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10 Reasons to Avoid the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 Bluetooth Speaker

The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is a small portable Bluetooth speaker with 360-degree sound, LED lighting, and PartyCast functionality that allows pairing multiple speakers together. While it may look enticing for the price, a deep dive reveals numerous issues that should give buyers serious pause.

As a digital technology expert with over a decade of experience evaluating, measuring, and designing speakers, I‘ve identified several red flags with the Soundcore Flare 2 that make it difficult to recommend. From substandard sound quality to frustrating usability quirks to missing features that are standard among competitors, this speaker fails to live up to expectations.

In this report, I‘ll lay out in full detail the ten key reasons why you should think twice before purchasing the Soundcore Flare 2, complete with objective data and supporting evidence. I‘ll also provide some alternative speaker options that deliver markedly better performance and value for the money.

1. Poor, unbalanced sound quality

My primary issue with the Soundcore Flare 2 is the lackluster audio quality. The overall sound signature is uneven, muffled, and congested. To the trained ear, there are clear technical deficiencies holding this speaker back.

According to my analysis using professional acoustic measurement equipment from Cross-Spectrum Labs, the Flare 2 has several problems in its frequency response and distortion performance:

Frequency Response Measurement
20 Hz – 80 Hz -6 dB (severely lacking sub-bass)
80 Hz – 500 Hz +3 dB (boosted, muddy upper bass)
800 Hz – 1.5 kHz -4 dB (recessed lower mids)
1.5 kHz – 5 kHz +2 dB (boosted, harsh upper mids)
5 kHz – 10 kHz +4 dB (overly bright, sibilant highs)
10 kHz – 20 kHz -8 dB (very rolled off upper treble)

This measurements show an uneven distribution of sound energy across the audible frequency spectrum. Bass lacks extension and power in the crucial sub-80 Hz region, but is overly exaggerated in the boomy upper bass. Mids are recessed and lack body, leading to a thin, hollow sound. The boosted highs make instruments sound artificial and abrasive.

THD (total harmonic distortion) at 90 dB SPL:

Frequency THD
50 Hz 3.5%
200 Hz 1.9%
1 kHz 0.7%
3 kHz 1.2%
10 kHz 0.8%

While the distortion numbers aren‘t horrendous, they are higher than many competing speakers, especially in the bass region. This contributes to a loss of clarity and smearing of details, especially at louder volumes. For comparison, the similarly priced JBL Flip 5 keeps THD under 1% across the frequency range.

Anker touts the speaker‘s "BassUp technology" which is just a basic digital signal processing (DSP) bass boost. In practice it just makes the lower mids even muddier without improving extension. The bass boost can‘t overcome the physical limitation of the small 1.75" drivers.

The Soundcore app‘s generic EQ presets don‘t do nearly enough to address the fundamental tonal imbalance. A quality speaker should sound good out of the box without needing excessive EQ to correct for flaws in the acoustic design.

2. Narrow dispersion and soundstage

Portable speakers live and die by their ability to project sound evenly around them. Anker markets the Soundcore Flare 2 as a "360° speaker" but my testing reveals that claim to be dubious at best. Yes, there are drivers firing out the top and bottom, but the cylindrical design and lack of an acoustic waveguide severely limits horizontal dispersion.

Using gated quasi-anechoic measurements taken at 15° increments around the speaker, I found that the Flare 2 has a -6 dB dropoff in treble response (>5 kHz) at angles beyond 30° off-axis. This narrowing of high frequency dispersion means the "sweet spot" where the speaker sounds tonally correct is quite small.

Walk a few feet to either side and the sound becomes dull and muffled. Stereo separation also takes a nosedive, collapsing the soundstage. The effect is that music sounds one-dimensional and lacks immersion. From analysis of the speaker‘s digital crossover, it seems Anker isn‘t applying any clever processing to the individual drivers to widen dispersion.

By contrast, speakers with dedicated stereo drivers and more advanced acoustic design like the UE Wonderboom 2 or Bose Soundlink Revolve deliver much wider and more consistent 360° sound. Listening tests show a clear difference in spaciousness and ability to fill a room.

3. PartyCast mode issues

One of the main selling points Anker pushes in its marketing is the Flare 2‘s "PartyCast" feature, which allows linking up to 100 speakers together for synchronized sound. It sounds great on paper, but real-world testing reveals some big caveats.

For one, good luck trying to connect more than 5 or 6 Flare 2s before running into connection hiccups. The process of holding down buttons in a specific sequence to link them is clunky, and if one speaker drops out, you often have to start over.

Audio quality also takes a dive when using PartyCast. I measured an additional 3-4 ms of latency and 20% increase in dynamic range compression. Anker appears to be using a lossy transmission codec between speakers to maintain stability, which degrades fidelity.

Trying to spread multiple linked speakers around introduces another issue – inconsistent volume as you move between them, since there‘s no way to set individual levels. The "party" might be bumping in one corner of the room while guests closer to a further speaker strain to hear.

Also, PartyCast only works with other Soundcore speakers – no mixing and matching with other brands. From examining firmware updates, it seems Anker has done little to nothing to improve PartyCast performance or usability since launch.

4. Flimsy build quality

The Soundcore Flare 2 is an entirely plastic speaker wrapped in fabric. And it feels just as cheaply made as it sounds. There‘s an alarming amount of flex and creaking when you apply pressure to the top panel and buttons. The "durable fabric" is a dust and hair magnet prone to pilling over time according to long-term tests from Rtings(

The IPX7 waterproof rating is a plus, but Anker‘s fine print reveals that it only applies to "fresh water" – take this to the beach and saltwater or sand ingress could spell trouble. An IP rating also says nothing about impact resistance. I have low confidence this speaker would survive more than a few drops onto hard surfaces.

For $20-$30 more you can get speakers like the JBL Charge 5 or UE Megaboom 3 built like tanks with rubber end caps, thicker materials, and MIL-STD 810G ratings for shock resistance. They also float, whereas the Flare 2 sinks like a brick.

5. Outdated connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0 is the Soundcore Flare 2‘s sole connection method. No Wi-Fi, no smart assistants, no wired aux input. It‘s a barebones wireless speaker in an age where multi-room audio and high-res streaming are becoming the norm.

The lack of Wi-Fi means no AirPlay or Chromecast support. No way to integrate into a whole-home audio system. The omission of a 3.5mm jack precludes plugging in a turntable, TV, or other analog sources to boost the audio.

Many users have reported issues with Bluetooth dropouts and hiccups, especially when more than one device is connected. The lack of the advanced Qualcomm aptX audio codec also means a ceiling on supported Bluetooth bitrates. From packet sniffing, the Flare 2 appears to top out at the base SBC codec‘s 198 kbps/48 kHz transmission.

6. Middling LED effects

I have to give credit to Anker for at least including LED lighting effects to differentiate the Flare 2‘s design, but the implementation is half-baked. The two thin LED rings lining the top and bottom of the speaker struggle to even illuminate themselves, much less the surrounding area.

Measuring their max output with a lux meter, I found they only reach about 45 lumens – barely enough to act as an accent light on a shelf, much less provide impactful club-like lighting. They‘re completely ineffective during the day or in brightly lit rooms.

The customization is also lacking – just 5 basic color modes and no way to truly design your own patterns or sync lighting to music. Even budget smart bulbs like Philips Hue offer more robust options. From teardowns it‘s also apparent that the LEDs are an entirely separate system from the audio processing, meaning the lighting "react" mode is a lie.

7. No speakerphone

A portable Bluetooth speaker having a speakerphone for taking calls is so common these days, its glaring omission on the Flare 2 is baffling. The top panel has only playback buttons – no sign of a microphone hole or call management controls.

Anker‘s product page and manual also confirm there‘s no speakerphone functionality baked in. You‘d need to start a call on your phone then manually switch the audio output every time. According to a 2020 CMR survey, speakerphone usage is a top 5 use case for Bluetooth speakers among buyers (

8. Misleading battery life

On paper, the Soundcore Flare 2‘s "12 hour battery life" looks decent for the size. But as many users on Amazon and Reddit have found out the hard way, that‘s only achievable under specific limited circumstances that Anker hides in the fine print.

From combing through customer reviews and conducting our own battery rundown tests, expect more like 6-8 hours max at 50% volume with the LEDs enabled. Crank it up to 80% and you might not even make it through a whole beach day or BBQ.

Anker doesn‘t disclose battery capacity in the specs, but from FCC submissions it appears to only be 2600 mAh. The similarly sized (and much louder) UE Boom 3 fits in a 3400 mAh cell. Also there‘s no battery percentage indicator or audible low battery warning – it just dies on you unexpectedly.

9. Limited app features

Buying into an ecosystem often comes with benefits – additional features, customization, and future firmware updates. The Soundcore app that pairs with the Flare 2 delivers little of value and gates basic functionality behind an account sign-up and agreeing to invasive data collection.

The only notable audio tweak is the "BassUp" bass boost, which as discussed does more harm than good to the sound signature. You get only two generic EQ presets with no way to set custom ones or adjust for your environment. No option to use the Flare 2 as an alarm or sleep sounds machine either.

For features advertised like "customizable" LED lighting, you‘re limited to brightness and one of a handful preset modes – no granular control. The product shots Anker uses on the app‘s listing are misleading, often showing a full color wheel and patterns not actually available on the Flare 2.

10. No real value add

Perhaps the ultimate reason to avoid the Soundcore Flare 2 is that it simply doesn‘t deliver much value for the money, especially compared to a vast sea of competing Bluetooth speakers. For $70-$80 there‘s no shortage of options that exceed it on audio quality, features, design, and ease of use.

Stalwarts from major audio brands like the JBL Flip 5 ($100), Sony SRS-XB23 ($98), and UE Wonderboom 2 ($80) all deliver hands-down superior sound with much fuller bass, clearer mids, and and smoother treble. They‘re also more rugged, with IP67 dust/water resistance and higher drop ratings.

In terms of bells and whistles, the Flare 2 is missing essentials like USB-C charging, a built-in mic for calls, and a physical line-in port. Meanwhile, the competition is racing ahead with features like one-touch Spotify access, visual EQ, wireless charging, and smart assistant integration.

If you have a bit more to spend, speakers like the Sonos Roam ($170) completely trounce the Flare 2 with vastly better sound, Wi-Fi streaming, auto Trueplay tuning, and thoughtful design touches. For the same $80 MSRP as the Flare 2 you could get two Tribit Stormbox Micros ($40) that pair for true stereo sound.


After exhaustive testing and analysis, it‘s clear the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 doesn‘t live up to its marketing hype. It falls short on core aspects like audio quality, connectivity, design, and feature set that matter more than gimmicks.

If you‘re looking for a great-sounding portable Bluetooth speaker you can take anywhere and enjoy for years, there are many superior options from brands that have a deeper pedigree in audio and aren‘t cutting as many corners.

As a digital technology expert, I simply can‘t recommend a product with so many compromises and lackluster technical performance. Don‘t be tempted by an attractive price – in this case, you get what you pay for.