Flare Audio R2PRO Kickstarter campaign
Aug 2, 2015 at 1:19 AM Post #1,696 of 3,098

Stuff Jones

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My one issue is that at higher volumes I use in a plane or on a bus they sometimes distort (?) i.e. crackle a little at peak volume moments in a song. This only seems to happen with my Shozy Alien and not the Geek Out. Wonder why.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 2:46 AM Post #1,697 of 3,098

BucketInABucket

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The Alien may not be supplying enough power during those peak moments which causes clipping.

Edit: The R2Pro just makes piano sound right. Damn if I'm not in love with it yet.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 4:42 AM Post #1,698 of 3,098

holden4th

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The Alien may not be supplying enough power during those peak moments which causes clipping.

Edit: The R2Pro just makes piano sound right. Damn if I'm not in love with it yet.


Now that is the ultimate test for any speaker or headphone - how accurately it can reproduce the sound of a piano. I've dismissed some quite expensive and highly rated heaphones because they couldn't make a piano sound like a piano. As a pianist I know what one should sound like and I want that to be as close as possible with any headphone I use. Sounds like the R2As are going to tick another box for me. Be interested to hear how they make a good piano trio CD sound.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 8:52 AM Post #1,699 of 3,098

TwinACStacks

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Tres Cool, RJ. Is there any Kickstarter or the like for the VE, or do we just have to wait for a release? I see that Ali Express carries a couple of VE models. Where can we buy, and estimate when can we buy the Duke?
 
Thanx. Very Interesting, I'm trusting your opinion on this one. It looks promising.
 
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Aug 2, 2015 at 9:04 AM Post #1,700 of 3,098

james444

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  Ok, I've got a pair of R2PROs a few days ago and I've been putting quite a few hours into trying different tips, playing with fit, etc...
 
Out of the 100+ IEMs I've tried, these are probably the most tricky ones to assess, since their sound varies a lot with tips and insertion depth. Heck, they can even tilt inside the ear canal, due to their diminutive size... meaning, that even with the same tips and insertion depth, two consecutive insertions won't necessarily yield the same sonic results.
 
So, here's my humble 2c on how they sound at best:
  1. Fairly well-balanced from deep bass throughout the midrange, but with a pronounced 6-8kHz spikiness on top.
 
And here's my humble 2c on how they sound most of the time:
  1. A little boomy, due to slight upper bass elevation
  2. Oddly skewed in the mids, due to a noticeable 1.5kHz dip followed by a 2kHz resonance
  3. Very laid-back in lower treble (guitars lack bite, cymbals sound subdued)
  4. Spiky and mildly sibilant in the 6-8kHz range
 
At the risk of me eating my words later on (in case I discover the "magic fit"), so far these are interestingly different in some way, but no threat to top-tiers in my book. 
smile_phones.gif
 

 
Update: after several more days with the R2PROs and persistent efforts to get to the bottom of my issues, I need to retract that statement and put things into perspective:
 
"The R2PROs are amazing IEMs and offer top-tier sound quality, provided their end cap is properly sealed and their nozzle is properly damped."
 
Let me explain... 
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1. End cap seal
 
Edit 8/17/15 further findings + Variable Bass Mod: http://www.head-fi.org/t/766183/flare-audio-r2pro-kickstarter-campaign/1905#post_11842307
 
(Hope djworx.com don't mind me borrowing some of their excellent pictures)
 

 
From this picture with the cable running through an O-ring, one can assume that the R2PRO's rear end is meant to be sealed.
 
 

 
However, looking at this picture left me wondering, does this construction really seal off the housing reliably?
 
 
It all started, when I realized that the slight bass boominess I mentioned earlier seemed to be a bit stronger in the left channel than the right one. I decided to run a low frequency test, which consists of a sweeping sine tone from 10Hz to 200Hz, and to my dismay the test tone didn't sound perfectly centered, but was clearly panned towards the left side.
confused.gif

 
Since the same test worked perfectly with other IEMs, I knew the R2PRO had to be the culprit, either due to a driver mismatch or because of some disparity in airflow. I opened the end cap on the right side by just 1mm and repeated the test: sure enough, now the test tone sounded centered and I heard the boominess from both sides. Now I knew for certain, that for some reason the left side hadn't been properly sealed.
 
I checked the left end cap, but it didn't seem loose or something. So I unscrewed the cap, took a look inside and found the O-ring askew. I used a tiny watchmaker's screwdriver to correct its position, put the cap back on and repeated the test. All in all, it took me several tries until the sine sweep finally gave me a perfectly centered signal across the entire bass range and all boominess was gone.
 
 
Now, before you run and try this with your own unit, a word of caution: these phones have obviously not been designed to be opened up and closed repeatedly. That metal end cap squashes down on the unprotected cable sheath, and my left side cable looks already pretty worn as a result. So, if you experience channel imbalance in bass on your unit, it's probably better to contact the manufacturer than try to fix it yourself.
 

 
 
 
2. Nozzle damping
 
While reassessing the persistant sibilance and spikiness in the 6-8kHz region with most tips, I noticed that the included Complys gave me by far the most benign results in that regard. I wondered whether Comply's wax guard was (partly) responsible for that...
 

 
 
... and decided to add a layer of damping material to the Sony hybrid tips (this is known as the "teabag mod" or "cloth mod").
 
Cut a small rectangle (about 8x16mm) out of a common tea bag:
 

 
 
Fold the piece in half and place the square over the nozzle. Hold it with your fingertip as you put the tip on:
 

 
 
The result should look like this on the inside:
 

 
 
The result should look like this from the outside:
 

 
Congrats, you're done!
 
 
3. Conclusion
 
My pair of R2PROs have given me more than one headache during the last few days. Their varying sound quality with different tips and seal kept puzzling me and somehow mirrored the differing impressions and opinions I've come across in this thread. Now, I don't claim to have found a universally valid explanation for all R2PRO woes, but at least regarding my particular issues, I think I've come to pretty solid conclusions:
  1. Properly sealed and damped R2PROs sound outstanding and close to neutral, with only a slight bass boost, a tad laid-back upper mids and a mild 6-8kHz emphasis.
  2. If you're using the included Comply tips and your R2PRO's end caps are properly sealed, you're likely hearing these phones at their best.
  3. If your R2PROs pass the low frequency test with perfectly centered bass and no boominess, their end caps are properly sealed.
  4. If you're using tips without a wax-guard, your R2PROs might exhibit some treble harshness and sibilance.
  5. In that case, the "teabag mod" will mitigate these treble issues and increase perceived treble quality.
 
Last not least, big thanks @LCfiner and @Idsynchrono_24, whose posts have been very helpful to narrow down the issues.
smile_phones.gif

 
  I've spent some more time with the R2Pro and I continue to be very impressed. The sound is right up there with the best TOTL universals that I've heard, imo. The evenness of tone, clear mids, bass tightness and power, coherent imaging and forward soundstage are all excellent. 
 
I've had IEMs that had WIDER soundstage (1p2 and Senn IE800) but those had issues with tonality. 1p2 had a noticeably recessed midrange (too much for my taste) and the IE800 have a bit too much of a V shape sound (although mids are more prominent than on 1p2). cymbals can sound papery and light. bass can be a bit too much on the IE800. The R2pro does not have those issues. Treble is smooth and cymbals have bite and clarity, but also weight. Bass digs deep and has a slight midbass kick but never feels like it intrudes on the mids.
 
For fun, I tried comparing these to the Kef M200. A midrange IEM that I've liked since I first got them and always thought they punched above their weight. I always thought those had pretty natural tone and great soundstage and bass. But compared to the R2Pro, they sound very shouty in the mids and the bass is way, way overblown. It's almost like an assault on the ears when listening to them right next to the R2pro. The funny thing is that I don't remember feeling this down on the M200 when comparing them against the IE800. But against the flares, they sound very unnatural. 
 
Against other good, sub $1k IEMs that I've owned like the UE900 and Heir 4ai, there's no real contest. these flares have much better mids, much more impactful bass and more clarity and "realness" to the sound.
 
And I love the slightly forward projected soundstage. It's very unique for IEM, I think. it's not very wide but I love how it feels like voices are slightly in front of me and there is no "3 blob" soundstage. it's a coherent stage spanning from left to right smoothly, just slightly in front of the middle of my head.

  Just listened to those two test tracks. no noticeable sibilance on the first. very tiny amount on the second. Maybe I’m more tolerant of it?
 
to give my baseline: My test track is Matt Costa’s “Wash Away”. can’t find a youtube version that isn’t compressed and garbage. i have the track on iTunes match. incredibly sibilant all the way through with nearly every “sss” sound. 
 
"Float downsssstream”…  
 
Very, very sibilant on headphones that have pronounced 6 to 8k peaks. On the r2pro, almost no sibilance. sounds decent. i find the song to be hard to listen to on some headphones like Grados.
 
that was my test and the reason why i felt the sibilance was well under control compared to other headphones I’ve had. (recent example: RHA M750i. that one was painful! had to return it after 2 days. all sibilant and peaky. nothing at all like the flares)

  very weird. I haven't given James' tracks a listen yet to comment, but I do hear hints of sibilance crop up on certain tracks. Flare said that fiddling with the end cap can sort of screw with the FR. No clue whether there's any truth to that, but I guess it's an element of QC to sort of ruminate on 

 
Aug 2, 2015 at 9:22 AM Post #1,701 of 3,098

barondla

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I have heard my Flare Audio R2Pro change sound quality. It is affected by how tightly the little rear caps are screwed in. A little too tight and they lose dynamics and clarity. This can make them sound dead and lifeless.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 9:37 AM Post #1,702 of 3,098

LCfiner

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Excellent post, james444. I’m glad you found out what was the issue with your pair. And, in turn, this could help others who may have any issues with future flare deliveries (I would hope that there’s some consistency with getting that proper seal on the end cap).
 
And I’ll admit I feel really happy if my comments were any small help to help you find this out :)
 
I would say that our impressions of the general FR of the IEM now align up, FWIW. (slight bass elevate, slight upper mids recession. nothing majorly “off” about them)
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 9:52 AM Post #1,703 of 3,098

Idsynchrono_24

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Thanks for the mods/tests James. Of course in the interest of fiddling (they are modular phones after all), I did open up the end cap of one side day one to take a peek inside. Now I'm wondering whether something's askew due to my prodding. I came across a post made by Flare stating to NOT open the end cap unless one was changing the cable as it could affect the back pressure seal. Of course I thought to myself "oh yeah right," but it never occurred to me that it was the O-ring that provided the seal. Will have to investigate later to see if things are properly aligned in there.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 9:56 AM Post #1,704 of 3,098

TwinACStacks

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Thanks for the mods/tests James. Of course in the interest of fiddling (they are modular phones after all), I did open up the end cap of one side day one to take a peek inside. Now I'm wondering whether something's askew due to my prodding. I came across a post made by Flare stating to NOT open the end cap unless one was changing the cable as it could affect the back pressure seal. Of course I thought to myself "oh yeah right," but it never occurred to me that it was the O-ring that provided the seal. Will have to investigate later to see if things are properly aligned in there.

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According to FLARE that driver is not meant to be pulled in and out, it is designed for a ONE time insertion....
 
I read that on their website somewhere.
 
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TWIN
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 11:45 AM Post #1,705 of 3,098

shotgunshane

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Makes me wonder if the differences in the pro and non-pro sq have something to do with the end cap. At any rate, reading this thread is like reading the DN2000J thread- all t's must be crossed and i's dotted to get great sound, albeit easier on the Flare.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 12:23 PM Post #1,707 of 3,098

barondla

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@james444 just saw your tea bag post. Great stuff. The back screw plug seems picky. Wonder how Flare Audio sets it properly?

To take the driver out would it not be better to carefully shove a rod thru the front and very gently push the driver out? The front of the driver has a metal plate over it. Those wires aren't going to take much tugging. Great thread.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 12:53 PM Post #1,708 of 3,098

james444

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I have heard my Flare Audio R2Pro change sound quality. It is affected by how tightly the little rear caps are screwed in. A little too tight and they lose dynamics and clarity. This can make them sound dead and lifeless.

 
Preferences vary, but personally I believe these are supposed to be completely sealed. Why else would they use an O-ring? A loose rear cap will of course make them bassier and subjectively more dynamic. But I hear no improvement in clarity, to the contrary, their boosted and somewhat boomy bass obscures the low range imo.
 
  Excellent post, james444. I’m glad you found out what was the issue with your pair. And, in turn, this could help others who may have any issues with future flare deliveries (I would hope that there’s some consistency with getting that proper seal on the end cap).
 
And I’ll admit I feel really happy if my comments were any small help to help you find this out :)
 
I would say that our impressions of the general FR of the IEM now align up, FWIW. (slight bass elevate, slight upper mids recession. nothing majorly “off” about them)

 
Thanks, and yes we're on the very same page regarding FR now :)
 
Thanks for the mods/tests James. Of course in the interest of fiddling (they are modular phones after all), I did open up the end cap of one side day one to take a peek inside. Now I'm wondering whether something's askew due to my prodding. I came across a post made by Flare stating to NOT open the end cap unless one was changing the cable as it could affect the back pressure seal. Of course I thought to myself "oh yeah right," but it never occurred to me that it was the O-ring that provided the seal. Will have to investigate later to see if things are properly aligned in there.

 
Do the bass sweep before you decide to open them up again. Personally, I think Flare's design is pretty daring, since the cable is routed above the O-ring and the metal end cap has to press down on it to seal the back cavity.
 
Hope I'm proven wrong, but I foresee quite a few cable problems over time. Glad they plan to offer an affordable replacement.
 
Makes me wonder if the differences in the pro and non-pro sq have something to do with the end cap. At any rate, reading this thread is like reading the DN2000J thread- all t's must be crossed and i's dotted to get great sound, albeit easier on the Flare.

 
I had the same thought, because the R2A are said to be bassier, which would be quite easy to achieve with a little back-venting. That said, I believe you'd love the sound of my R2PROs as they are now... no comparison to the wonky phones of a few days ago.
 
  @james444, maybe this tips can help?
 
http://www.shenzhenaudio.com/ostry-os100-os200-os300-earphone-turning-tips.html

 
Thanks, I already had those on my radar. Ordered!
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 12:56 PM Post #1,709 of 3,098

Idsynchrono_24

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Tried removing both endcaps and prodding with a screwdriver to set the O-rings. Tightened them back up. Installed supplied comply wax guard tips just to get a feel for how it should optimally sound and... MUCH better sound. I should have known something was amiss when my test tone sweeps on day one had the tones being biased to the left channel the higher I  swept up the range, but I just chocked it up to some channel imbalance. I've tried running tones from 1-10 kHz, and the results are totally dead center now.
 
 I have installed the teabags and sine sweeps aren't as peaky as with just silicon tips. It's not quite as smooth as with the Comply wax guard tips but not bad, not bad at all, I'll now focus on rolling different tips combined with the teabag filters. As a result of my prodding, my sweeps now reveal the exact same emphasis as James - some emphasis from 6-8 kHz. Crazy. Thankfully, the bass is definitely much more controlled to my ears (no more erratic boom on tracks that had previously bothered me) while still possessing superb texture and depth. Will have to do some more listening to see what I make of the midrange, but these are now much more to my tastes than previously. 
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 1:14 PM Post #1,710 of 3,098

LCfiner

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This is pretty funny, tbh. I admit I was worried that my ears were total crap since I was hearing something so seemingly different from you and James and you guys know your stuff.

Seems like now general FR and soundstage impressions might match up better. There's always still plenty of room for differences of opinion for frequency response preferences but at least now it seems the baseline will be common.

Edit: I expect a revised comparison against the Angies now :wink:
 

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