Flare Audio R2PRO Kickstarter campaign
May 28, 2015 at 4:08 PM Post #182 of 3,098

RedJohn456

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Top 40....oh. Sorry, you just discovered a huge void in my aural world.

The closest I got to listening to bass heavy electronic music was X-Press 2 which is ...err... bass heavy electronic music but from 2002.

To me the thing that stood out most between the two versions was that the Pros seem to extract that last little bit of texture and timbre and seem to be neutral/natural, while the R2A have a slightly warmer or thicker bass. I suspect that timbre and texture matter more with natural sounds like non-autotuned vocals and instruments made of wood, brass, gut, steel, reed and so on but this may just be my misconception or prejudice.

Tips: other tips work well. I'm not crazy about the price of Comply tips here in UK so for quite a while I've been using EarphonesPlus "Squish Fit" large foams which are about a third the price of Comply. They are foam only with no tight fitting plastic tube inner so don't work with everything but they do fit and work nicely on the Flare Audio R2s. I also tried out some EarphonesPlus Triple Flange silicones, and the medium silicones that came with a set of UE600. If you want isolation you need expanding foam so it's Comply (ideally) or EarphonesPlus foams imo. The silicone tips fit and work OK but I think without the best isolation you can lose some detail, depending on environment.


Thanks for that! I have custom silicon tips made so I would be using that with the R2 iems so I wont have to keep buying comply. It seals perfectly so that wont be an issue! I suspect for my choice of music R2Pro won't be as beneficial because frankly I wont be benefiting with its extra abilities. I don't only listen to top 40 as I do listen to acoustic and indie music as well, but R2A seems to be a better choice on ability alone for my musical tastes, and more so considering the price! 
 
May 28, 2015 at 4:19 PM Post #183 of 3,098

RedJohn456

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As threatened, err I mean promised, I visited Flare Audio this morning.

I wore clean underpants in case I was struck by a bus (see "Good Upbringing Finally Pays Off For Local Fat Man" - The Argus), and I trimmed my ear hairs this morning, inside and out (noisy but fun).

I had with me my Samsung Galaxy Note II, Shure SE215, Samsung HS330 dual driver headset, Xiaomi Piston 3, various tips, and my FiiO E7. Being a true genius I forgot to take the USB OTG mini to micro cable that lets me actually use the FiiO as a DAC/Amp with the Galaxy Note. Doh. It doesn't matter too much as the difference is more about sound levels than audio quality (you won't find much wrong with the audio out on the Note 2 except that, in typical smartphone fashion, it is a little quiet when compared to dedicated players).

My audio files were all lossless: flac from CD rips. No mp3s, no 24/96 or 24/192 or mangled downmixed multi-channel. I listened to a few tracks from albums of viol consorts, orchestral music, old skool rock, some modern(ish) dance music, contemporary African guitar, specifically:

Rose Consort of Viols - Elizabethan Songs and Consort Music
Thomas Tomkins - Consort Music for Viols and Voices, Keyboard Music - Rose Consort of Viols & Red Byrd
William Byrd - The Early Byrd - I Fagiolini & Fretwork & Sophie Yates
Alleluia - Motets by Vivaldi, Handel, Porpora and Mozart - Julia Lezhneva, Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini
Frank Bridge - Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Richard Hickox
Sibelius - The Lemminkäinen Suite - The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra & Neeme Järvi
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Ragged Glory
X-Press 2 (feat. David Byrne) - Lazy
Djelimady Tounkara - Solon Kôno

I spent a loooong time listening to the R2A and the R2Pro. It's easy, and reasons to stop don't seem to enter the mind.

I chose to listen to the R2A because that is the model I initially pledged for, and the R2Pro as it's the top of the range IEM and I was curious as to whether the same driver in a housing of the same dimensions but of different material (aluminium vs titanium) would really sound different.

First Point:

For those wondering whether to purchase the Shure SE215 or commit to the kickstarter price for the similarly priced Flare Audio R2A:

G E T T H E F L A R E S ! ! ! ! !
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Second Point:

For those worried about only getting one pair of Comply tips with the non Pro designated models: if this is what stops you getting the Flares at the kickstarter price you will be annoyed with yourself for a long time. OK, if you never listen to these IEMs you might not feel too bad and you can remain undisturbed in your opinion, but if you do later hear them then be prepared to feel baaad
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And foolish. And more bad. And badder, if that is a word. It is now (apologies to all who invested time and money in my education).


OK, OK but What are they like?

Physically they are tiny. They are easy to wear, comfortable and unobtrusive. There will be no difficulty wearing these cable down, cable up, cable front or back. You will be able to sleep with them in or don a helmet with no snagging and wear it with no discomfort. I wore them with cable up and over but then down to the front. There was zero cable induction noise AKA microphonics. Isolation when using the Comply tips is excellent. It's still good with silicone tips but as ever nothing beats expanding foam in your lugholes.

There is one sound property that I believe to be identical in each: the sound stage is utterly natural and believable to the point that you don't think about the soundstage because you are immersed in the music. When I switched to my Shures I was immediately aware of experiencing a "left speaker, right speaker and a bit in the middle" sound stage. Switching back to the Flares cured that rather nicely!

These things sound gorgeous. These are not made for the salesman who feels he/she has to wow you in 5 minutes in the store, so there is not some silly exaggerated bass so no need for overdone highs trying to make up for the mids being swamped by the bass. But there is also absolutely no danger of confusing the Flare Audio R2* with some joyless single balanced armature IEM that sucks the pleasure out of your music leaving you with a pale facsimile or some kind of dry analytical let down.

These offer a really natural, enjoyable sound combined with a totally credible experience. I hesitate to say sound stage because while listening you are not searching for artifical terms in an attempt to describe the deficiencies of an artificial experience....it sounds real!

There is a difference in the sound between the aluminium R2A and the titanium R2Pro. Davis did explain to me the reasons for this being to do with certain properties of titanium but unfortunately my Physics 'O' level B grade certificate was achieved well over 30 years ago and when people explain stuff like this my brain gets stuck at "this is actually a thing and those are indeed English words but what they all mean I will never know...must nod and agree...phew it worked". I do remember from my youth that titanium is great for bicycle frames - almost as light as aluminium but with the comfort of steel. I had my Columbus Genius steel road frame painted titanium. It looked great and I was a lot thinner in those days so it was fast too. I digress.

Initially I wondered if this perceived difference was a bias/expectation thing so I spent a lot of time comparing the R2A and R2Pro. I even double checked with Tom (Flare's IEM guy) that this definitely is the same driver. He assured me that it is. The R2A has a slightly warmer or thicker bass while the R2Pro seems to be more able to render texture and timbre. These are not huge differences but they are real and apparent. I spent maybe an hour and a half sitting still and being good while I listened (my Mum would be surprised and impressed). Obviously Davis has vastly more hours with these IEMs and knows them better than anyone and he finds some differences in the top end as well.

Value For Money

Are the R2A worth the kickstarter price? Yes, and by a country mile. They make my similarly priced Shure SE215 feel clunky, thumpy, artificial and decidedly second best. My Samsung dual driver IEMs (world's most underrated IEM!) are better than the Shures despite costing much less; tonality is closer to the natural sound of the Flares than is the Shures. But they certainly have some mid bass resonances, and they don't approach the natural sound stage of the Flares. £79 for the Flares vs £10 for the Samsungs? For pure listening pleasure the Flares still offer value. In a few months there should be Apple and Samsung compatible versions of the Flares at which point you can also answer your phone....

Are the R2Pro worth a substantial premium over the R2A? I think this is harder to quantify because it's quite a price jump and that difference is going to feel insignificant to some people but as wide as the Atlantic to others. I committed to the R2A on kickstarter and I have some serious thinking to do now because I really, really want (omg I am a spice girl - beery spice?) the R2Pro but I can't remember where I left the key to the subterranean nuke proof shelter where I keep my Visa card.....

If you can afford the Pros just go for it. If you can only run to the A's kickstarter price then don't worry, you will be getting something genuinely brilliant, well made and enjoyable.

Final Note

A really big "Thank You!" to Davis and Naomi and Tom and everyone else at Flare Audio.


I just pledged for the R2A. A few days ago I didn't know this existed. Went from that to forking out 150 canadian dollars for it :p  I hope they are as great as everyone says they are. Its risk free because they offer a 14 day return guarantee! 
 
I am pumped. This is my first time backing a project :D
 
May 28, 2015 at 4:28 PM Post #184 of 3,098

julian67

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I am pumped. This is my first time backing a project :D


Me too. It's my first kickstarter pledge but definitely not my first IEM. I only discovered it thanks to the article in The Argus, the local newspaper here. I pledged sight unseen and sound unheard on the basis of recommendations and endorsements by credible people and the fact that a little research revealed that Flare Audio was already a going concern with a real track record in pro audio. Still it's scary to hand over real money with the product unheard, so being close enough to take a 15 minute train ride and try it for myself has been a genuine bonus, as well as being very reassuring! Also there is an ASDA supermarket round the corner from Flare Audio and I looked in on my way home. They had Bass Pale Ale at only £1 per 500ml bottle so it's been a great result all round. hic.
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:05 PM Post #185 of 3,098

julian67

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OK I just put my money where my mouth is. No, not approaching the fridge with a bottle opener, a pint glass, a side dish and a cake knife and a pizza cutter. I mean I just upped my pledge from R2a to R2Pro. There is a small glassy tear welling up in the corner of one eye and I am twitching slightly and trying to formulate credible lies or evasions in case family members ask me why the ****** I didn't get them a birthday present or even a card but I think it's worth it. After all if they break I can go bang on the factory door.
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:21 PM Post #187 of 3,098

marow

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I committed to the R2A on kickstarter and I have some serious thinking to do now because I really, really want (omg I am a spice girl - beery spice?) the R2Pro but I can't remember where I left the key to the subterranean nuke proof shelter where I keep my Visa card.....


Why is no one talking about the r2s? Why don't you go for the middle ground?
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:22 PM Post #188 of 3,098

cuba_guy

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Thanks for that! I have custom silicon tips made so I would be using that with the R2 iems so I wont have to keep buying comply. It seals perfectly so that wont be an issue! I suspect for my choice of music R2Pro won't be as beneficial because frankly I wont be benefiting with its extra abilities. I don't only listen to top 40 as I do listen to acoustic and indie music as well, but R2A seems to be a better choice on ability alone for my musical tastes, and more so considering the price! 
 

 
Hi RedJohn, 
 
Could you tell me more about these custom silicon tips? How does that work? What is the company making them?
 
Cheers!
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:23 PM Post #189 of 3,098

Deviltooth

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OK I just put my money where my mouth is. No, not approaching the fridge with a bottle opener, a pint glass, a side dish and a cake knife and a pizza cutter. I mean I just upped my pledge from R2a to R2Pro. There is a small glassy tear welling up in the corner of one eye and I am twitching slightly and trying to formulate credible lies or evasions in case family members ask me why the ****** I didn't get them a birthday present or even a card but I think it's worth it. After all if they break I can go bang on the factory door.


Thanks very much for the impressions, they're very helpful.  You didn't by any chance get to sample the S version?
 
  Once an IEM passes the $300 mark I start to think how much comfier a CIEM for just a little more would be.  I did buy the Noble 4 in universal form but I'm certain I'd get better sound from the same driver compliment if it was in custom form.
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:29 PM Post #190 of 3,098

RedJohn456

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Hi RedJohn, 

Could you tell me more about these custom silicon tips? How does that work? What is the company making them?

Cheers!


I went to a local audiologist who made impressions of my ear. They sent it off somewhere to be made. It's not a full custom sleeve but rather a smaller tip that can be used by other iems.

Not sure of the company itself but if you're in Toronto, the clinic is called Salus Hearing :)

They are the ones who did it for me
 
May 28, 2015 at 5:50 PM Post #191 of 3,098

julian67

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I just want to confirm that I didn't try the R2S.

Initially I committed to the £79 kickstarter for the R2A so this was my main interest and the first thing I listened to. I was also interested in hearing the premium version in this form factor so spent a lot of time (relatively) with the R2Pro. I apologise for the apparent omission but I hope people can appreciate that swapping between IEMs with Comply tips is nowhere near as quick or convenient as swapping between IEMs with silicone tips. When you compress and then insert into the ear canal a Comply tip (or similar) it takes about 30 seconds before the thing is truly usable and a minute or two before it is in its ideal state. I don't think there is a way of swapping between three different Comply equipped IEMs without getting confused/irritated/bored/annoyed/arrested or cautioned under the Public Order Act 1986, Section 5, Harassment, alarm or distress.

Please also remember that I was additionally comparing the Shure SE215 IEM and Samsung HS330 headset.

I was offered the opportunity to try out all the products described in the kickstarter but really had to keep things within the realm of my attention span and ability. Everyone at Flare was great and I have no doubt that I could have taken hours more if I had wanted, but it wouldn't have served any great purpose.
 
May 28, 2015 at 6:21 PM Post #192 of 3,098

Stuff Jones

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I just want to confirm that I didn't try the R2S.

Initially I committed to the £79 kickstarter for the R2A so this was my main interest and the first thing I listened to. I was also interested in hearing the premium version in this form factor so spent a lot of time (relatively) with the R2Pro. I apologise for the apparent omission but I hope people can appreciate that swapping between IEMs with Comply tips is nowhere near as quick or convenient as swapping between IEMs with silicone tips. When you compress and then insert into the ear canal a Comply tip (or similar) it takes about 30 seconds before the thing is truly usable and a minute or two before it is in its ideal state. I don't think there is a way of swapping between three different Comply equipped IEMs without getting confused/irritated/bored/annoyed/arrested or cautioned under the Public Order Act 1986, Section 5, Harassment, alarm or distress.

Please also remember that I was additionally comparing the Shure SE215 IEM and Samsung HS330 headset.

I was offered the opportunity to try out all the products described in the kickstarter but really had to keep things within the realm of my attention span and ability. Everyone at Flare was great and I have no doubt that I could have taken hours more if I had wanted, but it wouldn't have served any great purpose.

 
Totally understandably that you didn't try the R2S, it is just too bad that no one has reported anything on it so far. For all we know it could be the best sound for dollar of the three or the best sounding one altogether!
 
May 28, 2015 at 7:06 PM Post #193 of 3,098

Deviltooth

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Totally understandably that you didn't try the R2S, it is just too bad that no one has reported anything on it so far. For all we know it could be the best sound for dollar of the three or the best sounding one altogether!

Or it might very well possess the same sound as the Pro.  There has to be a point where increased rigidity yields fewer audible changes.
 
May 28, 2015 at 7:17 PM Post #195 of 3,098

julian67

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Or it might very well possess the same sound as the Pro.  There has to be a point where increased rigidity yields fewer audible changes.


As far as I understood it as Davies did his best to explain it to me the difference isn't ascribed to rigidity. In such a tiny form and with the tubes CNC milled from a block, there can't be any great difference between the relative rigidity of aluminium, steel, or titanium in this application. I suggest you email Flare Audio for a description of how the same driver/cable combo sounds different according to the properties of enclosures of different materials. If you are in UK you could also audition the IEMs. Of course auditioning doesn't provide the explanation/description but it does offer a practical demonstration.
 

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