Cleer is an ambitious manufacturer of personal audio products that makes a point of keeping a finger on the pulse of contemporary mass-market trends. In practice, this means the firm presently offers two in-ear headphones (complete with various combinations of noise cancelling, wireless, and heart-rate monitoring features) and six full-size headphones (offering various combinations of wireless, noise cancelling, and DJ-orientated features). Cleer also has a new portable Bluetooth speaker called the Stage, plus a range of trend-conscious new products in the pipeline including an Alexa Voice Service-compatible earphone called the Ally and an also Alexa Voice Service-compatible Bluetooth speaker called the Space. Finally, Cleer has an all-in-one Virtual Reality headset called the Vista in the works. It’s quite the list, isn’t it?
Clearly (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself there) the scope of Cleer’s product range is impressive, but even so I suspect dyed-in-the-wool audiophiles will be apt to say, “These high-tech, features laden devices are all well and good, but does Cleer build a model specifically for us?” Happily, the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes” and it comes in the form of the firm’s long awaited and recently released NEXT headphone, which is explicitly targeted towards the audiophile community.
The NEXT signals the fact that it is a headphone to be taken seriously in several ways, perhaps the most obvious of which involves its extremely handsome, high-tech industrial design, which was created by Designworks (a BMW Group company). Cleer says the NEXT’s design motif is meant to “evoke the feelings of a favourite timepiece”, so that ideally it will “be considered delightfully exquisite, intimately personal, and intended for decades of enjoyment”.
With these objectives in mind the open-back and dynamic driver-equipped NEXT headphone sports a frame, swivelling ear cup yokes, and ear cup housings machined from 6061-T6 aluminium. The aluminium parts are all treated to a pleasing, satin-textured, bronze-coloured anodised finish. The rear sides of the ear cup housings feature black mesh grilles. Completing the picture are a thick leather headband pad, a set of thick leather-clad bevelled ear pads, and—on the underside of the left and right ear cup housings—there are recessed sockets for the headphone’s LEMO®-type signal cable connectors. Overall, the NEXT looks and feels more expensive than it actually is.