Last year, audio company Flare Audio sent me a pair of their flagship earphones, the Flares Pro, to review. I liked them, but noted that their price tag – £350 – was far too high, regardless of how good quality they were. Well, the company heard my short-pocketed cries and released a new range of more reasonably-priced in-ear headphones: the Flares Jet. Starting at £50, they come in two varieties – the Jet 1, made of polymer, and Jet 2, made of aluminium (£70). I’ve tried out both sets, and you know what? They’re pretty damn nice.
The expensive Flares Pro come in a super fancy box styled as if made from soundproofing material. They come with several spare pairs of Earfoams and a hard, zippable case to keep them in when you’re out and about. But the main draw of the Flares Pro is their wireless connectivity. You can use the headphones traditionally wired, or you can instead plug them into a DAC, which connects to your device via Bluetooth. The Jets have none of that. They come packaged in a little foil packet with a resealable top. Inside is the headphones themselves, three different sizes of Earfoams, and a little drawstring pouch to keep them in. It’s hardly the quality of the Pro packaging - but then, for a fraction of the price, it shouldn’t be. At the end of the day, you’re buying the headphones. Sure, premium packaging is always nice, but it’s something that unnecessarily bumps up the cost. It’s clear that Flare has cut as much chaff as possible in order to deliver the best product possible with the Jets.
The Flares Jet packaging and contents
The build quality of the earphones themselves is very similar to the Pros, actually. They have a similar quality cable – which was actually one of my grips with the Pros; for the price, I expected a more robust braided cable – but here, the patterned, rubberised cable seems more in keeping with the cost of the product. It feels sturdy enough, but I’d still be worried about falling asleep with them or leaving them loose in a bag, lest they get tangled up or damaged. But then, that’s what the little pouch is for!
The Jet earphones themselves are slightly bulkier than the Pros, with a bigger body. The Jet 2 earphones, made out of aluminium, are quite heavy, though, so that might be something to bear in mind. The ear buds (‘Earfoams’) that come with them aren’t as good quality as the ones packaged with the Pros. They’re a little more plasticky to touch and not quite as comfortable, but if that’s a problem new foams can be bought separately from the Flare website – the audiophile-grade foams, the softest and most comfortable, are £20 for three sets, with Universal and Everyday sets available for £10 and £15 respectively.
But in terms of sound quality, surely what matters most, the Pros are excellent. I can’t even really tell much difference between these and the Pros, honestly. I’m not an audiophile, mind, and someone with a better ear for subtle differences in bass, tone and treble may likely tell you otherwise, but for me – an average user who enjoys listening to music with a good sound quality – both sets of Flares Jets are excellent. There isn’t much discernible difference between Jet 1 and Jet 2. The aluminium body of the Jet 2s may look a little fancier, but I actually favour the polymer body of the cheaper Jet 1s since it’s much lighter and therefore a little comfier to wear.
The Flares Jet 2
As with the Jet Pros, the quality of sound is highly dependent on getting a good fitting. These things come with three different sizes of earbuds for a reason, so you can find the pair that fit in your ear canal the best. Like all in-ear headphones, they can be a little awkward to secure a good fit, and you may have to push them in a little more than what feels wise. But once you’ve found the size that fits best, the earphones should stay in place and remain comfortable.
Unless the wireless technology of the Flares Pro is super important to you, I’m not really sure why you’d want to pay seven times more than the price of the Jet 1 earphones. To some, £50, and especially £70, might still sound a lot for a pair of in-ear headphones with no extra bells and whistles – I mean, there’s plenty on Amazon with excellent reviews for less than a tenner – but these do feel worth the money. Coming from a brand that exists primarily to innovate on audio quality, you know you’re guaranteed superior sound, and there’s no quibbles about the build quality, either. The fact you can replace the earbuds with ease is an added benefit, too. For me, I’d go for the lighter and more comfortable Jet 1s, saving the extra £20 that the aluminium Jet 2s cost. I’d use that £20 to invest in some better foams, making the Flares Jet earphones the best they can possibly be.
To find out more about Flares Jet, and to purchase them, visit the official Flare Audio website.