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Ready to kick it poolside? Anker’s got you covered with the upgrade to its Soundcore Flare wireless speaker, the Flare 2.
Like the original Flare, the Flare 2 is a Bluetooth speaker, a bit larger than a 16-ounce aluminum can, equipped with 360-degree speakers that pumps sound out in every direction. Like its predecessor, it’s also got significant waterproof protection (now rated at IPX7), which means it can handle not just a splash or two but can be fully immersed in up to a meter of water for half an hour. (You can read more about IP codes here.)
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers, where you’ll findreviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
But like any good sequel, the Flare 2 has been upgraded where it counts. Highly notable is its audio enhancement. The Flare’s 12 watts of output has been bumped up to 20 watts total, a significant boost that makes an impact. The Flare 2 also has two LED light rings instead of just one—one on the top and one on the bottom—which you can set to pulse, fade, and change hues in tune with your music. It’s a frivolous feature, but fun.
Undoubtedly the biggest new feature is the ability to sync up multiple Flare 2 speakers to play in unison. You can sync up to 100(!) sub-speakers to a master Flare 2—but note that they all play the same channel; you can’t set two speakers to separately handle left/right channel duty. The sub-speakers also all need to be within Bluetooth range of the master speaker. They don’t operate as a mesh, which likely limits how many you will realistically deploy.
I tested a pair of Flare 2 speakers and there’s no question that PartyCast is the coolest feature, though configuring it involves an unintuitive process of pairing one speaker to your phone, then holding down the Bluetooth pairing button on each speaker in a certain sequence. You’ll need to follow the instructions in the Soundcore mobile app precisely to get this done; the included quick start guide is completely useless.
Whether you’re jamming with one speaker or multiples, audio performance is impressive. Two 10-watt drivers (with passive radiators) and a listed frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz might not sound overly impressive, spec-wise, but the Flare 2 can really belt it out. It’s not the most crystal clear of speakers I’ve tested—probably because 360-degree output can cause audio to bounce all over a room, muddying things up—but for outdoor use, it’s a huge plus.
If you want to tweak things, the Flare 2 also includes an equalizer system in the app. The handful of presets didn’t do much for me, but the custom mode offers the familiar sliders that do make a significant impact. If you want to quickly give the lows a lift without fetching your phone, an old-school bass boost button is also available on the hardware (along with rudimentary volume, music control, power, and LED on/off controls).
With a 5200mAh battery, the Flare 2 is rated to offer 12 hours of running time, which I was able to easily exceed at a modest volume. The unit recharges via USB-C cable (a tiny one is included) and takes about 3.5 hours to top up from zero. Alas, the only way to check the speaker’s battery level is a tiny indicator in the app.
As outdoor speakers go, the Flare 2’s 360-degree approach can really change the game vs. relying on a more traditional unidirectional speaker parked in a corner of the yard. Add in a second unit, and you can really raise the bar on your outdoor party.