The Cleer Audio Scene is a competitively priced and nicely specified Bluetooth speaker that looks the part and should certainly serve many prospective customers well. It enters, however, an extremely competitive market, so the Scene has some strong, Award-winning rivals to contend with.
Coming in at £99 (around $120 / AU$180) the Cleer Audio Scene is clearly intended to undercut some perhaps better-known and much-lauded rivals. The most obvious competitor for the Scene – certainly in looks – is the JBL Flip 6 which came in at £130 ($160 / AU$240) when it was released in 2022; so one can see the sense in the Scene’s sub-ton price. More on that later, however.
Build & features
We mention above that it seems Cleer Audio had the JBL Flip 6 in its sights with the Scene. The Scene is a little bit larger and has angled ends, where the Flip 6 is more of a squared-off tube. But that fabric-style finish looks very familiar. The Scene comes in two colour options – the grey of our review sample, or red.
It sits on a little rubberised plinth, and there is a clear direction of travel for the speaker, with the Cleer logo sitting above a light strip on the front of the unit. The buttons on the top of the unit give a satisfying click acknowledging when they are pressed, and perform volume, play and pause, and microphone duties.
Around the back of the speaker is a further strip of inputs; this is where you find the power and Bluetooth-connect buttons, and the USB-C and 3.5mm inputs, which lie protected behind a rubberised bung.
Battery life 12 hours
Features Built-in echo and noise-cancelling microphone, waterproof IPX7
Connections USB-C for charging, 3.5mm aux in
Dimensions (hwd) 9 x 22 x 7.4cm
Finishes x2 (grey, red)
That protection is required to meet the useful IPX7 waterproof rating that this little Bluetooth speaker can lay claim to: it can survive for around 30 minutes in up to a metre of water. Which means, of course, that the Cleer Scene is an ideal accompaniment for a picnic or the garden; or a bathroom, come to that.
The speaker comes nicely packaged in a reassuringly smart and hefty cardboard box. Beside the speaker, in the box, a USB-C charging cable is supplied – on which note, the Scene can provide tunes for 12 hours on a charge.
One of the main features that might set the Cleer Scene apart from its close rivals – and certainly from the JBL Flip 6 – is its ability to take and receive calls from a linked smartphone, via a built-in microphone.
It’s a good trick – particularly at this end of the Bluetooth speaker market – and for the right customer, it could be the decision-maker.
For What Hi-Fi?, however, while features such as the ability to take and receive calls are always useful, and may even be a deciding factor in a close-fought race, it’s the sound that matters. Musical ability is, by a very long way, what counts in our reviews – taking money and rivals into account every step of the way, naturally.
We run-in the Cleer Scene for a day or two before we start serious testing, and use the speaker in a variety of environments, from an office desk, to a shed, to the kitchen, to a back garden during a rare dry(ish) day.
Throughout, the Scene performs respectably. It can certainly pump out the volume with its dual 48mm dynamic drivers coping admirably with often unreasonable requests for more power. And the interaction with our phone on calls was good – voices coming across clearly in both directions.
As a speaker for a garden get-together, pushing out background music, the Cleer Scene will be a great buy. As is often the way with Bluetooth speakers, it goes pretty big on the midrange, so voices come across with clarity. This trait is not necessarily a bad thing generally – and it is certainly preferable to a preponderance of bass or treble – but it does mean, in this instance, that sounds both above and below the register take a back seat, and the overall soundstage is somewhat uneven.
The mournful vocal in Tindersticks’ Tiny Tears comes across solidly, but the surrounding instruments, the hi-hat and strings for example, take a back seat, to the detriment of the track overall. It’s almost as if the Scene is so focused on the vocals that it pays attention to the rest of the arrangement only as something of an afterthought.
Bass is perfectly acceptable, but just a touch flabby and blurry; importantly, though, it isn’t overbearing, due to that midrange bias from the Scene. Treble, from the upper vocal register up, can come across as fairly bright, although it never quite strays into stridency.
This combination of factors inevitably means that the speaker struggles with timing and delivering a convincing tonal balance, leading to a sound that is lacking and struggles to hold our attention.
And it is when we bring out the JBL Flip 6 for some comparison testing that this sonic shortfall becomes truly clear.
Playing Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years on Tidal, over our MacBook Pro, the Cleer Scene does, on the face of it, a fair job. Heard in solitude, it is an inoffensive, serviceable sound. (We come back to that ‘background music’ suitability.) But the Flip 6 takes things up a whole musical level. The JBL puts in a performance that is altogether cleaner across the musical spectrum. There is more solidity and body to the sound, the bass is crisper and more precise, the treble sings with equal prominence to the rest of the sound. The Flip 6 is simply more dynamic, more grounded – dare we say it, more musical – with better timing and tonal balance.
Now, of course, on the face of it, the JBL speaker is 30 per cent more expensive than the Cleer Scene, which manages to come in just under that magic £100 mark.
And that 30 per cent is a decent chunk of anybody’s money. But (there is always a but…), a quick search shows that the JBL Flip 6 is available at a number of outlets for the same £99 you require for the Cleer Scene.
If you want a Bluetooth speaker that will pump out the volume at a garden party, picnic, or in the park, the Cleer Audio Scene will do the job with gusto. And its phone call taking abilities may well be a useful feature for some prospective buyers.
But when there is a product that is so clearly sonically superior (albeit without the microphone for calls), we cannot recommend the Scene over its rival for anything approaching serious music listening.
- Sound 3
- Build 5
- Features 4
Read our review of the JBL Flip 6
Also consider the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
Read our Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 review