When it comes to audio equipment reviews, I love the happy surprises. However, it doesn’t seem to be on the market these days. So many products are excellent, but few stand out from the crowd because they are exceptional. This week was an exception. A very nice surprise appeared on my desk in the form of Cleer’s wired headphones.
I’ve reviewed quite a few of Cleer’s wireless headphones and earphones in the past, and most of them sounded pretty good, but none were particularly noticeable. However, Cleer NEXT is a wired open-back headphone that surprised me this week with excellent build quality and great sound.
Open-back headphones sound much more natural than closed-back headphones, making them popular with audiophiles and serious music lovers. Unlike the closed-back design, the pair of open-back headphones allows you to breathe music because the sound waves are not trapped in the soundproof earcups. Open-back headphones allow sound waves to be transmitted freely, and air circulation also helps keep listeners’ ears cool.
The disadvantage of open-back headphones is that they allow ambient sounds and noise to reach the listener’s ears. That’s why this style of headphones is perfect for listening to your favorite music in a quiet room with no outside sounds and without compromising the enjoyment of your listeners.
The Cleer NEXT is a classic looking over-the-ear headphone with a yoke made of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. Made of very soft lambskin, the oversized earpads surround the listener’s ears and are specially shaped to embrace the contours of the head thanks to both horizontal and vertical adjustments. Underneath the lambskin that covers the earpads is a memory foam that adapts to the shape around the wearer’s ears. Headphones are light and comfortable, thanks to a generously padded headband that fits any size of head.
Each NEXT earcup has a socket that couples with a LEMO push-pull self-latch connector for maximum connectivity. The connector plugs are well designed and snap into place for a secure connection to the socket of each earcup. The substantive quad-core, 4-core cable is incredibly well-made and superbly thick. The cable ends with a Canare 6.35mm headphone connector made in Japan. With Cleer using only the highest quality components, don’t hesitate to pay. All of these headphones feel the highest quality.
The Cleer NEXT driver is a custom dynamic design. Cleer refused to use soft iron for the driver and instead chose the patented ironless motor assembly in combination with its own magnesium diaphragm. These 40mm drivers provide an excellent listening experience. By eliminating the soft iron parts with the inherent distortion of loudspeakers, Cleer has avoided one of the major problems with headphone transducers. Doing so removes the layer of audible fog that prevents listeners from approaching the music.
Take it from me, the sound that Cleer managed to make with these novel drivers is nothing but a miracle. The frequency response is incredible from 10Hz to 45kHz, and the music sounds sharper in focus, but without sacrificing warmth and musicality. NEXT has an airy sound stage where all instruments are selected to create a great and engaging listening experience. I know whenever I’m listening to great headphones. Because headphones always rekindle my enthusiasm for music and listen to my favorite albums over and over again. It’s like having new glasses. Everything becomes clearer and looks more in focus.
To keep Cleer NEXT at their pace, I turned to classic recordings with clarity and warmth that brought out the delicacy of NEXT’s non-iron drivers. Ella Fitzgerald was not only the best female singer of her age, but was also lucky enough to record when the sound engineer was producing the best-sounding music ever. Ella Fitzgerald’s Rogers & Hart Songbook is a perfect example of great music recorded with incredible attention and some incredible orchestration.
The track “Have You Met Miss Jones” begins the first side of the album. In this recording, the NEXT headphones clearly portray the French horn section with subtle delicacy. The deep sound of the “You Take Advantage of Me” grand piano is complemented by a muted trumpet and a kick drum that sounds like you’re in the studio.
Cleer NEXT was able to bring out the details of this beautifully recorded album simply in a sacred way. Often, when you listen to this kind of music with regular headphones, everything seems to be compressed into a muddy midrange, but there are so many of these classic recordings of the 1950s and 1960s. With more details, the CleerNEXT headphones were able to squeeze every drop from the performance.
The neutral tones produced by the Cleer NEXT headphones are breathtaking in their clarity and openness. Sometimes there is no sound color that makes the hair stand up behind the neck. I didn’t really associate Cleer with the performance of this level of audiophiles, but the designers of these headphones pulled the rabbit out of their hat with headphones to create unparalleled musicality.
verdict: I’ve reviewed a lot of headphones, but CleerNEXT is one of the most impressive pairs of headphones I’ve heard for a long time. Cleer NEXT promotes quality that you can expect from more expensive brands such as Focal and T + A. If you need open-back headphones for use with a suitable high-end audio system, I don’t think they’re much better than these. Maybe it’s sticking out, the Cleer NEXT is one of the most musical headphones I’ve listened to for a long time. Everything about them is a spot. From excellent build quality and excellent connectors to high quality cables and their very soft lambskin earpads, these are deluxe headphones. If you want to sit in an easy chair with a soothing drink while listening to your favorite songs, these are the perfect headphones. They are relatively expensive, but they ring it. I strongly recommend it.
Price and availability: Wired and open-back headphones for Cleer Next are currently available and are priced at £ 699 / $ 699.99 / € 829.
More information: UK www.hifiheadphones.co.uk USA www.cleeraudio.com
- Driver: 40mm ironless driver with magnesium diaphragm.
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 45kHz
- Maximum power processing: 90mW / 1.2V (10% THD).
- Optimal power requirements: 10mW (0.4V).
- Maximum SPL: 112dB / 1kHz (1% THD).
- THD: <0.3% / 1mW / 1kHz.
- Sensitivity: 92dB / 1mW / 1kHz.
- Impedance: 16Ω.
- Weight: 395g.