UNBOXED: Reviewing the Cleer ALLY True Wireless Headphones
Undoubtedly, the true wireless headphone market is getting incredibly crowded and potentially confusing for consumers. So many options exist today, each touting their own benefits and unique feature sets. But when you boil this space down three things stand out as critical when it comes to deciding what works best for the consumer: comfort, security (meaning how well they stay in your ears), and clarity. In that regard, the Cleer ALLY True Wireless Headphones certainly stand out.
Cleer is a company that, over the past few years, has done quite a bit in trying to redefine itself and its products. Those efforts were recently realized in the form of their FLOW headphones, which are among the best midrange over-ear headphones we’ve ever strapped on. Now, Cleer hopes to follow that up with the launch of their first true wireless option in the ALLY headphones.
There are plenty of ways in which we’ll break these headphones down, but let’s start with those three points that seem to matter most in this category. Starting with comfort. Out of the box, the wing-tip fit that Cleer applies to these buds worked best for me. The tip itself provides a snug fit that fills the ear and prevents outside noise from bleeding into the listening experience. And the wing tip isn’t so long that you feel like you’re being stabbed inside the ear. I could go hours, easily, with these headphones in without feeling excessive pressure or feeling like I needed to take a break. Of course, if the fit out of the box isn’t the best for the consumer, Cleer provides plenty of options—including three sets of wings and three different tip sizes. So, finding the perfect fit for you shouldn’t be too hard.
With the security of the fit, I saw a number of reviews of the ALLY headphones mention that they had trouble keeping the buds in while being active. Personally, I didn’t experience that loose of a fit. Aside from wearing these during normal jogging, I tried the crazy method of shaking my head back and forth and in all sorts of different directions, and the ALLY buds stayed in. They’re far more secure that Apple’s AirPods and other similarly-designed true wireless headphones, so I have no complaints in this department.
And then there’s clarity. The ALLY headphones perform great on phone calls, which can be taken in either the left bud, right bud, or with both. And from a sound performance perspective, the Cleer audio profile has long been one of my favorites. There’s that added emphasis on the low-end with a bit of a bass boost, which I absolutely enjoy. With that, you sacrifice some of the range on the high end of the frequency scale, but not so much that it ruins the overall listening experience.
Of the drawbacks here, the biggest to me might be in the overall aesthetic design. The circular buds certainly look sleek—especially the black color option. But they are one of the thicker earbuds I’ve ever put in my ear. The design doesn’t hinder the ALLY headphones from a comfort standpoint in any way. They just jut out off of my head a little more than I’m used to.
That design does bring with it some added benefits, though. Perhaps most importantly, it allowed Cleer to boost the battery life on these headphones to a class-leading 10 hours on a single charge. You also get an additional 20 hours of playback time with the charging case, for 30 total hours of listening.
The touch interface is a perfectly simple one. There are no buttons on these headphones, but the circular area where the logo is located is touch sensitive on both buds. There, you can control the play/pause function, answer and hang up on phone calls, and access your digital voice assistant. You don’t need more than that considering the voice assistant can get you whatever it is you’re looking for musically and adjust the volume for you. It was refreshing not having to push extra buttons or fumble around trying to get the buds to do what I wanted them to. I will say, though, that the touch panels were sensitive at times, reacting to an inadvertent brush along the edge. Not super annoying, but still noticeable.
Some other features of note, Cleer utilizes the latest Bluetooth 5.0 standard in the ALLY headphones, they’ve got an IPX5 water-resistant and sweat-proof rating, and in-ear sensors that auto-pause when the buds are removed or auto-play when they’re put back in.
In all, the $149 Cleer ALLY True Wireless Headphones are a solid option in this booming segment.