Review: Flare Audio R2A & R2PRO

Using the provided comply tips, you insert them into your canals and once inserted, the intimacy of the music hits you like nothing you’ve ever heard. Like you’re completely encompassed by the music, while everything stays in keeping it right where it should be. The R2A is really well balanced in staging, with equal parts width, height and depth. Purity and clarity like you’ve never heard from any IEM before.

The treble is pretty laid back sounding. Things like cymbals crashing aren’t right in your face, but still maintain a sense of realism throughout whatever track you are listening to. It’s a very non fatiguing sound that allowed me to listen to them for hours on end, which I love because I am sensitive to sibilance.

The mids on the Flare Audio R2, while being forward sounding and very lush, still know their place in a track, not getting in the way of anything else. As far as vocals go, I’d give the edge to male vocals, but not by a huge margin. Listening to Brian McKnights Back at One was like nothing I’d experienced on any other IEM’s.

The Bass… this is THE BEST BASS I have heard from any IEM. Not over exaggerated or over emphasized but it still digs deep, giving you that nice thump that you like to hear when a track calls for it. It’s textured and has a bit of a crunch to it down low. It makes everything else that I have listened to and owned sound muddy and undefined down low. This is the new standard by which I will be judging all bass, on IEM’s at least.

THE R2PRO

The R2PRO is the bigger brother to the R2A, and both share very similar sound qualities. The R2PRO is just as natural and effortless sounding at musical reproduction as the R2A. Reproducing music with a purity and clarity that I’ve yet to hear from anything else that I have listened to or owned personally. The difference between the two IEM’s, to my ears, is that the R2PRO seems to reproduce things a little bit more accurately than its sibling, playing recordings exactly as they should be heard, whereas the R2A is a bit more on the forgiving side of things. The R2PRO is even more balanced than the R2A, if that is even possible. It provides the same intimacy, but seems to be more accurate as far as depth, width and height go when it comes to staging, offering more detail than the R2A, and an even more accurate representation of the music you are listening to.

The treble on the R2PRO is laid back, just like the treble of the R2A, but it does seem slightly more present, giving just a hint of shimmer to certain songs that provide that experience. The midrange on the R2PRO is just as lush and forward sounding as its little brother, but it isn’t overpowering in any way. Vocals are, again, about equal, neither gender really holding itself over the other, but beautifully portrayed in their sonic reproduction. The bass on the R2PRO is phenomenal. Tight and accurate, but with less quantity and more quality than the R2A. It still digs deep and gives you a true bass experience like no other IEM before it, and can more than compete with IEM’s twice its price, in my opinion.

Conclusion

Don’t let these IEM’s unassuming appearance fool you. They are a pair of absolute unassuming gems in the IEM world, and a steal at the Kickstarter price of 79 pounds for the R2A and 225 pounds for the R2PRO. I think they’re well worth the investment, and they’ll be a main staple in your IEM repertoire, should you give them a chance.

Review: Flare Audio R2A & R2PRO
4.7 (93.29%) 754 vote[s]

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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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