Welcome to my Nothing Ear (2) review, in which I share my initial thoughts on using the newest earbuds from London-based Nothing. The brand certainly divided opinion with its release of the Nothing Ear earbuds a couple of years ago, with reviews wildly differing from two to almost five stars.
On unboxing the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds, my first thought was how very little had changed, design-wise, from the Nothing Ear (1) buds. The marmite of earbuds still come in that transparent box – and the buds look almost identical, too. But will enough have been changed about this second iteration to bring in more consistent reviews? First impressions are good, but good enough to make our best noise cancelling earbuds list? Read on to find out more.
Design: Nothing Ear (2)
As mentioned above, the Nothing Ear (2) design is largely unchanged from the Nothing Ear (1). To be frank, when I first saw the clear box I wasn't sold – but living with the design for a few days has changed my mind – it's quite nice to have a piece of tech not competing for your attention on the cluttered work surface. Though slimmer than its predecessor, it is still pretty bulky, and doesn't fit nicely into a pocket.
The buds themselves still have the small red dot for the right ear, handy for popping them in on the go, and they're still channelling AirPods but with less bright white to content with (the stems are clear on the outside and black inside).
Controlling the buds via the small button is fine once you've located it, but it does take some muscle memory to get the hang of it. I guess that's true of any button that size, though – and it is responsive. You can also give the buds a swift tap to turn them off and on.
They're light (lighter than the Nothing Ear (1) at only 4.5 grams, actually), and comfy. I wore them for a few hours at a time and actually forgot they were in, which is apt for something called the Nothing.
One gripe might be that putting the buds into the case is a tad fiddly – they have to be popped in at just the right angle and, to be honest, I still haven't perfected this in one quick motion – even after three days of using them.
Performance: Nothing Ear (2)
The sound-related specs have been upgraded from the previous model – and the upgrade has paid off. These earbuds sound delightful, with a crystal clear yet warm and lively soundstage – and the noise cancellation is much improved. They totally took away the annoying roar of a train on a long journey (and the chat between a nearby couple as well), and that's all you can ask for, really. Though not the most capable ANC on the market, it's reasonable for the price, and the addition of the 'adaptive' mode offers more flexibility in how you use it.
The Nothing Ear (2) buds are meant to be highly customisable, with a 'beep test' helping to set the exact tones and frequency your ears desire. In practice, this didn't work wonders (in fact, I kind of preferred the default settings) but it's a nice idea that might work for some if you have the inclination to play around with it for a while.
They're also well equipped to handle any sound-related issues related to using them over Bluetooth – with the upgraded LDHC 5.0 working hard to cover any loss in quality.
The battery life is only okay – rumours were they'd last around six hours without charge, and this is true if you don't use the ANC. With it, they last around four hours – not as long as Apple's AirPods, which last the full six hours. But with the case you'll get a strong 34 hours out of them with no ANC, and 22.5 with it turned on. It's certainly below average but manageable for most people.
Price: Nothing Ear 2
Ah, the price. Well, the Nothing Ear (2) is significantly pricier than the prior version, coming in at $149/£129 (a $50 price hike). This seems fair for a pair of midrange ear buds, and the upgraded features and the unusual design (if that's your thing) certainly make them feel very reasonably-priced indeed.
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