1. holden4th
    Flares Gold (with references to Pros and R2As)
    Written by holden4th
    Published Aug 4, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Outstanding tonal range, great soundstage and most importantly, tonally accurate.
    Cons - Couldn't find any apart from the cable
    A few caveats and some background before my review. I have owned headphones for decades and have had some quite good pairs at times because I really like the way that headphones can immerse you in the music without turning the sound up too loud. Budget was a problem in the early days. And I remember distinctly the first time I heard a pair of Sennheiser HD580s in the high end audio store and my jaw just dropped. However, I couldn’t afford them. I had the HD540s at the time and they would have to do.


    This has changed in the last ten years and I’ve been able to try out iems and cans that sit above the mass market. Over the last decade I’ve bought headphones from Shure (SRH840s), Sennheiser (HD280s, IE80s and at last that pair of HD580s) and Flare (R2A, Pros and the Golds). I’m looking for a setup where I can sit back and say that I am truly satisfied with what I am hearing and can’t be bothered seeking anything else. Each new headphone purchase was a step forward and I think that I’ve now reached that point where “I can’t be bothered” looking further and that point is the Flare Golds. While I’ve been on this journey it’s also become very obvious that the source and how it is decoded is a vital part of that journey towards aural nirvana. More about that later.


    So what do I want to hear from a pair of iems? As a musician, I am very particular about how all instruments are reproduced, especially through a set of dynamic drivers. They have to sound tonally accurate, and this includes timbre, harmonics plus attack and decay. This has to sound natural, as if I am there live with the musicians. This requires the headphones to be able reproduce this over a very wide range of pitch from deep bass to high treble. If any part of that range is compressed, exacerbated or compromised in any way it can be heard. Detail is also important. If I sit in a concert hall that has good acoustics and watch a string quartet play, the four instruments sound distinct and also have their place in the soundstage. I can shut my eyes and still exactly place the position on stage of the four musicians. This is also true of larger ensembles.


    Finally, I want the headphones to be able to immerse me in the music and this is the final factor - pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT). For example, if the iem struggles to make the bass line sound coherent then PRaT vanishes. I want the iem to make me tap my feet, play on my emotions, involve me with the music and the performers.


    So back to the Gold’s, which I purchased second hand from a Headfi member for a great price.


    I opened the box and saw two little gold gems sitting in the stylized ears that Flare has used in the packaging. Taking them out of the box I immediately noticed that they were considerably heavier than the Pros. The rear bores were considerably wider and had a taper into the middle. The same held true for the front bores. Surely this should have a major effect on how they were tuned? None of the reviews I have read have mention this, some suggesting that Flare made some minor tweaks. A completely redesigned bore is not a minor tweak. Flare’s promotional blurb talks about how the gold finish adds t the quality. I believe there is far more to it than that.


    The rest of the packaging is the same as for the Pros. It’s impressive but maybe the tips could have been held a bit more securely in the box. The fact that they are the same is a plus for me as I will sell the Pros and use the pristine condition tips from the Gold package in the Pros sell on box as I have no intention of using the Flare tips.


    I tested all the tips (using those from the Pros box) and decided that the silicons gave the clearest sound, best soundstage, and had the most controlled bass. The fragile foamies which Flare recommends, tend to draw a veil across the sound and while that might have been a good thing with the Pros and it’s area of scratchy treble, it’s not the same for the Gold’s. The MandarinE Symbio Wides tips are just awesome with the Golds.


    So how do they sound? I don’t have a full grasp of many of the terms that fellow HiFiers use to describe how things sound and can only revert back to what I know about sound as a musician and the criteria I use to judge a pair of headphones.


    All my listening was done via my iMac/Burson Play V6Vivid DAC/Amp. I ran the Burson at 7-8 for most tracks but turned it up for classical tracks via Tidal to 12-13. This included streaming 320kbps, FLAC, ALAC, and CD 44.1. I don’t have any hi res music to listen to though my Burson will be able to play it. The Burson helped to bring out the best of the Flare Gold’s. Judging on volume levels they aren’t too hard to drive but an amp like the Burson would surely help them shine.


    I put them in my ears and my first thought was ‘OMG these are amazing’.


    At this point I’ll look back at the Pros. When I got them the bass reproduction was so impressive without overpowering the rest of the spectrum. It was deep, solid, impactful, fast and tonally accurate. Even at very low levels there was no doof doof – you could hear the notes and feel them as well. This included a 32 foot Organ pipe. The Gold’s also do this but there seems to be an extra layer added. It’s hard to describe, it’s like there is an extended sound stage for the bass but this in itself doesn’t make sense. It’s the best bass I’ve ever heard in any headphone. I made that original statement about the R2As but the Golds are better in that department.


    The midrange is also well served and this is where vocal reproduction comes into its own. It’s also where I have an issue with the Pros. Some of my favourite recordings seemed to sound more sibilant with an emphasis on the ‘s’. Now I realize that this is a recording issue but the Pros seemed to exacerbate it and I found it annoying. You can still hear it in the Gold’s as they are faithfully reproducing what was recorded but the annoyance factor is gone. Mary Black is no longer aspirating sibilantly into the mike on her recording of ‘Bright Blue Rose’. I imagine that people sensitive to treble would have heard it and Flare have managed to resolve it. (I’m thinking Arysyn here). Others, like me only heard it on some recordings, the rest being fine.


    The treble could be best described as seamless because you can’t tell where the midrange ends and treble begins. It’s very clear and not recessed like it was in the R2As. It’s also very sweet, no harshness is evident. Female voices especially sound glorious such as Ann Murray singing Schubert’s “Nacht und Traum”. High piano notes don’t have any unnatural ringing and the complex harmonics of a note two octaves below middle ‘C’ ring deep and true on well-recorded piano. Cymbals and high hat drums sound very natural with no tizz and instruments like the piccolo and recorder do as well.


    Soundstage is quite staggering. When I first heard the R2As I was blown away by the ‘out of head experience’ they provided as the soundstage seemed wider than the space between my ears. The Pros went so much further by giving instruments a place on that soundstage that you could easily identify from left to right. How you do that with dynamic drivers is something that Flare have obviously worked out. It makes the Pros a great set of iems to listen to. The Gold’s have taken this into two dimensions with both width and depth. Listening to the Pavel Haas Quartet I can hear how they play in a semicircle. It’s this effect that made me initially go “wow”.


    Clarity and detail are superb. There is a part in Dire Strait’s “Private Investigations” where a bottle is dropped and smashes in the back ground. You can now hear how it breaks and tinkles and exactly where it happened.


    The final test for me is “do I want to take these out of my ears?” If I’m engaged by the music then the answer is no and that’s what these iems do so well. They present all sorts of music so naturally and as a classical music junkie these are just the bees knees. I also listen to EDM, all sorts of classic rock, Deep House, soft jazz, etc – my music interests are fairly eclectic. The Gold’s do all of it so very, very, well and I’ve yet to find a genre that the Gold’s don’t do justice to. My thinking is that these don’t sound like iems. It feels as if I’ve got a top pair of headphones on my ears.


    If there are any negatives then my ears can’t pick them though some might as no iems are perfect. Some might like theirs a little more coloured/lean/Vshaped/whatever. These are very close to neutral but maybe a fraction too warm to be classed as fully neutral. That suits my listening preferences fine.


    Epilogue:


    As mentioned, I have the Burson Play V6 Vivid which is an amazing DAC/amp with an incredibly powerful amplifier section (2W into 16 Ohms). I have the Flare Gold’s. I can use these out of any system but from my iMac is the most convenient. While some wouldn’t describe it as audio nirvana it’s good enough for me. My wallet will now thank me as I don’t intend to invest any further for the forseeable future.
      sodesuka and spinrite like this.
    1. spinrite
      @holden4th, great review. These are spectacular iem’s that will be hard to surpass in the fidelity they reproduce. The uniqueness comes from they’re open back design to give the larger sense of airiness. I have never achieved listening fatigue with hours of listening, they make the music sound so natural.
      spinrite, Aug 4, 2018
    2. HiFlight
      Well spoken! They are beautifully articulated musical instruments!
      HiFlight, Aug 4, 2018
  2. spinrite
    Flares Golds a pleasant discovery!
    Written by spinrite
    Published Apr 28, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - All the above
    Size
    Addicting rich sound
    Comfortable
    Portable
    Cons - None
    Needless to say we get what we pay for, applies here.
    FlareAudio has done masterful work tuning and designing this earpiece, when you consider that this earphone, dynamic driver 5.5mm in size and the way it produces the sounds in all the frequencies is magical. Usually a dynamic drivers can be tuned either to the top or low end or even in the middle but rarely is it able to fully cover the full spectrum accurately, its almost a case of trying to do too much at the one time but FlareGolds have done such a task beautifully. Balanced Armature earphones like my etys ER4S are incredibly sensitive, they produce wonderfully detailed and accurate mids and highs but are often found to be lacking in the impact of the bass.
    What more can i add about these Golds that Asyryn hasn’t mentioned but the sound and from the very first moment I put the Golds in my ears I cant keep this stupid grin off my face. These are without a doubt the rolls royce of in ear universal earphones so much so that they even manage to compete with full size orthodynamic headphones I have heard.
    Its one of the first earphones that I have listened to that didn't feel like I was just listening to.... well earphones. Most prominent is the monumental soundstage and grand spacing between different instruments that results in a fully out of head aural experience. On some recordings it was simply jaw dropping, cymbals, snares and kick drums would crash in the back, the vocals rise up in the front. There were strings to the left, trumpets to the right, its just such a fun experience to behold.
    Every frequency remains damm near perfect in its own right and there is nary a hint of overlap bleed between them. Mids were presented with intimate detail and with ideal warmth that draws you in and engages you with your music. Male and female vocals were simply put the best I have heard from an earphone in the universal category.
    Diana Krall, was both intimate and powerful depending on the song and there was never a hint of upper mid sibilance. Male vocals especially from acoustic and jazz, blues came across even better with the sense that the artist was performing right in front of you. The most outstanding track that I listened to was Ludovico Einaudi - High Heels. I got lost when it came on and i ended up playing in on repeat for roughly half an hour. The intimacy of the performance blows you away and the golds background presentation allows notes to float through the sound space uninterrupted whilst the detail retrieval allows you to pick up the action of dampening pedals.

    More was to come on my second day of testing out the Flare’s and that was with upping the tempo a bit to test out the bass. A combination of Rap, Psytrance, EBM (ElectroBodyMusic) and Chillstep was on tap to make me fall further for these pricey earphones. Infected Mushroom's - Vicious Delicious album was on deck to provide the first full album experience with the golds, an album I favour for testing due to its wide variety of genres within single tracks, there's elements of vocals, rock, rap, trance. It took about 30 seconds into the track Artillery to know that there was now nothing the golds couldn't handle. The complex range of the song with high pitched vocals leading into crunching electric guitars layered over the top of deep bass drops which would vibrate your eardrum as if you managed to shove a 12 inch sub in you ear never ever tripped itself up by becoming muffled or congested. Detail in the low end was incredible at displaying different textures for double bass to clean electronic induced slams but ultimately its the impact and depth of extension that is going to leave you with a smile as wide as The Joker.

    You can probably tell by now that there is very little i don’t like. So what’s not to like with the Flare Golds? Nothing! If you’re in the market for high end earphones i don’t think you can do any better. Out of the literally many universal earphones I have listened to the FlareGolds are one of the best in ear headphones I have used to date. They are incredibly well researched, tested and constructed. Treat yourselves with this gold jewel!
      Arysyn, skypablo and ars33 like this.
    1. Arysyn
      Excellent review, spinrite! Very glad you love the amazing FlaresGold as I do!
      Arysyn, Apr 29, 2018
  3. Arysyn
    FlaresGold by Flare Audio - Review
    Written by Arysyn
    Published Mar 27, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Everything
    Cons - Nothing... Well, other than that these ought to sell far better than they probably will, unless Flare Audio gets the recognition they deserve being the audio geniuses they truly are.
    The Pre-Review :

    Hello readers! My name is Kurt (Arysyn here on Head-Fi). So far, I've written one review on Head-Fi prior to this one, regarding the HiFiMan RE800, which can be read here : https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/hifiman-re800.22484/reviews?page=2#reviews

    I'm 35 years old as of writing this review. While music itself doesn't interest me much beyond my limited purposes listening to it, I've been interested in audio technology ever since after hearing my friend's explanations of his amp/dac purchases, I took notice of the then-upcoming smartphone, the LG V10, which was being advertised as having an ESS Sabre dac. I got the phone for its advanced features at the time, and made sure to listen to music through the smartphone's ESS Sabre dac. Wow! Was I impressed! There certainly was a major enhancement of clarity and detail compared to the direct connection through the many smartphones and computers I've owned.

    Prior to this, the only "advanced audio" I ever personally experienced was through having a few Creative Sound Blaster external devices, along with a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie. Not really high quality audio equipment compared with the many products featured on Head-Fi. Yet now that I experienced audio from a dedicated dac, I knew I couldn't go back to listening to music the old way ever again. Despite the limited time I do spend listening to music, I knew from then on it had to be of better quality, and not just better, but great, high quality playback during the important moments when listening to music helps.

    So, I decided to spend time researching audio technology, among which I needed to learn the terms of what best described my preferences. The mids and vocals being the most important aspect to me, in a way that isn't at all "recessed". I'm also not at all a "basshead" - far from it. At most, neutral or less on the bass. I prefer treble, next to the mids and vocals, though a mistake in treble tuning could easily turn into "trouble tuning". Not necessarily an error with the tuning, but perhaps just an oversight when it comes to certain songs that can be too bright, creating a sharp, metallic response, also resulting in hiss and other artifacts. I've heard that can happen with certain lower treble spikes, but for whatever reason, I seem to be unable to discern these in lower treble regions. Rather, I'm particularly sensitive to this in the upper treble range. Despite my not noticing these effects in iems such as the HiFiMan RE800, I did hear them from the FlaresPro by Flare Audio, the same company that makes the FlaresGold, which I'm reviewing here.

    The problem I discovered when looking for iems that at least feature the important elements of my preferential sound signature, is there aren't many that do, particularly dynamic driver-based iems. There are some balanced armature driver-based iems that get close to my liking, but for whatever reason end up sounding too "artificial" to me, at least those I've tried which include the "moving armature" models - Grado GR8 and GR10, and Ortofon EQ8. I've also listened to a few Etymotic models, which still sound the same to me, in terms of sounding without much power and strength to them, and lacking the 'emotionality' to music which I hear more often from dynamic driver-based iems.

    Of the several dynamic driver-based iems I've heard, many do have that 'depth' that drives the emotion in the music, bringing it to your ears for not only "listening" to the music, but also "experiencing" what you are hearing, feeling the emotional energy expressed from it. That is what I found lacking from the balanced armature driver-based iems I've heard, though to be fair I haven't heard any of the multi-ba driver iems featuring crossovers. I'm not sure if they may make a difference with what I'm referring to here. Although, this doesn't mean that I find dynamic drivers to be perfect, nor is it easy for me to find a dynamic driver-based iem that I like.

    In discussing various audio terminology, I have learned quite a few that have helped me to better understand my own sound preferences. Some include Neutral, Mid-Centric, Mid-Forward, Non-Recessed, and others. While those have helped me to identify with what I do like, there is a term that has given me a clear warning to the signature I definitely do not want to hear in music, which is the "V-Shape" sound. Increased bass and treble, with recessed mids and vocals. The definition of the "V-Shaped" tuning I've learned to avoid when hearing the term used to define a particular iem's signature sound or sound signature. I dislike it so much I even made a thread on Head-Fi about it, here :
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the...tom-tuning-solution-discussion-thread.875481/

    Unfortunately, so many of the dynamic driver-based iems I've found information about online, and even quite a few I actually have heard/listened to in person, feature the "V-Shape" tuning, at least to some degree. Some have just a mild "V-Shape" to them, including the HiFiMan RE800 I once thought was rather neutral until upon further listening. I decided that there was a bit too much bass and treble from the RE800, and eventually began noticing recess in the mids and vocals too. Although this was a 'light' "V-Shape" effect, it was a bit too much for me to really like listening to on a long term basis. Not to say it is a bad iem though, and it does have its qualities, and I believe it is well-deserving of the positive review I wrote about it.

    I also believe the same could have been said had I wrote a review of the FlaresPro by Flare Audio, the same company which manufactures and produces the FlaresGold, the iem I'm reviewing here (or am about to after this preface, of sorts). I purchased and received the FlaresPro shortly after my experience using the HiFiMan RE800. I really liked the FlaresPro for its many fine qualities, but there was one problematic issue I discovered while listening to certain songs that presented heavy usage of cymbals and tambourines.

    In these particular songs, the cymbal and tambourine clashes were overly powerful and dominating above the sound spectrum where the other instrumentals were present. This harshness was quite irritating, and to verify it wasn't an issue unrelated to the FlaresPro, I tried several actions to figure this out. Ultimately, I discovered indeed it was an issue caused from the FlaresPro, which I believe to be related to its extended upper treble region, from both my hearing perspective and how this matched up with the frequency response graph of the FlaresPro which Flare Audio sent to me, here :
    FLARES PRO Freq Resp.png

    Considering how much I loved the FlaresPro based from all the good aspects of it, this one issue was very disappointing. I figure it was an accidental oversight made by Flare Audio, as it doesn't affect all songs, only certain music that features these particular instrumentals predominantly. Nor does everyone hear it. I've pointed out on the Head-Fi thread I created for the FlaresPro, how this issue can be heard. Some noticed it, others didn't. I met someone from Head-Fi in person and he heard it, then let me listen to a few of his iems in which one of them had an even harsher treble response during those particular song moments.

    Strangely, Flare Audio couldn't detect it from their tests, though they didn't doubt me on it and were very cooperative with me in dealing with the return and their testing processes. They were amazingly responsive in both courtesy, kindness, politeness, and speed. The people I spoke with at Flare Audio monitored the forums here for input, which I figure they are putting to good use, and they've thanked me for my support of them, regardless of the situation I had with the FlaresPro. I had a very nice, successful trade with someone here on Head-Fi, which I received the Flare R2A. I'll write about that more in a bit. I like the R2A, and I tried to buy the R2Pro from a store online, but things were odd about the shipment and the item I received.

    I returned the R2Pro and was figuring on trying the Unique Melody ME2, but decided against it when long-time Head-Fi member, Brooko, expressed noticing an issue in the lower treble that seems reminiscent of an opposite problem he noted present in the lower treble from the HiFiMan RE800. The RE800 having some harsh details in the lower treble, while the ME2 was missing some details near the same region. In my opinion, being without details is worse than having details to the point of being analytical or clinical. Besides, analytical and clinical detailing isn't bad, and actually can be a good thing, so long as the emotionalism also is present, with the power and strength that makes you feel that throughout the music.

    While I returned the HiFiMan RE800 for its sudden V-Shape development throughout the "Burn-In" process, along with my suspicions of there possibly being sound signature tuning differences between markets the RE800 is sold in, based by market sales research HiFiMan might be conducting/exploring on its own behalf, etc., and I quite sadly needed to return the FlaresPro because of its issue, at least I had obtained two very good iems as keepers since my joining Head-Fi. Those being the HiFiMan RE00 and the Flare R2A. Then recently I discovered, debated in my mind about getting, then ultimately decided to purchase, the new (at the time of writing this review) FlaresGold by Flare Audio. I'm going to write more about the RE00 and the R2A as they relate to the main focus of this review, that being the FlaresGold by Flare Audio.

    I wrote a Pre-Review before this, using the space to give some background information about my experience involved in my own research of audio technology and how its impacted the purchases I've made based on what I've learned from reading online and listening to the products themselves, studying the sound and putting together my preference through the terminology I've learned that helps define these various elements in audio.

    This leads me here to my review of the iem I took a chance on. What I mean by this, is after the disappointing revelation made to me by the flaw I believe exists in the upper treble tuning of the FlaresPro, an iem I liked in every other sensory experience it provided, to be met with the harsh metallic tinge in the cymbals and tambourines during some of my favorite songs, it made me doubt that its flagship followup could be any different.

    I contacted the very nice people at Flare Audio, asking them if they could send me a review model I could listen to then send back once finished, which at that point I'd decide whether to purchase it or not based on my liking, and of course that particular treble issue I've talked alot about here on Head-Fi over in the FlaresPro/FlaresGold thread, here : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/flarespro-flaresgold-by-flare-audio.856739/

    While Flare Audio's excellent CS and Engineering team told me they are not doing review model shipments currently, they encouraged me to consider the trial period. Still, I was a bit nervous about that, not wanting to waste a brand new product they'd have to restock/resell at a loss if I didn't like it. I was only concerned about the treble though, believing quite likely everything else would be just as great as the FlaresPro (treble issue aside).

    So, a few days ago I ordered the FlaresGold. My mother went to their Service Center facility to pick up the shipment, instead of making me (and her) waiting until tomorrow and since there wasn't a time for delivery option available with this shipment, it could have been in transit all day. Seriously, there needs to be more customized shipping options. Better yet, more pick up lockers that get filled first thing in the morning with the days shipments, then utilize shipping agents from the locker facility to transit out to a delivery location upon request, similarly to ordering pizza for delivery.

    Amazing iems can not be delivered fast enough in this society to eager audio enthusiasts like us here on Head-Fi. Super speedy iem delivery and perhaps CanJam OnDemand ought to be on the agenda in the Head-Fi planning comittee of discussions among the manufacturers at events and other meetings. Which by the way, it would be nice to get Flare involved. I've never been to a Can Jam, particularly since none seem to be close enough to me here in Chicago. Yet, the London events would make for prime showcases to display and exhibit the FlaresGold by Flare Audio.

    Now, about the FlaresGold...

    Well after alot of preface explanations and buildup discussion, I do present actual details of this wonderful iem. Firstly, for those who read my review of the HiFiMan RE800, know that I'm not much into describing the physical attribute characteristics of iems. I know some people care about those details, which is fine. Likely there will be some reviews by other people here who will describe the fit and cabling, how well it inserts and stays in place, etc. While those points are useful, I'm really not able to give an informative ergonomics detailing.

    All I can say about it is the Gold is really shiny, the cable is springy, thank goodness there are left/right indicator markings, and with the large Spinfit TwinBlade tips on the FlaresGold, they fit me fine. Still, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll fit you. Although, the likelihood they won't fit you is rather miniscule. They seem quite versatile to me. They've got that Golden Touch that ought to fit you into your Golden Years, where you can spend your retirement listening to them while remembering your youth and the days when Head-Fi was on the 2d internet (Granted, assuming by then the internet is in VR).

    To the most important aspect of this amazing iem, the Sound!!! -

    Wondering why I'm stating positive highlight descriptions, such as "amazing", when I haven't even begun describing why its amazing? Firstly, the product is called "FlaresGold". Just by that, I'm glad to know I have something from a company that believes in its product enough to give it a proper name, not some weird number/lettering system, such as 800S, or 5005, etc. Its good progress from calling the former lineup "R2". Although, the issue to using the word "Gold", leads to the question, "Will there be a FlaresPlatinum?"

    Next thing on the agenda is the issue that normally does not come first in a review, which is the treble. Before I discuss this, I'll list the three song tracks I use for testing, and what is important about each one in the test process :

    Rivers of Belief - by Enigma / used for testing Male Vocal Compatibility, Space and Stage, also (of course) Treble with cymbals and tambourines. This is a key failure point song for the FlaresPro, due to the harshness issue.

    Veni Redemptor Gentium - by Paul Schwartz / used for testing Female Vocals with powerful emotional presence and instrumentals. A very euphoric and emotional song.

    Curtains - by Peter Gabriel / used for testing bass. This is a bassier song that could sound awful with added bass quantity or any extension to the bass, including poor bass tuning.


    Those are the songs I used for testing the sound tuning of the FlaresGold. The results are as follows :

    The treble first. Rivers of Belief by Enigma was the song hurt most by the treble tuning from the FlaresPro. I'm glad to announce that the harshness in the cymbals and tambourines gave been eliminated. The detail still very much is there, pushed to the very edge immediately before the tuning would begin to develop harshness, but it doesn't, unlike the FlaresPro. I can imagine Flare Audio engineers may have gone back to the FlaresPro tuning and adjusted everything they could very lightly, testing the levels to the precise point of keeping this awesomely detailed treble, but putting it into a safer zone not to cross whatever threshold would make it into the harshness territory.

    Essentially, the treble of the FlaresGold is very detailed, much different than the neutral to below neutral treble of the R2 series. While I really like the R2A, I do wish it had more treble, while the Massdrop HiFiMan RE00 I have has a similar treble to the FlaresGold, but not as refined nor as spacious as the FlaresGold. Speaking of space and stage, I'm not really able to tell how deep, high, or wide it is, as the sound doesn't seem as though your facing the stage from the audience, but rather as though you are on the stage with the musicians, and there almost is a 3d sense to it. Not quite the same as a cinematic Dolby Atmos sense of sound, but I'd say its closer to that than the average iem. It truly is a "live" sound done right!

    Then there are the mids and vocals. I'm quite outspoken against any recess in them, unfortunately finding that recess in so many iems nowadays. Flare Audio is one rare company that does not do this, and I thank them for it. Recessed vocals are really only good for placement in horror movies where ghost voices are more accurately portrayed while hollow and recessed. This kind of sound just is not natural for music tuning. Flare Audio understands this, and while they may or may not wish to have certain terminologies used to describe their sound, at least besides "live", I'd say the mids and vocals are at least neutral, if not mid-centric. Some songs sound slightly mid-forward, but perhaps I can have a discussion with Flare more about this at some point, to get their official intentions for the mids and vocals. At this point in time though, I'd say its very likely similar to their space and stage "live" sound tuning philosophy.

    The last part, is the bass. Quantity is neutral, very akin to the R2A bass, but with the quality refinements of the FlaresPro. It sounds as if there either is less bass quantity than the FlaresPro, which would make it more similar to the R2A, or its so refined that this bass implementation is a sign of Flare Audio's skillful craft when it comes to bass. I'm certainly, most definitely not a bass fan. Yet, the bass on the FlaresGold sounds so damn good! Its not harsh thumping, but rather more bouncy and with a refined definition. It is difficult to describe any better than this about just how good the bass is on the FlaresGold.

    Anyways, that is my review of the FlaresGold by Flare Audio. If I could give a brief description that would really describe just how much I like this iem, I would say it is if Flare Audio knew my preferred sound signature better than I know it myself, every level I'd match among the frequency response sound spectrum for my own attempt at creating an iem. They've tuned it, designed it, manufactured it, and sent it to me upon my purchase. Now that I have it, in the activity of listening to music through it, not only do I hear the music, but its also like hearing an extension of myself.

    Long Live Ears and Flare Audio!

    Edit Note:

    I'm adding an update to my review here. I've been listening alot to the FlaresGold since posting this review, and am amazed by how well the tuning works with so many different types of music, and is really great at making music sound so vivid.

    Also to mention, I forgot to inform readers here of the source I'm using. I apologize. I'm using the Meridian Explorer2 dac connected through my Asus ROG computer from around 2010/2011. The songs I listen to are at least FLAC, no mp3 listening here. I've listened to both local files stored on my PC and streaming through Tidal - but not MQA.

    One more thing, all of my listening/testing thus far has been through the wired connection (ME2-PC). I'm going to add to this review when I utilize the Bluetooth function included with the FlaresGold.