Cleer Audio is a relative newcomer within the headphone marketplace. It used to be based in 2020 with a focal point on DJ headphones, however that focal point modified to client merchandise in 2020. Since then, the corporate has wasted no time; it now gives four in-ear and four over-ear fashions with extra at the method.
The Flow II is one of Cleer’s newest fashions. It’s a wi-fi Bluetooth headphone with lively noise cancellation (ANC) and compatibility with Google Assistant voice keep watch over. Most importantly, the entire sound high quality is phenomenal.
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The Flow II is an over-ear, closed-back headphone with softly padded earcups and headscarf. The ovoid earcups are slightly smaller than maximum over-ear headphones I’ve attempted, making them just a little fiddly to seat correctly. It weighs a trifling 11.5 oz, which is lighter than many such headphones, but its construct high quality turns out reasonably really extensive.
Cleer says its Ironless Driver design makes use of rings of rare-earth magnets with out a iron to toughen the point of interest of the magnetic box, permitting extra voice-coil tour with decrease distortion. The 40mm magnesium diaphragm with polyurethane encompass gives low mass, top stress, and top inside damping.
Each motive force employs a full-range 40mm magnesium diaphragm with polyurethane encompass, leading to low mass, top stress, and top inside damping. The magnet construction makes use of no iron; as a substitute, it’s made out of 20 rare-earth magnets in a hoop construction. Cleer calls this Ironless Driver Technology, which is claimed to toughen the point of interest of the magnetic box, permitting extra voice-coil tour with decrease distortion. Specifically, Cleer claims the THD (general harmonic distortion) at 100dB SPL is lower than part that of a traditional magnetic motive force throughout all the audio spectrum and as much as six occasions much less within the upper-midrange area.
The specified frequency reaction extends from 20Hz to 40kHz the usage of a stressed out connection, garnering Hi-Res Audio certification if that’s the case. With Bluetooth, the frequency reaction is specified from 20Hz to 20kHz. No tolerance is given in both case.
Speaking of Bluetooth, the Flow II implements model 4.2 with the A2DP 1.3.1, AVRCP 1.6, HFP 1.6, and SPP 1.0 profiles. The supported audio formats come with AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC. You can pair the headphone with the supply instrument in the standard means, or—if the instrument helps NFC (Near-Field Communication) pairing—you’ll merely hang it close to the appropriate earcup and they are going to pair mechanically.
Cleer touts its “hybrid” noise cancellation, which mixes passive isolation with lively noise cancelling (ANC) for as much as 30dB attenuation of wideband ambient noise. The Flow II powers up with ANC on, however in fact, you’ll flip it off, which turns on Ambient Mode that allows you to hears sounds round you. In this mode, the exterior microphones select up ambient sound, which is performed within the headphones at the side of the song you’re paying attention to.
The most effective factor I want for here’s a 3rd choice that disengages ANC however does now not turn on the exterior microphone. That method, you should nonetheless have passive isolation and prolong the battery lifestyles.
The 3.7V lithium-ion battery supplies as much as 20 hours of play time from a complete fee, which takes about two hours to finish. Even higher, a handy guide a rough 10-minute fee is sufficient for two hours of play time.
The Cleer Flow II gives robust construct high quality, regardless that the earcups are slightly small.
The Flow II supplies three bodily buttons at the lower-rear phase of the left earcup: energy on/off, ANC on/off, and Google Assistant. The buttons are properly separated, and the ANC and Google Assistant buttons have small ridges on other aspects, making them really easy to search out via really feel. The energy and ANC buttons even have LED signs, and a nice voice informs you when the facility is grew to become off and on in addition to the ANC standing.
You keep watch over the song with contact gestures at the outer floor of the left earcup. Swipe up and down to switch the amount, swipe ahead and again to skip to the following or earlier observe, and double-tap to play/pause. If you get a telephone name, double-tap to just accept and cling up and hang to reject the decision.
Here’s a fab characteristic: If ANC is on, you’ll hang one or extra palms at the left earcup to have interaction Conversation Mode. This quickly turns off ANC and turns on Ambient Mode, so you’ll communicate with somebody like a flight attendant. When you take away your palms from the earcup, ANC turns again on. Interestingly, the contact sensor can distinguish between maintaining a fingertip to reject a choice and a whole finger or two to have interaction Conversation Mode.
A 3.5mm stereo-audio jack is located on the backside of the left earcup, whilst a USB-C port is located on the backside of the appropriate earcup. As anticipated, the USB-C port is used to fee the battery.
The bodily buttons are properly separated, and the multifunction touchpad makes it simple to keep watch over quantity, skip tracks, and play/pause.
My supply for take a look at tracks used to be the Tidal Master library from my iPhone XS by the use of Bluetooth. First up used to be “Agbada Bougou” from Rejoice via Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela. The instrumentation is inconspicuous—drum package, acoustic bass, trumpet, and alto sax—and the Flow II sounded blank and open with extremely correct renditions of every tool.
The similar used to be true of “My Blue Heaven” as sung via James Taylor on his album American Standard. The Flow II’s general sound used to be transparent, open, and well-balanced, and Taylor’s voice and guitar had been fantastically rendered.
For one thing just a little extra trendy, I listened to “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” via Summer Walker from Birds of Prey: The Album, which contains songs from the film Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Once once more, the entire sound used to be blank and open, and the vocal used to be proper up entrance with out overbalancing the remainder of the observe.
Amazingly, The Who are nonetheless at it with their 2020 free up, Who. I listened to “Hero Ground Zero,” a extremely produced observe with plenty of strings. As I had come to be expecting via now, the sound used to be transparent and well-balanced, regardless that Roger Daltrey’s voice used to be just a little farther again than I’d heard ahead of—it used to be most certainly combined that method.
It’s laborious to consider that Prince’s album 1999 is nearly 40 years outdated. I listened to the 2020 remaster of the identify observe and heard the similar open, blank sound as with the entire different tracks I sampled.
Turning to a few classical song, I loved a observe from Cecilia Bartoli’s album Farinelli. Among the arias on that album is Signor, l. a. tua speranza…A Dio trono, impero Dio from the opera Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra via Johann Adolf Hasse, carried out with Il Giardino Armonico below the path of Giovanni Antonini. Opera isn’t one of my favourite genres, however Bartoli is a definite exception. Her beautiful voice used to be adroitly rendered via the Flow II, and the orchestra sounded blank and gentle.
Ironless Driver generation is claimed to show off lower than part the THD of a traditional magnetic motive force throughout all the audio spectrum and as much as six occasions much less within the upper-midrange area.
Finally, I dug into Witold Lutoslawski’s Variations on a Theme via Paganini as organized via Alexander Warenberg for piano, strings, and percussion. For this recording, it’s carried out via Denis Matsuev on piano and Kammerorchester Wien-Berlin below the path of Rainer Honeck for the album Shostakovich/Schnittke/Lutoslawski. This unbelievable piece used to be rendered fantastically via the Flow II with an absolutely open, transparent sound that showcased the very good sound of the piano in opposition to the strings and percussion.
In addition to Bluetooth, I listened to some of the tracks discussed above via anhooked up to the telephone and the Flow II with cables. I didn’t listen a lot of a distinction in comparison with Bluetooth—the stressed out connection used to be in all probability just a little airier, however now not much better.
The touchpad at the left earcup works reasonably properly for enjoying and pausing, converting the amount, and skipping to the following or earlier observe. It calls for just a little of method—you should hit the pad quite unexpectedly and transfer your finger moderately temporarily—but it surely didn’t take lengthy to get used to it.
I had an extraordinary alternative to check the lively noise cancellation: My neighbors around the boulevard had been having the outside in their space power wiped clean, which made reasonably a steady-state racket. The Flow II’s ANC labored rather well to mitigate a big portion of the noise.
Comparison to DALI IO-6, Sony WH-1000XM3
In addition to the Flow II, I listened to every observe at theand . As I swapped headphones, I found out that the Flow II pauses the song when you are taking it off and resumes playback whilst you put it again on, which is beautiful cool. The different headphones don’t be offering that little nicety.
As I wrote in my evaluate of the DALI IO-6, its sound is wealthy and opulent, which I in reality preferred. Compared with the Flow II, alternatively, it used to be nearly too wealthy; I saved writing “thick” in my notes. The Flow II used to be extra open and spacious.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 shared the Flow II’s openness, however its bass used to be normally overemphasized. That must please bassheads, however I want a extra impartial steadiness, which the Flow II excelled at.
I additionally in comparison the ANC efficiency of the IO-6 and WH-1000XM3 with that of the Flow II as my neighbors’ space used to be being power wiped clean. During my evaluate of the IO-6, I believed the ANC labored rather well with rain at the roof of my automotive, but it surely got here up just a little brief in opposition to the onslaught of power cleansing, permitting extra noise to achieve my ears. The WH-1000XM3 labored highest in that din, however the Flow II used to be now not a long way at the back of.
Cleer began out specializing in DJ headphones, however the Flow II demonstrates how they’ve effectively expanded past that area of interest.
I completely love the sound of the Cleer Flow II, much more than the DALI IO-6 and Sony WH-1000XM3. It befits the corporate’s oddly spelled title completely—transparent, blank, open, and well-balanced. In addition, the construct high quality is forged, its ANC works rather well, and it gives some great touches, reminiscent of Conversation mode and mechanically pausing the song when you are taking it off and beginning once more whilst you put it again on.
I’ve most effective two proceedings. First, the earcups are slightly small, which means that you should jiggle them round to seat them correctly. The earcups at the IO-6 and WH-1000XM3 are better, making them more straightforward to seat in your head. Second—and extra vital—I want the Flow II had a method by which ANC used to be off and the microphones didn’t select up environmental sound; either one of the opposite fashions be offering this type of mode.
On the opposite hand, the Flow II has a decrease record value than the opposite two: $280 as opposed to $350 for the Sony and just about $500 for the DALI. With awesome sound high quality for lower than the contest, the Cleer Flow II is my new reference Bluetooth ANC headphone.