For some people, me included, music is an essential part of life. My days are synced to my personal soundtrack and music affects my productivity and mood. At any time, I have a dozen or so headphones, earbuds, and speakers around.
But, I’m no audiophile. I just don’t have that level of sensitivity when it comes to listening to music. I sure wish I did because I’d love to enjoy it even more, but I’m just not built like that. A $30 speaker can make me just as happy as a $300 speaker.
Even though I can enjoy cheaper audio products, you can always tell a difference. To get the price down, companies routinely have to cheap out on parts that make a difference. It’s possible to get cheap headphones or a speaker that provides good bass or a large soundstage, but it’s rare.
Which is why I’m so damn impressed with the Soundcore Flare speaker. Soundcore is a name you might not know yet, but you probably know its parent company, Anker. Anker has a great reputation for producing high-quality products for not a lot of money. It obviously took those lessons and used them for the Soundcore Flare.
Coming in at just $99, this is a speaker that punches way above its weight.
Am I crazy to think this thing looks like a vase? But instead of flowers, you get tunes. Alright, maybe I am crazy, but I love the hardware here.
The body’s gentle slope is covered by a soft fabric that reminds us a lot of something like the Urbanears Lotsen speaker. It looks classy and won’t seem out of place in any environment.
That soft fabric is actually highly resistant to dirt too. We saw it pick up the tiniest bit of pet hair during our review period, but that was about it. It never stained or held onto anything from its time around a bonfire or two. If you’re a smoker, you may want to avoid this one because it can hold onto some smells, but that’s about it.
The top of the speaker holds five buttons, play/pause, volume up and down, a button that controls the lighting, and one for extra bass. If there’s one weakness of the Flare+, it is definitely the buttons here. They’re hard to press, provide little feedback and are generally frustrating overall.
The Flare+ advertises 360-degree sound and definitely delivers on that promise. But, there is an obvious front and back. The front has the Soundcore log and the rear houses a wrist strap, a Bluetooth button, and power button. These buttons are equally frustrating to use, but we do love the wrist strap. You aren’t going to take this with you on a nice stroll through the countryside, but the strap does make it a lot easier to carry it while your hands are full of beer and firewood.
The base of the speaker is where it gets really fun. A “halo” LED reacts to the music coming out of the speaker to provide a pretty awesome light show. There are several themes that the speaker follows so you’re not always going to see the same thing. And, if that isn’t enough, you can customize the light show from the Soundcore app. This light really adds a lot to the value of the speaker and I absolutely love it. If you don’t like it as much as I do, you can turn the feature off via the incredibly hard to press the button on top of the speaker.
Rounding out the hardware section, we have a microUSB, full USB, and 3.5mm jack hidden beneath a flap. We really wish there was a USB type-C charging port here. We’re speeding toward the end of 2018 and the USB type-C standard has been popular for nearly two years. It’s time to adapt.
Despite a few rough edges, we think Soundcore did an excellent job here. The speaker is very well built, provides a ton of features, and will stand up great over time.
But who cares about any of that if it doesn’t sound good, right?
I was initially very impressed with the audio quality of the Soundcore Flare+ and that hasn’t changed. It provides a clear separation of instruments and vocals (as much as you can in a $100 speaker) and some decent bass too.
Now, don’t get your hopes up. Is this going to compete with something from Sonos or a Google Home Max? Absolutely not. It’s about a third of the price and much, much smaller. But, what it will do, is provide the perfect audio for your outdoor party.
Music sounds good and the Flare+ gets INCREDIBLY loud. If you’re in an open-air setting, you’ll have no problem hearing this thing from 30-40 yards away, if not more.
Bass is lovely and present too. With the BassUp (bass boost) turned off, music does feel a little flat so I’ve generally kept it on. The added bass is pretty heavy but doesn’t get muddy which I appreciate.
If you’re willing to invest in two Flare+ speakers, you can pair them together for stereo sound. This is an awesome feature we’ve seen in several speakers through the years. Few get as loud as the Flare+, which is a big advantage for Soundcore. If you’re going camping or hosting an outdoor party, two of these bad boys is all you’ll need.
The only complaint we really have is how distorted the audio can get at higher volumes. Its to be expected since this is a small little guy, but it doesn’t sound wonderful at max volume. We start hearing some distortion at about 75% of max volume and it only gets worse as you increase.
There’s a lot to love with the Soundcore Flare+. Sure, we have our nitpicks, but the number of positives far, far outweigh the negatives.
There are a million Bluetooth speakers out there and even some with flashing LEDs. But we love the implementation here. With the LEDs at the bottom of the speaker, the light bounces off the surface it’s sitting on and gives off a pleasing halo effect. I’m also impressed by how bright it gets. Sure, it looks great at night but even in a well-lit room its very easy to see and is a lot of fun to look at.
Sound is really good for a $100 speaker and I love how much bass you can get out of this little body. Again, you’re not going to rattle the windows, but listening to rock, rap, and EDM was all very pleasing. We even snuck in some Ariana Grande while my daughter was in the room (totally not because I love her voice) and it still sounded great.
I enjoyed my time with the Anker Soundcore Flare+ and think you’ll be impressed if you pick one up too.