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REVIEW: Flares Pro wireless earphones

Laura  Barnes
REVIEW: Flares Pro wireless earphones

Those of you who regularly read our reviews section may remember the Flare Audio Isolate earplugs that we featured last year.

The unconventional metal-bodied earplugs made quite an impression on us, and judging by the popularity of the review (which you can read here), our readers were quite taken with them as well.

So, when Flare Audio announced that it was releasing Bluetooth earphones aimed at audiophiles, prosumers and music professionals, we jumped at the chance to test them out.

We don’t usually review earphones on MI Pro, in fact, the Flares Pro may be the first, but with a long list of musicians already bigging them up, we were getting the impression that these weren’t just your usual Bluetooth earphones.
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Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ Huey Morgan said: “My Flares are THE most sonically responsive in ears I have ever heard. I mix on them with confidence and have never been disappointed... Simply the best sounding in ear on the market."

Artic Monkeys bass player Nick O’Malley said: “Hearing music on Flares is like being in the studio. It’s a natural, big, live sound that really makes listening to music a whole new experience.”

David Bowie, T-Rex and Iggy Pop producer Tony Visconti said: “These are the best earphones ever. I mix on these. The detail, the clarity and low end are 'pinch me am I dreaming' great.”

Other rave reviews have already come in from the likes of producer Chris Kimsey, Travis’ Fran Healy, and musician Richard Hawley, so what’s the fuss all about? MI Pro’s editor Laura Barnes investigates just how good these earphones could possibly be…

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

I don’t usually go into too much detail about the unboxing experience when writing a review as most of the time, it is literally just a box, but the packaging for Flares Pro is possibly the most impressive box I’ve ever had the pleasure of opening. This is not sarcasm; this is the box of all boxes. Every element of the Bluetooth headphones is displayed in its own layer, giving you a clear introduction to each section that makes up the set.

With a very similar look to the stylish Isolate earplugs, the first layer shows the aerospace grade 5 titanium earphones themselves. The metal looks weighty, but the titanium is very light. The cord has a tough, plastic coating, and while being flexible enough, does have a little more rigidity than a lot of other earphones I’ve owned. As well as adding a bit more sturdiness, it seams this also makes the wires harder to tangle up, and easier to separate when they have managed to become tangled – something that is a bane of most earphone-users’ lives!

The wires come in two parts. The first section is attached to the earphones and plugs into the Bluetooth unit, and the second section, the balanced splitter, takes the left and right cable and connects them back into one wire with a 3.5mm jack on the end.

Moving on to the next layer, we have the Bluetooth unit which your earphones will plug into. Again, more lightweight than it first appears, the unit features separate left and right connection points. This offers ‘balanced wiring’, which eliminates crosstalk between the left and right channels. Now, because the industry standard is a 3.5mm stereo jack, this means that using the Flares Pro in Bluetooth mode will actually give you an even better sound than using them wired. The unit features simple-to-use buttons, a clip and a micro USB charging connection. And get this, 2 hours of charge gives you a massive 12 hours of play back time.

This layer also features ‘Audiophile’ and ‘Everyday’ earbuds to pick from, both in three different sizes. The last layer of the box also contains an additional three ‘Universal’ buds, so all in all, this surely has to be the largest selection of buds to come with a new set of earphones.

‘Audiophile’ focuses on delivering the purest sound. Made of ultra-soft memory foam, they are a lot more delicate than the other options, so it’s best to try the universal ones out first to get the right size, then move onto these if you’re planning to monitor/mix audio with them.

The ‘Everyday’ earbuds are pretty self-explanatory. With these silicone versions you can enjoy the high quality audio without having to worry about replacing them.

The ‘Universal’ buds are made from durable memory foam and are designed to fit the majority of ears and provide the most comfort, so ideal for long periods of use.

The final layer of the box features a nifty carry case (which contains your ‘Universal’ earbuds). It’s a handy little case for keeping your earphones in and is lightweight and compact enough to fit in your pocket. While this is great, my only issue with the case is that I would have liked something slightly bigger. It’s perfect for housing the earphones and Bluetooth module, or earphones and the balanced splitter cable (if you want to go wired), but it’s not quite big enough to get both options in, along with the micro USB cable for recharging the unit. So, if you’re planning on taking the Flares Pro on a long trip or holiday, you might need an additional case to keep the extra bits in.

LONG LIVE EARS

Fitting the earphones might seem a little fiddly at first, but if you’re a musician, you’ll no doubt be used to wearing earplugs, so this won't be much different. You'll only get the benefits by fitting them properly in your ears. This means pulling the top of the ear up and backwards to open the canal, pushing the tip in and holding for 15 seconds until a seal is created. It sounds like a lot, but after a few goes, it will become a natural process, and the difference in sound when they’re correctly inserted is very impressive.

The titanium housing features a single 5.5mm dynamic driver and ‘dual jet’ technology, this means sound emerging from the front of the audio driver is delivered to the mouth of the earphone via an acoustic chamber. The tech is also applied to the rear earphone chamber, creating a balanced sound.

While some people may be used to listening through earphones and headphones that have a distinct flavour of their own – usually pumped up bass – the Flares Pro aim to offer the most ‘true’ sound. This makes them great for musicians/music professionals who want to use them for monitoring or mixing. It also means that you can essentially start from scratch with modifying your sound however you like by using your own device or apps to adjust the EQ of your music to your own liking.

So, how do they sound? I hear you cry.

Bloody glorious!

The first thing I listened to on these was my favourite song by my favourite band: Turnstile Blues by Autolux. I know this song inside out and I have to say, listening through the Flares Pro was an absolute pleasure. Everything was crisp and clear, letting you easily escape into the heart the song.

After that shoegazing offering, I went and listened to every type of genre I have in my collection, and nothing disappointed. Your ears are treated to what feels like such a true representation of the music, that songs you've heard hundreds of times suddently feel very exciting again.

After listening for a while, I could easily understand how these earphones are ideal for mixing in the studio.

As well as studio time and general listening, the Flares Pro earphones are even more versatile than I first thought. As well as their focus on pro sound, their lightweight attributes coupled, with how sturdy they sit in your ears, means that they would work great for those who need to move about a lot. As a drummer, these are ideal to wear when practising or on stage. There’s no fear of them falling out (as long as you’ve got the right sized buds in) and the seal that they create means they do an excellent job as earplugs too.

If you’re a musician looking for something lightweight to use for a multitude of applications, yet offing an impressive sound true to the music you’re listening to, you’ll struggle to find earphones better suited than the Flares Pro.

The Flares Pro earphones have an RRP of £349 and are available now from https://www.flareaudio.com/

Tags: Reviews , Flare Audio , flares pro , earphones

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