Anker has a new portable Bluetooth speaker out with the Soundcore Flare 2. This is a reasonably large speaker that features 360 degrees of sound, 20W of power, Sound reactive LED light rings, USB-C, it’s waterproof and linkable to up to 100 other Flare 2 Speakers. Thanks to Anker for sending this to me to look at, I have been enjoying it during these long stay at home times. For the best version of this review check out the video version for the water test, sound test, and light demonstration.
Watch this review on YouTube:
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Anker always does a great job with it’s packaging and the Flare 2 is no different. The outer sleeve is where all the pictures and information are, and it has the hanger tag so maybe we will see these in retail too. Inside is a blue box where the speaker is nicely nestled along with the manual, happy/not happy card and a standard Anker USB-A to USB-C Cable that’s about 3ft long.
The speaker itself is an attractive design. It’s a cylinder shape that tapers out at the bottom a bit. The middle has a cloth mesh fabric covering it that’s black but with little flecks of gray woven in. At the top and bottom are 2 RGB LED light rings that are super smooth when they color change and are very evenly diffused. On the bottom there is a rubber pad to keep the speaker firmly in place, and at the top, it’s concave a bit. There is a power button, volume up and down, a button to change the LED modes, and then a multifunction button in the center that I use for play and pause. On the rear of the speaker there is a bluetooth pairing button, a bass up button and the cover for the USB-C port used for charging the speaker.
Physically the speaker is larger then a standard US pop can, at 3.4” at it’s widest, 2.9” at it’s narrowest, and 6.3” tall. I measured the weight at 1.33lbs. The speaker is IPX7 water rated, meaning it won’t be harmed by splashes or rain. It can even withstand complete submersion to shallow depths. I did test this and can agree but sound quality does suffer till the speaker dries out a bit. As a bonus the speaker does float.
It features a 5,200mAh batter inside which is good for 12 hours of playback time and in my testing I got at least this if not more. From empty to full the speaker took 3.5 hours to charge, and is capable of charging via USB-C to C and or with a USB-C PD charger which is great to see.
The App & Lights
You wouldn’t think that a bluetooth speaker needs an app, but to get the most out of the Flare 2 you really do want to download the Soundcore app, available both on iOS and Android. The app can be used to change any of the defaults for the 5 preset equalizers, including making your own via the custom setting, turn the bass boost, on or off, as well as changing all the lights. You can also use it to adjust the volume, turn the speaker off, pair it to other Flare 2’s and even do firmware updates. I demonstrate this is the YouTube version of this review so make sure you check that out.
There are 5 different light modes that are all sound reactive when the speaker is playing sound, within each you can further define the colors you want to use to better suit your mood or content. Imagine watching your favorite sporting event on your tablet and making your teams colors come through the speaker, Or having a party where you connect multiple Flare 2 speakers together to create a light show.
Depending on what I was using the speaker for I found the LED’s to be a little distracting and annoying. For a party or out by the pool I think they make a lot of sense and there are a number of options in the app to change the colors and patterns for your liking. However when I was at home during quarantine and using the speaker for more volume of podcasts or watching netflix and YouTube while cooking it was a little distracting and I mostly turned them off.
So how is the sound quality of the Flare 2? First it truly is 360 degree, I used this a lot in my kitchen while listing to YouTube and Netflix while cooking and one of the things i hate about other bluetooth speakers I have is when I would move around to maybe go get something in the pantry I would miss dialog because I was off axis of the speakers. The Flare 2 totally solves this. The same principle applies to music too. Here is a little demo I did walking around my dining room table trying to capture that there are no dead spots.
I did notice a small amount of delay when watching YouTube and Netflix with this speaker on my iPad, more so then my Android phone, not a major deal but definitely something to mention. Hopefully future firmware updates continue to improve this.
Using the soundcore app to get the right sound for you is important I feel like as well. I enjoyed the default setting with the Bass Up feature turned on and thought it was great. I used the voice mode a bit for some podcasts, it turns up higher frequencies and minimizes bass. There is custom too where you can create your own.
I also listened to it out on my deck and it gets plenty loud enough here but I did notice on especially bass heavy music at high volumes the bass was tuned out a bit and it made more of a splat instead of being clean. That said this is a small speaker and I don’t expect subwoofer level performance. Here is a clip I took of it outside as well.
- Great sound quality at reasonable volumes for its size.
- True 360 degree sound
- Impressive water resistance (IPX7) and battery life (12 hr)
- Great integration and customization with the Soundcore app
- Doesn’t always seem to remember the last LED setting you used like Off.
- No 3.5mm jack which I am ok with.
- Bass does fade and get muddy at higher volumes.
- I did notice a little delay on some youtube/netflix content but it was small.
Overall the sound quality here exceeded my expectations for the size of the Flare 2. I wish I could have tried the feature allowing you to link up to 100 speakers as I think that could really be impressive surround sound and light show capabilities. For me the lights are not a feature I was needing in a bluetooth speaker but given this is designed for parties, out at the pool etc I could see it being a feature people would like.
I was impressed with the Soundcore App’s integration with the Flare 2, it’s a must have for any Flare 2 owner to dial in the sound profile and light patterns that you want, and to get those important firmware updates over time.Overall I am impressed with the Flare 2 and look forward to using it for many more years.
Pickup the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3dIUsoL
View the full image gallery: https://imgur.com/a/khqzDR9