Earbuds that are easy to fall in love with.
I have a hard time using earbuds. They are generally uncomfortable to me and typically just don’t sound as good as over-ear headphones do to me. I know that part of the reason for this is because they don’t ‘fit’ me correctly. For quite some time, I’ve been a fan of Apple AirPods, but unless you shell out the big bucks, you don’t have the option of active noise cancellation with them. When CLEER recently released their newest earbuds — the Ally Plus True Wireless ANC Earbuds — I thought they looked promising enough to try out. I quickly fell in love with the product and find them to be a perfect earbud solution for me.
The Ally Plus True Wireless ANC Earbuds feature active noise cancelling — as the name suggests. The ANC within the Ally Plus earbuds is designed to suppress ambient noises from the outside world and has a couple of different modes available so the user can switch back and forth between ANC and non-ANC listening environments. The earbuds have 10mm Neodymium drivers that deliver balanced, dynamic sound. These are one of the first earbuds to have the fastest pairing option available with Google Fast Pair 2.0. They also feature built-in touch controls on the soft-touch ear pads that allow you to adjust volume, control phone calls, and play/pause tracks of audio. The Ally Plus earbuds have a battery life of approximately 30 hours — 10 hours from the earbuds and 20 hours from the charging case. They also provide the option of quick charging for the earbuds. With a 5-minute charge, users get 1 hour of playtime. The earbuds are designed to be ergonomic and lightweight. They come with a variety of ear gels to provide a comfortable fit. They are rated IPX4 for water resistance. The case charges with USB-C and the earbuds only weigh 2.47 ounces. In addition to the charging case and USB-C charging cable, the Ally Plus earbuds also come with a soft pouch for storage.
- Driver: 10mm neodymium dynamic driver
- Audio CODEC support: SBC, AAC, aptX
- Frequency response range: 20 – 20,000Hz
- Connections: USB-C cable for charging case
- Playback time: Up to 10 hours (up to an additional 20 hours with charging case)
- Support: BT 5.0, A2DP, v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, HFP v1.7, HSP v1.2
- Bluetooth transmission frequency range: 2.402-2.480Ghz
- Bluetooth transmission power: <8.0dBm
- Water resistance rating: IPX4 (for earbuds only)
- Weight: 6.6g (per earpiece); 79.6g (for both earpieces and case)
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
- Ally Plus Headphones
- Silicone Eartips (XS, S, M, L, and XL)
- USB-C Cable
- Carry Pouch
- Charging Case
- Quick Start Guide
As I mentioned above, I have a hard time using earbuds. So much so that they are typically my least preferred method of listening to music or watching videos. So, when it came time to test out the Ally Plus, I was a bit concerned that it would be like previous earbud experiences — shallow sound quality, uncomfortable fit that causes earaches and headaches, and a miserable connection between the earbuds and my iPhone or laptop. What I found was the exact opposite. Right from the beginning, Ally Plus over-exceeded my expectations in every way possible. For the purposes of this review, I have graded the Ally Plus based on comfort, sound quality, and special features.
Out of the box, the Ally Plus earbuds have a medium set of ear tips installed on them. One of the reasons I don’t usually get a ‘good fit’ from ear buds is because my ear canal is pretty narrow. So, I was really happy to see that Cleer included 5 sets of ear tips with the earbuds. This is way more than the normal amount of ear tips I see delivered with earbuds. I’m used to seeing one or two sets included — not five. I popped off the medium ear tips and replaced them with the small size ear tips. They seem to be a bit better fit than the mediums for me and I didn’t have any issue with discomfort — even after wearing them for longer periods of time. So as far as comfort goes, the Ally Plus get an A+.
The main reason I’m always hesitant to try out earbuds is because the sound quality just isn’t there for me. Bass depth is almost always lost and I just get left with tinny-sounding music and unbalanced audio tracks with videos. The sound quality of the Ally Plus blew me away. Once I got a good fit from them, I turned the music on, and for the first time ever with earbuds, I got the same sound quality that I normally get from over-ear or on-ear headphones. Music had great depth and I could hear the mix really well. I did notice a little sound difference when you switch between the noise cancellation modes. When the noise cancellation is turned on, the earbuds sounded the best. They started sounding hollow when noise cancellation was turned off, but I think that goes along with the noise cancellation feature. One of my favorite things to do when testing any kind of audio device is to pull up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and watch the first 5-10 minutes of the movie. It’s jam-packed with a rich sound mix that includes vocal track, music, and sound effects. It’s very rare that I get to experience all the different layers of the film’s audio track, but the Ally Plus earbuds gets the job done.
There are two features I wanted to explore in this review — the touch controls and the ANC. Normally, I don’t like touch controls on headphones. They haven’t been reliable for me in the past and I typically just prefer buttons. When it comes to earbuds, however, I don’t like the added pressure you get when you press the single multifunction button on the outside of the earpiece. So, I’m glad that the controls for the Ally Plus earbuds were touch controls. CLEER kept the controls simple enough to be able to remember the different codes uses (i.e. 2 taps for pausing music tracks, 1 tap for activating the noise cancelling, etc.). I was, however, let down that there was no control for advance/rewind, but other than that, I didn’t have any issues controlling the earbuds.
In my opinion, it can be very difficult to have successful ANC with earbuds. They are just so open and don’t isolate a human’s ears that it can be hard to actually achieve a full noise cancellation environment. CLEER approaches ANC with the Ally Plus by providing three modes to choose from — On, Ambient Mode, and Off. As I mentioned under sound quality, when ANC was turned off, I could hear room noise and the sound quality of the music I was listening to suffered. When ANC was turned on, room noise was virtually gone (all except for a barking dog) and the music was full and rich. When ANC was on with Ambient Mode, I was getting a good sound quality (but not great) and could hear some room noise. I was able to hear my fiancé talking to me while I had music playing, but I couldn’t hear him when I had ANC turned on without the Ambient Mode. Since I didn’t previously have a set of earbuds with ANC, I was very excited to finally have a lightweight set of earbuds that included that as a feature.
CLEER has done a really nice job with the design and execution of the Ally Plus True Wireless Earbuds with ANC. They are everything I thought I would never find in a set of in-ear headphones. They do come in either white or black finish and retail for $169 (on sale at the time of publishing this article; regular price $199). While that’s a bit pricier than some earbuds, it’s still less expensive than Apple AirPods Pro. I’ve been very impressed with the performance of these earbuds and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.