Flare Au­dio Flares Pro

FOR Im­pres­sive clar­ity; pre­cise tim­ing; wired or wire­less use AGAINST Some coarse­ness in tre­ble and lack of bass sub­tlety

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

“Given the clar­ity through the midrange, we can quite see why these would be a smart pick”

Flares may be a phe­nom­e­non best left in the past, much like scar­let fever or the guil­lo­tine. But with these Flare Au­dio in-ears hav­ing been en­dorsed by record pro­duc­ers such as Tony Vis­conti, Gary Lan­gan and Chris Kim­sey, this could be an in­fin­itely more palat­able trend than their bell-bot­tomed name­sakes.

Us­ing a host of the pro au­dio com­pany’s sonic tech­nolo­gies, the Flares Pro can switch be­tween wired and wire­less con­nec­tion thanks to the in­cluded Blue­tooth bolt-on mod­ule – the size of a 9V bat­tery, only lighter – with built-in DAC and play­back con­trols in­ter­change­able with its 3.5mm analogue con­nec­tion.

Feel worth the money

They’re built for dura­bil­ity as well as per­for­mance. And you get what you pay for here, with aero­space Grade 5 Ti­ta­nium tips and gold-plated con­nec­tions. There may be lit­tle aes­thet­i­cally to dis­tin­guish one pair of in-ear head­phones from an­other, but in terms of build, you’d strug­gle to be dis­ap­pointed with what you get for the £350 out­lay.

Of course, many man­u­fac­tur­ers like to pro­mote their own tech­nol­ogy – in such a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, there’s lit­tle virtue in be­ing coy – but these Flares Pros ac­tu­ally pro­duce the per­for­mance to back those mar­ket­ing words up.

Tex­tures and rhythms

We play Atoms For Peace’s Amok, and dig deep into con­trast­ing acous­tic and elec­tronic strands, un­earthing tex­tures that many head­phones, even at this price, strug­gle to de­tect. Given the clar­ity through the midrange in par­tic­u­lar, we can quite see why these in-ears would be a smart pick for mu­sic pro­duc­tion. The Flares Pro are equally adept han­dling rhythms: whether it’s the fast-paced jit­ter­ing of Be­fore Your Very Eyes or grimy syn­co­pa­tion of In­genue, the beat is ef­fu­sively de­liv­ered, con­vey­ing mu­si­cal­ity as much as ar­tic­u­la­tion. As ever, that re­lates to the or­gan­i­sa­tion of a piece, which means here the ear­phones need to work hard defin­ing lead­ing beats as much as fram­ing the typ­i­cally un­der­stated ex­pres­sion hid­ing in Thom Yorke’s vo­cal. A strong sense of dy­nam­ics is more im­me­di­ately re­vealed in som­bre or emo­tive tunes, such as Tim Buck­ley’s Song To The Siren or Pa­trick Wolf’s De­mo­li­tion, but it is of­ten the most sub­tle in­flec­tions, which the Flares Pros do well, that set a per­for­mance apart.

Make ends meet

How­ever, we stop short of giv­ing the Flare Au­dios a fifth star, and the rea­son lies at the ex­trem­i­ties of the fre­quency range. Over­all, the bal­ance is even, with a healthy yet not over­bear­ing amount of bass weight, but the sweet­ness and clar­ity of the mid­dle regis­ter does not quite stretch to cover ei­ther end.

Rather than be­ing soft or slow in the low fre­quen­cies, the Flares Pro some­times ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­culty in dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing ton­ally, with one note blend­ing into an­other rather than be­ing pre­sented with clear, de­fined edges.

There is a slight ring­ing to­ward the height of the tre­ble too, as well as a slight touch of coarse­ness that ran­kles slightly – though with­out de­tract­ing from the rest of what is a fine per­for­mance.

It’s the same with each of those mi­nor de­fi­cien­cies; they’re no­tice­able but not dis­tract­ing, keep­ing in­tact what is an over­all im­pres­sive pre­sen­ta­tion from a com­pany prid­ing it­self on its pro au­dio her­itage.

Un­de­ni­able tal­ent

There aren’t a huge amount of great in-ear head­phones avail­able at this price –our most ex­pen­sive 2017 Award win­ner was AKG’S N40, avail­able at £269 – but the Flare Au­dio Flares Pros rep­re­sent a gen­uine tal­ent in their mar­ket.

Wired or wire­less, by Blue­tooth. The choice is yours…

The ni y box houses plenty of accessories

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