UNBOXED: Reviewing the Cleer FLOW Wireless Hybrid Noise Canceling Headphones
Finding a decent pair of Bluetooth over-ear headphones that have active noise cancellation and don't break the bank is no easy task. But finding a pair that does that and also has an ambient mode, 20 hours of battery life, and a sound profile worthy of the Hi-Res Audio seal? Sounds like an impossible task. Thankfully, though, we're familiar with the folks over at Cleer who let us take their FLOW Wireless headphones for a spin.
Cleer announced the FLOW headphones earlier this year and showed off production-ready models during our CE Week event in June. There the headphones were honored as one of our Best in Show products, so we were already impressed with them even prior to taking them for a full-blown review. But now that we're here, I feel comfortable saying that these headphones more than proved their worth—and that's even considering the tier of headphone that Cleer is going up against at this price point.
From a pure aesthetics perspective, the FLOW Wireless headphones are a step above. I've always been impressed with this brand's level of attention to detail and style, and that certainly extends to these headphones. Consumers will have the option to order these headphones in black or silver, but the neat thing here is that Cleer allows for some customization. Each pair will come with two sets of rings that seem like a minor part of the overall headphone, but they completely change the look and feel. The silver pair we reviewed came with a darker charcoal looking pair of rings, and a gold pair. It's a nice touch for Cleer, but also shows a potential revenue stream for them and retailers in the future if they opt to create (and sell) additional rings separately.
As for how the headphones feel, they're supremely comfortable. Each earpiece has a lot of flexibility that allows them to adjust to the contours of the wearer's head for the perfect fit. And Cleer provides a lot of padding both on the earcups and around the top of the headphones. The FLOW Wireless headphones aren't the lightest pair of headphones you could go with, but the padding and flexibility make them very easy on the ears. And beyond that, they're secure. The headphones have a slight squeeze to them that keeps them on the head snugly, but not so tight that they become tough to wear for long periods of time.
Then there's the listening experience. Cleer's FLOW Wireless headphones have the Hi-Res Audio for a reason. The audio brand employs 40mm ironless drivers that deliver a smooth and bold sound profile.The audio comes through crisp on its own, but when you layer the active noise cancellation on top of that, you experience another level of clarity with your favorite tracks. These headphones, from a pure audio performance perspective, can compete with some of the best in the game at the $250-$300 price point.
But what sets the Cleer FLOW Wireless headphones apart from the others is just how feature rich they are. All of the techy, smart aspects of these headphones are hidden quite literally in the details. There's the two ambient noise modes (normal and voice) that are accessible via a physical button; a smart feature that let's the user enjoy their music but still be aware of their surroundings. Touch controls on the left earcup let you skip ahead or rewind tacks, control the volume, and play/pause the music. You can take phone calls with these headphones thanks to the integrated microphone—and the sound is incredibly crisp. And there's a smart pause/play function when you take off and put back on the headphones—a feature that helps to extend the battery life of the FLOW Wireless headphones.
It's rare that I can't find a single thing that I don't like about a product. But with Cleer's FLOW Wireless headphones, I'm really left searching. They're comfortable. They are feature rich. The battery life is supremely impressive. And they look great. Let a customer strap these headphones on and they'll almost sell themselves.