It’s very clear our love for headphone jacks isn’t here to stay. Phone makers, led by Apple, are slowly doing away with the standard 3.5mm audio jack, and with the latest iPhone X models, Apple’s not even including a “free” dongle to convert the Lightning port. Wireless headphones are apparently the future, so let’s talk about a doubleheader from Cleer.
First up is the Clear Flow, a fully over-the-ear, noise-canceling headset – there’s a built-in microphone – able to shut out as much or as little of the rest of the world as you wish while you listen to music or watch a video on your phone or other Bluetooth equipped device. The headphones fold up to fit in a supplied hard-shell carrying case and come with a 4-foot 3.5mm male to male audio cable to plug into non-Bluetooth audio sources, a slightly shorter micro-USB charging cable (but no charger), an in-flight adapter, and a second set of decorative rings that fit on the outside of the earpieces so you can choose between a gold or silver look. The Cleer Flow comes in silver or black.
Setting up on Bluetooth was very easy, but only three controls on the headphones are actual marked switches, other functions are controlled by taps or swipes on the outside of the left side earpiece with no marks to guide you. The gestures are pictured in the small paper “Quick Start Guide” that comes in the box, but you’ll need some practice to get the hang of changing the volume, skipping a track, or answering the phone. The Cleer Flow also pauses the sound when you remove it from your ears.
How’s the sound? Very good with strong bass, a little heavy for my taste, but not insufferable. The headphones are not heavy at about 10 ounces, so your head won’t feel weighed down. On a full charge, the Cleer Flow is said to last up to 20 hours, depending on conditions such as how loud you’re playing the sound.
The noise-canceling was also good, and with the physical switches, you can adjust it for cancellation on or off, some ambient noise, or voices-only. The Cleer Flow “speaks” softly in your ear in response to changed settings. Lists for $279.99
Then there’s the Cleer Edge Pulse, an in-the-ear wireless headset with hangers to go over your ears, attached to an adjustable, rubberized cord that goes behind your neck, so if the earpieces fall off or are taken out, they don’t drop to the ground. As with most in-ear phones, you get different silicone tips for different size ear canals. Also included are a soft cloth bag and a very short (less than 6-inches) micro-USB charging cable – no charger.
The Cleer Edge Pulse connected easily on Bluetooth, but the volume & on/off controls are difficult to use, as they are on the rear of the right side ear loop. Barely visible so you have to go by feel. If you wear glasses with thick temples (what some call the “arms”), they might be fighting the hangers for behind the ear space.
The reason this headset has the word “pulse” in the name, is that the left earbud contains a heart rate sensor, which is activated with a long touch on the right earbud. After it self-calibrates, you can tap the right earbud to get an audible readout of your BPM (beats per minute), and the information can be transferred to several different fitness monitoring apps for your phone. The Cleer Edge Pulse is water-resistant, shock-proof and said to run up to 6 hours on a full charge – less if you leave the heart rate monitor on all the time.
Clearly, this was designed for someone who very actively works out (hence the resistance to sweat), but that’s not to say it can’t be used by those of us who are somewhat else active but wish to know our pulse rate as we do exercise.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the Cleer Edge Pulse to be so good on the audio side. Even with the “correct” size silicone tips for my ears & the buds sitting in my ears firmly, the sound was thin to my ears with little “bottom” & below the quality of my older & less fancy wired earbuds, to say nothing of comparison to a full headset such as the Cleer Flow. And I was listening to the same tracks from the same device for both Cleer units. I also couldn’t make the Edge as loud as my usual wired earbuds or the Cleer Flow. Other reviewers didn’t seem to have such quarrels.
But for workouts or casual listening, the Cleer Edge Pulse might work for you. List price is $149.99, in red or black.