Review: Flare Audio R2A & R2PRO

Disclaimer: Flare Audio previously reached out to Headfonia.com to review their full sized headphone, the Flare Audio R1. Flare now reached out once again, but this time they are not offering a full size headphone. This time they asked us to review their newest attempt at the portable market and sent us their newest IEM’s, the R2A and the R2PRO. I asked Ricky to do the review as he is the one who also review the R1.

Flare Audio R2A & R2PRO

Build quality and accessories

The IEM’s arrived to my home in some pretty bare-bones packaging. A simple white box emblazoned with a gold Flare logo on the front. The R2PRO will, when bought, come with 3 sets of comply foam tips and will also come with a Pro carry case. The R2A, being the lesser priced of the 2 IEM’s will come with comply tips and and a drawstring bag only.

Both IEMs have about the same build quality. They’re tiny, but seem pretty durable. I can’t tell you much more as I wasn’t exactly willing to abuse them or put them through any rigorous durability tests. I can tell you that they are very sturdy feeling with the R2A being made of aluminum and the R2PRO made of grade 5 titanium.

Comfort

Extremely tiny, low profile and providing a very easy fit. I’d have to say that with the provided comply tips both of these IEM’s are easily some of the most comfortable IEMs that I have ever inserted into my ears. I especially love the low profile. They don’t stick out like giant frankenbolts and if you want go to sleep with them in, they lie flat enough that you can be laying on your side and not have a problem with them being smashed into your ears. The only people I foresee having problems with comfort are those who don’t like having to stick IEMs deep into your canals. But these are even more comfortable than the custom JH16 that I owned previously.

A little info

The R2 IEMs created by Flare Audio are an amazing 14mm x 6mm in size using a 5mm neodymium driver. Most drivers seem to be getting bigger, but in this case Flare Audio decided to go with 5mm because they are the size that most closely matches our ear canals, generating less pressure on our eardrums, allowing for a much more long and comfortable listening session due to the lower pressure. Over at Flare Audio they believe that more pressure can actually be damaging to your eardrums, which is also another reason they chose the 5mm drivers. Flare Audio has also designed this IEM to be similarly pressure balanced, like the R1, so as to give the user a smooth and uniform listening session that is non fatiguing. I’d say that they nailed it.

(Side note: Flare Audio has told me via email that braided cable, mic and remote, 90 and 45 degree jacks and over ear cable for artists iem stage use etc are covered by replaceable cable and driver options and available for purchase later).

The way it sounds

THE R2A

Let’s start with the lesser priced of the two IEM’s, the R2A. Though it is of lesser price in comparison to its bigger brother, the R2PRO, don’t let that fool you. It isn’t falling too far behind. The R2A is one of the most natural, most effortless IEM’s that I have ever heard when it comes to reproducing sound. The sense of space all the way around that Flare has pushed from these little 5mm drivers is astounding.

It continues on Page 2

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57 Comments

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    Ben Clayton

    Sweet review. Have pledged for the R2As so fingers crossed they are as great as everyone is saying they are.

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I hope so too. I have heard nothing but good though

      • Reply June 4, 2015

        James Lei

        Among all the IEMs, which ranked is R2? Have you have the opportunity Future Sonic Mg6Pro or Mg7?

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    Shawn

    so what’s the buzz about user replaceable cable/driver?

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      Ricky Sterling

      When you purchase these IEMs, should the driver blow or cable get damaged, or should you just want extra or a different style, Flare Audio is offering drivers for sale as well as braided cables, over ear cables, cables with mics/remotes, etc. You can make this IEM fit and style look any way that you want.

      • Reply June 3, 2015

        Shawn

        That’s very interesting.Thanks Ricky!

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    James Lei

    Would R2Pro be your reference tests against high-end headphones as well?

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      dalethorn

      “The treble on the R2PRO is laid back, just like the treble of the R2A…”

      That’s not what reference or high end IEM’s do. So the question is, can as much harmonic detail in the extreme highs be heard with the R2 Pro as with the best IEMs, in spite of the treble recess?

      • Reply June 2, 2015

        James Lei

        MG6Pro consider a reference/monitor IEM, R2PRO as a folk in my community liken it as a Baby MG6Pro.

      • Reply June 2, 2015

        Ricky Sterling

        When I say laid back, what I mean is it is a very non fatiguing sound. Its there, and it can be heard when it needs to be.. Its just not piercingly bright like, say the Sennheiser IE800 can be at times. The R2PRO actually kinda puts the IE800 to shame, IMO.

        • Reply June 3, 2015

          dalethorn

          What’s piercingly bright (as compared to merely bright) can easily be determined by a continuous frequency sweep for resonances. And I’m not aware of any for the IE800.

        • Reply August 17, 2015

          Clarence

          Could you elaborate more on “The R2PRO actually kinda puts the IE800 to shame.” since I’m quite happy with its sonic presentation.

          • Reply August 18, 2015

            dalethorn

            I would hope the Flare IEMs are a LOT better than their headphone. Holy moly!

      • Reply June 2, 2015

        Jom Gaard

        These are the first ever pressure-balanced IEMs. If all you’ve known are iems with exaggerated highs (even those considered as a reference) then ones not distorting of course will appear recessed in comparison. The best comparison is with real life, not other iems!

        • Reply June 3, 2015

          dalethorn

          When I take a walk around town, in traffic or in the markets where people are talking clearly and small animals are present, I often remove my headphone to compare the ambient sounds to the headphone sound, and the headphone sound is always dull compared to real life. That’s good headphones BTW. Then using the R1, dull becomes “no treble, no life in the sound whatsoever”.

          I highly recommend that users do their own similar experiments with portable systems if they have good-fidelity headphones. If that’s too difficult, a decent set of discrete test tones and sweep tones will reveal a lot.

          • Reply December 23, 2015

            Jom Gaard

            That’s the R1 though – interesting. The reviews were saying it had an odd signature but at the same time was fast like a planar and did other things much better – just lacking at some frequencies. I reckon they put a lot into the design but didn’t get the right driver. That’s my guess about the R1.

            Sadly, I can’t do the same test with the R2 Pros until I change the tips – can’t put Complys in and out because they loose they don’t squash when already warm.

            • Reply December 23, 2015

              dalethorn

              That sort of fast or whatever has been a hallmark of special drivers like Beyerdynamic used in their DT-48 series for a number of years. It’s a potentially great sound, but very prone to resonances, which BTW you can see in the very uneven response I graphed for the R1 (which I still have). Anyway, the fact that it’s weird or however users see it (not many I’ll bet), the really sad thing is, when I enquired at Flare to discuss it, by email usually, all I ever got was a long diatribe from the designer about how the R1 is the perfect design. They were absolutely not going to discuss the sound with this reviewer, and I find that odd for someone who doesn’t have a significant presence in headphones, let alone $700 headphones.

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      Ricky Sterling

      I dunno about high end headphones.. Maybe more mid-fi.

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    ddayan

    you said about the R2A “this is THE BEST BASS I have heard from any IEM.” Would you prefer the R2A over the R2PRO?

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      Ricky Sterling

      Personally, I like the R2PRO for the detail that you get without sacrificing too much of the bass that the R2A has.

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    Andrey

    > this is THE BEST BASS I have heard from any IEM

    I believe some kind of reference point would be appropriate here. Have you heard UE TripleFI, UE900s, Audeo PFE232 or any of the other IEMs renowned for bass?

    • Reply June 2, 2015

      Ricky Sterling

      SE215, Westone W4, VSonic GR07, yes, even the UE TripleFi (hated the fit), JH16 Pro, and the V6S from 1964 Ears, to name a few, are my reference points. Haven’t heard the PFE232, though I would love to.

      • Reply June 3, 2015

        Jacky

        Hi, Ricky. How do the separation and clarity of the R2A & R2PRO respectively compare to those of the V6S (1964 Ears)? Thanks.

        • Reply June 3, 2015

          Ricky Sterling

          I think the R2PRO performs better in this regard, the R2A slightly less so. I haven’t heard anything as pure and effortless sounding as either of these IEM’s in terms of clarity. Detail might be about equal though. How Flare squeezed the performance they did out of some 5mm drivers is beyond me, but they nailed it with these IEM’s.

          • Reply June 3, 2015

            Jacky

            Thanks for the reply! I don’t personally own the V6S but I did manage to listen to a universal demo unit extensively on two occasions previously and was amazed by their detail, clarity, separation and imaging. It changed my idea of what BA-driver-only IEMS could sound like. Though, the highs while detailed, did become fatiguing after a while. I personally preferred its’ overall sound signature and balance to that of both the V6 & V8 (which both lacked bass detail/clarity to me).

            Anyways, back to the R2. So you’re saying that both models perform better than the V6S in terms of separation & clarity? If that is the case, I think all the backers on Kickstarter are really in for a big BIG treat! How is imaging / soundstage of the R2A / R2PRO compared to that of the V6S? I found the V6S very spacious sounding and had quite accurate imaging, especially when listening to well recorded large scale orchestral music. I would be pleasantly surprised if the R2 manages to come close to that level of imaging.

  • Reply June 2, 2015

    Thach M Truong

    I’m sorry I have a question. How do u compare the R2A to the Shure SE215? btw awesome review

  • Reply June 3, 2015

    Thach M Truong

    How do u feel about the isolation of the R2A Ricky?

  • Reply June 3, 2015

    Benjamin Legangneux

    Nice review 🙂 Just one question: as I read, I was thinking the R2A would make an excellent replacement for the Phonak Audeo PFE112 (and variations). Am I right or do you consider those R2A far better?

    • Reply June 4, 2015

      James Lei

      Try R2A with 14-days refund if Phonak is better, that lot of time to play with.

  • Reply June 6, 2015

    James Lei

    So googling and I found ATH-CK100 is also capable of revealing imperfect details like R2PRO and does fatigue. Would be curious to compare them if anyone has these collections.

  • Reply August 7, 2015

    Marco

    Talking about sound quality, between Flare R2A and FAD Heaven IV (or Heaven V), which one would you choose?

  • Reply September 15, 2015

    Miles Jason Romain

    I noticed on another site there seems to be a lot of people reselling these. Is there a reason, sound bad, bad fit? I’m thinking of buying a pair but I just got a bit nervous

    • Reply September 15, 2015

      dalethorn

      I seem to remember that the special technology that went into the R1 headphone also went into the R2 earphone. Assuming there’s a correspondence, then that technology results in an ultra-smooth and clear sound, but the treble is rolled off unnaturally, making the sound seem very veiled. Another current headphone design that espouses the same special engineering to radically reduce distortions is the Audioquest Nighthawk, and it’s probably no coincidence that it sounds veiled to most people too.

      • Reply September 15, 2015

        Miles Jason Romain

        I just ordered the Ibasso DX90 and had my heart set on the R2A but I think I will pass. I also was thinking of Soundmagic HP150 but they look kinda thick to be just walking down the street. So do you know of any great Iem’s that would work well with the Ibasso for around $250

        • Reply September 16, 2015

          dalethorn

          I like the Thinksound Rain2 woodies, but they aren’t neutral. I lust after the Grado GR series, but haven’t sprung for one yet. The RHA 10i looks interesting, although I’ve only had the 350 and 750, and those were decent. The Dita Audio Truth edition is pricy unless you can find a discount (on a genuine sample), but I did have that and loved it. If I were buying from scratch now, for $250 or less, I’d probably get the RHA T10i.

          • Reply September 16, 2015

            Miles Jason Romain

            Thanks, Lots to review.

  • Reply September 17, 2015

    J-2

    A folk at HiFi forum said you have R1MK2?

    • Reply September 17, 2015

      dalethorn

      Maybe ask about R1 on the R1 review?

      • Reply September 20, 2015

        J-2

        Maybe R1MK1 £499 on Amazon? Just how much sounds improvement over R1 and probably closes to R1MK2 @ £750, hopefully it wasn’t a rebrand models that markup price and we have no idea what has changed.

        • Reply September 20, 2015

          dalethorn

          On the R1 review (instead of this R2 review) would be more helpful. Thank you.

          • Reply September 22, 2015

            J-2

            Ok, have posted on R1 review.

  • Reply December 9, 2015

    TheIEM coll.

    Can I ask about separation btw instruments and imaging,are they up there with full size like beyer T1 ?
    did the treble sound good or rolled off ?

    • Reply December 9, 2015

      dalethorn

      The T1 has a very strong treble. These earphones have a recessed treble – very opposite of the T1. Soundstage is very dependent on treble. Treble is also quite variable on IEMs depending on the eartip seal in your ear canals.

      • Reply December 9, 2015

        TheIEM coll.

        Well thanks dalethorn, can you recommend Iem sould like lcd 3 or beyer t1?
        what’s your favourite iem and full size HP ?
        i you have the flare R2 pro what you will do to improve the sound to make it like total ciem ? crazy idea

        • Reply December 10, 2015

          dalethorn

          For the R2 Pro, the bass already sounds perfect (from the review), mids are mids, and maybe just a small treble boost, like you can do with FiiO amps that have a 1-10 settings. My favorite full size are MrSpeakers Mad Dog, maybe Alpha Dog if you get the settings right, the Beyer DT-770-32 on the low price end, the DT-1770 pro most of all. The LCD3 might be good, but I wasn’t happy with the LCD2 even though it’s very neutral and not bright like the Sennheiser HD800. Maybe if I heard the latest HD650 that would be my favorite – don’t know. But in IEMs, the Sennheiser IE800 I really liked, because: 1) Single driver – I like single drivers, for the purity – not always exciting, but better for intimate listening. 2) Strong bass, but not unbalanced or bloated or boomy or muddy – just very good, although not as tight and detailed as some IEMs. 3) Good mids – maybe not as “present” as some headphones and IEMs, but clear enough. 4) Treble strong enough for good details and top-end sparkle, almost like the HD800, but not spiky like many IEMs. The overall sound I heard from the IE800 I would describe as ‘rich’, like my first impression of the Sennheiser Amperior headphone. But unlike the Amperior which had a mid-bass emphasis that hammered my ears too much, the IE800 bass was smooth and even.

          • Reply December 10, 2015

            TheIEM coll.

            I’ll get Ie 800 soon and compare it to Flare r2 pro .

            • Reply December 16, 2015

              TheIEM coll.

              Ok I got my IE 800 compare it to R2 pro,IE 800 sound more open and bigger soundstage,imaging and detail better in IE 800 .

              Flare r2 pro has better solid bass but not texture , mids sound vailed not very clear , the treble sound bad .Flare r2 pro sound boring and flat compare to ie 800 dynamic 3d sound .
              Still Beyer T1 is still better than IE 800 but I’m happy for now ,I want to ask what’s the best Ciem for soundstage and imaging ?

              • Reply December 16, 2015

                dalethorn

                Apparently Headfonia doesn’t have a review specifically to compare CIEMs, and this article by Innerfidelity will explain why that’s so difficult to do.

                http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/totl-madness-24-top-line-custom-ear-monitors-reviewed#bluY89TX7eEKWzKj.97

                Now my personal issue with CIEMs is that the intent of most manufacturers is to put as many drivers into them as they can, and I’m a one-driver kind of person, so there it is.

                • Reply December 16, 2015

                  Headfonia_L.

                  Have I not reviewed and compared enough ciems already? I have 3 or 4 left to do which I think will put my total at 17 or so

                  • Reply December 16, 2015

                    dalethorn

                    I was just referring to a separate article that would cross-compare many of them.

                    • December 17, 2015

                      TheIEM coll.

                      I see your point , But I can compare some of my IEM to full size headphones ,it’s easy .

                    • December 17, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      What’s peculiar for me is my evaluations of headphone sound almost always tracks close to Innerfidelity’s, but I hear most IEMs as terribly bright, even with a good seal that produces a good bass response. I suppose that means I should use CIEMs or just give up.

                    • December 17, 2015

                      TheIEM coll.

                      I undertsand you .I visited Audio shop last night and I got really disappointed again .I will never find IEM sound fuller or very dynamic like full size headphones .
                      I don’t know why they call IEM high end!! , the design is lacking and very small to compte with full size headphones .
                      Maybe if there is new technology or unique design will make huge impact on the sound then we can see a new high end IEM .AT home Many guys prefer to listen to their open headphones over close HP and CIEM . BUT for me I always listen to my Triton one speakers .

                    • December 18, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      I have heard one IEM whose sound was very rich and full – the Sennheiser IE800. Maybe I just got lucky with their special oval eartips. If I were really into IEMs, I would still be using it.

  • Reply December 28, 2015

    Michael

    Thanks for reviewing! Any ideas how these may compare to Sony XBA-H3/A2/A3?

  • Reply January 23, 2016

    SoundGood

    How does this compare to JVC’s micro-driver based IEM such as FXH30?

  • Reply May 15, 2017

    33Johnathan

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    You write interesting articles but you should rank your page higher in search engines.
    If you don’t know 2017 seo techniues search on youtube: how to rank a website Marcel’s way

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