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Cleer Audio Next

Open‑backed Headphones By Phil Ward
Published November 2022

Thanks to their innovative driver technology, these audiophile cans could prove a valuable tool in the studio.

California‑founded Cleer Audio are relative newcomers to the market, but their headphones have already made an impression, giving some established brands reason to raise an eyebrow. While the Cleer Audio Next passive, open‑backed headphones are primarily aimed at the high‑end ‘audiophile’ market, they incorporate some impressive driver technology and come with performance claims that, if realised, should suit them to headphone‑based mixing. But before I go further, a wallet warning: Cleer Next headphones are not inexpensive.

Cleer Audio Next headphonesThe Next headphones present a very high‑quality, precision‑engineered look and feel, combining finely finished aluminium die‑cast structural components with lambs’ leather‑covered memory‑foam earpads and headband. The look and feel of the headphones, created by design consultancy BMW Designworks, says ‘sports car interior’ to my eyes, but Cleer themselves talk of wanting to evoke the feel of a fine timepiece. Judging by the kind of watches worn by well‑heeled visitors to high‑end hi‑fi shows, they’re along the right lines.

Elegant machined LEMO plugs and sockets connect the headphone cables to each earcup, and the cable itself looks like it means business and will outlive us all. The only slightly disappointing element from a pro point of view is that the headphone cable is terminated by a 3.5mm jack plug, so the supplied push‑fit adaptor is needed for 6.3mm jack sockets. I’d much prefer it to be the other way around, so that 3.5mm jack use requires an adaptor, or at least that the adaptor be a screw‑on type.

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