Flare’s upgraded model Calmer trades flexibility for premium performance through an aluminium core.
- Aluminium core means a more structured body, though silicone layer still provides soft comfort.
- Premium version of the regular Calmer means the same body size and shape, though superior performance particularly at higher frequencies.
Room for improvement:
- Premium model comes with the same ordinary mesh carry bag. Could do with an upgrade.
- Needs a Mini size for fans of the original Calmer Mini
So what is the Calmer?
Introduced in 2020, the Flare Calmer is a revolutionary hearing accessory that softens the entrance of sound into the ear without dampening or blocking noise. Optimised for sound sensitive individuals, the Calmer is designed to target triggers of sensory discomfort, by softening sound information particularly between the 2000 and 16000 hz range. This may sound overly technical, but the proof is in experience: wearing the Calmer reduces sound related anxiety.
In 2021, Flare introduced a premium level upgrade to the Calmer: the Calmer Pro. In contrast to the soft and flexible silicone design of the Calmer and Calmer Night, the Pro model has a thin layer aluminium core — an optimisation drawn from their popular Sleeep and Isolate range — designed to even more effectively target and soften those disruptive sound frequencies. In this guide we’re going to look at the Calmer Pro and outline our experience after a week of wear.
The first impression on unboxing the Calmer Pro is that it’s a premium option that is well designed and presented, very suitable for gifts. In contrast to the regular Calmer, which comes in minimalist cardboard packaging, the Pro model comes in a hardy and attractive brown box. The Calmer units are stored inside an ear-shaped mould, a nice touch that also works to explicitly show how the Calmer ought to be worn in the ear. It comes with the standard Flare accessories, a soft carry bag and some stickers. For individuals looking for a stronger carry case, they sell hard carry cases too available here.
Flare provide an extensive guide with the Calmer, outlining possible use scenarios (commuting, watching TV, or while enjoying a conversation) as well as a maintenance guide (the great news: these are reusable plugs that can be cleaned with an anti-bacterial wipe or damp cloth and left to dry). While Flare have improved their insertion guide with the Pro, it’s still not always entirely clear to all users how these are meant to be shaped into the ear, a URL linking to their video guide would likely help customers get their Calmer Pro in more quickly.
First Wear and Impressions
In contrast to the regular Calmer, which has a soft silicone body that’s flexible in the ear, the Calmer Pro is a little more rigid thanks to the aluminium core. This may sound off putting, but it’s a significant improvement. The soft silicone layer remains, it fits softly and comfortably in the ear, but the aluminium core gives structure — increasing ease of insertion and ensuring it stays in place in the ear even when moving. I found that the fit was superior compared to the original Calmer and that the unit was steady in my ear, without needing to adjust even when going for a walk. I personally wouldn’t recommend the Calmer for an exercise context just yet, though they are effective for ordinary movements around the house or in public.
Following Flare’s guidelines, you want to wear the Calmer Pro for as close to 24 hours at a time when you first put them on. This allows your ears the opportunity to adjust to the change in sound — you become more conscious of the benefit if you give them time. In terms of testing these, having worn them for the allotted period I then tested them on a zoom call, in ordinary conversation, and while listening to music.
The effect is most notable with music: songs appear to have a greater degree of crispness and clarity, they felt quite significantly ‘more real’. A significant benefit of a hearing aid that doesn’t dampen sound is that you can still listen to music at an appropriate volume. I was able to enjoy all my music at less than 50% volume — a great sign for the ear health conscious among us! As for Zoom calls, conversations are still crisp and audible: I felt both more aware and also less bothered by ambient noises in my apartment. The Calmer is particularly useful as a tool for individuals with sensory processing conditions or autism: it targets the exact frequencies we associate with ‘triggers’, helping to avoid frustration or meltdown.
For me, the Calmer meant an easier time working from home and a discernible reduction in my levels of stress. All the benefits I associated with the original Calmer were present in this model, with the rigid body easier to fit and set. I wore them all day without adjusting once.
Is the Calmer Pro worth the upgrade?
The central question is whether the Calmer Pro is worth the significant price increase over the ordinary Calmer. If you’re someone who has enjoyed the Calmer in the past, the Pro is a natural upgrade. It has a superior fit without compromising comfort and I found an increase in the auditory benefits I associate with the regular model. If you’re someone who uses the Mini, or is worried about fit, I would hold off for now until the Mini Pro is released. Similarly, if you’re someone who’s attracted to the flexibility of the ordinary Calmer, the Pro may represent a step backwards.