It’s funny that most of the marketing for Bluetooth speakers feature images of people smiling, laughing, and having the best time of their life–while holding a small Bluetooth speaker as if it was the life of the party. Although you may not find yourself experiencing the same as these images depict without a full PA system and a live band, a good Bluetooth speaker still goes a long way when it comes to sound quality and accompanying features.
That being said, we may have found another shiner with Anker’s Soundcore Flare 360 degree wireless Bluetooth speaker. It may not be able to fill in for a live band, but it can really add to your atmosphere when you need something small and portable, regardless of where the “party” is at.
The design of the speaker consists of a mostly plastic build, with the top surface, the buttons and flap featuring a rubberized outer layer; the main surround a fabric mesh design; and the bottom a rubberized grip that can really keep the speaker in place vs sliding around (it works quite well for this, even when the surface it is on is rocking slightly like a boat might in [mostly]still waters).
A slightly translucent white ring wraps around the bottom of the speaker where the LEDs are hidden inside that light it up during operation. Most of your buttons are located on the top and include your volume up/down options, which also function as your track selection. There is a button that can control some of the options for the LEDs (including turning them off), as well as the “Bass Up” button, which takes the bass up (or down, depending on how you look at it). A button in the middle acts as your play/pause control.
The side/face of the speaker contains two simple buttons, one for turning the speaker on and off, and the other for trigger the Bluetooth pairing mode. Under those two buttons is a small flap that reveals the micro-USB charging port (cable included), and a 3.5mm aux input for non-wireless devices (cable not included).
Function and Performance
As for functioning as a Bluetooth speaker (its main objective), it lands the prize pretty well. Anker seems to bring a level of quality to the table, as well as a price tag that is usually quite agreeable. Now it doesn’t have the range of something like the UE Boom, nor does it offer NFC pairing. But it does have the volume, it has 360-degree coverage, it is fully waterproof, and it is only 30% of the cost.
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Range-wise it is average to above average (which is a good thing as you want average vs “meh” or “terrible”). Average means it carries a decent range to it–it just isn’t going to blow you away. We felt that the range is best when listening at mid to lower volumes as it carries a bit of warmth with it that can really add to the ambiance in the room. Anything higher and it simply becomes an average Bluetooth speaker.
The 360-degree coverage carries the audio anywhere in the room (or area) that you are standing, with very few noticeable drops in coverage. You can hear the slight transition where one speaker picks up where another drops its coverage (sound field), but you more than likely have to be looking for it to notice anything, and chances are you will be preoccupied with whatever else you’re doing (like having fun). This is also quite common with most 360 Bluetooth speakers.
It seems to be able to get a decent distance from the streaming device without losing connectivity, which includes traveling between two floors of an average building (like a house). We couldn’t find anything to complain about when it comes to connectivity.
You are able to download the “Soundcore” app from either the iOS or Android app stores, which allows you to adjust key elements of the speaker such as EQ and the LED effects. The app seems to work just fine and you can also pair two of the speakers to each other for stereo sound (which can sometimes sound a little wonky when listening to 360-degree speakers, depending on where you are standing). We didn’t test the stereo option out since we only have one speaker to play with, but typically (with most of today’s devices) it usually works. Bluetooth stereo pairing usually works out just fine when it comes to things like music–however, typically you will notice it actually creates a time delay if you are watching videos/movies.
The LEDs are the only thing we were iffy about. We weren’t impressed much with the lighting effects at all. For us, this happens a lot with “light effects” on most devices, as it usually sounds a lot more entertaining than the actual results. We found that the solid pulsating options were the best to choose from. Anything else just seemed a little pointless. As you can see in the video above, in these other modes, they’re more like an LED light flickering because someone screwed it into the wrong type of ballast. They also perform differently depending on the genre of music you are listening to (they did best with club and rap sources, and not so well with rock, pop, and so forth). Do not buy this speaker for the sole purpose of the lighting effects. Buy it for sound. In the end, we wound up turning off the effects using the button on the top.
Where it absolutely knocks it out of the park, is water resistance. We were a bit nervous testing this feature out since we’ve read two different things everywhere, including it being listed as both IP67 and IPX7 on the Amazon page (title vs description). So of course we said the heck with it and submerged it into a sink of icy water (icy as in a third filled with ice–why not take the notch up a little). The speaker floated to the top immediately, so you can be assured if it goes overboard, it won’t sink. It continued to play just fine while floating around, despite being about 95% submerged. If you pushed it down 100% into the water with your finger, it will stop streaming (this is common with Bluetooth devices as the signal seems to have trouble passing through water). As soon as you allow it to pop up, it immediately resumes playing (assuming you didn’t let it sit underwater until the Bluetooth session times out).
We then let it sit there floating for just over a half-hour, and it ended up being fine. At first, bringing it out, the sound was a bit muffled. This seemed to be from the water soaking into the fabric surround, getting into the gaps. As soon as you wipe the fabric down, it is back to 100%. So IPX7 it is!
So it does have a decent range to it, although nothing mind-blowing (for that, you will be spending 3-4x as much on a speaker). It doesn’t underperform the price, that’s for sure. Distance from your connected device is nice, and so is the amount of volume. The water resistance is a major win for this speaker, allowing you to listen to your music literally anywhere, even if you pitched it directly into a pool of water. The lighting effects were the only thing we felt “meh” about for the most part. Beyond that, this is a great little speaker for the price.
|Buy from Amazon | Buy from Soundcore|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Drivers: 2 x 1.75″ Full Range + 2 x Passive Radiator
- Output: 2 x 6W, THD (total harmonic distortion)<= 1%
- Bluetooth Version 4.2
- Supports A2DP, AVRCP, HFP profile, and SBC decoding
- Aux in
- Range: 20m / 66ft
- Playtime: 12 hours
- Charging time: 3.5 hours
- Charging: Micro USB 5V / 2A
- 18.7 ounces
- 3.5 x 3.5 x 5.95 in
- IPX7 (verified in the above benchmarks)
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.