Before hearing the Cleer Audio Crescent at CES 2020, it was not clear whether a single device that could “do it all” was to be found at the show. But I’ve heard driver arrays use beamforming to create an enhanced soundstage, and even convincing surround sound effects, so I’m a believer in that approach. The issue is whether you can achieve an immersive soundfield without ruining the tonality of the content—a lot of virtual surround effects have a “processed” quality to them that I find fatiguing.
The Cleer Crescent uses an 8-driver array and also features dual woofers to handle bass. It is a true all-in-one device, it handles everything. Even in the hostile environment of the CES show floor, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Cleer has hit upon the “Goldilocks” formula when it comes to making 3D sound come out of one device, which happens to be a very attractive design, in addition to its great sound.
Given the totally open nature of the Cleer Audio booth (no ceiling, and pretty much no walls), the fact each listening mode did what it claimed, including the impressive 3D mode that realistically placed sounds around and behind listener, and the surprisingly precise Stereo Widening mode that makes music sound like it’s coming from a pair of properly positioned speakers. Plus, the Crescent has a Room Fill mode for those times when you want it to behave like a regular wireless speaker.
More than any other all-in-one device I saw & heard at CES, the Cleer Audio Crescent is able to properly present both movie surround-sound and 2-channel audio while sporting a form factor that is a refreshing break from all the dull looking, rectangular soundbars out there. But thanks to its attractive design it looks fantastic on its own (it was demoed without a TV show), serving as a state-of-the-art stereo system that surprises with the performance it offers for the price point: Cleer expects it to sell for $600. Long story short, t is decidedly not a soundbar, although it can be used as one.
Is not much detail at this time in terms of specifications, but Cleer does say that the Crescent will handle high-res audio. What remains to be seen is how it handles surround-sound formats. But what really matters is the effectiveness of the demo. After all, if you really want to good surround-sound system then you should be looking at an AVR and standalone speakers. But if a soundbar is the best solution for a given domestic situation, why not get one that is not dependent on the room size or shape, and that is attractive to look at as well! In all it was enough to earn the Cleer Crescent a Best of CES 2020 award.