Review: Cleer Ally Wireless Earphones

When you’re going truly wireless, your only option is to use Bluetooth, so it has to be the best quality that Bluetooth affords. The new Cleer Ally earphones use Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX, so for the moment, they're pretty much as good as it gets.

The Ally ($149) are true wireless earphones with 10 hours of playback, but an additional 20 hours capacity is available from the included carrying case, which doubles as a charger. They have a 5-minute quick-charge feature that provides an hour of playback. With IPX5 water-resistance and sweatproof features, they’re ideal for the longest of workouts. They come with a variety of standard eartips, plus three sizes of a “wing-tip” design that provides a secure fit for active listening, and are available in either black or bright red.

The Ally earphones feature a touch-pad on each earpiece that lets you take/make calls and play/pause tracks from either earphone. They don’t allow for more advanced track controls, but do provide access to voice control. Cleer only list Alexa support, but when paired to my Windows laptop, they accessed the remains of Cortana.

Bluetooth pairing is automatic when the earphones are first taken out of the charging/carrying case, and they pair to themselves automatically as well; they can be used individually. They pause automatically when removed from the ear, and start up automatically when reinserted. They turn off completely after 10 minutes, and need to go back into the carrying case and back out to start them up again. I wish there was a way to reactivate them without the need for the carrying case.

As mentioned above, the Ally support Bluetooth 5.0. The codec is compatible with SBC, AAC, and aptX, which is ideal because as with all wireless Bluetooth earphones, there is no other option to get uncompressed music to the system. They use 5.8mm dynamic drivers and have a listed bandwidth of 20 Hz-20 kHz.

I checked out the Cleer Ally on the brilliant collaboration between the late Whitney Houston and Norwegian DJ and producer Kygo on a cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” The vocals were recorded by Whitney in 1990, but that track was only released as a bonus cut in Japan. This re-imagined version features a raucous bass line that was strong, but never overbearing on these earphones. Whitney’s vocals felt a bit veiled, but the percussion and finger-snaps had a bright, clear sound. If anything, the warmer tonal quality makes these earphones ones I could listen to for hours with minimal listener fatigue.

Continuing to listen, I checked out “Beautiful People,” another interesting collaboration. Khalid lends his vocals to Ed Sheeran’s track, and the Ally kept the two tenor vocals distinctly separate with an expansive stereo image, even on the doubled vocals in the later verses of the song. The deep bass line was conveyed accurately, but the kick drum could have benefited from deeper bass extension.

The Cleer Ally earphones use some of the best technology available for a Bluetooth system, and they have a sound that is balanced and clean even with compressed music. Of course, Bluetooth 5.1 is already out, but doesn’t offer much improvement in audio quality. The Ally Plus earphones, which add a noise-canceling option, will be available for $199 this August. We’ll try to get a review of those when they become available.

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icklesta's picture

The 5.8mm dynamic drivers feature a 20 Hz-20 kHz bandwidth. retro bowl

Ehto's picture

Looks like a neat piece of kit. But can it compete with the Apple airpods at that price range? That’s what I always wear on my way to work at Best Gutter Cleaner Stoke-on-Trent.