I’ve been a big fan of Anker SoundCore products since I demoed the game-changing, Bose-killing Space NC headphone. But besides headphones, this company is rapidly gaining accolades for their speaker lineup. Having tested two of their soundbars already, I was thrilled to check out the new Flare Plus (or Flare+) bluetooth speaker. Retailing at a competitive $99, this premium version of the original Flare arrives in a few days, on August 30th. But does the sound warrant the price?
Anker SoundCore Flare Bluetooth Speaker Review
The SoundCore Flare Plus arrives in some classy retail packaging with a micro-USB charging cable and a user manual.
Featuring a stylish cone design, the Flare Plus allows for complete 360-degree sound. Playback controls dominate the top of the unit, while a power button and bluetooth pairing button occupy a panel on the back. Just below the power button, and underneath a gasket-sealed rubber flap, you’ll find USB charging ports and a 3.5 mm aux input jack.
At the base of the unit, and LED light offers two modes of operation – a pulsing, bright display that changes in time with the music, and a glowing, subdued display that offers a little less intense listening experience.
Battery life is a decent 20 hours – though this might be stretched further if you don’t use the bass boost or the LED light.
IPX7-rated, the Flare Plus is waterproof and then some. Just holding it in your hand gives you the impression this speaker could stand up to anything. However, the rubberized top and base – as well as the fabric-covered speaker element – clearly illustrate just how element-proof this speaker really is. Water? Check. Dust? Check. Sand? Check.
I’ve pretty sure this thing could even take a tumble or two; I tried to throw it around our review offices like a football, but my bosses put the kibosh on that pretty quick.
Differences Over the Flare
New features over the original Flare include the ability to use the Flare Plus as a power bank, as well as the new-and-improved 20 hour battery life. Add to this a taller and slightly wider form factor and you have two easily-differentiated models. But under the hood, the SoundCore Flare Plus also utilizes two extra tweeters in its dual driver setup for better clarity in the mids and highs.
The Flare Plus delivers a rich and robust listening experience. Lows are deep and articulate, with plenty of detail no blemishes. Mids are equally well-handled, with plenty of clarity and fidelity for vocals and instrumentation alike. Highs remain bright but well-controlled. The speaker never seems peaky or harsh, but always on-point with a strong performance that belies its size and weight.
Soundstage or spaciousness can seem a bit overwhelming if unexpected. Once powered on and pumping some jams, the Flare Plus has a tendency to take over any room and pack it full of sound.
If you’re in the market for a wireless speaker and don’t want to break the bank, the SoundCore Flare Plus is the obvious choice. At $99, it won’t wreck anyone’s finances, but the performance is well and above anything else at this price point. Compared to the JBL Flip 4 (also priced at $99), the Flare offers a richer, fuller sound, as well as more extras, like the bass-boost and LED display.
Stacked up against anything from Bose or Sony, though, the gap only widens, as the Flare displays a brand-name sound with a competitive price that blows the bigger boys out of the water.
When it comes to Bluetooth speakers under $100, the Anker SoundCore Flare Plus leads the pack. This near-indestructible speaker gives you an IPX7 waterproof exterior, bass-boost, and your own light show at an entry-level price. But the quality of sound on this speaker easily recommends it as the final word in portable sound.