Soundcore Flare Portable Bluetooth 360° Speaker by Anker, with All-Round Sound, Enhanced Bass & Ambient LED Light, IPX7 Waterproof Rating and Long-Lasting Battery Life
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- 360° Sound: Dual drivers arranged back-to-back in combination with passive bass radiators deliver intense all-around sound.
- BassUp Technology: Precision EQ adjustment and driver configuration injects low end power for heart-thumping beats.
- Beat-Driven Light Show: A halo of LEDs react and phase in time with the beat—5 color themes and 5 illumination patterns can be customized via the Soundcore app.
- Wireless Stereo: Connect 2 Flare speakers via a single device for seamless stereo sound* or double the volume.
- Waterproof: IPX7-rated casing offers impermeable protection, even during complete submersion.
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BUILD QUALITY AND USER EXPERIENCE: if you've ever owned an Anker product, this won't surprise you - build quality and user experience are both exceptional - bluetooth connected to my pixel 2 as soon as I turned it on, and has ever since (no issues); the fabric is the same quality you'd find on any of the other popular speakers right now (amazon's or google's); the light on the base is cool without being tacky (I was a little worried about this), and it can be turned off if you like - primary color settings are: oranges/yellows (chill), greens/blues (spring), and mixed (party) - using the soundcore flare app allows you to sync the light to the music (which is pretty cool - more on the app later). The Flare isn't quite as durable (I'm guessing) as the Soundcore 2 - if I was focused strictly on durability (not necessarily 'build quality') and portability, not as much on volume and sound quality, the Soundcore 2 would be a better option (and that's not to knock the Soundcore 2's volume or clarity, it's just not where the Flare's is - more on that later).
PORTABILITY and BATTERY: I've attached pics to highlight how portable this is (imagine a slightly tall/fat soda can), this is slightly less portable than the Anker Soundcore 2, and obviously far more portable than the Sonos One (not portable). For this speaker's size, it's pretty darn impressive - easily something you could carry around with you in a messenger bag or backpack if you were doing a day-trip somewhere, or wanted a great speaker to take on vacation with you (granted, much bigger than earbuds, but it does fill a room with sound). I haven't stretched the battery yet, but this is an area that Anker has always excelled in (I'm assuming that having the light on, and bass-boost on will impact it, but I'm sure it'll still be as good - or better than - as advertised) I do not anticipate that this will get the kind of battery life the Soundcore 2 gets, due to the elements already mentioned which the Soundcore 2 doesn't have to manage.
VOLUME: very impressive for its size - I tested it in a room that is about 375 square feet, with vaulted ceilings, and it got LOUD when I turned it up - at 50% volume it was solid from a volume standpoint for that same room. The Bass-Boost button DOES make a difference in the bass put out by this thing, and the bass is pretty impressive for a speaker this size. Testing the Soundcore 2 in the same room as this device (the flare), you can notice a difference in both the volume and the base, which isn't enormous but it is significant enough to be noticeable (this was playing them at 50% volume, and became more noticeable at full volume). Again, this isn't a knock on the Soundcore 2, which also filled the room easily and got LOUD when at full volume - the Flare was just noticeably louder. Anker said it was bringing a new Bass technology to these speakers, and they clearly delivered (that's where the biggest difference between this and the Soundcore 2 can be heard). If I'm being fair, the volume and the bass on this is a ways off of the SONOS one - but again, you have to keep in mind that this is a portable bluetooth speaker with long battery-life and a much smaller footprint than the SONOS one (and at less than half the price of the older model, and about 1/4 the price of the newest SONOS one). At 100% volume, there is almost no distortion out of this speaker (even when it's managing multiple components of a track simultaneously...bass, acoustics, and vocals) - at 90% there's no distortion. This is more than loud enough for most contexts in which I'd imagine people using it - you could probably use it to facilitate a tiny dance party if you really wanted (and if you paired it with a second one - which you can do - it'd serve that purpose well). If you were having a gathering of 20 people in a 400 square foot room with vaulted ceilings, this would more than serve admirably as the music outlet.
SOUND QUALITY/360 EFFECT: really great for a portable speaker - not as good as the SONOS one, but not miles off either. I wouldn't call myself an audiophile, but I do like listening to music and I do like it when it sounds nice - this speaker sounds nice. The sound quality is slightly better than the Soundcore 2's (the bass is the most pronounced upgrade from the Soundcore 2), and the sound quality is noticeably better at higher volumes (again, not a knock against the Soundcore 2, which also has decent sound quality). I would have no problem with having this is my primary speaker for my home, from a sound quality and volume standpoint. THE 360 EFFECT: this does project music in all directions - I walked around it constantly, attempting to ID a 'blind-spot' from a projection standpoint, and couldn't find one - this makes it uniquely useful for certain purposes, and is a positive differentiator from the SONOS one and the Soundcore 2. If you want a speaker system for your patio, but don't want to invest in a ton of wiring, two of these would fill the largest patio/deck with quality music (they're also IPX7 water resistant - I never test that stuff, but I trust Anker not to market it if it's not legit).
APP: clean, minimalist, not too elaborate in what it can an can't do (I can see them building this out with time, but for now it's pretty straightforward/bare bones). You can control the base's light from the app (which I found myself more amused by than I thought I would be); You can pair an additional Soundcore Flare (which I didn't have to do, but trust Anker to make as easy as everything else they do); you can adjust the volume; and you can use their wave equalizer to turn the Bass-Up feature on or off, and select different listening settings (Default, Voice, Flat, and Chill). Overall, the app is limited, simple, still useful, and very user-friendly...I can see them building this out as they grow Soundcore as a product line.
SPEAKERPHONE: I didn't test this extensively, when I made a call with it everything went fine - not a great tool for speaker phone use but not worse than most bluetooth speakers. I wouldn't get this for it's speakerphone functionality (or any other bluetooth speaker - smartphones are usually just as capable speakerphones on their own). NOTE: this can become a smart-speaker if you pair it with an echo dot or google's home (I think) - I don't like the idea of smart-speakers in my home, but it should be acknowledged that this has that functionality when paired with the appropriate hardware.
CONCLUSION: overall, this is an awesome bluetooth speaker. The volume, bass, and sound quality is superior to the Soundcore 2 (which is already great); this isn't quite as portable as the Soundcore 2, or quite as durable (but it's close), and I don't expect the battery life to be quite as strong. If portability, durability, and battery life are most important to you - saving $20.00 by going with the Soundcore 2 is probably your best bet (again - it is still a really great speaker); if volume, bass, aesthetics (the flare is prettier), and sound quality are most important - this does offer a noticeable upgrade to the Soundcore 2 in all those areas. When compared to the SONOS one, this is truly a different product with a noticeable gap between it and the SONOS when it comes to volume, bass, and sound clarity/quality...but for a fraction of the price, I'd take a hard look at this if you think it'll meet your specific needs (its 360 degree music dispersal, and portability are particularly useful features that the SONOS one doesn't have). I also like that this speaker doesn't 'require' an app to use it (whereas the SONOS does) - the app for the flare is nice, but I could still have a friend connect to it and stream their music without having to have them download the SONOS app to do it. The SONOS one was a gift to me (and I do love it)...if I were spending my own $ on a speaker to listen to music on, 9 times out of 10 the Flare would likely be the one I'd go with (save $100 or more - spend that on a second Flare and still save approx $50.00). The 1/10 scenario in which I'd go with the SONOS: if I was getting it as a dedicated home stereo speaker/system, that was never going to leave wherever I placed it in my home...even then, I don't know how two of these Flares (paired to stereo mode) might compare to one SONOS one serving the same function.
The problem is that good sound and portability haven’t really been that compatible. You get a lightweight speaker, but the bass isn’t great and the highs are tinny and the sound is more or less a jumbled mess. You get a heavy-duty dock, but it’s heavy as all get-out and has parts attached that can (and do) break.
I got the original Anker SoundCore first, recently. While the sound is great, it wasn’t knock your socks off amazing. It’s not the replacement speaker for a nice system, but good for casual listening. (Here: https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Soundcore-Portable-Bluetooth-Playtime/dp/B016XTADG2)
I decided to try the Soundcore Flare instead. It looked cool, with unique features of mood lighting, waterproof housing, and the ability to connect multiple Flares for a more immersive audio experience. The pillar design was pretty. The idea of 360° sound was also enticing. I couldn’t wait to try it!
Unboxing, it’s well packaged and protected. Definitely a lot of thought into the appearance alone. It’s intuitive to connect; just turn on Bluetooth and pair it. But the sound??? WOW. I was awed! From bass-heavy tunes to lyrical melodies to classical symphonies, this little speaker plays beautiful music!
The sound is clear like you’re having your own private concert. The bass is bright yet deep, the treble has a clarity and cleanness that rings true to life. Not like someone is trying to amplify the sound to make it louder. It feels like you’re in the same room as the music is being created. I’ve never heard such beautiful sound!
On top of that, the speaker is durable and quite portable. It’s lightweight and aside from the initial concern over a pristine new acquisition, that angsty feeling of possible damage without a protective case faded to one of content security in the design.
It also lives up to the 360° claim. I brought the Flare to my friend’s house, set it in the middle of the space, the side, the wall...the sound ricocheted equally to my ears. Everyone at the party commented on how amazing it sounded and looked, and asked me about the speaker and where I bought it. We played with it and changed the lighting in the app to set the party mood. It was quite fun. Also of note, the sound was still clear even when the volume was low so we could just chat and hang out. Quite perfect.
A note on the security, it actually has firmware updates. Something I VERY much appreciate in our Internet of Things society nowadays. I appreciate that Anker takes their product security as seriously as I do!
I’ve attached a video with a couple of songs as examples. Definitely give the Soundcore Flare a go. I believe you will be delighted as we all are!!!