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Cleer Audio Alpha review

Cleer's Alpha noise-canceling headphones are a great-sounding, flight-ready headphone with enough features to make them a top value compared to similar models from Sony and Bose. Cleer Audio's new Alpha headphones, the company's flagship wireless noise-canceling headphones, are packed with extras that enhance the very good overall sound quality.

The Cleer Audio Alpha aren’t your typical wireless over-ear headphones. With support for Dirac Virtuo, immersive “theatre-like” sound processing, adaptive active noise cancellation, proprietary 40mm Ironless drivers, and a remarkable 35 hours of playing and that’s in ANC mode these headphones are sure to make a splash.

On paper, we’d have to agree that they are a “game-changing headset” because The Alpha’s spec sheet is outstanding. Naturally though, spec sheets can be misleading. We are here to check how well Cleer’s newest model compares to the best in its class for value, comfort, use, and sound quality at the £249 ($250) price point. Cleer might have equally well labeled the box’s front with “Sony WH-1000XM4 competitors.” Sony, should you be worried? We will soon find out. We haven’t experienced a high-quality over-ear wireless headset from a smaller manufacturer in a while.

Although Cleer Audio has been around for a while, I have only recently learned about many of their products. We are thrilled to offer our opinions on the ALPHA, one of their most feature-rich wireless headphones, which we had the chance to listen to. This wireless headset costs $249, but is currently on sale for $219 and comes with a ton of functions. Should one be on the lookout for the ALPHA headphones?

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Design

It’s probably easiest to start with the physical design of this headphone before illuminating its features. The durable travel case is the first thing you’ll notice when you remove the Cleer Alpha Headphones from their attractively designed box. The headphones are there, either in Stone or Midnight Blue. Both colors are lovely. I received the Midnight Blue model from Cleer to test and assess. The Alpha appears to be built primarily of hard plastic, with black foam on the headband and imitation leather around the ear cups. It is simple to fold the headphones into their carrying case.

The wide-band noise cancellation on the Alpha’s has an ambient option that lets outside sounds through if you want them to The business has given attention to call quality since the Alpha’s can pair with a smartphone, and they use Qualcomm® cVcTM with 2 beam-forming microphones and wind noise reduction.

Cleer is employing Dirac Virtuo spatial audio, a first in my knowledge, to expand the soundscape and move the audio farther from your head. Additionally, Cleer uses a driver they refer to as an Ironless driver, a 40mm diaphragm that they claim produces outstanding, high-resolution sound. There is Bluetooth 5.1 and aptX, which is not supported by all music sources but is thought to be the highest quality wireless codec. With their iPhones, Apple is a significant holdout. There is a quick charge mode that allows you to get 4 hours of playback with just a 10-minute charge, and the battery life is claimed as being 35 hours.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Comfort

These headphones are not lightweight; they weigh 11.64 ounces. In fact, they weigh more than the 8.95 ounce Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4, two more expensive versions. The tight clamp force around the ears made them uncomfortable to wear for longer than an hour. Yes, it gave a more secure fit, albeit at the expense of some pain.

The common set of accessories for over-ear headphones priced around $250 includes an aux cable, a carrying case, and a charging wire. I haven’t seen an airplane adaptor since the original Bose QuietComfort 35 released, yet Cleer opted to include one extra. Although the development of wireless transmitters has rendered this item mostly unnecessary, it is nevertheless a noteworthy addition for purists who prefer an in-line connection when viewing TV on flights.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Features

The ALPHA supports SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive codecs thanks to Bluetooth 5.1 wireless networking. The latter should guarantee perfect audio/video synchronization. After the audio data is stored, two multi-magnet 40mm full-range speakers that Cleer Audio refers to as “ironless” serve it to the ears.
There are various ways to operate the headphones. There are both physical buttons and touch-sensitive controls located around the earcups. The right earcup’s slick plastic features a capacitive touch surface that may be used to adjust the volume, play/pause, skip forward or backward, answer/end/reject calls, and switch to conversation mode. A 3.5mm analog connector and power on/off/Bluetooth pairing buttons are also located there.

The left earcup, in comparison, just needs to accommodate a USB-C connection (the ALPHA can charge from flat to full in around two hours, and 10 minutes on the power should be adequate for four hours of listening) and a “action” button. The action button lets you navigate through your active noise-cancellation settings (on/off/ambient noise control), activate your voice assistant, or turn the Dirac Virtuo spatial audio algorithm on or off, depending on how many times and for how long you push it.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Sound Quality

On audio goodies, Cleer didn’t skimp. The 40mm ironless drivers, aptX Adaptive codec support, a programmable EQ, spatial audio, and a 3.5mm connection are all included with the Alphas. A dynamic feature set like this enables widening sound when Dirac Virtuo is activated. Punchy lows, clear mids, and finely detailed highs are produced by the default sound profile, which blasts out a fantastic frequency range. Jumpman by Drake & Future is performed with a powerful bass sound that is distortion-free. Your eardrums are pounded by rumbling 808s, and the jittery hi-hats stand out over the booming production.

The Alpha exhibits exceptional layering when switching to melodic tracks like the Ahmad Jamal Trio’s “I Love Music,” which highlights the soulful double bass and piano playing. Although the headphones are very well-tuned out of the box, it’s interesting that the Alpha has a five-band EQ to adjust sound. Dirac Virtuo, which Cleer touts as a tranquil and immersive listening experience, is the last option. The technology is impressive all around. When viewing action movies, the sounds are more spacious, and some stereo recordings, like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” sound especially spectacular.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Performance

Oh, the pleasures of travel: clamorous flights, fussy infants, obnoxious adults. It goes without saying that having the Alpha with me on my previous trip made me quite happy. I turned on the noise cancellation as soon as I got on board and found my seat, then I chose the Smart Noise Cancellation option on the app. I was initially concerned that the Alpha wouldn’t be able to play loudly, but I later learned that the headphone’s volume control works independently of the playback source’s own volume control.

When Dirac Virtuo, a processing mode designed to widen the soundstage for a more realistic presentation, was also activated, music appeared to have the broadest, richest sound in the Noise Cancellation mode. The guitar had a clean yet warm tone as it triggered George Ezra’s acoustic rendition of “Anyone For You.” The second verse’s gently doubled vocals featured good separation and detail. The kick drum and bass guitar on the non-acoustic version of the same music, in my opinion, had good presence. However, the beats and notes also missed a little impact and clarity in their attack.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Noise Cancelling

Even with the music off, I could hear a mid-frequency hiss when ANC was turned on. Adding ANC does help with removing outside noise and performed its best work removing lower droning noises. However, it also introduces some noise of its own to the sound. This phenomenon, which is a prevalent problem with ANC models, makes me think of old-school tape hiss. Overall, the amount of noise introduced is negligible enough for me to utilize the ANC while traveling, but not so negligible that I wouldn’t forsake better sound when I didn’t actually need it.

For me, Dirac was again another mixed bag. I can’t argue that it doesn’t introduce a 3D soundfield, which is the purported benefit. Immediately noticeable is the difference in soundstage, although whether or not that is a positive thing depends greatly on the source material.

Cleer Audio Alpha review: Price and Release date

For $249 / £249, the Cleer Audio ALPHA are currently available. Customers in Australia can anticipate paying around AU$450; however, that estimate is solely dependent on current exchange rates as the ALPHA haven’t been added to the company’s Australian website yet.

To comprehend how many over-ear active noise-cancelling headphones are available for this kind of money, you don’t need to be an expert in headphones. The outstanding Sony WH-1000XM4 is the clear front-runner in this price bracket, but you should also take into account options from Bose, JBL, Sennheiser, and any other number of the other typical suspects. In essence, Cleer Audio has thrown the ALPHA right into the middle of the action.

Conclusion

The Cleer Audio ALPHA is a top-tier Bluetooth headphone, which surprises me. However, on its own, this is a delightful sound that’s so simple to adore. A lot of its qualities are just enhanced by the Cleer+ app. All of the controls are instantly responsive, and the noise-canceling is powerful and effective in any environment. The ALPHA is one of the most cutting-edge wireless headphones you can purchase right now and uses without a hitch. I wouldn’t pass up the Cleer Audio Alpha for that price.

James Hogan
James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.

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The Cleer Audio ALPHA is a top-of-the-line Bluetooth headphone, which surprises us. However, in its own right, it is a wonderful sound that you can't help but admire. Many of its qualities are enhanced by the Cleer+ app. All controls respond instantly, and the noise cancellation is powerful and effective in any environment.Cleer Audio Alpha review