Cleer Audio has just released a brand new portable Bluetooth speaker it's calling Scene – and considering the price, it's about to cause one.
Will it debut as one of the best Bluetooth speakers of 2022? Well, Cleer isn't backward about coming forward with it, telling us it sets a new standard in the category for crystal clear, hi-fi quality audio on the move – and we've even got one in front of us on launch day. Yes, Cleer wanted to cause a scene in our office.
The company is right to wave its own flag too. Since 2012, the San Diego-based audio specialist has been collecting awards for its headphone output (the excellent Alpha over-ear ANC headphones and Goal II Active true wireless earbuds both received CES 2022 Innovation Awards, while the Enduro ANC gained a Red Dot Design Award in 2020 – and that's just for starters). Now, the Cleer Scene promises audio with "a focus on clarity and definition, paired with tight bass that punches for an energetic and rhythmic listening experience".
To achieve this, Cleer has squirreled away dual 48mm neodymium dynamic drivers, paired with two passive radiators, under the Scene's casework (which is slightly bigger than my trusty JBL Flip 6, see below) in a bid to promote extra power and distortion-free listening with room-filling bass depth.
It's available in either red or grey, and can now be purchased in the UK and EU for £99/€119. Cleer tells us that the US price will be $79.99, but the US launch date is yet to be finalized.
Analysis: Cleer has undercut the JBL Flip 6 by some way – and it's potentially an inspired move
We've yet to put the Cleer Scene through its paces (we want the whole show, not just its best 16 bars) but for under £100, the Cleer Scene is highly competitive on paper – and initially, the sound is engaging.
There's an IPX7 waterproof rating, a 3.5mm aux-in if you want to go wired, 12 hours of playback when fully charged, and, thanks to its built-in "echo and noise-canceling microphone", calls can be taken on it – which is more than can be said of my no-mic JBL Flip 6 (MSRP: $129.99).
We like the design and overall aesthetic too. It has a soft, sturdy base that adds traction, which means it won't roll like the Flip sometimes can, and will allow the Scene to be placed (or to take place, if you will) on most surfaces.
There are a few areas in which the Cleer falls short on the spec sheet, though. The Cleer Scene supports Bluetooth 5.0 whereas the JBL Flip 6 utilizes a Bluetooth 5.1 chipset, the JBL has an IP67 rating so is dust-proof as well, and while the 12-hour battery life is the same across both models, there doesn't seem to be app support for the Scene – at least, not through the Cleer+ app. The JBL Flip 6 is supported by the JBL Portable app, which allows you to check for software updates, adjust the equalizer settings (with sliders for bass, mid, and treble frequencies), turn the feedback tone on and off, and enable the PartyBoost feature for daisy-chaining other speakers and beefing up the audio.
That said, for practically half the price of its nearest JBL competition, the Cleer Scene presents a compelling proposition – and let's not forget the company's talent in the wireless speaker realm too, most notably with the Cleer Audio Crescent.
Will it become one of the best party speakers on the market as we head into the holiday season? We're on it. Watch this space.
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.