Calling the Cleer Crescent a smart speaker is sort of reductive. Yes, it has Google Assistant in-built, however it’s additionally an easy-to-use Bluetooth speaker and may even pull soundbar duties. The Crescent additionally boasts spatial playback modes that promise 3D audio simply from this single unit, to not point out a putting design that merely calls for consideration.
Cleer Crescent specs
Speakers: 8 x 40mm drivers, 2 x 84mm woofers
Ports: 3.5mm aux in, optical in, Ethernet
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n/ac, 2.4/5GHz
Size: 4.7 x 26 x 7.2 inches
Weight: 12.4 ounces
The two catches initially appear to be the $699 value, and the truth that the Crescent has a footprint a number of occasions the dimensions of most rivals. Even so, your money (and area) funding will likely be rewarded with one thing that challenges the finest smart audio system and even the finest soundbars. Read our full Cleer Crescent evaluate to search out out why.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Price and availability
Brace your self: The Cleer Crescent prices $699. That’s greater than 10 occasions the worth of our present favourite smart speaker, the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock.
But once more, the Crescent isn’t only a smart speaker, and it’s really cheaper than some soundbars with related beamforming tech, just like the $799 Sonos Arc. In any case, it’s accessible at quite a few retailers, together with B&H, Lowe’s and Wayfair. You can even purchase it instantly from Cleer.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Design
One factor that massive lump of money will get you is a critically arresting look. The Crescent is not any dumpy upright block, just like the Google Nest Audio, nor a tiny cylinder like most of the finest Bluetooth audio system. It’s a large, golden wedge, a gilded orange slice with the controls on a slick-looking strip of brushed aluminum on high. Four LEDs on the bottom mild as much as present when Google Assistant is listening or taking motion.
The gigantic grill is plastic, however the entire thing nonetheless has a reassuring solidity and weight to it. Being filled with drivers most likely helps: there are eight front-facing, full-range drivers and two bigger woofers pointing backwards, together with a pair of bass ports.
Cleer has gone with bodily buttons for the onboard controls, which is ok by me — capacitive contact controls will be finicky. There’s a helpful mic mute button, must you need to plug Google Assistant’s ears for privateness, in addition to quantity up and down buttons and a mixed play/pause button. A devoted supply button switches between Bluetooth, aux and optical connections (it appears you may join over Wi-Fi no matter which is chosen). Some skip buttons would have been good, as would a distant, although you may at all times management streamed music in your telephone as a substitute.
Big credit score can be due for the sheer vary of connectivity choices. The Crescent natively helps each Chromecast and AirPlay 2 on the W-Fi facet, and Bluetooth offers a simple wi-fi various if you wish to join a laptop computer as a substitute of your Android or iOS telephone. For most stability you may also hook the Crescent up with an Ethernet cable.
A 3.5mm aux enter provides much more flexibility, as does the optical port. The latter turns the Crescent from a sideboard-dwelling smart speaker to a soundbar that may immediately improve most customers’ TV audio. However, at almost 5 inches tall, it is best to most likely solely pair it with wall-mounted TVs, to keep away from blocking the view.
An HDMI ARC or eARC port would have made one other high quality addition, although optical is ok for something wanting probably the most bombastic Dolby Atmos soundtracks. On the entire, there are greater than sufficient methods to attach your selection of supply units.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Setup
The Crescent’s wealth of ports and wi-fi choices makes setup simpler, in a way: to make use of as a soundbar, simply plug and play.
Of course, to get the smart options up and working, it’s finest to configure the Crescent by way of the Google Home app. This, too, is pleasantly painless. You can add it seamlessly to any smart residence community you have already got arrange in the identical app, and if Google Assistant already acknowledges your voice you can begin barking orders on the Crescent instantly.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Google Assistant
There’s nothing bizarre or untoward with how the Crescent implements Google Assistant: it’s the identical AI many people have been bossing round for years. It might comfortably management music playback on the Crescent, and as soon as configured within the Google Home app the speaker is usually a verbal command heart for suitable smart residence package as effectively.
The far-field microphone array performs effectively, too. The solely time I needed to increase my voice to register a command was once I was already enjoying music fairly loudly, and even then I used to be hardly shouting. The Crescent even completely parsed a question I requested (at regular talking quantity) from my bed room, which is an angled hallway away from the lounge I’d parked the speaker in.
Queries and instructions are often acted on rapidly in addition to correct, and I appreciated how voice instructions made the dearth of a distant even simpler to swallow.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Sound high quality
Central to Cleer’s pitch for the Crescent is the set of three distinct playback modes. Room Fill Mode is a general-purpose possibility that goals to ship a constant sound to as massive an space as potential, whereas Stereo Widening Mode expands the soundstage width to anybody sitting instantly in from the Crescent. 3D Mode is probably the most bold: it guarantees a digital, 3D encompass sound impact not not like Dolby Atmos or Sony’s 360 Reality Audio.
In follow, it’s not a patch on “true” encompass sound: the sort you’d get with a set of rear satellite tv for pc audio system. There’s not a lot of a way of top both, as you’d get from the very best Atmos soundbars. Even so, 3D Mode sounds even wider and extra immersive than Stereo Widening Mode. Crowd noises on a reside recording of Keith Richards’ “Time is on My Side” have been noticeably extra enveloping, including to the reside impact, and 3D Move makes a good try at 5.1 TV audio as effectively. Dolby received’t be fearful however the battle scenes in Pacific Rim: The Black sounded appropriately apocalyptic with the quantity cranked up.
Stereo Widening Mode is value utilizing, too. As the title suggests, the soundstage is tangibly prolonged past the Crescent’s bodily dimensions. As such it’s ultimate for songs that make good use of the complete left/proper stereo spectrum, like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and its break up vocal harmonies.
To my ears, Stereo Widening Mode is hotter, bassier and fuller-sounding than 3D Mode, and likewise has barely cleaner instrument separation. However, there’s a catch that applies to each modes: it is advisable be in a reasonably small candy spot for the Crescent’s beamforming to ship the specified results.
Beamforming basically fires sound waves in direction of a selected location, which within the Crescent’s case is between 5 and 6.5 ft (1 to 2 meters) in entrance of it, lifeless heart. If you’re sat right here, every thing sounds nice, even by the lofty requirements of a $699 speaker. Move out of that spot, although, and all of it sounds unbalanced and hole.
This is the place Room Fill Mode is available in, to an extent. As promised, it’s rather more constant no matter the place you might be relative to the speaker, and the Crescent can go greater than loud sufficient to help longer listening ranges.
Still, Room Fill Mode sounds flatter than the opposite two modes, with much less depth to multi-instrumental preparations. It’s high quality for entertaining events, however for a very premium sound expertise you’ll want to remain in that candy spot.
Cleer Crescent evaluate: Verdict
The positioning subject is a downside, particularly in case your sofa is greater than 6.5 ft away out of your TV, however in the correct circumstances the Cleer Crescent sounds nice. And it’s onerous to think about many related merchandise that do such an excellent job of marrying high-end aesthetics with the practicality of Google Assistant and a beneficiant mixture of connections.
Again, the Crescent is excess of simply one other smart speaker. It’s a loudspeaker and a soundbar in a single, with a number of spatial playback modes that assist elevate it over extra compact however much less technically refined rivals. Even at $699, it’s value testing.