The Clear Alpha is boosted on the bass end and very potent in slam effect. The physicality of these headphones is unlike most dynamic drivers out there, especially wireless ones.
I love the thickness factor and I love the engaging factor. The sub-bass experience is blaring at times and uncontrolled.
For example, not altering my Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless EQ on Foobar2000 (app), the entire low end of the Alpha feels like it is being overdriven, and the EQ is too high on the bass end.
I love my bass, so my personal subjective EQ set has boosted the low end. The Momentum handles that fine, but then again, the Momentum is +$138 over the Alpha.
But it’s worth mentioning because the Momentum 4 handles that boost, I use it with supreme slickness and without any problem. The Alpha though feels like a headphone that was boosted too much on the bass side in the EQ set that is currently active.
The headphone without any EQ active is still boosted on the bass side, it’s a bass-moderate headphone to start, so control and response factor to alteration isn’t the best out there.
Why is that a problem? Because it’s “clear” that this headphone was optimized for bass, that tonal heft is a dead ringer for someone who designed this with bass in mind.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Alpha has very nice quality overall on a stock flat EQ. It only gets a blaring overdriven sound effect that hits strangely when you add even more bass. A +5dB is sufficient enough for a loss of control.
The Clear is mid-forward and very fun to listen to. The lower mids and upper bass are warm, boosted, and engaging in a vivid sense of appeal.
There is a step or two in mid-vocal forwardness when comparing the Momentum 4 to the Cleer Alpha. Shame that the Momentum 4 is more relaxed, as I prefer the forwardness and engaging factor that the Alpha has.
Vocals are coherent, rounded, and interesting. Something like the Yamaha YH-E700A is roughly right between the Momentum and the Alpha, interestingly.
It was a real treat to be able to ABC all three and find that the Momentum is the most relaxed in vocal placement, the Yamaha in the middle just a step more forward, and the Alpha the most forward.
Hilariously, the Clear Alpha and the Sony WF-XB700 IEMs are literally identical to my ear in presentation. They are essentially clones of each other. Did you like the XB700? You’ll like the Clear Alpha then because they feel like the same headphone in almost every way.
True though, the Sony has deeper and clearer bass, but otherwise, the entire experience on a disabled EQ set was so close, that I can safely say that no two headphones I’ve ever reviewed or owned sounded that similar.
The Alpha treble is highly prone to near-instant washout if you even think about touching the treble EQ areas. A small amount of change resulted in a highly undesirable sound that felt like a wave of mush.
However, without anything extra active, the treble is right about on par with the Yamaha YH-E700A. It is not the greatest experience overall, and I would very much like Cleer to re-release this headphone with a revisionary treble experience and with new padding.
The top side is impactful and has the potential to easily get wince-worthy in the strike factor. But this is a weird experience because the treble is also not bright.
It is reserved and tamed in tonality and brightness factors. It’s just that the headphones are overly engaging in heft compared to most dynamic drivers. The Alpha feels like a baby Planar compared to the very thin feeling Yamaha and the standard dynamic driver feel of the Momentum.
The tonal heft on the treble end of this Clear is how I want all my portables to sound. Winner for tonal heft, but the clarity needs work.
It is almost scary how slick the Momentum 4 is compared to the Clear, which feels raw and gritty. This is like an electric Tesla (The Sennheiser) vs an overdriven boosted Dodge Charger with a nitro can on the back. One feels effortless, the other feels wild and powerful. This is a pick-your-poison thing and I vastly prefer the tone of the Cleer in this case.
But again, the clarity and control factor on the top side needs a bit of work, and it sadly cannot be properly fixed with any EQ alterations. Any alteration instantly makes that quality drop even more.
The Cleer is not as wide as the Momentum 4, but it has noticeably better stage forward depth of field. Vocals and the band members, in general, feel like they are actually placed deeper in the sound field than most other closed-backs in this price tier that I’ve reviewed lately. For $199, this depth of field is excellent. And on an ANC model? Nice…*slow clap
This Cleer Alpha is a very, very coherent bubble space, similar to a Beyerdynamic headphone. In fact, I jokingly pondered if this Alpha was some joint venture between Beyerdynamic and Cleer.
It isn’t, of course, but the house sound of this Alpha is highly Beyerdynamic in presentation type, and how the midrange is tonally the centerpiece with an excellent realism factor for the price.
Beyerdynamic headphones are more relaxed in presentation, and this Cleer Alpha is forward. So essentially, take the T1 or the T5 and bring it forward and bloom the mids, and you have how the Alpha feels overall for imaging: great depth, good width and height, good separation, and air between instruments.
The Alpha has a 3.5mm cable if you want it, but we don’t want it and I’ve found that the headphones, similar to the Sennheiser Momentum 4, just sounds better in fully wireless mode.
This is exceptionally apparent for all things bass. Same song, and the same volume, but wired vs wireless, showcases the bass quality, and depth is noticeably superior on the wireless variant path.
The 3.5mm experience is something that is there if you want it or need to plug into a wired 3.5mm port on a plane ride or something. It is actually a downgrade in quality on the low end, while everything else remains exactly the same.
No level of extra power through something like the 1watt portable CEntrance M8V2 amplifier added anything to the experience.
My home desktop rig didn’t sound any different from an expensive portable rig that was wired. In fact, I failed blind testing between them. So, I am happy to report that it literally does not matter what rig you use, so long as the quality is supportive of a $199 good headphone in general.
These headphones will pair great with pretty much anything. They are easy to drive and do not require any actual power amps to get the best out of them.
Wireless Range & Call Quality
The range is about 30 feet for me, the website claims 15 meters but I didn’t get anywhere near that. Maybe, it is just interference in my local area? I don’t really know, but the range consistently starts to cut out at about 30 feet away from my phone no matter where I was able to test.
As for call quality, not as good as the Momentum 4, but heaps better than the Yamaha and the Sony WF-XB700, both of which people told me never to use again for VOIP needs.
Quality for calls is just good, and I can see PC gamers really enjoying this model for gaming chat needs due to the overall fun factor the Alpha offers. You’ve lost your mind if you prefer a “gaming” headphone that costs $199 or so when you can buy this Alpha Cleer instead and get a better internal mic and, overall, a much better sound field.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
The Alpha is more mid-forward, offering a much more solid and powerful presentation from top to bottom. The Momentum is effortless and thinner feeling, slicker, and more relaxed.
The Alpha is much more fun, but the Momentum offers a higher level of fidelity across the board, except in stage depth where the Alpha takes the win.
The bass on the Momentum is clearer, reaches much deeper, and is more liquid-like. The Alpha has more sub-bass and physical impact.
I laughed so hard because the XB700 is my go-to portable IEM. It is the IEM I use the most. It is immensely powerful, the staging is excellent, and the bass is absurd.
I get the Alpha over my ears for the first time and I say to myself “what the hell…these are a scaled-up full-size XB700!” They are almost identical in appearance, but I admit fully, the WF-XB700 has cleaner bass that has much better control.
From quality to presentation, to heft and tone slam, these two products are extremely close to sounding basically the same. Swap from the Alpha to the XB700 and it’s like almost nothing changed, even the size of the imaging and sound stage feels very similar.
Alpha here has better fidelity and a much more forward midrange. The Alpha is tonally hefty and thick, the Yamaha is thin and frail feeling. The Yamaha is also larger but has significantly better comfort factors than the Alpha can offer.
The Cleer Audio Alpha is a fun headphone, and I love it. For $199, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a closed small portable that has a powerful presentation and tone like this.
Yes, it has some clarity issues on the bass with control, and also on the treble. But the midrange bloom is highly enjoyable, and the headphones themselves are just a fun experience with good sound fidelity from top to bottom.
I’ll tell you what though, gaming with these headphones was much more enjoyable and fun for me than any other portable I’ve reviewed recently. If you are a gamer, or if you like forward fun and potent sound, this is a great option for you.
Because it sounds so close to one of my favorite IEMs, I now consider the Cleer one of my favorite portables. I am more than happy to sacrifice fidelity for musicality and the fun factor.
Cleer Audio Alpha Specifications
Driver 40mm Ironless
Frequency Response (Bluetooth) 20Hz-20kHz
Frequency Response (Line-in) 20Hz-40kHz
Microphones Qualcomm® cVc 2-mic Beamforming
Inputs Bluetooth, Passive Line-in 3.5mm
Bluetooth Version 5.1
Audio Formats MP3, SBC, Qualcomm® aptX Adaptive
Range Up to 15m
Bluetooth Multipoint Yes, pairs seamlessly to multiple devices