Cleer Audio is a company that specializes in wireless audio products. They have several in-ear models, four over-ear headphones, and four Bluetooth speakers in their current catalog. The most recent of the over-ear headphone models is the Cleer Enduro ANC which can be thought of as a cross between the Flow II which focused on noise cancellation and the Enduro 100 with its category leading battery life.
The result unsurprisingly lands between the two. The Enduro ANC has the noise cancelling features of the Flow II and a battery life of nearly 60 hours on a single charge making it one of the longest lasting wireless headphones available with ANC.
There are very few models even without ANC that can last anywhere near as long on a single charge so that alone may be enough for some travelers to pick up an Enduro ANC. For most of us, battery life is a good thing, but we’d like some assurances that it is built to withstand a lot of use and that the sound quality does not take a backseat to that worthwhile feature.
The good news is that the Enduro ANC is well made and although a lot of the construction is plastic, the headband is high-strength steel and the body has reinforcements in high stress areas to prevent premature wear.
There is a good range of adjustment on the headband and adjustments have very positive clicks. The cups rotate around a vertical axis with 90° rotation to the rear and roughly 15° rotation to the front. The rotation point also serves as the hinge and allows the headphones to fold for storage when not in use.
A simple cloth pouch ships with the headphones for storage as well. My pair came in a tan/grey with copper accents but the Enduro ANC is also available in dark navy (with a gold colored headband and accents) for those who prefer the darker color scheme.
Pads match the body color and are fairly shallow and stiff. This is necessary for noise cancelling to work properly, but the permanently attached protein leather pads do get warmer on the ears than cloth or more leak-prone materials would.
Controls are all on the rear of the left cup with volume up, power/pause (what Cleer calls the multi-function) and volume down grouped together and then a toggle switch for ANC/Ambient a bit lower on the cup.
The multifunction button handles power on/off with a long press, or can be used for play/pause, forward/back, or call answer/reject during playback. While noise cancelling has one setting, the ambient modes allow for setting levels that allow varying amounts of outside noise into the mix.
I found the Cleer+ app was easier to control the ambient mode settings as it provided a visual representation of which setting is in use.
Pairing was straight forward and I had no trouble getting the Enduro working on an iPhone (AAC), android phone and DAP (aptX adaptive). The other cool option is the left earcup has an NFC tag that allows pairing by touching the phone to the headset. It worked flawlessly for me with a Samsung S20 and an LG V60 phone.
Once paired, the connection was solid as long as I didn’t roam more than 15-20 feet from the source. I did find that walls fairly easily defeated the signal and that the source was either best kept in a pocket when wearing them around the house or office.
Listening to the Enduro ANC demonstrated what the iron-less 40mm driver is capable of. The sound is a mild V signature with mid-bass emphasis and an upper-mid/lower treble emphasis that is not quite as pronounced as its lower counterpart.
This gives the Cleer Enduro ANC an energetic signature with good engagement. Yes, the Enduro ANC is tuned for popular music and does sacrifice some detail in favor of a more engaging tuning, but it’s a tradeoff that makes the Enduro ANC a better travel companion and let’s face it, the kind of environments that warrant an ANC headphone are not conducive to critical listening anyway.
The midrange doesn’t sound particularly recessed and the bass, while emphasized, does not obstruct the mids on tracks like Vintage Trouble’s “Blues Hand Me Down” and Jonny Lang’s “Lie To Me.”
The treble is well controlled and while it does reproduce sibilance faithfully, it doesn’t introduce it into tracks that don’t have it.
The soundstage is small but well-proportioned and the stage limitations are inherent to all closed back designs and especially noise cancelling models that go to extra lengths to isolate the ear from outside sources of noise.
This isn’t the headphone for enjoying binaural recordings like the Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions to its fullest but then none of the ANC over-ears I have listened to fit into that category either.
Remember also that the Cleer+ App gives the end user the ability to tune the sound further to their liking with a five-band equalizer and there have been hints that Cleer is investigating additional tuning options and may have another surprise coming shortly.
The noise cancelling works quite well to remove droning noises but less so for quick sharp noises and vocalizations from outside. It provides good isolation, but don’t expect complete silence.
The Ambient pass-through thankfully is tunable to allow varying amounts of outside sound through the headphones and I found the mid-range setting the most useful. At the highest setting, it amplifies external sounds more than I wanted and at the lowest — some voices didn’t cut through clearly when trying to hear outside conversations.
One thing worth noting is the noise cancellation also works for phone calls so one mic captures the speaker while the other is used to filter out noises from the adjacent area. This worked in an acceptable manner with the exception of wind noise which ended up being piped into the call.
The Cleer Enduro ANC does reasonably well for call quality and will be perfectly serviceable for the occasional phone call but if call quality is of primary importance, there are better options with improved noise filtering available.
Lastly, the Enduro ANC comes with a 3.5mm to USB type-C connector cable that can be used to hardwire the headphones in the unlikely event it runs out of battery before you run out of things to listen to.
Using the 3.5mm cable also bypasses the internal circuitry so it gives the user a chance to hear the drivers without ANC or Bluetooth in the mix. This does present a clearer, and more detailed sound and would actually be my preferred way to listen to the Cleer Enduro ANC when I didn’t need the ANC functionality.
It’s hard to find fault with the Cleer Enduro ANC as it competes with the big name (Bose, Sony) ANC models quite well and at roughly half the price ($149 at Amazon). It isn’t perfect and I’d love to see improvements to the microphone circuitry to better exclude wind.
The Cleer+ App is a clear winner with its ease of use, an excellent equalizer, and the ability to update the headphone firmware with only a few clicks. There is a new feature forthcoming that could elevate the Enduro ANC headphones to the top of the pile but we need to experience it first before we can do that.
The Enduro ANC could be slightly more comfortable as I give out before the batteries do — but having said that, it’s still very usable for its intended purpose and I could easily use the Enduro ANC for my travel needs.
The wireless ANC headphone category is getting very crowded but there is more than enough here for the Cleer Enduro ANC headphones to make a strong case for itself. Well worth seeking out below $150.
Where to buy: $149.99 at Amazon