Only Slightly Better Than Its Predecessor
I previously reviewed the Cleer Ally Plus, and ended up recommended it. Though I did deduct a mark for controls and fit, the earbuds weren’t a waste of money. I was stoked when the company sent me the Ally Plus II. Having reviewed its predecessor, I couldn’t wait to see how Cleer has utilized the most common complaints it received to improve its successor.
Slight Downgrade in Terms of Accessories
I think I jinxed it when I complimented the Ally Plus’s accessories in my last review, pointing out how the company made a special effort. After nailing the ideal packaging in the Ally Plus, Cleer, for some reason, downgraded its packaging for its successor.
The Ally Plus came with a ridiculously soft carrying pouch and a box of four additional eartip sizes. The pouch wasn’t the fanciest I’ve come across but the fact that it came with a pouch at all was appreciated. Most True Wireless Earbuds only come with a carry case. Similarly, I’ve always received extra eartip sizes sealed in small plastic packets. Cleer took an alternate route by beautifully planting all the sizes in a box with labeled sockets. There was thought and effort put into every single aspect of the Ally Plus. In the Ally Plus II, there is no carrying pouch; the carry case is all you get. The additional eartip sizes have also been thrown together in unappealing plastic packets.
There’s the standard Type A to Type C charging cable and some paperwork in the box, too. The carry case is carefully planted in a foam container. If you ignore the downgrade, the packaging isn’t too disappointing. Cleer has always impressed in terms of providing premium material products and accessories. They always seem expensive and exude class. Even with the exclusion of metal, the company somehow manages to make its products seem sophisticated. However, in this case, they simply raised my expectations with the Ally Plus. I was obviously expecting its successor to provide the same look.
Same Mistake as The Ally Plus
If I ever get the chance to talk to the product designer at Cleer, I’d ask them why they’re not catching up with the trend of streamlined earbuds. Companies these days are trying to make their IEMs as sleek and slim as possible. Yet, Cleer is back with the exact same unergonomic design I critiqued earlier on.
The Ally Plus II features a bulky design. It has a fairly large round plastic body with a metal rim. The inside of the bud extends a little too much giving it significant depth. The buds look too large in my ears and protrude outwards. Quality-wise, they look quite brilliant. However, fit-wise, they lack sleekness, entirely covering the opening of my ear.
Not only are the buds bulky, the carry case also has an unpleasant shape. Carry cases, these days, are also catching up and are taller and slimmer. This case sat in my pocket awkwardly the entire time, providing me discomfort. It formed a big bulge which was uncomfortable. The case has a glass lid so the battery-revealing LED inside it is visible. The back of the case has the standard USB-C port for charging.
I was very happy to see Cleer incorporating the critique it received on its previous model. The only gripe I had with the controls of the Ally Plus was its functions of what the single and double tap does. Single tapping switched between ANC and Ambient modes while double tapping was for playing and pausing music. Playing/pausing is a control that you’d need to use more commonly than changing between ANC and Ambient mode. Consequently, the former should’ve been a single tap away while the double tap should’ve been for the latter. It was considerably irritating and I found myself switching between modes when I didn’t intend to.
On the Ally Plus II, single tap pauses and plays your music, as it should. Double tapping is for switching between modes, as is the norm for many ANC IEMs. Double tapping is also used for skipping between tracks. You get to decide which earbud controls what in the Cleer+ app. To adjust volume, you’re supposed to double tap the buds and hold the second tap for two seconds. Reading this on paper, I was skeptical about it and didn’t expect it to work as smoothly as it did.
The touch panel of the Ally Plus II is excellent. It registers even the slightest of touch, though, it leverages a substantial lag in following the command. The volume control worked just as well and didn’t give me any issues. The controls are intuitive and it took me just a few minutes to get used to them, with an insignificant number of mis-taps.
Listening to music on the Ally Plus II was so much fun that I never wanted to stop reviewing it. The sound was punchy, powerful, heavy. It emphasized its low-end and produced a bass that was unmatched. Its treble, while not especially emphasized, was sufficient. The10mm drivers came through with loud sound. Even though 10mm stands at the lower limit of what wireless earbuds these days offer, the sound was still clear and featured high SPL capability. I maxed the volume out of both my laptop and the buds, and it didn’t even slightly distort it. The sound remained focused, sharp and rich.
I didn’t feel a significant difference between ANC and Ambient. This does not mean they were bad. It simply means both were almost equally great. While the ANC mode did mute a lot of background noise, it did not transport me to a separate space.
While the advertised battery life is 11 hours, the Ally Plus II lasted me around 12 hours on a single charge. The carry case held another 20 hours of battery. All in all, these lasted me a week without having to charge the carry case. Though I didn’t get to try it out, the tech specs state these feature wireless Qi charging which, in theory, sounds pretty cool.
Miscellaneous Cool Features
The Ally Plus II offers an IPX4 water and sweat resistance. It will likely be able to handle little splashes of water and your workout sessions. Available in the Apple App store and Google Play store, with the free Cleer+ app, you can customize the noise cancelling and environment sound levels for better isolation or awareness. The app also allows customization of touch controls and Equalizer settings along with the ability to update the firmware.
Though I recommend the Ally Plus II to anyone looking for bass-heavy buds, it would be unfair to not deduct points for where they were lacking. They should work on their ergonomics and attempt to improve with every model by making use of critique or current market trends. Apart from that, these ANC buds provide sound you’ll fall in love with, excellent controls and an insanely long battery-life. Overall, the Ally Plus II is a fair deal for $129. Serving the quality of material and sound these earbuds do, I believe these are worth it.
Is It Hardcore?
Though the Cleer Ally Plus II could have sported better ergonomics, they feature powerful and punchy sound, intuitive controls and an impressive battery life.