The latest Cleer Enduro ANC headphones bridge the gap between the affordable none ANC Cleer Enduro 100 and the more premium Cleer Flow II.
All three headphones use the patented 40mm Ironless Driver technology, which helps Cleer headphones offer superior sound quality to many competitors.
This then makes the main difference between them the active noise cancelling performance (or lack of ANC for the Endura) and the battery life.
I have recently reviewed the Anker Soundcore Life Q35; with this review so fresh in my memory and pricing quite similar, I have inevitably made a lot of comparisons.
It is worth noting that these are quite a bit smaller than the Cleer Flow II, around the same size as the Q35. They look good though, even though it is all plastic, the blue and copper tones make these look much more premium.
- Up to 60 hours of noise cancelling playback from a single charge
- Hear only your music with powerful active noise cancellation
- Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC and AptX Adaptive
- 40mm Patented Ironless Drivers produce bold and articulate Hi-Res sound
- Customisable noise cancelling and EQ settings via Cleer+ app
- Voice Assistant and Google Fast Pair 2.0
- USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm audio cable, airplane adapter and carrying pouch included
- Quick Charge, 10-minute charge provides 2 hours playback
These are compatible with Google Fast Pair 2.0, so in theory, the headphones should just pop up and pair on Android. I didn’t actually wait for this, instead, tapping on the side of the headphones for the NFC pairing.
There is also the Cleer+ app you can download, this allows you to control the amount of ANC as well as tune the EQ settings to your liking.
Codecs – AptX Adaptive but no LDAC
Unlike the Cleer Flow II or Q35, these lack LDAC, but it does have the latest Qualcomm AptX Adaptive. AptX Adaptive is a variable bit rate going from 279 – 420kbps and a max sample rate of 48kHz, while LDAC is switchable with 330/660/990kbps with a max sample rate of 96kHz.
I occasionally experience issues with LDAC maintaining a stable connection and I am pretty sure it is impossible for my Huawei P30 Pro to maintain a stable connection at 990kbps, so I am likely limited to 660kbps. Therefore, I don’t feel like you are missing out too much by not having this. AptX Adaptive should offer superior performance than both SBC and AAC.
It is also worth noting that more phones should support AptX Adaptive vs LDAC.
Sound quality is where these excel, I could be a little biased because I have only just reviewed the Anker Soundcore Life Q35, and they just don’t sound anywhere near as good as these.
Similar to the Q35, these are bass-forward, like most consumer headphones nowadays. Unlike the Q35, the bass doesn’t muddy everything else; vocals, mids and treble are all clear.
With more mid and treble prominent music, I experienced no harshness that many headphones are prone to suffering from. I am particularly sensitive to sharp highs, and I experienced no problem here.
Like all ANC headphones, switching it on and off will affect the sound quality. The headphones lose a little soundstage while bringing out the bass a little more prominent.
The Cleer+ app offers an EQ, so if you prefer a flatter sound, you can customise the profile to your liking.
Active Noise Cancelling
While the Cleer Enduro ANC headphones outclass the Soundcore Life Q35 for sound quality, the same can’t be said for the active noise cancelling.
I’d say these offers average performance; I might have been more optimistic if I had not reviewed the Q35 so recently. The Cleer Flow II also offered superb ANC, matching the performance of the Mu6. So the extra money you spend on the Flow II is definitely justified in my opinion.
Using my normal test of airplane cabin white noise from YouTube there is a significant difference between the ANC being on or off, but I would say the low-end frequency noise cancelling is maybe only half of what the Q35 achieves.
One advantage these have is that there is no pierceable head pressure or unusual sensations when switching ANC on or off. Thanks to the long battery life, I found myself leaving ANC on full time.
With me working from home and travel still restricted, there has not been many real-world scenarios to use these in, but I would imagine the ANC will make commutes and air flight a little more bearable, allowing your audio to come through clearly without jacking the volume up too high.
Other Bits – Battery, Microphone etc
Being branded Endura, a big selling point here is the 60 hours of battery life. This is above and beyond the performance of any other ANC headphones I am aware of. The Sony WH-1000XM4 offered an impressive enough battery at 30 hours with ANC on, so these are very impressive.
The microphone performance is good, I have used the headphones for a few Zoom calls and experienced no problems with the performance at all.
Price and Alternative Options
The Anker Soundcore Life Q35 recently launched at £129.99, but the older model without LDAC is available for £59.99
The Huawei Freebuds Studio are £145, I have no used these personally, but the Freebuds Pro are superb, and I have always been happy with the audio products from Huawei.
The Cleer Flow II also make an excellent alternative, the ANC performance is significantly better, but the battery life is worse. While the RRP is £199, you can currently get them for £179.99, and I think the £30 difference would be well spent.
Depending on your requirements, the Cleer Enduro ANC are excellent; sound quality is superb with the added benefit of being able to tweak to EQ to your liking. In particular, I enjoyed the out of box performance, it was significantly better than the Life Q35.
However, if it is primarily the active noise cancelling that appeals to you about these then they may be a little disappointing. There is a noticeable difference, and it will certainly make commuting or flights a little more bearable, but it is just not as good as the Q35 or the more expensive Flow II.
I guess this is what differentiates a premium headphone from affordable; with the Flow II being the most affordable ANC headphones I have used that offer both excellent sound quality and ANC performance.
Posted by Mighty Gadget Blog: UK Technology News and Reviews