Don’t let the flashy LEDs turn you away from one of the best value portable Bluetooth speakers on the market. Anker’s Soundcore Flare 2 is definitely worth checking out. When I see flashy LED light shows I tend to think it’s a gimmick making up for a lousy sounding speaker — thankfully I was very wrong. The Soundcore Flare 2 offers rich and high quality “360 degree sound”, IPX7 waterproof protection, a 12-hour battery with USB-C charging, party features, an app that’s actually good, and not one, but two, 360 degree LED light shows.
Of course, my mom mistook Flare 2 for an “Alexa”, Amazon’s Echo. It’s similarly sized and shaped, plus both have an LED light strip around the top perimeter. The Flare 2 has a little curve to it and is subtly pear-shaped. Flare 2 has an LED strip around the bottom and the light show supports a myriad of colors. Flare 2 is also almost entirely wrapped in a speaker grill. The speaker grill looks extra premium and durable — plus it helps keep the whole speaker IPX7 waterproof. The top has all of your controls, and on the back is a hidden water-sealed charging port along with a Bluetooth pairing button and a bass-boosting button.
The control buttons on the top of the speaker is the biggest oversight by Anker. They’re easy to press, but they’re impossible to distinguish. The buttons are black rubber with raised black indicators. To see the button indicators, they need to catch the right light. The speaker is cylindrical so it’s not as easy as remembering the top button is power, left is volume down, etc. This makes turning the speaker on and off extra work every time.
The battery is a large 5,200 mAh USB-C rechargeable. We’re especially happy about the new USB-C standard and the speaker comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable so you can charge it on any USB port. The battery lasts 12 hours and can fully charge in 3.5 hours. One thing it is missing is a full-sized USB port so you can share the large battery with your phone and other USB devices.
The Soundcore Flare 2 sounds incredible. It easily sounds like it could be twice the price. It’s very well balanced with great natural bass. The app allows you to tune it to an EQ preset of your liking, but the default is great for almost any genre. You can also toggle the bass booster on the device itself, or in app. The extra bass is still well balanced and warm; it‘s not overwhelming or excessive. It’s overall a really clear sound signature and there’s great dispersion in the room. It doesn’t sound like music is coming from one specific point in the room.
There’s a party cast feature that allows you to sync up to 100 other Flare 2s. It’s a neat feature but we found one speaker sounds better than two in a single room, as it didn’t seem to go into a true stereo mode. Linking speakers is great for spreading music across rooms or greater distances, like outside.
The light show LED strips on the top and bottom of the speaker have a few different presets that can be toggled from the speaker or app. You can also shut the lights altogether. By default, the light show responds to the music and pulsates to the beat, and you can shut this in favor of more consistent lighting. There’s a small amount of customization for lightning in-app but Soundcore has done a nice job of giving you options that range from rage-mode to chill-out to off.
It’s tough to say who loved this speaker more — myself, who greatly enjoyed the high quality and rich sound signature and the ability to tune the EQ from the app, or my 7-month-old son who really dug the responsive light show, durability, and slobber-proof finish. Both of us appreciated the long 12-hour battery, easy USB-C charging, and 360 degree sound. While it’s missing a USB charging port for sharing the battery and an auxiliary audio-in plug, the biggest drawback I found is the unclearly labeled buttons on top of the speaker. Other than that, for $79.99 from Amazon, it’s a great purchase. Also, if a single unit is not loud enough or bright enough, you can always buy over 100 more and sync them together via PartyCast mode.