1. DecAway's Avatar




    I think that most people can agree that sequels never really do the original movie justice. For some reason the classics that we love so much have this magical set of circumstances that create the perfect movie. The character casting is on point, the plot is intriguing, and the whole thing just finds a way to draw us in that really makes it special (this rule doesn’t apply to The Empire Strikes Back or The Rescuers Down Under). Well, this doesn’t just apply to movies. Sometimes it applies to products as well. The first one was just so good that you wonder, “how do they follow this up in a meaningful way?” Well, Anker has made a successor in interest to the Anker Flare, the Anker Flare+! In case you’re wondering, I’m happy to report that this speaker is definitely the Empire Strikes Back of Anker’s speaker line-up, and it’s definitely the best portable USB speaker that I’ve had the privilege of getting my hands on. Would you like to learn more? Yes… I’m digging the movie references right now – look it up.

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    above: Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Carl Jenkins, in the movie Starship Troopers.

    Overview: Straight out of the box, the Flare+ is bigger, better, badder, and mo’bettah. The overall speaker size has increased about 30% over the original Flare speaker (that's my eye-ball guesstimation), and it’s boasting a quadrifecta speaker setup that pushes out 25W of power, and it definitely shows. The LED light show is better than ever. I’m not sure if it’s just because the LED lights are larger, but they seem brighter, and really standout more than the original Flare. The original Flare speaker’s lights were more than adequate, but they definitely didn’t shine so brightly in a well-lit room – and the Flare+ really kills it with the light show. The volume increase can be felt, and heard, which is a testament to the powerful speaker setup. In addition to the standard features and controls, Anker incorporated their ever popular BassUp technology, which you can turn on at the touch of a button to add some fuel to your bass-pumping fire. It’s a solid setup and a worthy upgrade, and new iteration in the Flare series.

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    ***This is a side-by-side comparison of the Flare vs. the Flare+***

    Sound Quality: If you have already read/seen my Anker Flare speaker review, then you know two things: a) that the Flare+ had its work cut out for it do better, and b) that this speaker had a solid foundation to build off of. The Soundcore Flare+ takes everything that the original Flare did so well and takes it to the next level. Lights, volume, power, everything… Of course, it commands a bit higher price at $99.99, but if you’re interested in taking your speaker game to the next level then I think the price tag is more than justified, especially compared to much of the competition (which happens to be much more expensive). One of the first things that I like to test out with any speaker is volume, and clarity. I like to listen to my music LOUD! Like, ear-piercing loud. I’m not sure what it is but when I get a chance to jam out and listen to some tunes, I want it as loud as possible; and the Soundcore Flare is more than accommodating. The speaker volume is so loud that it will take you to the edge of your comfort zone and leave a smile on your face with its raw power, and excellent sound quality. There isn’t any cracking, no tinny sound, no forced vocals… it’s smooth throughout the entire powerband, and especially at wide open throttle. The vocals ring true and clear, and the bass sounds incredibly natural. With or without BassUp turned on, the bass is ample, but BassUp does help kick it up a notch. The actual bass instruments sound great too. Normally when people think of bass they associate it with drums, but the bass guitar and some synths are also part of that sound spectrum, and they really sound great. Highs are solid and clear, without being ear piercing. Sometimes manufacturers feel like they need to overdo the top end to compensate for the base, but not the Soundcore Flare+. The entire sound spectrum is balanced, even without messing with your equalizer. The sound experience on this speaker is a real treat!

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    Functionality: In addition to the sound experience, the additional meat and potatoes is found using the Soundcore app, which is Anker’s dedicated app to control the speaker and allows you to adjust the lights and sound experience on the fly – and even turn on the 2-speaker tandem feature if you own two of these speakers. If you don’t use the app, the speaker is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require too much practice to get everything going. A new feature that is exclusive to the Flare+ is the added wrist-strap, which allows you to tote this sucker around when you’re headed to your next musical destination. Of course, it has a built-in microphone, so you can use the speaker as a gigantic speaker phone – I wouldn’t recommend holding it next to your ear though! In addition to this, the buttons are readily apparent and easy to use. The standard gambit of play/pause, volume -/+, dedicated Bluetooth button and separate power button are on full display. The customizable additions are the LED light button, which allows you to work your way through the colors with each press, and of course the Bass Up ™ button, which kicks the bass up notch. Another really nice feature is the full USB-A port on the speaker that allows you to use the built-in speaker battery to charge other devices. The speaker supports quick charge for its own charge, but only delivers a 5V/1A charge to power your devices.

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    Lights and Sounds: The really technical stuff comes into play with the Soundcore app, which is exclusive to the Flare series speakers. The app allows you to control the music experience (as mentioned above), but it also lets you adjust the light show as well! There are several different modes to choose from: Party, Energy, Chill, Bedtime, and Spring. Each of these individual presets affects how the LED ring on the bottom of the speaker behaves, whether that’s by shifting to a more pulse-centric mode, a slow color adjustment and brightness increase, or moving to a hybrid-mode, where the lights behave in an unsynchronized manner and become more active. The last mode that I will mention is bedtime mode, which is pretty neat. This mode only emits warm colored lights, in a slow and deliberate manner so that it helps you to relax and doesn’t create distractions for your eyes as your trying to fall asleep. Finally, each of these modes has four (4) different options, which are: glow, m-sync, fusion, and pulse. These different options affect the way the lights react within the given preset, allowing for a bright glow, full-music synchronization, a hybrid of glowing and pulsating (hybrid), and finally Pulse, which is kind of like a shifting light sequence that alternates two different colors at the same time. All in all, the customization and thoughtfulness that went into the creation of these features, along with the app, are quite novel and really speak volumes about the level of commitment that Anker has to the end-user experience. This isn’t just music, it’s about life, and style. It’s a great combination of features that helps you to blend the Flare speaker into your day-to-day life, and have a little fun next to the pool, or when you have company over for a party – it’s definitely a great conversation piece!

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    Features:
    - Up to 20 hours of playtime (based on volume and usage)
    - 5V/2A quick charge *4 hrs for a full charge*
    - 5V/1A output to charge other devices.
    - Bluetooth 5.0, for a range of up to 66ft
    - IPX7 water-resistance (legit waterproof!)
    - 360-degree sound
    - Pairable with a second Flare, for full stereo sound
    - Soundcore app is second-to-none in customization and cool-factor
    - 4 sound drivers with 2 passive bass radiators, for a next level sound experience
    - It still has a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can hook it up directly to your device
    - Cool LED lights that help create a great experience

    Conclusion: As I indicated above, and throughout the entire review, the Soundcore Flare+ is a significant increase over the original Flare in any category or metric that I can think of. The sound experience is great, the lights are entertaining and bright, and the functionality is still top-notch. One thing I’m happy about is that Anker seems to have gotten the app under control a little better and the connectivity and functionality are more reliable, and straightforward. The speaker works well without the app, but if you want to tune things up a bit and customize the experience then you’ll want to go ahead and download it. Bluetooth connectivity is improved with the addition of Bluetooth 5.0, and it’s noticeable. I really can’t say enough positive things about this speaker. I was super happy with the Anker Flare, but now I’m even more super happy with the Flare+. And if the speaker wasn’t enough on its own, the ability to connect it in a true stereo setup with another Flare+, or even the original Flare is fantastic! This is a truly innovative feature and really creates an amazing sound experience.

    If you’re interested in picking up one of Anker’s fancy new Flare+ speakers, you can find them on Amazon for $99.99 - https://www.amazon.com/Soundcore-Blu...pUvbUpU3761687 - The speaker only comes in one color: Black. It also qualifies for Amazon Prime 2-day shipping, if you’re a Prime member. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them down in the comments section.
    10-06-2018 01:15 AM

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