Anker Soundcore Flare 2 Review (20W, USB-C & A Water Test!)

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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Packaging

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. 

Physical Descriptions

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. 

 

Sound

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.

 

Pro’s

  • 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

 

Con’s

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

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

Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro Review (Wireless, Balanced Armature. USB-C, Qi Recharging)

Soundcore (an Anker company) has a new set of higher end truly wireless earbuds with the Soundcore LIberty Pro 2. These are an upmarket product for Soundcore, and feature a balanced armature and a dynamic driver. They feature a neat case and pretty impressive battery life in my testing. Thanks to Soundcore for sending these too me to review and tell you guys about.

 

YouTube Version of this Review:

Pickup the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Wk2sE8

 

Packaging & Accessories

Soundcore products have always had nice packaging but the Liberty Pro 2’s is above and beyond. It’s clear to me this package was designed with retail stores in mind. It’s textured in places and has a sharp eye catching design and lots of useful information to the consumer on the outside with all the stats and big features of the headphones. It’s a magnetic latch box so the consumer can look inside as well. Accessories include 3 sizes of ear wings, to help the fit in your ear, and then 3 sizes of each ear tip with duplicates of each. You also get a USB-A to USB-C cable for recharging the storage case. 

 

 

Construction

The Soundcore case is vital to the operation of these headphones as it’s how you recharge the headphones. It’s made of a soft touch plastic and the door on the top has an addictive slide mechanism. If you like to fidget with things you will find yourself sliding this back and forth. The case itself allows the headphones to turn on and off via magnetic retention. As far as recharging the case has USB-C on the back, and is able to charge on a horizontal QI charging pad. You have 3 LED’s on the front that give you  the battery status of the case. 

Battery life of the LIberty Pro 2’s is good, Anker rates it at 8 hours and at least in my testing that’s pretty accurate. I recently took these on a business trip this week and wore them for hours at a time through airports and never had them get close to 50% and even if they do get low a 10 minute recharge in the case gives you an impressive 2 hours of additional playback time. Overall the 500mAh battery in the case is good for 32 hours of playback time. Size wise the case is a little on the large size for me. In my front jeans pocket it worked but if I was in shorts or had smaller pockets I could see it being a little too big. Other brands have more compact solutions if that’s an important factor for you.

Sound Quality Comfort & Software

Soundcore has developed their own set of drivers for the Liberty Pro 2’s called the Astria Coaxial Acoustic Architecture.. For the mid’s and high they a customly developed Knowles (Well known in the audio industry) balanced armature combined with an 11mm dynamic driver for the lows. These are placed inside each other allowing for the sound to not have to be routed within the body of the headphones so that you have the best possible sound quality. This is a somewhat unique design that your not seeing on a ton of true wireless ear buds right not. 

Soundcore has then teamed up with 10 “Grammy Award Winning” audio producers to further tune and refine the sound profile of these headphones. Combine this with the soundcore app on your Android or Apple device and you have a choice of several audio profiles for your specific type of music. The app also has a customized hearing test where it analyzes each of your ears ability to hear a range of frequencies and builds a profile for you. See the video for how this works. 

 

So what’s my experience with these? Well as with any in ear headphone fit is key to sound quality, and I took my time here to find what works best for me, a balance of comfort, sound quality, and retention. I settled with medium sized ear wings, and small ear tips. Comfort was pretty good with this combo and fatigue after 5 hours straight was minimal. Retention was great, and I had no problem at the gym working on AMT’s and other machines, and I would feel comfortable running with these as well. 

 

Sound quality was impressive for a wireless headphone. Your music source is very important here, heavily compressed music, such as most streaming services you might not notice a difference, but I had some lossless files on my phone and on these I could tell the larger sound stage, clarity and accuracy. Bass was pretty good as well, with it being almost too powerful on some of the presets. So if you like Rap or EDM these should work pretty well for you at this price point. These do feature Bluetooth 5 asd aptX which both improve sound quality.

 

One disappointing thing is at this price point there is no audio passthrough which means for conversations you have to pause your audio and take out an ear bud to talk to someone. This proved a little frustrating in an airport until I reprogrammed the button on the top of the headphone to allow me to pause my audio.

 

These do feature Qualcomm’s cVc 8.0 noise reduction technology when making calls, combine that with a total of 4 microphones and at least in my experience call quality was surprisingly good. I have read some other reviews that not everyone had the same experience I had. This is a feature I rarely use because who makes calls anyways.

 

Pro’s

  • Great Sound Quality
  • Long Battery Life
  • USB-C and Wireless recharging
  • Built in Sound profiles are good and make a difference in audio quality.

 

Con’s

  • The earbuds themselves are a little big but retention is good for me
  • Case is on the larger side
  • IPX4 Water rated, while enough for sweat
  • No passthrough audio for conversations and you must use both earbuds at the same time.

 

Conclusion

For me these are by far my best pair of wireless headphones, especially earbud style ones. Sound quality wise they live up to their price point for me. Bass was impressive, while still maintaining crisp mids and highs. Music quality matters here more than most normal headphones. You might not notice the difference on your average streaming service. I was impressed with the battery life here as well, of the headphones themselves and the case. Not many people are going to be listening for 8 continuous hours, and even if you are 10 minutes in the case gives the headphones 2 hours of use. In my travels this week I never came close to needing to recharge. 

 

These only have minor disappointments, for me the lack of passthrough audio was unfortunate at this price point as well as these are just a little big. They are not something I want to lay down with if you are laying on your side. 

 

All this said these get a solid recommend from me if you’re looking for a more high end sound, and a premium wireless ear bud for most situations to work with all your devices. 

 

Full image gallery at: https://imgur.com/a/7pH27eM

Pickup the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Wk2sE8

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Review

Smartphones the past few years from some manufactures have been dropping the support for the wired headphone jack making wireless headphones a necessity. I have looked a a few pairs from Anker and they all had wires connecting the two earbuds together and a little remote on the cable. Today I have the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air to take a look at. These are truly wireless, and have no wire. They are similar to the Apple Soundpods but at a fraction of the price.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/qitF7n0

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

The packaging on this is a little larger than I expected but still the high quality that the Anker family of companies has been known for. Inside the magnetic flap it shows the headphones in a nice retail like display. Included accessories include the headphones themselves inside the charger case, a large tray of different ear tip sizes, a large manual and a micro usb charging cable to charge the case.

Construction

The earbuds are made from a hard glossy black plastic. They are solid and the molding is well done. On the outside they have a tiny LED in the top that serves as a indicator. When in the case it glows. This is also where one of the mic’s is. They are indicated L & R at the bottom of the stock.

The case is made from a soft touch plastic. On the outside there are 3 LED on the front that show the charge status of the case itself. The microUSB port on the bottom is used for recharging the case and doesn’t have any type of cover for the port. The lid hinges open 90 degrees

 

Fit  + Controls

Fit is really important for sound quality with these. Lucky they come with several different sizes of tip. For me I had to play around to get the right fit. I found them fairly comfortable to wear and didnt’ have major issues with them falling out or anything.

The headphones do have control on the right and left flat surfaces. Various taps and presses allow you to do everything from play/pause your audio, skip track, answer a call and even bring up your Google or Siri voice assistant. I will put in a diagram of this rather then explain it all. I found myself sometimes pausing my audio when adjusting the headphones in my ears which was a little unfortunate. I rarely use on headphone controls anyways.

Pairing

Pairing was really simple, I just removed the Air’s from their recharging case, and held them near my phone, with my phone in discovery mode, the phone found the headphones and joined instantly. This was the same on my ipad, as long as I had my phone pairing turned off.

After the initial pairing to use the headphones just take them out of the case and they will pair with your device automatically. I have found you need to take both out of the case not just one for this to work.

Sound Quality

How is the sound quality on these you might be asking. Fit is really important on an in ear headphone like this, so make sure you experiment around to get the best possible seal for your ear. During my testing I listened to a variety of sources of audio. Spoken word from audiobooks and podcasts were very good, honestly this is what I listen to most with headphones it seems these days so I don’t disturb others. For music I listened to the Alice in Wonderland podcast which is a mix of music, with a lot of electronic and EDM. You can tell the sound signature has the bottom end bass rolled off a little early, I assume to keep the headphones from bottoming out early, and to preserve power. These don’t have teeth rattling bass, but are not terrible either. I would put bass response at average or maybe slightly under performing for the price but not bad for something this small and wireless. I was happy with mid’s and highs, they were clear, not muted and a fairly neutral mix with the rest of the sound.

Lag

I did notice some lag in  these Liberty Air’s which was unexpected. I noticed it most when I had the headphones paired with my current generation iPad and listening to Youtube. The audio seemed to be at most maybe a 1/8 second behind the video. I would only notice it when someone was talking directly to the camera and you were looking at the screen. On my Note 8 I didn’t have a problem. Audio was in sync on youtube videos.

Battery Life & Recharging

One of the areas I was a little worried about was with these earbuds being so small I was worried about how the battery life would be. Anker rates the buds at 5 hours of playback time between recharges but in my experience I got over double that. During my 6 hours of use I was listening to mostly podcasts and YouTube content and was within about 2-3ft of my device. My volume levels were under 50% and I think that is partially why I got better then advertised battery life. If you are listening to more active content or fast music at higher volumes you may get closer to that 5 hours of playback.

I did like both on my iPad and my Samsung Note 8 I could see a little battery gauge showing the approximate level of charge the Liberty Air’s had left on them. This is the first wireless headphones that have shown this to me.

Recharging is simple, you just pop them into their case and the case charges them. The case is good for 20 hours of playback according to anker, so 4 complete charges. Recharging the case is simple with the microUSB connector on the bottom of the case. The case has 3 LED’s built in that are there to show battery capacity on the case and these shut off after the first few minutes of charging.

Conclusion

I have been a fan of the Anker wireless headphones in the past, that have the wire between earphones but not connected to your device. I find myself grabbing them more and more when I am being active, or not wanting a wire to deal with. The Soundcore Liberty Air takes wireless earbuds to a new level by pretty much eliminating all wires completely. The battery life impressed me on these, the sound quality is decent but not fantastic for music. Fit will be an individual personal thing. For me they felt good in my ears and stayed in place well, but I didn’t go running in them or anything like that extreme. If you were wanting something to try that are like apple earpods but much less expensive and work on both apple and android while having better battery life and good sound quality, I can recommend the Anker Soundcore LIberty Air’s.

Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless Headphone Review

I did a review video a few months ago on the Anker SoundBud Sport and since then they have been my most used wireless headphones. I really like them and have been using them when I mow, around the house cleaning, and more. Today’s review is on the new Anker Soundbuds Curve. Thanks for Anker for sending these

Check them out at Amazon http://amzn.to/2wxH2VM

The Soundbuds Curve take what’s great from the Soundbud Sports and changes how they stay in the ear with a hoop that goes behind the ear. This helps them stay in place when being active like our running.

 

Sound is just a little bit better then the Soundbuds sport in my opinion. The bass is fuller and more robust definitely. I think this is due to the slightly larger size and how they fit into the ear.  I didn’t have any trouble with bluetooth range while I had my phone in my shorts pocket while wearing the headphones. Pairing was easy too by just holding the center button on the remote. The remote has volume up and down as well as the ability to skip tracks.

 

These headphones have CVC Noise Cancellation technology, an important thing to note about this is it’s for phone calls only. These are not a replacement for your Bose noise cancelling headphones for use on mass transit. It only works for phone calls, not music playback.

 

I have found them comfortable to wear for hours at a time  during normal uses. However the larger size does have a drawback. While traveling sometimes like to rest my head against the wall of the plane, my hand, etc. These stick out of your ear a bit more making that not as comfortable. During normal uses though they are very comfortable. There are 3 different ear wing sizes and 3 tips so make sure you get the right size for you. For the best sound quality you want the tightest fit.

 

Battery life is claimed at 12.5 hours at I assume a 50% volume. I found this to be pretty accurate. It is more runtime then the Anker Soundbud Sports, and I would expect that due to the larger size there is more space for a battery. These charge pretty quickly, a 10 minute charge will give you about 30 minutes of run time. Charging is easy over microUSB on the remote.

 

No IPX Water rating is given but instead Anker says they are water resistant and nano coated. In my experience with the Soundbuds Sport, sweat and light mist will be fine but take them off before a major rain storm or taking a shower.

 

What’s in the Box?

In the box you have a round zipper case which contains the headphones themselves and a with a small carabiner to clip onto your bag, . Other accessories include a short flat microUSB cable for charging and a total of 3 different ear wings, and 3 tip sizes. Oddly enough for me these fit well in my ear the first time and I didn’t have to adjust anything. You also get a small clip

 

Summary

For the price, especially when they go on sale, I can definitely recommend the Anker Soundbuds Curve because they sound good, have great battery life for their size and are comfortable to use. Check them at Amazon while they are on sale for a limited time http://amzn.to/2wxH2VM

Anker SoundCore Boost Review

Quite a nice bluetooth speaker. The BassUp technology makes a big difference when listening to music. I hope this is a technology that Anker continues to bring to its new products. I have a feeling it will be.

If you are intested in picking up the Anker SoundCore Boost speaker, links are below. Thanks for helping to support the channel.

Amazon USA – http://amzn.to/2sMijPI
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anker-SoundCore-Bluetooth-Speaker-Technology/dp/B01N4V4X5M/