What is the Cleer Crescent Smart Audio Speaker?
Yes, it’s another smart speaker review! This time from a relative unknown brand here on AVForums, Cleer Audio. Not to be confused with high end German turntable brand Clear Audio, Cleer Audio are a Californian based audio brand who offer a wide range of earphones, headphones and smart speakers covering most budgets.
Very much the jewel of the company's crown is our review item, the Crescent Smart Audio Speaker. Priced at £699, the Crescent features a premium design, 8 x 40mm drivers, dual 84mm woofers, intelligent audio modes using beamforming, built-in Google assistant, compatibility with Apple Airplay and Spotify connect, and can also double as a soundbar. Read on to see how this fares in our review….
What about the Design and Controls?
The first thing that you will notice with the Crescent is the beautiful design. It is not a boring black box that’s for sure. Featuring a hand-crafted gold coloured stainless-steel grille and brown/grey base it has a design that won’t look out of place anywhere in the home. With the impressive, curved shape, it stands up to the ‘premium’ design tag that Cleer has given it.
Measuring 660mm long x 184mm deep x 119mm high, it is very much a centre piece in any room. It can also work as a soundbar although due to the size unless your TV is wall mounted it may be too high for most stand-based TVs.
To the top of the unit are the controls featuring the volume, play/pause, audio source, audio mode and mic on/off buttons. To the front is a row of 4 LEDs which during normal use will show the volume level and will flash when in Bluetooth pairing mode.
Along with the size of the unit, another slight negative for soundbar use are the connections. Decent enough for a smart speaker with a 3.5mm audio input, optical input and LAN port but missing any HDMI connections you usually get with soundbars.
Specifications and Features
- Speaker Units: 40mm full range driver 8W x 8 + 84mm woofer 25W x 2 (RMS 114 W)
- Frequency Range: 55Hz-20kHz
- Resolution: 24bit/48kHz
- Wireless Standard: 802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz & 5GHz)
- Bluetooth Version: 4.2
- Audio Input: AUX (3.5mm), Optical
- Network Connection: LAN (RJ45 Ethernet)
- Multi-room Streaming: AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast
- Streaming Services: YouTube music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, TuneIn, iHeartRadio (with the Google Home app)
- Supported Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, Apple Lossless
- AC adapter output: DC 18V 5A, 90W
The Cleer Crescent features beamforming technology with three unique DSPs. These are Stereo Widening which should produce a wide stereo soundstage that expands beyond the physical speaker’s placement, 3D which surrounds the listener in 3D high definition audio regardless of location and Room Fill which is ideal for occasions with multiple listeners (party mode). We’ll discuss these in more detail later in our review.
The 8 x 8w 40mm full range drivers are arranged in a curved linear array facing forward whilst the 2 x 25w Woofers are facing rearwards.
There is no dedicated app for the Crescent, instead it uses the Google Home App with Google Assistant built in. Support is included for most of the popular streaming services and you can stream Hi-Res audio from iOS or Android devices with Apple AirPlay or Chromecast. Featuring Bluetooth 4.2, it supports the standard SDC, AVRCP and A2DP profiles with no support unfortunately for any of the advanced codecs such as aptX.
Set Up and Performance
As with most smart products these days, the set up is very easy and quick and it was no different with the Cleer Crescent. You simply download the Google Home App if you don’t already have it, fire it up, it detects the Crescent and you then add it to the app. Very simple and barely takes a couple of minutes.
The Google Home App is reasonably useful, but if we were spending £700 on a smart speaker we would have expected a dedicated app providing rather more functionality. For example, there is no way to change the inputs or sound modes other than on the speaker itself, same with the volume when using the optical input. You can change the bass and treble from within the Google Home App but this has no effect when using Optical or Apple Airplay.
We don’t have an Android device to test this with but using the Google Home App on an iPhone is a very strange experience. Choosing YouTube Music, it starts playing a random song that you literally have no way of finding out what is playing or how to change it. It is not synced with the YouTube Music App, which only plays via Airplay. Presumably with an Android device the experience is slightly more intuitive.
The three audio modes on the Crescent are Stereo Widening mode, 3D mode and Room Fill mode. The Stereo Widening Mode is suggested for immersive stereo music and during our testing this is the mode we had most success with. The 3D mode is suggested for TV/Movies or gaming, for music this mode hampered the soundstage and created some strange effects as the beamforming was trying to work its 3D magic.
The last mode is Room Fill Mode and this is basically a party mode. If you wanted to show off your stylish new speaker but don’t really care that the sound coming out of it is rubbish if there are 20 people in the room chatting, then this is the mode for you!
The audio resolution maxes out at 24 bit/48kHz, so for those of you after the ultimate experience with the likes of 24bit/96kHz and higher, then you will be disappointed. Using the Stereo Widening mode we were very impressed with the sound quality. Testing with Tidal Master, YouTube and music on our smart device with a range of tracks from classical, pop, rock and movie scores the audio was well represented with a good soundstage. The audio came across very detailed with strong vocals and a well-balanced bass and treble level.
The likes of The Sound of Silence by Disturbed cranked up to almost full volume really showed how well the Crescent handles audio. Although with the Stereo Widening mode, we found there is a distinct sweet spot in that the audio sounds best if you are about 3 metres from the speaker and within a range of about 90deg facing the unit. If you move too close the quality drops off and becomes slightly too booming. So that is worth bearing in mind for those planning on using this for a small room. Testing via Bluetooth connection the audio was very good too, although within the limitations of Bluetooth 4.2 and the lack of support of any of the advanced codecs.
Connected via optical to our LG B8 TV, we preferred the Stereo Widening mode over the 3D mode. Both had their merits, but we found the 3D mode to be too inconsistent with the presentation and balancing of the vocal and effects tracks. Using Stereo Widening mode the audio was good with clear vocals and balanced effects. However, due to the size of the Crescent it will only be of use to those who have their TV wall mounted and is sorely missing a HDMI port.
- Simply stunning design
- Superb build quality
- Great quality audio
- Did we mention the design?
- 3D mode needs some work
- No dedicated app
- No HDMI port
- Room Fill mode pretty pointless
- Needs a big room to get the most out of it
Cleer Audio Crescent Smart Speaker Review
Available for £700, the Cleer Crescent is a thing of beauty. It has been impeccably designed and built, especially with the handcrafted stainless-steel grille and is a real departure from the boring plain black boxes. It won’t look out of place wherever you have it in the home.
It also comes with a host of features including compatibility with all the major streaming services along with Apple Airplay 2 and Google Chromecast. Unfortunately, it has no dedicated app which is a shame at this price point. Instead, you are stuck with the Google Home app which is perfectly functional, but just not the most intuitive or user friendly compared to other smart speaker manufacturers who have their own apps.
The Crescent features three distinctive audio modes. The Room Fill (party) mode wasn’t up to much so is best ignored but we had great success using the Stereo Widening mode which gave a great soundstage and audio quality across the board. We also favoured this mode for TV/Movies as the 3D mode we found too inconsistent with the presentation, this hopefully can be improved with a firmware update.
Overall, we were impressed with the Cleer Crescent, but at £700 we expected more. It feels like Cleer have spent a long time on the exquisite design which is time well spent but have forgotten about other aspects such as the app. Due to the size it also doesn’t fit that well as a soundbar and has no HDMI connection. But if you are a fan of quality audio and are looking for a device that looks beautiful then the Cleer Crescent, despite some of its negatives, is still worthy of a recommendation.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.