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Is Anker’s Soundcore flare 2 as much fun as the original? Here’s our review

From light shows to its ‘partycast’ technology, we ask if it’s the ultimate summer speaker

David RS Taylor
Tuesday 23 March 2021 17:19
<p>We tested the device’s sound quality and design to reach our verdict </p>

We tested the device’s sound quality and design to reach our verdict

Diversifying a brand is always a bit of a leap into the dark. Spotting an opportunity is one thing, but actually going through with it is another matter. It can be a great success (Honda manufacturing cars and trucks alongside motorcycles, for example) or a catastrophe (New Coke, anyone?).

It takes a brave boardroom to give the green light to a new direction, so when Anker, known for some of the most reliable chargers and powerbanks on the market, decided to try its hand at audio, it could’ve been a mistake.

Luckily, Anker’s Soundcore brand has been a success with its fun, good-value speakers that are perfect for throwing in your bag.

One particular highlight of Soundcore’s product list is its flare range. The original flare speaker was hugely popular and still enjoys good sales.

The second generation, aptly called the flare 2, promises to build on that strong start. Does it bring the fun in the same way as its older sibling? We tested its design and sound quality to find out.

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Soundcore flare 2

Size: 11cm (base) x 9cm (top) x 17.5cm (H)

Connectivity: Bluetooth and partycast between 100+ flare 2 speakers

Weight: 590g

Battery life: 12 hours

Buy now

Design

The flare 2 is the definition of “get up and go”. Its stylish shape, maybe best described as a tapered cylinder, is perfect for grabbing, and the fabric grille means there are no worries about your grubby paw prints affecting the tech underneath. The speaker’s IPX7 waterproofing means that it’ll stand up to splashes and spillages, along with being up to 1m underwater while you scrabble desperately to recover it from whatever pool/lake you elbowed it into.

The non-fabric covering is all rubber, including the solid protective cover for the new USB-C charging port, and it helps to keep the speaker steady on any slippery surface. The buttons are straightforward: on/off (this process includes an always-fun little jingle), Bluetooth, a button for switching modes and an option for cycling through LED shows, with a wide range of mesmerising light performances emanating from the rings at the top and bottom of the device. If you prefer a buttonless experience, the Soundcore app is very good for a budget speaker, offering various EQ presets (although there’s no bespoke EQ adjustment) and light control in a sleek package.

Bluetooth connectivity is a simple button push away, and the connection remains true and distortion-free, even when nipping into another room. The partycast software allows more than 100 flare 2 speakers to connect, synchronising sound and LEDs for a sea of good-value speaker fun. If our lottery numbers come in, it’ll be our first investment.

Sound

The flare 2 comes with a “bassup” feature, letting listeners crank up the bass on any track. We found ourselves using this regularly, as it adds some needed depth to the lower frequencies, especially when listening from further away. However, the general audio quality is expertly balanced, and its warmth throughout the genres was a pleasant surprise. Like all speakers at this price, the sound starts to fuzz a little the louder you go, but it keeps its shape very handily at any volume below “annoying the neighbours”. The 360-degree sound also delivers, with no noticeable loss of audio integrity in any direction.

The LED rings sync with any track to create off-the-cuff light shows, and really help the flare 2 feel like a more expensive product. Cycling through the different pre-set patterns is a fun exercise, but leaving it on the more beat-driven modes is your best bet.

A great addition to the flare 2 is speakerphone capability, something that is never at the top of speaker requirements, but which could be incredibly useful if you’re in the summer heat and don’t fancy holding your phone up to a sweaty ear while chatting to someone that’s late for your first garden party in over a year.

The verdict: Anker Soundcore flare 2

The flare 2 is a real dark horse. You’d be forgiven for not expecting much from a speaker at this price – something decent enough that’ll last you a couple of years of being thrown about. But the flare 2 is much more than that. It retains everything good about the original flare, with some bonus features (USB-C charging and an extra LED ring – yes please).

It looks great, with a neat tweak on the usual cylindrical design you see across the market, and those smooth LED light shows. It doesn’t feel like a budget option: it’s weighty and sturdy, water-resistant, has speakerphone functionality and produces surprisingly great sound. To put it simply, this is much better than we thought it would be. It’s fantastic value.

Want to find out more about your audio options? Read our buying guide for wireless speakers

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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