Davies Roberts on Flare’s R1 headphones

Joanne Ruddock speaks to Flare founder Davies Roberts about the move into the headphones market and the next step for the company.

What made Flare enter the headphone market? What can the company bring to this area?

Flare technologies were created to unlock the secrets of creating totally accurate sound regeneration. Now unlocked through various patent applications and fully understood, Flare is scaling the technology down into headphones. Placing the technology so close to the ear removes the damage created by room interference; therefore the benefit created takes the listening experience to another level. With R1 being launched into the professional and audiophile markets, the intention is to license the technology to other manufacturers for the mass consumer markets. Initial discussions with potential license partners are already underway.

We often get press releases stating products are ‘revolutionary’. How would you justify this with regards to the R1s?

We believe the R1s to be the first ‘fully open’ true infinite baffle headphones, that subsequently produce distortion-free sound. The traditional approach to headphone design is similar to that of loudspeakers. That is, enclosed sealed areas create a spring effect on the driver which creates distortions that require ‘tuning’. Flare’s technology removes the enclosed pressure spring effect on the driver, as well as removing all standing wave interference. This enables linear driver movement, which in turn creates mirror image sound reproduction from the input source signal. This produces pure, natural sound with a full frequency response that has not been previously possible.

The headphones feature the impressive-­sounding Space and Vortex technologies. What are these and what effect do they have?

Space technology is applied to R1 through four stainless steel bolts. Compression is applied to the entire structure which ‘clamps’ the sidewalls, this unifies the enclosure resonance into one resonant frequency that stops the structure resonance from interfering with driver movement.

Vortex technology is an exhaust silencing technology. Spiralled around the driver on both sides, the vortexes remove standing wave interference and all residual pressure interference without creating opposing energy interference (that simple holes would create). Wall structures reflect sound which causes distortion through time delay. Spiralling the vortexes around the side wall structure directly in front and behind the driver means that reflected sound is completely removed and all residual pressure released.

Have you had any feedback on the R1s since the PLASA launch?

The feedback received since PLASA has continued to be one of shock. Some people immediately hear the lack of distortion while others take a couple of tracks to realise what they are hearing. Distortions confuse as they can make sound appear louder to the untrained ear. Completely removing distortion means that there is a great deal more overall information heard, especially at the extremities of the frequency range. Traditionally people have been used to bass in headphones as a thump of pressure and high frequencies as a crash of multiple frequencies colliding together. This is a direct consequence of restricted driver movement, as frequencies are merged together during the restriction of driver movement.

What’s next for Flare Audio – are there any other areas of the market you’d like to explore?

Flare’s R&D team is constantly working on developing the technology into all other sectors of sound. Most of this work is kept secret, however we can reveal that work is already underway miniaturising the technology so that it can be placed into the ear…