I recently made the switch from playing all of my video games on the PS4 over to the PC. Because of that, I was instantly in the market for a set of Bluetooth headphones that I could use while playing games like Fortnite, Call Of Duty, World Of Warcraft: Classic and many others. So when I got the email from the folks over at Cleer asking if I wanted to review their Cleer Flow II Bluetooth headphones, I quickly agreed.
These futuristic-looking headphones come in silver or black, and the cans I reviewed were of the silver color. At $279.99, they’re on the high end of mid-range Bluetooth devices; the elegant design reflects as much.
Even the Flow II’s packaging felt conspicuously chic (there are three layers of thick cardboard, and inner padding, to boot); opening the box felt like opening a Minority Report-style treasure chest. The headphones themselves come in a hard carry case, and the swivel-folding design allowed for a snug fit. There’s a dedicated Velcro pouch for the included airplane adapter, and a mesh one for the USB-C charging cord and 3.5mm aux cable.
Design And Comfort
At 11.5 ounces, these cans are slightly bulkier than others. I have been wearing the Cleer Flow II for over 3 weeks now and find them extremely comfortable, even after longer periods of time.
One thing to note is that I do have slightly larger ears than a lot of folks out there, and the Cleer Flow II’s are a bit smaller in size. I would love to see a slightly larger cup size on these or on their next set of headphones they produce, but over all they are indeed comfortable.
The tech specs for the Flow and Flow II are also identical, with two noteworthy exceptions. While the Flow uses a familiar micro USB charging port, the Flow II features a USB Type-C port, which is far more effective for fast charging. A dedicated Google Assistant button is also included on the newer model.
The controls for the Flow II are refreshingly minimalist, featuring only three buttons on the left ear cup : Power/Pairing, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Google Assistant. While the Power button is positioned at the very bottom of the ear cup, the other two are closer to the rear, making them accessible to your thumbs. (The raised accents of these two buttons also made them easier to find.)
Touch controls are all the rage, and Cleer incorporates this feature, too. The hidden touch panel on the left ear cup lets you pause tracks with a quick double-tap, adjust the volume by swiping up or down, and skip tracks by swiping forward and backward. In practice, these controls were useful for adjusting music on the fly.
This is the one area that was a let down for me on the Cleer Flow II headphones. Changing the volume can be a bit of a task especially while mid-game. They are a bit clunky and it requires you to swipe in the right place to really get the volume levels to change. When it comes to moving forward or backwards to other tracks, this seemed to work pretty flawlessly without issues for some reason.
I definitely hope to see an improvement in their next model if they produce one. I’d almost be happy with volume control buttons instead of touch activated controls.
Active Noise Cancellation
When I began reviewing mobile tech products (roughly a decade ago), active noise cancellation was still in its infancy; at least from a consumer standpoint. Now this technology has matured past the rebellious-teenager phase, and it’s ready for college. The Cleer Flow II uses Qualcomm’s CSR8675 Bluetooth platform, which integrates a dual-mode radio and hybrid noise-canceling technology that boasts up to 30 decibels of ambient noise suppression. Indeed, with the ANC button activated, I was treated to a highly immersive musical experience.
The best part of this feature is what Cleer calls the Conversation Mode, which temporarily disables the ANC and automatically lowers the volume of whatever it is you are listening to. All you have to do is place your hand over the left ear cup and you can instantly hear everything around you. Once you remove your hand, you’re right back to the ANC experience.
When compared with audio mainstays like Bose, Sony or Sennheiser, Cleer hasn’t been around very long; but these guys are quick learners. Using 40mm iron-less drivers, the company promises high-res playback with minimal distortion (up to 20 kilohertz over Bluetooth, or 40 kHz over the 3.5mm aux cable).
I tested several genre’s of music including my favorite 80’s music, a bit of alternative music as well as some country music. This allows me to experience various different types of sounds when it comes to music and allows me to really hear what might be good or bad when it comes to the sounds the headphones produce.
I can say that the drum sounds were amazingly clear and really made me realize that the Cleer Flow II’s were a really good deal for their current price.
You can clearly and crisply hear low’s and hi’s with the Flow II’s and it makes for a very enjoyable listening experience.
My real test however was while playing video games and hearing not only the sounds of the game, but also hearing my chat party members. There were no issues in this department as I could hear both without issues and not having to hear louder game sounds than party chat or vice versa.
Game sounds are amazing, especially when it comes to the bass and treble that video games produce. This is something I couldn’t be happier about as this is where I’ll spend hours wearing the Cleer Flow II’s.
Battery Life And Charging
With ANC enabled, the Flow II promises up to 20 hours of playback on a full charge. This longevity is on a par with the Bose Noise Cancelling 700, but it doesn’t come close to the massive 30 hours of playback offered by the Sony WH-1000XM3.
The USB-C port allows for quick charging: 10 minutes of charge time equals 2 hours of playtime. This is impressive in comparison with headphones that use micro USB connections, such as the Sony WH-1000XM2. (Those cans eke out only 70 minutes of playtime on the same charge.)
I wore the Flow II every day for a week for over 2 hours per day at 70% volume or higher. (I also used it to make several lengthy phone calls.) It took five full days to drain the battery to 10%, which is more than acceptable.
For the current price of $279.99, the Cleer Flow II’s are highly recommended and will satisfy most anyone who is looking for a really good mid-range set of Bluetooth headphones.
The hybrid noise-cancelling technology allows for a fully immersive experience, whether you’re lounging around your home or settling in for an 8-hour flight.
The powerful Qualcomm CSR8675 chip is also a force to be reckoned with, delivering solid Bluetooth connectivity and well-balanced audio. Sure, the design might not be for everyone, but if you’re in the market for Bluetooth headphones then you might want to go with the Flow II.
The Flow II’s definitely have my hyped about any upcoming products that Cleer will be producing and releasing and I’m certainly hoping to be able to get my hands on review samples of any of those when they are available.
You can catch me wearing these headphones every night while streaming over on Mixer. That URL to find me is: DecryptedGamer On Mixer.