Of all the many innovations in the headphone space in the last twenty years, active noise cancellation has become the most sought-after feature in audio. It’s a clever piece of tech that suppresses external noise by ‘listening’ via a headset’s microphones and countering that with the inverse soundwave. When it works it results in fewer distractions and a better listening experience, keeping outside noise…. outside. The Cleer Enduro ANC is Cleer’s latest wireless over-ear headset, and features a ridiculous 60-hour battery life alongside its noise-cancelling properties. The question though: will you want to wear them for that long?
The Enduro ANC look sleek and smart, boasting premium styling that might draw a few appreciative glances on the train. They’re available in blue and gold or light grey and rose gold, with our review unit the light grey variant. The rose gold highlights extend from bold rings on the outside of each earcup to an extended section at the top of the headband, and it’s all tied together with a cohesive visual look. They’re certainly well made, even if there is a fair bit of plastic here, and they feel robust in your hand. They’re perhaps a little weightier than I expected, but nothing that should cause too much concern.
I would also have liked a touch more cushioning on the headband, but even over long listening sessions I didn’t start to tire or experience soreness while wearing the Enduro ANC. The faux leatherette that covers both the headband and ear cushions means that they’re easy to keep clean and soft enough to have against your skin for as long as you need. I wonder if a slightly tighter clamp might assist the noise cancelling, but I think they’ve made the right choice by balancing it with comfort.
The Cleer Enduro ANC makes a big point about having simple, straightforward controls, and it achieves that, assisted with obvious tactility to help you find the right control in a hurry. All the buttons lie on the external edge of the left earpiece, with the central multifunction button having an obvious raised nub to locate. It takes power, pairing, play/pause and track-changing duties, and once you’ve learned what number of clicks you need to perform it’s easy to listen to your music in the way you want. The volume controls sit above and below this central button too, so they’re just as easy to locate in the heat of the moment. The buttons feel a little plasticky, but they do the trick.
Separated from the other controls, the ANC button sits just below them, with another raised nub to help you find it without looking. It cycles between ANC, passing through some ambient sound or turning the noise control off, and the voiced assistant lets you know which mode you’re currently in.
The strength of active noise cancellation sits somewhere in the mid-range in terms of what it’s cancelling out. It’s not as powerful as Sony’s WH-1000XM range or Bose’s Quietcomfort options, but at an RRP of £149.99, they’re less than half the price of those high-end benchmarks. It does a very good job with regular background noise, reducing traffic and rail travel sounds to next to nothing, but it struggles a little with louder, momentary or percussive sounds, while my pair of WH-1000XM4 would dull them more, but when you’re listening to audio the difference is negligible.
The huge selling point for the Cleer ANC is their inhuman battery life, and at 60 hours it’s so far ahead of the pack that you’ll be able to go for at least twice as long before having to find the USB-C charging cable. The Cleer+ app tells you how long you have left with an impressive level of accuracy, and while I’ve been reviewing the unit I’ve only had to recharge them once, lasting through multiple trips – they’re currently sitting at 57 hours of charge remaining. Ridiculous is the only word for it.
The Cleer Enduro ANC utilises 40mm drivers, and they’re impressively neutral for a pair of consumer headphones. The Cleer+ app features its own set of EQ settings as well as a pair of custom options to tinker with, or you can opt for a different on-board solution. If you want to crank up the bass you can take it to pleasingly thumping, though there’s still a restraint that reminds me of Bose’s Quietcomfort range. The Enduro ANC equally doesn’t quite have the razor-sharp top end detail of its most expensive competitors, but at this pricepoint, they’re an excellent option.
I was feeling nostalgic so I started out my testing with the first Papa Roach album. The iconic opening riff of Between Angels and Insects was delivered crisply and clearly before the bass and drums kicked in with some genuine thump. I followed that up by switching to the of-the-moment Euro-pop of Loreen’s Tattoo and you could immediately feel the passion of her breathy vocals as they rested above the reverb-heavy piano. The soundstage here is wide enough to give you some space to enjoy the multiple elements of whatever you’re listening to, though it’s a little more compressed than some of it’s more expensive rivals. Still, the Cleer Enduro ANC are a great pair of headphones for listening to music.
Turning to gaming, I immediately paired the Enduro ANC to a Nintendo Switch OLED so I could continue my joy-filled run of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The Enduro ANC proved its worth as the soundtrack poured into my ears with drama and detail, while Link’s various cries were delivered in a timely, clear fashion. The noise cancellation also meant that I was also able to focus on a particularly difficult shrine puzzle, without any of the impressively loud birdsong outside my window filtering in.
You can opt for Bluetooth 5.0 connection, while compatible codecs include AAC, SDC and AptX Adaptive. There’s also an included USB-C to 3.5mm cable that’ll let you shift between pretty much any audio device, including PS5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles. You’ll be able to use them passively while wired, but will need them powered on for ANC. Another positive is that the 3.5mm connection is Hi-Res certified, bringing your listening experience up another notch if you use a high resolution audio streaming service and a device that supports them.
The main caveat for gamers is that these are headphones as opposed to a gaming headset, and one big feature is overlooked because of that. You can’t use the headphones themselves for voice chat while wired, so you won’t be hopping into a Destiny 2 party with these on your head on Xbox. You might do that on PS5, though, thanks to the DualSense’s built in microphone.