I like that the Cleer Alpha sound so excellent and are a sleekly designed pair of headphones, but the loss of a dedicated button for answering calls means that they’re less than 100% reliable in that capacity. While that is a dealbreaker for me personally, it might not be for you!
- Comfortable to wear for long periods
- Noise canceling is easy to use and toggle
- The companion app gives you a lot of control over the headphones
- The battery life is incredible
- Headphones come with a nice set of accessories
- Well-built and stylish
- The touch controls for answering calls can be a bit finicky
There are a shocking number of choices available for headphones right now — over the ear, in-ear, true wireless, fitted for weird ears, fitted for normal ears, fitted for ears you wish were weirder — as I said, there are a lot of options. The Cleer Alpha Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling Headphones look fantastic and have an over-the-ear form factor, but are they good enough to stand out in a sea of headphone choices?
We’ll get into my experience using the Cleer Alpha headphones in a moment, but first, let’s look at the hardware.
The Alpha are available in Midnight Blue or Stone; Cleer includes just about everything you might need with the headphones, including a USB-C cable, a 3.5mm cord, and even an in-flight adapter if you really want to watch the in-flight viewing of “The Wedding Crashers.”
All this comes with a hardshell carrying case to keep the headphones and accessories together, safely protected.
The Alphas use soft earcups and have a soft pad at the top of the band, making them very comfortable to wear for long periods. The right cup has a power button and a 3.5mm connector, while the left cup has the USB-C slot and an ANC button to toggle noise cancellation between on, off, and ambient noise control.
Under the hood, there are 40mm ironless drivers and Bluetooth 5.1 with Qualcomm aptX Adaptive, which makes for crisp and enjoyable sound. The noise cancellation is easy to switch on and off, and it is quite effective at sealing off outside noises — something I especially enjoyed when my son was bingeing YouTube while I was on a work call.
The microphone is also excellent; I have taken quite a few calls while using the Cleer Alpha, and people’s feedback has been that the sound quality on the calls was notably good.
Cleer has a companion app that lets you tweak the noise cancellation and choose between the Dirac Virtuo spatial audio versus playing with the equalizer yourself.
The app also lets you check battery life, update the firmware, check the manual, and other features.
Cleer has crammed a really impressive amount of battery life into the Alpha, offering up to 35 hours with the ability to quick-charge for up to four hours in just ten minutes.
All of that’s great, and in general, I really loved 90% of the Cleer Alpha experience. However, you might notice I haven’t yet addressed the headphone controls at all. As I mentioned earlier, the only physical buttons are for the ANC and power; all other functions are controlled via touch controls on the right ear cup.
You can swipe left and right to skip tracks, up and down for volume, and double-tap the middle to answer a call or play/pause. In theory, it’s a neat idea that leaves the headphones looking very sleek, but it’s problematic when you’re on the phone a lot for work. I had a lot of trouble getting the double-tap to work reliably, which led to me hanging up on a few calls. Thankfully, people were quite understanding about the technical difficulties during calls.
The loss of a dedicated button for answering calls means that the Cleer Alpha headphones are less than 100% reliable in that capacity. While that’s, unfortunately, a dealbreaker for me personally, it might not be for you! My issue with the call answering touch controls is somewhat specific to my situation; even so, I did find the touch controls to be great for regular navigation of songs and adjusting the volume.
If you’re not on the phone as often as I have to be, reliably being able to answer calls with the touch controls won’t matter as much to you. But in every other regard, I found the Cleer Alpha to be a fantastic set of headphones!
At $249.99 (currently $199.99 on sale), the Cleer Alphas are pretty reasonable if you’re looking for comfortable headphones that offer excellent noise cancellation options. The overall experience of using the Cleer Alpha was excellent, and the included accessories are a great added value.
The Cleer Alpha Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling Headphones retail for $249.99; they are available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I liked: Comfortable to wear for long periods; Noise canceling is easy to use and toggle; The companion app gives you a lot of control over the headphones; The battery life is incredible; Headphones come with a nice set of accessories; Well-built and stylish
What Needs Improvement: The touch controls for answering calls can be a bit finicky