Cleer has been trying to build a name for itself as a high-end player in the headphone game, and the company has done pretty well. So far, we’ve reviewed the likes of the Cleer Enduro 100 headphones, which scored 8.5/10, and the Cleer Flow II, which scored 8.1/10. But the company also offers something slightly weirder than standard headphones — the Clear Halo neckband speaker.
The Clear Halo “headphones” are essentially worn around your neck, and offer speakers built into them aimed at beaming audio straight up to your ears. They’re wireless, feature an interesting design, and come at $130.
But are they more of a gimmick? Or should you pull the trigger on the Cleer Halo headphones for yourself? We put them to the test to find out.
The design of the Cleer Halo headset is a little different from other headphones or personal audio devices. The device has a rubber neckband connecting the two main modules, each of which is long speaker housing with a new buttons and controls on it.
On the left module, you’ll find a power button, Google Assistant button, and a so-called “ES Sound” button, which activates “Enhanced Stereo” mode. On the right, you’ll get volume and playback controls, along with a USB-C port for charging.
The headset is available in black and red — and we’re reviewing the red model. The red model definitely stands out more, while the black will blend in a little better and is a little sleeker. They both look pretty good.
On the module of each device, you’ll find an interesting spiderweb-type pattern, aimed at acting both as a speaker grill and as an interesting design point — as if the device wasn’t already interesting enough. It doesn’t look bad by any means.
In the box, apart from the headset itself, you’ll get a soft carry pouch and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable. It’s pretty much all you’ll need — though we can’t help but wish there were a true USB-C cable and an adapter, instead of the converter cable.
The Cleer Halo is worn around the neck, so there are different comfort metrics to consider. There are no issues surrounding clamp or enough comfort, but things like weight and how it feels on the neck can have an impact on comfort-level.
Ultimately, the Cleer Halo neckband is relatively light, and the rubber doesn’t feel bad by any means on the back of the neck. You will find yourself having to adjust the device every now and then, but it’s ultimately not a big deal.
Listening through the Cleer Halo was actually a relatively strange experience. The device is aimed at being able to “beamform” audio straight to your ears, without acting simply like a speaker around your neck. That said, if someone else is in the room with you when you use the device, they’ll certainly hear what you’re listening to — and as a result, we don’t recommend using the device on things like public transportation. When it comes to raw sound-quality, ultimately, we recommend simply buying a pair of headphones unless you really don’t want something that blocks your ears.
The bass response on this device was fine, but not overly deep or powerful by any means. Deeper bass response would have made for a more immersive experience.
The mid range is by far the most pronounced frequency range on offer here, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The low mids are relatively warm, while the high mids are more pronounced — partly due to the lack of highs.
The highs are the most lacking frequency range here. Cymbals simply don’t have the shine that you would expect, while vocals struggle to cut through a mix.
The Cleer Halo seems to be more of an experiment than a consumer-ready product, due to the sound-quality on offer here.
The Cleer Halo neckband offers up to 12 hours of listening, which isn’t as much as you would get with a pair of over-ear headphones, but is still better than most wireless in-ear headphones. And, of course, it’s hard to imagine wanting to use the device for more than 12 hours anyway.
As far as connectivity, the device uses Bluetooth 5.0. We found that it retained a good connection throughout testing.
So should you buy the Cleer Halo neckband? Well, it depends. It’s an interesting device, and for the right user, it may be perfect. That’s especially true for those who hate wearing headphones or who really want something that can allow them to stay aware of their surroundings.
For me, however, the device isn’t perfect. The audio quality could be a lot better, and ultimately you could go for a pair of headphones that offer an “ambient mode” instead — as many modern headphones do.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation||No|
|Driver size||32mm||Noise attenuation||None|
|Driver type||Dynamic||On-device controls||Yes|
|Rated impedance||Unknown||Magnet material||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion||Unknown||Water resistance||No|
|Rated input power||Unknown||Battery life||12 Hours|
|Maximum input power||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
|Wireless connection||Bluetooth 5.0||Cable length||N/A|
|Wired connection||No||Case type||Carry pouch|