Among the technology brands, Nothing is still new. Trying out the devices of the brand Carl Peiless passionate friends of the tech world often ask us: “but why is your smartphone/earphone transparent?”. So far, even among industry experts Nothing has had the advantage of being “new”: but the ear (2), that we tell you in this review, they had to overcome a more complex challenge. Because after the success of the excellent Ear (1), not only do they have to do well – they have to do better.
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We tell you right away that we liked the earphones, a lot: mainly because they fit our ears perfectly and because the ANC is solid. But also that there is a negative note: the price compared to the first model has increased. But Nothing, a transparent company not only in design, explained why. However, we can’t deny it: the leap in quality is there and it shows that Nothing, from the hope of the tech world, becomes a solid reality.
Our review of Nothing Ear (2)
Nothing is not yet a brand known by the less experienced (especially by those who do not buy devices without apples on the back). But technology enthusiasts are trusting the brand launched by Carl Pei. The Ear (1) – which we have reviewed here – they sold over 600 units. For good reason: they tasted great and were cheap.
The company then launched on the market Nothing Phone (1), one of the devices we also tested the Ears (2) with during this review. And then the Ear (stick), which while having the best case we’ve ever tested on a pair of earphones, lack some features like ANC and have a half in-ear design.
The new Ears (2) therefore become part of an ecosystem with Phone (1) and the Nothing X app, to manage all the brand’s connected devices. Furthermore, they replace the Ear (1) and are the in-ear alternative and with the ANC to the Ear (stick). In short: the company is no longer an interesting startup, it is a technology brand to be taken seriously. And with a style of its own in everything.
Winning style does not change
Nothing has its own style. We are not only talking about the transparent design, but also for example the fact that the packaging is made of cardboard to make sure you can recycle itas we have also seen for all the other products of the brand (cover and charger included).
The first headphones of the brand were very popular and, at least in terms of aesthetics, the design does not change much. The case is a transparent square, with the white part hiding the charging components (also wireless). Do not miss the brand “Nothing (case)”demonstrating that the company pays attention to the details of the design.
The headphones have the rating IP54 to ensure they stand up to light rain and perspiration. We also tested them in a jog with excellent results (audio, not athletic). The custody, on the other hand, is certified IP55to resist even more.
The earphones themselves remain similar, with a short stem (in total measures 29.4mm) which bears the writing Nothing Ear (2) and which shows the internal components. The red dot for the right earpiece and white for the left is clever, something the company confirms and which we found comfortable.
The part that enters the ear has a white, rather thick oval sole. We have found that it fits perfectly into our pavilion, with the silicone eartips that arrive perfectly in the ear canal. In the box you will find different eartips for the various sizes and in the Nothing X app there are tests to evaluate which are the best (even if you always choose based on comfort).
With a weight of only 4.5 gramswe found them very comfortable to keep worn. It must be said that ears are not the same for everyone, so this assessment is subjective. But as far as our ears go, we’ve tried very few products that are as comfortable.
Custom Hi-Res audio
If comfort is the most important element in wearing earphones for a long time, audio quality is essential: it’s the very reason we wear them. Nothing, as with the Ear (stick), has created a dynamic driver for sound reproduction in-house. It is a 11.6mm driver with a custom diaphragm, which combines the polyurethane and the graphene.
Also, it introduced certification Hi-Res Audio and use the code LHDC 5.0 (not all smartphones use them automatically, so check). This allows you to stream audio at up to 24-bit/192kHz and speeds up to 1Mbps. Something not all streaming or audio playback apps offer, but which is certainly a welcome addition.
Also, the app Nothing X has a personalized test that evaluates your hearing and adjust the audio accordingly. We did it above all out of scruple during the tests, but we must say that we were impressed: the adjustment is the one we will have chosen after hours of testing – instead it only took a few minutes.
The result? The audio is really well detailed. Even just listening to podcasts we were able to pick up vocal details that less worthy headphones or the loudspeaker ignore. But listening to nuanced songs (Florence + The Machine’s latest album was a good example for us) you hear how these headphones handle all frequencies well.
Bass isn’t thunderous – although you can tweak the sound profile with the Nothing X app. But it is enveloping: This way you can also enjoy hip-hop (mostly Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino in our case, with some Biggie reminiscences) without losing detail in the highs and mids.
Also helped by the perfect “fit” with our ears, the audio really impressed us. There are audiophile earphones that do better, but for a “general purpose” product, the Nothing Ears (2) passed our review tests with flying colors).
Nothing Ear Review (2): ANC noise cancellation
The new Nothing Ears (2) offer a ANC noise cancellation that goes up to 40dB. So it’s more of a reduction than a total cancellation. But, perhaps also here due to the fact that they fit us perfectly, we must say that they surprised us in a positive way.
You can adjust the ANC to three levelsalthough we have always used l’Adaptive Modewhich automatically adjusts (again there’s a quick test in the app to test this).
As our robot vacuum swept past us in the house, we could continue listening to the lo-fi songs we use as we type. On trains and subways we heard whistles and beeps as the conversations of those around us faded into the music. But it especially amazed us on the plane: Even on landing and taking off, we were able to follow our favorite podcast without any problems. The noise is heard, but it is very muffled and not disturbing. We only noticed the baby crying two rows in front of us by pausing.
Nothing Ear review (2): call quality
Nothing’s Clear Voice technology takes advantage of three high definition microphones on each earpiece, which pick up both outside noise and your voice. An artificial intelligence algorithm reduces noise filtering over 20 million sound samples, according to Nothing.
And we believe it. Because they explained it to us in a video call we made during a break of a rather crowded press event, but our voice was crystal clear on the other end. During calls, only your speech is heard. Even when cycling, the wind didn’t bother our interlocutorthanks to repositioned microphones compared to the last generation.
Lots of smart features
We have already told you about the excellent relationship we had with the Nothing X app, which we used to adjust the audio and ANC to our liking. But it is not the only smart novelty introduced in this generation of earphones.
First of all, it is comfortable Dual Connection, which allows you to connect your Nothing Ears (2) to two devices at the same time – during the review we tried different combinations (TV and smartphone, for example) – but the most common case will be laptops and smartphones. If you’re listening to music from your PC but a call comes in, the Ear (2) will let you answer it with ease. You can click the push button to either answer or terminate.
Il Bluetooth 5.3 it is also particularly strong, the antenna inside is particularly capable: we cleaned the whole house listening to music with the Nothing Ears (2) in our ears and the smartphone still in the living room.
Then there is no shortage Google Fast Pair on Android devices and Microsoft Swift Pair on the Windows ones: we only had to open the case for both smartphone and PC to ask us to connect. You can also use the Low Lag feature for gaming, although we found the latency to be low even without it.
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We appreciated that the controls are not touch, but “push”, and that they are positioned on the stem of the earphones. So you must pinch the earphones to operate commands, something we find more comfortable than the touch controls, which in other headphones are activated when you just place the headphones in your ears.
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