Cleer Ally Plus II
The $129.99 Cleer Ally Plus II true wireless earbuds with 11 hours of playback, solid noise cancelation, and excellent sound should be a welcomed addition to any mobile audio setup.
Cleer continues to lead with quality headphones at a very competitive price.
What we like
Power. The biggest differentiator between Cleer Ally Plus II and most other headphones comes in battery life. Listen for up to 11 hours without a charge. Place the headphones in the well-designed charging case, get up to an additional 22 hours. An optimized quick charge cycle turns 5 minutes in the case into an hour of playtime.
The Cleer Ally Plus IIs charge via USB-C and Qi wireless, which means ease of keeping the case batter topped off when traveling. Many vehicles include Qi wireless, so as the phone plugs in to activate ApplePlay and charge the phone the Ally Plus IIs can power up on the Qi pad.
Microphone. Phone calls come in loud and clear thanks to dual microphones and the Qualcomm cVc 8th generation noise reduction technology.
Sound. If you like bass, you will probably like the Ally II Plus sound profile. But the highs and mids survive the pounding to create an overall balanced profile. I found the 10mm dynamic graphene drivers reacted well on most music types. With a variety of recordings now available, they may produce better or Cleer touts their forward and backward feed noise cancelation, which works very well in office situations. (See notes in What could be improved on in-flight use). A tap allows ambient noise to filter in. The app supports multiple levels of noise cancelation (or not cancelation).
The Cleer Ally Plus IIs schooled my ears Apple’s new iTunes Spatial Audio with albums like Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever pumped through Qualcomm’s aptX™ Adaptive HD audio, though they get a bit overwhelmed at the end of ‘Happier Than Ever’ track, they, however, recover admirably on the whispy haunting of ‘Male Fantasy.’ And the make the Spatial Audio mix of Bohemian Rhapsody an entirely new experience.
aptX also helps keep audio synchronized with games using a dynamic low latency mode.
Take a sound test in the app to further refine the sound profile.
App. Cleer recognizes that an experience isn’t just about headphones connected to a device, so they offer a number of personalizations via an app, including sound isolation levels, double and triple tap function, an equalizer, and firmware updates. The app personalizes the sound based on the owner’s hearing for an improved listening experience.
Connectivity. Bluetooth 5.2 ensures good wireless connections, improved data transfer at lower power (read better sound), and extended range.
Environmental rating. An IPX4-rating protects the stylish earbuds from sweat and water.
Case design. I like the clear top with magnetic closure. The straightforward design of the case makes accessing the earbuds easy—and the case effortlessly slips into bags or pockets.
Price. The $129.99 price proves attractive against similar earbuds from Beats, Apple, and Sony.
Comfort. I sometimes spend hours with the Ally IIs in place, listening to music or streaming video on my iPad while working on another computer. They remain comfortable under all-day use. Multiple ear-tips help owners find the right fit for noise isolation and comfort.
Controls. Since these earbuds compete with higher-priced models, they include touch controls rather than buttons. As noted in many of these reviews, the lack of standards results in some confusion when switching between earbuds. A tap here or there usually doesn’t mean the same thing. Luckily, Cleer kept the gestures limited pretty limited, making gesture mastery easy. I love the on-ear detection feature that stops video or music when with the removal of an earbud.
In the box. Beyond the earbuds and charging case, Cleer includes a charging cable, round and angled ear-tips, and a quick start manual. I highly recommend downloading the PDF for a more portable and readable experience.
These are headphones built for everyday use, hardy, but attractive.
What could be improved
Cleer’s extended battery life likely derives from a combination of power management and increased battery size. These are not the smallest headphones compared to many of the latest models. But the extended battery life makes up for the size. The same holds true for the case, which is oversized compared to competitors, but it also packs more power.
Noise cancelation works well under most circumstances. I did find that on a plane, near the air vents, when I chewed gum behind my mask I experienced a whooshing noise if I opened my mouth. I’ll avoid that. Cleer may want to have an audio engineer check it out.
I would like to see the app’s equalizer include pre-sets for music types. Stay with the flat profile unless you know your way around frequencies.
It would also be good to understand the relationship between the Cleer equalizer and Apple’s.
As a devoted iPad user, it would be great to see an iPad OS version of the app the works in landscape mode.
Cleer Ally Plus II: The Bottom Line
Cleer’s Ally Plus II earbuds offer outstanding features for the price. Superior sound, good noise cancelation, clear calls, and long battery life combine into a tight package that might even get audiophiles to take a look at these $129.99 earbuds.
Cleer provided the Ally Plus II for review. Images courtesy of Cleer.
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