I have been using the Cleer Arc II Sport Headphones for months now, and I can’t explain how much these buds have changed the way I workout, work and take calls. I am confident that this is so far my favorite Cleer product, and this is a big claim to make considering I have really liked the company’s past products. Let me tell you why I’d recommend these buds to you in a heartbeat.
The Arc II Sport buds come housed in a pretty good-looking (and quite huge) charging case and are accompanied by a Type-C charging cable. There are no extra bells and whistles in terms of accessories.
The charging case, weighing 102g, sounds pretty heavy compared to most other TWS buds’ charging cases. However, considering its large size, it’s actually quite lightweight. I carried the case in my purse a couple of times and it didn’t feel like a burden at all. In terms of aesthetics, the case is gorgeous. It is coated with textured fabric that gives it its premium look and feel. With rounded edges and a smooth finish, it feels absolutely amazing in your hands.
The lid of the case hosts the brand name and there’s a Type-C port on its back. I just wish that there was a better way of opening the case. There is very little space for you to rest your finger on while you lift the lid, and I struggled with it almost every time I had to open it. This wasn’t a deal breaker by any means, but I’d love it if the company could look into it for the next iteration of these buds.
Opening the case exposes the pair of buds carefully docked in their sockets with the help of magnets. The magnets are so strong that I’ve never had to manually place the buds in their exact spots. I’d just place them anywhere in the case and the magnets would handle the rest. The case also hosts a button and an LED light that is responsible for revealing the battery status of the case.
The earbud is as gorgeous as the case. It’s available in two color variants: red and black. I received the latter, and could not be happier with the color. The bud consists of a variety of materials. The stem that goes behind your ear is all plastic, the part of the stem that goes above your ear is rubber and the little stem that’s connected to the earpiece is metal. The actual earpiece is also made of plastic but is of excellent quality and feels pretty sturdy and robust. Overall, the bud features a stunning body and easily justifies its $189 price.
The Arc II’s fit is what truly makes me recommend them to you. If you’re looking for the perfect workout companion, go for these buds without even wasting a second. I run and workout regularly and have experimented with a bunch of different buds and over-ear headphones. I have never liked any fitness buds as much as I liked the Arc II.
They provide an excellent fit and stay glued to your ears throughout. The stem is thankfully long enough to go all the way behind your ear and offer a stable fit. The long stem also makes it easy for you to adjust the buds in your ears without messing up the touch-enabled control pad on the outside of the bud.
One of the best parts about the Arc II is that they use bone-conduction technology which means the buds don’t go inside your ear canal but instead rest outside of it. When executed well, bone-conduction technology is excellent for a number of reasons. They let you stay aware of what’s going on around you, don’t cause ear fatigue and are much better for your hearing.
When I first saw the Arc II’s design, I was very skeptical about whether or not they’ll hug my ears tight enough. I was quite pleasantly surprised. I did all kinds of workouts on these buds and also used them for all my chores – laundry, groceries, cleaning – you name it. They have been great to me, providing a snug fit and a comfortable overall experience. I am not exaggerating when I say that I haven’t even touched my personal pair of buds and over-ear headphones ever since I received the Arc II.
By default, double tapping and holding on the second tap controls volume. This was probably one of my biggest gripes with the controls on the Arc II because triple tapping and holding on the third tap powers the buds off. Hence, I ran into multiple missteps with the volume feature. Unfortunately, this control isn’t customizable in the companion software too. You can probably imagine how annoying it would be to accidentally turn your buds off when you’re trying to control the volume. I believe the volume control should not have been so similar to the power-off control. Or should have at least been customizable in the app. It also felt unintuitive and a little exhausting; I prefer sliding up or down on your buds to raise or lower volume, respectively.
The Arc II also offers a couple of motion controls. Nodding twice picks a call up, shaking your head twice rejects calls, turning your head to the left takes you to the previous track and turning to the right takes you to the next track. I found the call motion controls to be very unreliable; they didn’t always work out for me. I tested these controls with a friend and I ended up tiring my head and making him wonder why I’m not taking his call. They probably worked a total of two times out of around five or six attempts.
The music motion controls didn’t really help me either. They were kind of cool when I was alone in my room and testing them out. But the very next day, when I was listening to music on a train, this feature was quite bothersome. I would turn my head every few minutes and that would switch the song. Just 10 minutes into the ride, I had to turn the motion controls off through the app. I don’t see a lot of practicality in this feature, especially when you’re in a public setting or on the go and have to move your head often.
Sound and Mic
The Cleer Arc II doesn’t feature ANC. So, if that’s what you’re looking for in your next pair of buds, look elsewhere. I do believe that paying $189 is a high price to pay for buds that don’t feature ANC, but since I mostly used them on the go, I didn’t really feel the absence of noise cancellation. Most people prefer ambient mode when they’re out on a run, and since these are marketed as sports buds, not featuring ANC isn’t that big of a crime.
If you’re into treble, you’re going to love these buds. The high-end packs quite a lot of energy and crispness. The bass is rich and clear too, but it’s not excessively deep. It doesn’t stand out as the most prominent element in the orchestra. Overall, the sound on the buds isn’t something I’d recommend to an audiophile. If you’re investing in these solely for sound, I’d recommend you to keep looking. The Arc II are best at what they’re marketed as: running buds.
The mic on these buds is excellent. According to Cleer, it features wind reduction technology, and, having tested it, this isn’t just another marketing gimmick. I tested it in various situations with different people, and they all praised how clear my voice sounded.
While 35 hours is the advertised battery life, the buds didn’t actually last that long for me. With the battery of the charging case combined, they lasted a total of around 20 hours each time. Since I primarily used these as my errands and workout buds, I was a little bothered by the short battery life.
I’m happy about the IPX5 water resistance on these, though. My workout sessions tend to get sweaty, and it was great not having to worry about my sweat damaging the buds. Mono-listening is also supported which made me give the buds an extra point. There’s no in-ear detection, though, so plugging the buds out for a bit would mean you’d end up missing out on your music.
The charging case doesn’t support wireless charging which is kind of disappointing, especially looking at the price point. One super cool feature on the charging case is that the sockets sport UV lighting that helps sanitize your buds when they’re plugged in.
Is It Hardcore?
All in all, I’m a fan of the Cleer Arc II. Featuring wireless charging, ANC and a longer battery life could have made me given them a perfect rating. However, their perfect fit, excellent mic, pretty decent sound and water resistance extremely impressed me. They’re brilliant at what they’re advertised for: being the ideal running companion.