Simon Allen tries out these new in-ear-monitor earphones from Flare Audio.
Starting a professional review for a pro audio product with how it looks might seem a little, well, unprofessional. However, you’ve got to see this thing. Flare call it “The Cube”, and albeit just the box that contains the new Flares Pro, it’s stunning. Crossing that line from a pro audio product to a personal and fashionable accessory for the audiophile, The Cube isn’t just any old packaging. From here-on-in, you get a sense that this is a product from a well established manufacturer, with years of love and care used to try and achieve the ultimate earphone design yet.
Inside “The Cube” are three layers with the FLARES PRO on top and all the accessories below. The previous R2 model was quite a simple product with only a few foam comply tips to chose from. Now though, there are 3 sizes, of 3 different styles of earpiece tips. They’ve also managed to develop their own Bluetooth device for pairing with any mobile device for audio playback and making calls.
Portability isn’t an issue either as they’ve also included a very attractive carry case for you to take the FLARES PRO on the road.
Considering the more domestic side of these new professional earphones, Flare have really worked hard to make this a product that you want to use on and off the stage. Not only are they a pleasure to work with, but you want to use these on the bus, in the car and at home. I love the cable that these new earphones come with, which is both stylish and tough. Part-way down the cable is where the 3.5mm jack cable can be changed for the Bluetooth DAC. The connections are made via a pair of MMCX connectors that are both reassuring and easy to use.
Even with the pitfalls of Bluetooth technology in mind, the Bluetooth DAC that comes with the FLARES PRO clearly wasn’t a quick-fix solution following Apple’s shocking hardware upgrade. The device is light and comfortable to wear, easy to use and delivers a great sound if just listening to music. The clear advantage of this unit in our modern world of course, is the ability to take a call at the same time.
The earphones are very ergonomic for domestic use. Each various option of foam tip are very comfortable once you’ve found your size, and the FLARES PRO themselves are light-weight. I found the foam style tips the most comfortable over a prolonged period of time, but the ‘everyday’ silicone tips easier to wear in a hurry, if taking calls for example.
For Live Use
The considerations for earphones as IEM’s can be quite different to those of a domestic-based listener. There are several qualities that these FLARES PRO have however, which immediately present themselves as very serious IEM contenders. Firstly, there’s the simple fact that these hold a similar design to Flare’s highly successful ISOLATE earplugs. The isolation you get with these, even in a non-moulded housing is fantastic. I wore these on the side of a noisy stage at a festival and didn’t struggle to hear what I needed to through the PRO’s at all.
There’s also the high-quality build of these earphones, which now have a much more durable cable. Replacement of any broken parts is simple too, with parts, including replacement foam tips, available from Flare directly. The big question for many however, will be the availability of a moulded option. I’ve been informed that Flare are looking at a way they can offer a moulded service, but of course several of the mould companies will already insert the FLARE earpiece into their products. Although I’m not a performing musician, I would add that with the correct fitting and type of foam tip, these do feel very secure to wear as they are.
Finally, we must discuss the sonics of these new PRO’s for professional use. I’ve been following Flare from the early days of their PA development and I thoroughly appreciate their ‘waveform integrity’ concept. Flare explain that traditional speaker enclosure design introduces a form of distortion by the very nature of putting pressure on a driver’s movement. Flare’s speaker designs have all been focused on removing this resistance, with the idea a driver can truly represent an audio signal. In these earphones however, they’ve taken this one step further. Here they are attempting to balance the pressure across both sides of the driver, considering the restriction placed on the driver moving in towards your head.
The result is quite revealing. Somehow it’s very quick to appreciate the colour of a mix, but not in an unpleasant fashion. Having become accustomed to the R2’s, it surprised me how gratifying most music sources sound through these earphones.
They’re an absolute pleasure to wear, which I believe performers and musicians will really enjoy. Sound professionals will be quite fussy about which foam tips suit them and how they sit in their ears, but get them right and they’re like detective’s goggles.
- 5.5mm beryllium drivers
- Made from aerospace Grade 5 Titanium
- Compatible with all Bluetooth devices
- Gold plated 3.5mm jack connector
Simon Allen is a freelance, internationally recognised engineer/producer and pro audio professional with over 15 years of experience. Working mostly in music, his reputation as a mix engineer continues to reach new heights.