With so many types of over-ear headsets ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars, there’s a lot of ground to cover to see what’s truly the best bang for your buck in terms of style and functionality. Today we’re looking at the Cleer Flow II wireless Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones with Google Assistant. As the name implies, this isn’t the first headset from Cleer Audio, but it is their first model with Google Assistant. I just had to give it a shot. But first, it’s important to know the brand you are purchasing from. Shockingly, Cleer’s website does not provide a mission statement of the company. However, according to HiDEF Lifestyle’s website:
“Cleer’s products combine the best of contemporary designs, state-of-the art sound technology and detailed craftsmanship to deliver QUALITY THAT INSPIRES PASSION FOR SOUND Music lovers have high expectations when it comes to sound, they are looking for quality audio products to unbox their favourite music. Cleer’s sound and acoustic team is responsible for the research and development of the best-in-class audio products to provide you with a truly authentic listening experience. DESIGN / CRAFTSMANSHIP Cleer’s product design aesthetics are sleek and contemporary. INNOVATION IN TECHNOLOGY Cleer is committed for excellent in acoustics, our team creates and drives new technological ideas and innovations in the acoustic and sound field. We reproduce studio sound through our innovative sound technology. Cleer’s products are made of high-quality build materials which not only give premium look and feel but also contribute to the product performance. The ergonomics design coupled with lightweight materials to better fit your head with maximum comfort even hours of wearing.”
Cleer’s website features 4 in-ear headphones and 4 over-ear headphones, including the Cleer Flow II. This shows that the company is not oversaturated with products and that the ones that they have, in theory, have better quality control than other companies that spread its resources throughout many products. All headsets are unique in having certain features, prices, and style. What works for you depends on what you are looking for in a headset. This headset certainly covers four bases: wireless connectivity, noise cancellation, Google Assistant functionality, and style!
The Cleer Flow II is a very comfortable over-ear headset that is also very stylish. It comes with a dark grey frame with light grey padding on the inside. The cups of the headphones have the “Cleer” logo that looks rather professional and is not obnoxious like some company logos. These are the types of headphones that you can wear out in public without so much as a second thought. The plastic chassis is strong and looks like it could pass off as being metal, if the headphones weren’t so light. I was surprised to find that these headphones only weigh 11.5 ounces which, while bulkier than some headphones, is still very comfortable to wear. Even after walking with them on for up to a half hour at a time and gaming or watching movies with them for several hours at a time, they never strained my neck. Further, the memory foam ear cups securely and comfortably seal my ears from the outside world, even with glasses on. These headphones can be used no matter how active your lifestyle is. Whether you’re sitting, running, working out, or whatever other fourth thing you could be doing—these headphones are secure and warm.
There’s no external microphone on these bad boys to throw off the aesthetic. I tested them by talking on the phone with them and nobody seemed to have any issue hearing me and I had no issue hearing anybody else. The headphones connect easily to my phone and PC wirelessly and the range is pretty impressive at up to around 40 feet. I tested this by leaving my phone on the first floor of my house while still listening to music on the second floor. In addition to using the headset wirelessly, there is also a 3.5mm jack that works with the included cord to use the headphones wired, so I can also use them on my gaming systems that wouldn’t otherwise support the headphones. The noise cancelling, ambient sound, and Google Assistant worked while wired or wirelessly without worry. Of course, the Google Assistant only works when connected to a device that supports Google Assistant, like Android by default or Apple with the Google Assistant app installed.
There are three easily accessible buttons on the Flow II’s left earcup; the power button which doubles as the pairing button, the noise cancelling button which allows you to switch between active noise cancelling and ambient sound, as well as the Google Assistant button. The headphones also sport touch controls on the left earcup. You can adjust the volume by swiping your finger up and down, change songs by swiping forward and backward, and pause and resume songs by double tapping. Unfortunately, my success rate with the swipe controls is about 70% as 30% of the time it doesn’t seem to register by movement. I’m willing to give the headphones the benefit of the doubt that chalk that up to mostly human error.
Another interesting feature about the left earcup is that if you cover it completely with your hand, the noise cancelling turns off and is replaced with the ambient sound feature for the duration that your hand is on the cup. This allows you to have quick conversations without having to manually switch to ambient sound or take your headphones off. But don’t worry if you do have to abruptly take them off because the headset will magically pause whatever music you were listening to when taken off.
So I generally don’t use Google Assistant very often, as I just prefer googling things or making calls myself, but I decided to give it a shot for purposes of this review. After setting up Google Assistant on my phone and signing my life away to our Google overlords, I was ready to give it a shot. Pressing the Google Assistant once has Google tell you the time and read any notifications that you might have. Pressing and holding it allows you to speak to Google Assistant directly to ask it questions like “When will Tom’s McClassic arrive?” or “Why isn’t there more Fire Emblem representation in Smash Bros?”
The sound quality on this headset is amazing and is just what you could expect from a $280 pair of headphones competing with Sony and Bose. I’m a big fan of heavy bass in my music and this headset delivers on that front. The mids and highs are crisp and the noise cancelling is strong enough that the music is all that you’ll be listening to. I’m typing this review while listening to music in the headphones as I type on a mechanical keyboard, and I don’t even hear myself typing, the noise cancellation is THAT GOOD.
Cleer Audio claims that the Flow II’s battery life lasts 20 hours. While battery life estimates are normally grossly exaggerated, I might be inclined to agree in this case. Every time the headset is connected to my phone it tells me the battery life remaining and while I haven’t been able to listen to them for 20 hours straight, it takes a long time before I feel the need to charge them. Luckily, the headset uses the new USB-C standard when it comes to charging which allows it to charge very quickly. Cleer argues that 10 minutes of charging=2 hours of battery life. Not a bad deal!
- Driver: 40mm Ironless Driver
- Audio CODEC Support: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
- Frequency response range: 20-40KHz (Line in) /20-20KHz (Bloetooth)
- Connections: USB-C to USB-A cable for charging; 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for audio
- Support: BT 3.2, SPP v1.0, HFP v1.6, A2DP v1.3.1, AVRCP v1.6
- Charging: A 10-minute charge will give 2 hours of playtime. FLOW II can be fully charged in 2 hours.
- Bluetooth transmission frequency range: 2.402-2.480GHz
- Bluetooth transmission power: <4dBm
- Battery: Rechargeable lithium ion rectabgle cell (3.7V)
- Playback time (BT+ANC): Up to 20 hours
- Voice service: Google Assistant
- Weight: 327g
|What We Liked . . . Stylish and durable Bluetooth compatible Awesome noise cancelling and ambient sound features Fantastic audio quality Very comfortable and lightweight 20 hour battery life Dedicated Google Assistant button||What We Didn't Like . . . The touch panel only works for me about 70% of the time. Price is pretty high at $279.99|
out of 10
The Cleer Flow II is a very powerful headset that works both wireless and wired to deliver the fantastic audio experience that you expect at the $280 price range. This headset can compete with the likes of Bose and Sony with state of the art noise-cancellation technology and ambient sound options. This headset is stylish and the Google Assistant button works wonders, provided you’re ready to jump into the new age of technology.