-notch. Have I seen better? Yes. Do I often see better? Not often.
Very few physical differences very delineate Flares Pro 2 from their predecessor. The body is basically the same. The cables are basically the same. The accessory set is basically the same. Differences, where they exist, are trivial. One such is the new matte finish. Another is the Flares Pro 2’s finer tooled shallow logo.
Cables and Connectors
If you’ve handled the original, you’ve basically handled the sequel. The earphones fit like the bolts holding together Frankenstein’s monster skull. They slide straight into the ear on marginally slim tubes. Despite being narrow, there is enough purchase for medium to large size hands, and because the flanges are grippy enough, tips generally stay put. Everything is trivial to install and remove.
The foam pieces may tear from the stem more easily than is typical, but in general, the pieces are not only well made but also well designed. Sound changes depending on their exit tubes and their interaction with your ears.
I really wish the 3,5mm plug was L-shaped rather than straight. Even straight, there are better designs. This one is too narrow, as liable to prod something as to get caught in a pocket. In a drop, it is a liability. Of course, that doesn’t affect use when going wireless. The one thing I dislike when hooked wirelessly is that you basically have to wear the cables with the cable hanging down because there’s barely any slack left over unless you clip the Bluetooth DAC to your shirt collar.
Finally, the cable is pretty microphonic. No, not Campfire Audio tinsel levels, but it definitely makes dull chunking sounds when touched. And, the cable is super grippy and rubbery and catches on everything. It doesn’t gum up from lint and other things, but it sure hangs onto things.
Comfort and Fit
Due to its memory wire-less, slim design, the Flares Pro 2 is comfy as heck. It far outstrips every other earphone I’ve reviewed at this site. It’s got no shoulder or custom-cum-universal back to wedge against the tragus, and there is no way its slim body will rub your flaps the wrong way- unless your earholes are positively minuscule.
If you’re in a hurry, just shove them in. If you want to take your time, twisting them into a pulled-back ear ensures the best fit. Either way, they go in nice and easy. Again, when using the wireless DAC, you’ll likely not have enough slack to wear the cables over the ears. This makes jogging with the Flares Pro 2 really up to your biology. If you are medium heigh, or, for a shorty, have a longish neck, you’ll have to use the wireless DAC with the cable down.
If that were longer, bingo. That’s because the neck cinch is super tight and does exactly what is needed to do. It’s even a bugger to slip into place. And that’s a good thing because it won’t budge and droop back down.
Packaging & Accessories
If you’ve not handled a Flare Audio Flares Pro or Gold earphone before, you’ve probably never seen a box like this. Holy moly. Soundproofing gills line its sides and top. After slitting its quality seals, it slides up and out on a wall of air pressure.
Inside, earpieces, accessories, and pouch, are arrayed on neat, easy-to-remove shelves. Basically, everything you need (minus a cleaning tool) is in there. The carrying pouch is soft-sided and therefore can fit into a pair of trouser pockets and get compressed whilst still protecting what’s inside. It’s among the best in the business.
It’s a big package, which I’m not so keen on, but from a branding perspective, it isn’t just nice and showy, its insulation model comports with Flare’s central tenet of hearing protection. The branding circle is complete.
The accessory that really should steal the show is the wireless DAC. It gets roughly 10 hours of battery life, stably and reliably connects up to 25 meters from a source, and sounds good. I love it so much I’ve actually re-wired a pair of Grado GR8es to use with it.
Of note, the Bluetooth DAC is balanced, and the Flares Pro 2 being single drive dynamic, are 100% ready with the right polarity for it. It drives the Flares well, too, which of course is important, but a big part of that is how the Flares are wired.
More on that below.
Click on Page 2 for Sound Impressions & Comparisons