The Cleer Audio Scene produces clean and clear audio clarity in a compact configuration
- Manufacturer: Cleer Audio
- Model: Scene
- Type: Bluetooth Waterproof Smart Speaker
- Supported Inputs: Bluetooth, 3.5mm Aux
- Price: £99.00
- Supplied by: Cleer Audio
Cleer Audio Scene Review
We’re back with another Cleer Audio product review, this time featuring the Cleer Scene Bluetooth wireless smart speaker. The Cleer Audio Scene matches or exceeds the sound quality of competitors from Sony, Bose and JBL, and at a significantly lower price point than its counterparts. There’s no compromise on the Cleer Audio quality, though; This is a rugged, extremely well made and immensely stylish addition to any audio aficionados collection.
As we’ve come to expect from the premium American brand, sound quality is superb. The Cleer Scene favours clarity over bass, which makes a refreshing change from all of those portable speakers that focus on booming bass. Don’t get me wrong, I love a solid bassline, and the Cleer Scene delivers, but not at the expense of swamping all the other frequencies. The higher-end of bass frequencies is well represented, it just misses a bit of sub-oomph. If you put any value on the accuracy of your music, though, the Cleer Scene is hard to beat.
For such a compact speaker, the Cleer Scene’s sound is massive. Whether outdoors or in the comfort of your home, this speaker pumps out well-rounded and wide sound, easily able to fill a decent-sized room or entertain your fellow listeners at a beach barbecue – God, I wish I’d had this speaker when I was in my teens!
My better half routinely uses her phone’s speaker to play music whilst she’s pottering around the house, but ever since I introduced her to the Scene, she won’t use anything else, remarking that the sound quality is excellent and that it is “really bassy!” Although she wouldn’t consider herself an audiophile, she easily (and accurately) picked out the differences between all of our samples of £20 to £850 headphones in a recent blind test, so this is high praise indeed!
Although this is technically a smart speaker, this is a relatively bare-bones affair. You get in-built volume control, track switching, play/pause functionality and a useful mic activation button for voice assistants, but the Cleer Scene is designed to be controlled from your smart device primarily. There’s no Bluetooth multipoint support, which would have been useful for parties and letting others chip in with their songs of choice, but assigning the speaker to a new device is very straightforward and fairly fast.
It’s possible to overload the speakers and introduce a bassy rattle at high volumes. The Cleer Scene can handle sustained bass tones very well, but punchy bass at loud volumes (think a heavy EDM kickdrum) can be a bit too much for this speaker to handle. Cleer could have avoided this by lowering the overall volume, but I’d argue that being able to pump up the volume on quieter tracks and rely on the user to use their judgment is a better ethos.
I would note that the longer I used the speaker, the louder I could push the Scene without distortion. Gently running in the speaker is recommended at first, and will improve high-volume performance in the long run.
A welcome nod to the portability of the Cleer Scene is that it has IPX 7 water resistance (it can handle being submerged in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes) and it is shock resistant, making it an ideal outdoor companion, whatever the weather.
Design and build
The Cleer Scene comes in a smartly designed package. All cardboard with foam padding, the box simply contains the Scene speaker and the user guide. You may have expected more, but that’s literally all you need – if you’re one of the minority that doesn’t already have a USB-C charge cable, they can be picked up for next to nothing, and you can add a 3.5mm jack-to-jack lead for connection to your non-Bluetooth devices, but in this environmentally conscious day and age it’s an appreciably wasteless offering.
Build quality is exceptional. This is a solidly chunky speaker, with a reassuring heft to it, borne out by its shock-proof rating that should withstand most knocks, bumps and minor drops – Handy if you’re pounding a few brews during your listening.
A picture speaks a thousand words, so I’ll let you flick through the images first – stunning, right? Cleer has a knack for giving its products a pristine and modern aesthetic that extends from its ultra-premium range right down to its entry-level products. I adore the dark grey colourway, but the Scene also comes in vibrant red, which may appeal to the youth market.
Of special note are the exquisitely designed passive radiators on either side of the speaker. Passive radiators allow a speaker system to enhance the low-end frequencies, much in the way reflex ported systems achieve, but the key differentiator here is that the passive radiators still allow the Cleer Scene to still achieve full IPX7 water resistance. I also love the way these bounce along with the bassline of your tunes, and there is an audible difference that they bring to the bass.
The entire speaker is covered in a mesh grille, which gives the Scene a wonderful hand feel. Unlike typical speakers, however, it’s solid underneath whilst still allowing the sound to blast through. A soft rubber base reduces vibration, and a rubberised coating covers the USB-C and 3.5mm ports at the rear. For many quality speakers, form follows function, but Cleer has achieved both. The Scene looks stylish, but without compromising on the excellent audio.
On the top of the speaker, the microphone, play/pause and volume up/down buttons have a tactile click when pressed, but I found the Bluetooth pairing and power buttons at the rear to lack any clicky definition to let you know when they are depressed. You have to press the rear buttons quite firmly to activate them, but it only takes a single use to become aware of this.
Features and controls
Powering on the speaker takes a single press of the rear power button, followed by a pleasing rising note sequence. Powering off requires a slightly longer second-or-two hold, with another descending musical tone to accompany it. There’s another distinctive sonar-like tone that lets you know when the Scene is in pairing mode and another tone for when your device is connected. I much prefer this to the typically robotic “power on – connected” voice that many Bluetooth devices employ.
Controlling the speaker is very straightforward. You can, of course, use your phone or Bluetooth device, but you can also adjust the volume and play/pause with the top-mounted buttons, and pressing and holding the volume up/down buttons will go to the next or previous track, respectively. Nothing fancy here, but it’s intuitively easy to use.
The Cleer Scene has an in-built microphone for voice calls, which you can answer with a press of the play/pause button. The microphone has quite a wide pickup pattern but I was very impressed at how well the echo and noise cancellation filtered out unwanted background noise. The microphone can also control your smart assistant with a press of the microphone button on the top, making this a worthy (and much better sounding) alternative to something like the Amazon Echo, with the advantage that it’s not always listening!
Unfortunately, there is no app to adjust the audio profile, but I successfully used the native Dolby Atmos controls on my Samsung phone and third-party tuning on my PC to tweak the sound to my preference. A native app with onboard sound profiles would always be my preference, but it’s no big deal adjusting this externally.
The Cleer Audio Scene is pleasingly simple to use. The first time you power it on it enters pairing mode, and for any subsequent pairings, you just hold the Bluetooth button for a couple of seconds. Unfortunately, you’re limited to one connection at a time; There’s no Bluetooth multipoint, which would have been useful in a party scenario and allow multiple users to select the music, but
I like that the Cleer Scene has a 3.5mm audio input, as it gives the Scene compatibility with a wide range of devices. The location under the waterproof flap housing the charger input means you lose the waterproofing when it’s in use, but that’s an acceptable trade-off in my opinion, as in my experience you are more likely to use a 3.5mm connection indoors.
The Bluetooth range is excellent, comfortably reaching 10 metres outdoors without dropouts, and it far exceeds the range of 2.4 GHz wireless devices. Zero complaints, here.
The audio produced by the Cleer Scene is crisp, detailed, warm and well-articulated. It’s an accurate sound that allows you to pick out detail in your music that you don’t normally get from portable speakers. It’s not quite audiophile grade, but if you’re used to high-quality audio at home, the Scene allows you to take a bit of that quality with you.
Both a blessing and a curse, the accuracy of the Scene’s sound means you can more clearly hear the difference in low-quality audio files. Any excess gain, recorded distortion or shoddy compression is amplified – this isn’t a fault with the Scene, but if you have a collection of low-quality YouTube audio rips, don’t expect them to sound great. At the same time, your high-quality rips or Tidal streams are going to sound amazing.
Bass is remarkably well articulated. It lacks low-end sub-oomph, but it has impressive definition. The passive radiators emphasise the bass very well, pushing the sound far wider than it otherwise could. Sustained bass notes are handled very well, though as mentioned earlier, excessively loud punchy bass can overload the drivers if the volume is too high. I would have liked the Scene to push punchier lower notes a little more, but this is more a limitation of compact speakers than it is a failing on Cleer’s part.
The mids are full and are clearly represented whatever the volume level. Like the bass, the lower end could use more power, however, vocals and synths shine through, making the Scene a versatile speaker that is adept enough to handle a wide range of music, as well as podcasts, movies and more. If you’re lucky enough to own an outdoor projector, this would be a great pairing for movies under the stars.
Treble is also beautifully realised, not so sharp as to be fatiguing, but incredibly clear with a crisp finish that accentuates high notes and cymbal hits with a pleasing tautness. The end result is a combined effect that produces clarity at low levels that’s great for when you don’t want to disturb others around you, but that has power when needed to inject a bit of energy into the sound.
All of these descriptors come with the caveat of not having the volume too loud. It’s not necessarily distorted at high volumes, but the amp significantly outperforms the speakers. Very high volumes become crowded, and the sound lacks definition. It’s nice to have the option of more volume if you’re having a noisy gathering, but this comes with a distinct choice made between volume and clarity.
Conversely, at much quieter volumes the bass drops out – the Scene has a definite butter zone when it comes to volume. Too quiet and you lose the warmth, too loud and the passive radiators begin to rattle. In my testing, between 35% and 80% volume offers the peak performance.
The soundstage is moderate, offering a modicum of width to the sound. This is a byproduct of the closeness of the drivers, and likewise, any stereo effect is minimal, but the Scene is still capable of producing room-filling sound. This is being excessively picky, of course, and I’m comparing this to optimally placed floor-standing speakers. That I’m even considering this comparison is a testament to the quality of the Cleer Scene. Considering the size, the sound the Cleer Scene produces is massive.
I would also note that the Scene’s sound is largely directional – sat with the speaker facing you, you get the best sound possible, but move off-axis and the mids and treble lose prominence. For larger groups, this accentuates the bass, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it facilitates a better audio mix if you still want to hold a conversation, but it’s not really comparable to some of the 360° “party speakers” out there.
The Scene may not be something you’d choose as your primary audio device, but for an impromptu party or when enjoying the outdoors, it’s a massively convenient and impressive bit of kit to have available. I’d even argue the case of it being a superior alternative to inbuilt TV or monitor speakers in lieu of a soundbar, though the native Bluetooth latency hinders it in this regard.
With twelve hours of battery life, the Scene can be outdone by some of its competitors, but it’s proved more than enough for every event I’ve used it for, and a major plus point is that the Scene can still be used whilst charging. Realistically, the Scene makes a brilliant touring companion, and if you keep it topped off it’s more than enough for most family barbecues, beach parties or impromptu get-togethers that it is ideally suited for.
The Cleer Scene utilises a 2600 mAh lithium-ion battery, so even a modest portable power bank will provide enough juice to keep your speaker going for at least another 12 hours or so, and although there is no specific fast-charge functionality, it only takes an hour or two to keep your battery fully topped-off under moderate usage.
The Cleer Scene is an incredible portable speaker system that is perfectly suited for those who want a high-quality music experience, even when outdoors. No-frills simplicity combined with premium performance and styling makes this a highly desirable option.
Massive sound, exceptional clarity and Cleer Audio craftsmanship make the Scene a sure-fire contender if you’re looking to improve your travelling audio experience. It looks incredible, the sound is incredible – and for just £99, the price is incredible, too.
I love this speaker, and it’s going to be top of the list of gadgets for all of my gatherings and holidays from now on. It may not have the best bass compared to its rivals, but if you prefer precision over punch, the Cleer Scene is hard to beat.