The Flares Pros assume a more traditional cable down fit with a bullet style design that is reminiscent of the older R2 models and earphones such as the Hifiman RE-600, Aurisonics Rocket and Etymotic ER4. But unlike the R2 earphones that used different housing materials to achieve different sounds, the Pro exclusively uses the acoustically superior titanium. As a result, the earphones are imbued with a very interesting look (and sound) and users shouldn’t be too concerned about damaging their raw metal finish.
Build quality is unsurprisingly fabulous, those titanium housings are just as solid as one would expect and their machining is essentially perfect with very minimal gaps to seams and a very even surface to the flared front and rear ports. The earphones are absolutely miniscule in size, measuring just over a cm in length (not including the eartips), and have a very fine brushed finish with an engraved Flare Audio logo on the very top. While they do pick up some occasional smudges, they are easy enough to clean and haven’t picked up any nicks or scratches during my month or so of almost daily use. The Pro’s have a slender, T200 sized straight nozzle that is integrated into the main housings. It is fluted to provide some traction to ear tips and their diameter maximises compatibility with aftermarket tips.
Fit is similarly fabulous due to the small size and simple design. They easily achieve quite a deep fit and despite that exposed rear vent, the earphones produce no more wind noise than a sealed in-ear and provide great noise isolation equivalent to earphones like the Hifiman RE-600 but still shy of the vacuum like silence provided by Campfire and Shure earphones. I suppose it’s no surprise given the Flare make some really nice earplugs, but the Pro is one of the most isolating vented earphones I’ve come across and the lack of wind noise is a huge plus when wearing them outdoors. In addition, while they are technically a cable down earphone, their design lends them perfectly towards over-ear wear which removes microphonic cable noise, increases fit depth and improves their stability during activity. When wearing the Pro’s over-ear, the earphones stay put during a run without requiring any adjustments. Comfort is also fabulous, due to their size, the housings don’t contact any part of the ear but they do protrude a little too much to be suitable for wear when sleeping. That being said, I didn’t experience any hot spots or discomfort after hours and hours of wear, in fact, I soon forgot I was even wearing them. The Flare Pros are easily among the most comfortable earphones I’ve tested.
Unfortunately, Flares mated one of the most robust, comfortable housing designs I’ve tested to one of the worst cables I’ve ever used. The Pro’s cable is rubbery, thin and springy. Not only does it catches on clothes, the cable also retains memory from storage and is difficult to untangle on behalf of that tacky texture. But where the Flares’ original in-ears required users to replace the whole driver assembly in the case of cable damage, the new Pro’s utilize a much more practical partially removable cable system similar to the Klipsch X20 and Sennheiser ie800. And unlike these models, Flares have more reason than smaller housing size for assuming such a setup as opposed to a fully removable design since it enables users to swap between a wired and wireless connection. While the cable is hardwired to the earpiece, each channel has an individual MMCX connector that inserts either a 3.5mm cable at the y-split or the balanced Bluetooth module.
The earpieces and MMCX connectors have pleasing strain relief that is much improved over the R2 and though the y-split and plug on the wired cable are not as well fortified, at least that segment is easily replaceable. And on a more positive note, since both sides use a different coloured cable, white/grey for right and grey/black for left, the otherwise identically styled earpieces are easily differentiated and finding correct orientation when swapping from a wired to wireless connection is made much easier. I still would prefer a more subdued cable design, that zebra coloured cable doesn’t do those gorgeous titanium housings any favours nor does their shocking ergonomics, but routing the cable over the ear does help keep the cable in check.
Overall, the Flare Audio Pros are an exceptionally constructed in-ear with almost perfect comfort and ergonomics, perfect for those with small ears. They have great noise isolation for travel despite being vented and their titanium complexion maintains its lustre through daily use. While their cable is average at best, their modular design enables easy swapping between a wired and wireless connection that negates more of the longevity and ergonomic concerns I have with the cable anyway.
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