Can cloud-based computing really improve a pair of inexpensive TWS earphones?
- Good voice clarity with ENC enabled
- ANC, ENC, and pass-through active environmental mic options
- Decent charging case design with 4 LED indicators
- Acceptable battery life
- Decent sound quality for the price
- Some upper-midrange harshness
- Limited app functionality
- A bit large for my ears for extended listening sessions
- Excels more at call and microphone quality than for music playback
Where to Buy
The Elevoc Clear are available at:
Elevoc, founded in 2017, is one of Qualcomm Ventures’ portfolio companies focused on providing AI-powered audio solutions. They “…develop and deliver deep learning-based speech enhancement and voice interaction technologies for a wide range of products, including smartphones, headphones, PCs, VoIP applications, automobiles, smart home devices, and more.”
The Clear is Elevoc’s first product which uses their newly updated Vocplus, a deep learning-based voice enhancement solution, that extracts speech from background noise to enhance voice clarity. This technology has been deployed on millions of devices worldwide, from manufacturers including Qualcomm, Intel, Lenovo, OnePlus, OPPO, and Xiaomi.
The Elevoc Clear uses its latest AI technology and 6 microphones plus 2 voice accelerometers to filter out all background noise from conversations, whether it be from a noisy office, children at home, or wind on the go. The Elevoc Vocplus algorithm is intended to effectively suppress background noise and elevate your voice to maximize professionalism and clarity.
The amount of environmental noise suppression for the microphones can be dialed in using the Elevoc App (available for iPhone and Android). Additionally, active noise cancellation (ANC) can be toggled on/off from the earphones themselves.
Can AI learning and all that tech in an inexpensive pair of TWS actually make for a good user experience and sound quality?
Let’s find out just how ‘clear’ these things are!
- Battery Life: 30 hours
- Connector: USB Type-C
- Wireless Charging: No
Placing the earphones into the case automatically initiates charging. Total battery life is rated as 30 hours, although Elevoc recommends that if the battery level is lower than 20%, the user should charge before use. The 600 mAh battery in the case should be able to charge the IEMs 4 times.
A standard black plastic USB-C cable is included in the box.
- Can be opened easily with one hand: Requires multiple tries
- Passes the shake test: Yes
- Light Indicators: Displays battery level and charging status
There are 4 discrete white LED indicators on the bottom of the case to the right of the USB-C charge port. The left and right-most indicators will flash continuously with the earphones inserted until they are fully charged. When the case is plugged in, the four LED indicators will flash continuously according to the charging status (1 LED <25%, 2 LED 26-50%, 3 LED 51-75%, 4 LED 76-100%).
Without the cable attached, the LED indicators will display the current charging level when the cover is opened.
- Shape of the case: Rounded rectangle
- Material: Plastic with soft rubber coating
- Build Quality: Above Average
The case design is one of the finest aspects of this pair of TWS earphones. It’s coated in a touch-friendly, non-slip black matte rubber, and it feels terrific in the hand. It’s tough and very well made, and the hinges on the lid (unlike other TWS cases I’ve used) seem robust and made to last.
Also located on the bottom (beside the charge port and LED indicators) is a flush reset button, that when held for 10 seconds with the cover open, will restore factory settings.
- Weight: 56g (with earbuds inside, 5g each side)
- Volume: 6.5 x 4.8 x 2.5 = 78 cm cu}} (4.76 in cu)
- Portability: Good
The smallish case size of 6.5×4.8×2.5mm fits comfortably into a pocket, and it’s reasonably easy to one-hand open the lid. The IEMs slide vertically into slots in the case interior and are held securely with magnets.
The Elevoc are a great worry-free choice for throwing in a bag or pocket until you need them.
- Battery Life: 6 hrs
- Charge Time (15mins): Approximately 60mins playback time (Calculated based on 90mins earphones, 120mins charging case)
With 45 mAh internal batteries, the Clear have up to 6 hours of playtime battery life, with the case extending usage up to a claimed 30 hours (ANC disabled, or 25 hours ANC enabled). My experience is pretty much in line with the ratings when primarily using the Clear for audiobook playback, rather than making or receiving calls.
- Control Mechanism: Touch
- Touch Accuracy: Average
- Control Symmetry on both earbud: Yes
- Mono Use: Yes for both sides
- Voice Assitant: No
The Clear integrate touch controls on the outer surface of both earphones (left and right perform the same functions). While playing music, a single tap plays or pauses, while a double-tap skips to the next song. During calls, a single tap answers, and a double-tap declines or ends the call.
Pressing and holding the outer surface of either earphone for two seconds toggles between active noise canceling (ANC), ambient (active microphones allow you to hear surrounding sounds), and default (no active mic, no ANC) modes.
- Profile: Medium
- Material: Plastic
- Comfort: Average
- Fit: Average
The shape of each Clear earphone is the currently popular bulbous body with a straight tail that extends downwards out of the ear. The bodies are primarily matte black plastic, with the exterior of the tails clad in graphite-colored shiny plastic. Fit and comfort are only mediocre in my ears, as while the Clear are ergonomic and smooth, the body is big enough to exert a little pressure.
One of my primary uses for TWS earphones is listening to audiobooks, which I often do from a reclined position, and the Clear polliwogs protrude a bit too much to be comfortable for lying on my side with my head on a pillow.
The Clear do come with 6 different silicone ear tip options which do help dial in personal comfort and seal and improve sound quality.
- Noise Cancellation: Good
- Voice Pick-up: Good
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Elevoc and Qualcomm are all-in regarding their AI-based, noise cancellation technology. In fact, it’s the only thing you can change in the companion app, and although it provides a dial to tune the level, the app recommends simply leaving ENC turned on fully.
Based on my test recordings with ENC enabled and disabled, both in a noisy (air conditioner on high, fan, and background sound all on) and also in a quiet environment, I have to say it works. My voice sounds significantly clearer in both environments with ENC enabled, and background noise essentially disappeared.
It turns out that 6 microphones plus 2 voice accelerometers actually works as intended!
- Driver: 10mm dynamic driver
- Sound Signature: V-shaped with a bit of an upper mid boost
- Sub-bass: Average
- Bass: Average
- Mids: Average
- Treble: Average
- Sound Detail: Average
Overall sound signature
Elevoc promises a “Premium sound: 10mm dynamic drivers deliver a full 360° listening experience”. Overall, the Clear perform about as I’d expect a pair of TWS earphones in this category to perform, and the sound quality is quite acceptable. No, they aren’t going to replace your dedicated pair of wired audiophile IEMs, but that isn’t their primary purpose.
Exercising, listening to audiobooks, and taking calls while on the go, are all non-critical listening situations, and it’s here where the Clear excel. Elevoc positions the Clear to be primarily for voice calls, with little to no mention of music reproduction prowess, so let’s set our expectations accordingly.
The ANC works well to cancel out environmental noise but it creates that feeling of unpleasant pressure in my ears with nothing playing. I’d rather live with the passive noise cancellation of the Normal mode in most circumstances.
My biggest complaint with the sound is that the upper midrange is a bit too prominent, creating a somewhat nasally sound signature. Bass extends reasonably low and has decent punch when called for. Treble is present and controlled, with no sibilance detected but with fairly rolled-off upper frequencies. It’s all quite possible that the sound signature is purposely more focused on vocal clarity than music reproduction.
- Audio Codec: SBC
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5
- Bluetooth Chip: Bestechnic BES 2300YP
- Auto-connect when: Removed from the case
- Average drop-outs in an hour: 0
- Multi-point connection: No
Although multi-point connect is not supported, Bluetooth performance is very good, and I experienced no unwanted dropouts with lengthy usage, and the Clear are quick to reconnect upon removal from the case.
Pairing is done with both earphones in the case, and by holding the button on the case for 5 seconds. The case LED indicators will flash alternately (two on left, then two on right) before emitting a solid light for 3 seconds which indicates pairing mode is active.
- IP Rating: IP54
The Clear are IP54 rated for limited dust ingress and protection from water spray from any direction. This should be sufficient for most active use, such as gym, running, etc, but isn’t sufficient for the pool or where they are likely to get very wet.
The iPhone app is very rudimentary and only allows control of the ENC level. Elevoc recommends leaving ENC on full, and with my testing, I see little reason to disagree. Download the app, ensure that ENC is enabled and on maximum, and relegate the app to a little-used folder on your phone.