Disclaimer: Flare Audio sent the Flares Gold for the purposes of this review. I paid nothing for them. The Flares Gold go for about 1400$ USD. You can find out all about them here: Flare Audio Flares Gold. As with the Flares Gold, I somehow formatted the card that had ALL the amazing pictures I took for this review.
Flares Pro almost single-handedly did away with my wires. Flares Pro handles hiss better than almost any other high-end earphone. In conception, it is perfect. It also sounds great, though, here and there, it excites high. It isn’t best suited to scratchy recordings. Charges of great bass, great mids, and great fit are accolades it must accept, and with flare.
I was skeptical that a company famous for earplugs could pull off such a good earphone. But they did. And they did it with the sort of near-perfection I’ve come to expect of UK audio companies.
Flare Audio pack all of the goodness of Flares Pro into Flares Gold. There’s also an extra 900$ or so in there. That extra bit covers new audio design, venting, a sturdier body, and more. It’s a bit of money. It’s also a bit flashy and maybe you’re asking yourself if it is a bit too much like Flares Pro.
It’s all of those things, but by my books, perfect.
Flares Pro and Flares Gold use the same sound-proofed box. I wish I could do Jesus’s loaf and fish thing and paste their mini-mes them all over my echoey room. Its ribbed sound-proofing looks cool, sure, but it also protects both the insides and outsides from bumps and scratches. Flares zippered pouch, whose moulded logos buttressing its nylon walls, does the same. Quite by accident, I’ve sat on mine. Several times. I grinded it and its contents a bit on a tight airplane. The pouch went mostly flat, but inside, the Flares Gold were splitting time on either side of the V logo. No scratches. And the case is no worse for wear. It still zips, clasps, and holds as good as ever. And, while I prefer to put earphones both cheap and expensive in a soft-sided dice bag I got from Chapters in Woodbridge, Ontario, back in like 2005. But I don’t trust that bag to protect nice earphones in the event that I sit on them. And I will sit on them.
If Flares Gold wasn’t so shiny, or precious, I might not care if I scratched them up a bit. Flares Pro’s brushed finish is something of a bulwark against blemishes. Gold’s finish seems harder, and has survived a bunch of bumps and grinds from me. Its rounder angles keep it from bumping hard against the ear or the finger. It inserts straight, simply, and stays firm, just like Flares Gold.
While both Flares Pro and Flares Gold are easily inserted into the ear, the placement of the cable grommet may or may not catch on your ear when worn with the cable down. My ears are small, my canals narrow, and therefore, insertion is easy peasy. Owing to the shape of her ear canals, my wife prefers to wear Flares Pro and Flares Gold with the cables draped over her ears. Your mileage will vary.
Another plus is that they fit tips from SpinFit to Comply and many more, some with a bit of work, while others require no elbow grease. As you can expect, ear tips make marked difference in sound, Complys somewhat muffling the high end, others opening it up. The included tips are good, bearing wide bores that rarely bunch up in the ear but which present both different end-point sound signatures and levels of comfort. I’m a happy camper.
As far as I can tell, Flares Gold uses the same balanced wireless DAC that comes with Flares Pro. This means that it keeps good connection even at thirty paces. It puts out great stereo detail, and, given a source with good wireless signal, means that Flares Gold will sound just as good wireless as it can wired, if not better.
Like most wireless DACs, it hisses. Flares Pro and Gold’s relative insensitivity means that that hiss is inaudible. What’s left is freaking amazing, both functionally, and audibly. I like the DAC so much that I rewired a long-time favourite earphone, the Grado GR8e. More about that here: Wireless, balanced GR8e – Just don’t tell Grado.
For more on Flares Gold’s wireless performance, by all means check out my review of the Flares Pro.
Sound and more after the jump: