Nothing Ear (1) Review: Something From Nothing

There aren’t many pairs of headphones that would generate as a lot pre-launch hype because the Nothing Ear (1) controlled – and without a doubt no others from fresh-faced start-ups launching their first ever product.

However the pleasure right here is set greater than Nothing. For something, there’s the truth that one of the design and audio engineering has in fact come from Sweden’s Teenage Engineering – veterans of the tune tech trade.

Greater than that although, lovers were excited to peer what’s subsequent for Nothing founder Carl Pei, launching his first mission since departing phone corporate OnePlus ultimate 12 months.

Nothing Ear (1)

Taken as headphones in their very own proper, the Ear (1) earbuds constitute very good price for cash, with a powerful function set together with ANC and wi-fi charging, and a placing (yet unquestionably divisive) design.

As an indication of items to come back from Nothing, they’re rather less transparent than you may have concept, with components of the design and the practicalities of the {hardware} continuously operating in opposition to the corporate’s pitch to have tech recede into nothingness.

So no, Nothing hasn’t nailed its imaginative and prescient with its first product – nevertheless it was once by no means more likely to. What it has completed is put out some tremendous headphones first time round – with a couple of flaws, to make sure, yet not anything that are supposed to prevent you from taking into account choosing up a couple.

Design and construct

  • White & clear plastic
  • Scuffs and will get grimy simply
  • Cumbersome charging case

In a single sense, Nothing has performed it secure and adopted trade traits with the design of the Ear (1) – whilst in some other, it’s bucked the ones traits completely.

In huge strokes, those glance so much like many different pairs of true wi-fi earbuds. The form of the buds might be in an instant acquainted, with a rounded head, silicon ear pointers, and a brief stem. Consider them in forged white and also you’d most likely battle to inform them except the AirPods Professional.

Nothing Ear (1)

The largest distinction to the form of the Ear (1) comes within the stem, which is in fact reasonably squared off, reasonably than spherical. It’s a delicate contact, yet crucial one – it makes it a lot more uncomplicated to grasp the earbuds with out by chance hitting the touch-sensitive floor, whether or not that’s to take them out or modify them within the ear.

The larger adjustments are simply in how those glance. Nothing has constructed the buds out of a mixture of clear and white plastic, to assist you to see one of the internals – a welcome throwback to the heyday of clear ‘90s tech that still occurs to fit the corporate’s challenge remark neatly.

Sadly, the design works higher in concept than in follow. For one, the principle frame of the buds is in fact in opaque white plastic – so that you gained’t see the drivers or different shifting portions in any respect. The information also are white – which seems to be tremendous up till extended touch with the interior of your ears. That is rarely an issue distinctive to Nothing in fact, yet no less than maximum different manufacturers allow you to select to take the chance with white tech – right here it’s your best option.

It’s most commonly the stem that’s in fact clear, yet at the outer facet it in reality best unearths a few microphones, the crimson and white dots used that can assist you recognise the left and proper buds (crimson for proper), and an incredibly distinguished brand.

Nothing Ear (1)

You’ll see extra fascinating circuitry and magnets at the different facet of the stem, yet in fact that is the bit that’s up in opposition to the facet of your head, so in all honesty it doesn’t upload all that a lot to the enjoy.

There’s extra clear plastic at the case, which has a couple of design quirks of its personal. For one, it’s huge – possibly to assist ship longer battery existence, nevertheless it does imply that those aren’t very pocket-friendly.

There’s additionally a peculiar divot at the most sensible, the place the plastic indents into the case. This is helping stay the buds in position within, yet does glance reasonably peculiar.

Nothing Ear (1)

The magnetic hinge is no less than a number of the sturdiest I’ve felt, that means that the case feels tricky. The plastic itself is much less so although – inside hours of use the transparent subject material alternatives up loads of micro-scratches, so that you must be expecting this to seem scuffed up lovely briefly.

The individuality of the Ear (1)’s design is without a doubt welcome, yet I do nonetheless have my reservations about it. Between the clear plastic, colored dots, white bits, black bits, indents, and extra, there’s so much occurring right here.

Adore it or hate it, this can be a design that pulls consideration, which is itself a curious selection for an organization that says to wish to make tech invisible.

Sound high quality

  • Reasonable audio high quality for the cost
  • Respectable bass

If the design has its ups and downs, issues are thankfully slightly clearer with regards to how the Ear (1)s sound: lovely tremendous, no less than for the cost.

No, those aren’t the best-sounding earbuds I’ve ever used. However at £99/$99, with the additional options that those boast, they don’t must be.

Nothing Ear (1)

At the balanced EQ there’s sufficient bass energy to pressure the thumping bassline on Dave and Stormzy’s ‘Conflict’, with out overpowering the remainder of the monitor. It’s no longer fairly to head-thumping ranges, and at issues the decrease frequencies sound a slightly wooly, yet at this worth I’m nitpicking.

The balanced combine does extra to prioritise vocals within the higher mid-range, to the advantage of poppier tracks like Zella Day’s ‘Golden’ or Caroline Polachek’s ‘Bunny Is A Rider’, although songs with extra complicated manufacturing would possibly sound slightly compressed.

The lengthy and in need of it’s that those sound nice, and about as nice as every other earbuds on the £100/$100 mark – and without a doubt higher than any others I do know of that still come with ANC and wi-fi charging at that worth.

ANC and sensible options

  • Lively noise-cancellation
  • Restricted customisation of controls & EQ within the app
  • A bit of buggy

Talking of – the lively noise cancellation is perhaps a large draw right here. There are different affordable wi-fi earbuds that function ANC, yet few with the status of the Nothing Ear (1).

The noise cancellation here’s best moderate in high quality – yet once more, that makes it nice for the cost. Even cranked as much as most (the upper of the one two to be had settings, aside from for ‘off’) it gained’t block out the entirety round you, yet it’s going to dim maximum droning or repetitive noises. You gained’t overlook that you simply’re on a noisy metro teach, and it gained’t block out that loud couple on the subsequent desk, yet it’s going to muffle all of this.

Nothing Ear (1)

For whilst you do wish to pay attention your environment, there’s additionally a transparency mode, which you’ll be able to transfer to with an extended press on both earbud within the default controls. In a wise contact, this may increasingly additionally turn on routinely should you take away one earbud yet go away the opposite in – splendid for fast conversations whilst you’re at the cross.

You’ll be able to regulate the ANC and transparency, and customize controls, within the accompanying app. Don’t be expecting numerous choices although, with a transparent emphasis on ease of use over complete controls.

Along with the 2 ANC choices there are 4 pre-set EQs to make a choice from (and no skill to create a customized soundscape). As for controls, you’ll be able to tweak what a triple faucet or lengthy press do (skipping monitor or swapping ANC/transparency via default), yet a double faucet is fastened to play/pause, and a unmarried faucet does not anything.

Nothing Ear (1)

The opposite to be had regulate is a swipe up and down on both bud’s stem to boost or decrease the quantity. That is the one contact regulate that’s slightly, neatly, sensitive. It adjusts quantity in such small increments that from time to time it’s exhausting to inform if it’s operating or no longer. Extra frustratingly, the only time I have worn those within the rain (which must be secure, with an IPX4 score) the buds recognised the dripping raindrops as a downward swipe, and in consequence many times diminished my quantity to not anything.

Sadly this isn’t the one glitch I skilled over a couple of weeks checking out out Ear (1)s. The primary pair the corporate despatched me in fact bricked itself – refusing to disconnect from Bluetooth and thus working down its battery, then in flip refusing to fee again up – sooner than mysteriously starting to paintings once more a few days later.

Transient Bluetooth disconnects – lasting a 2d – were rather common for me, and I’ve sporadically had a larger connection downside, the place each buds disconnect, yet just one reboots, leaving me with one useless earbud that normally takes ten mins or so that you could re-connect.

The excellent news is that between firmware updates and the change to the overall retail {hardware}, Nothing does appear to have ironed out all these kinks aside from the occasional Bluetooth drops – although I’d nonetheless hesitate sooner than working with those within the rain once more.

Battery and charging

  • As much as 5.7 hours at the buds (with out ANC)
  • As much as 34 hours overall (with out ANC)
  • Wi-fi charging

Nothing guarantees slightly underneath six hours of battery existence at the earbuds, with a complete of 34 hours together with the case. That’s with out ANC although, and the entire battery existence drops to 24 hours should you transfer on noise cancelling.

In trade phrases, this can be a good-but-not-great battery existence – you’ll in finding rival earbuds that last more, particularly with ANC factored in, yet most of the people will in finding that this will get them thru a couple of days of ordinary use. Remember the fact that should you use ANC the buds themselves will best ultimate a couple of hours although, so gained’t duvet an extended flight or equivalent utilization and not using a fee in-between.

Nothing Ear (1)

The excellent news is that the case fees lovely briefly over USB-C, and extra impressively it helps wi-fi charging too. That makes it tremendous handy to simply drop the case on any Qi-compatible wi-fi charger whilst you get house and save your self from having to assume an excessive amount of about protecting the headphones crowned up.

Value and availability

The Nothing Ear (1) price £99/$99/€99, and are to be had direct from Nothing or on Amazon, in conjunction with choose different outlets relying on the place you are living.

The cost places them proper on the higher finish of what we believe finances true wi-fi headphones. They’re no longer fairly an impulse purchase for most of the people, yet price a ways not up to flagship audio tools – or any pair of Apple AirPods.

The cost is particularly spectacular taking into account the inclusion of each ANC and wi-fi charging – two luxurious headphone options which can be infrequently observed one by one at this finish of the cost spectrum, yet infrequently each in combination for therefore little.

Nothing Ear (1)

For opponents round the similar worth, believe the Google Pixel Buds A, the reasonably costlier Cambridge Audio Melomania Contact, or an older pair of Samsung buds just like the Galaxy Buds+ or Buds Are living – each now frequently to be had at this kind of worth.


The cost is in the long run what makes one thing out of the Nothing Ear (1). On paper, the Ear (1) overpower virtually all of the pageant on the worth level just by distinctive feature of together with top class options like ANC and wi-fi charging.

The nice-but-not-great audio and battery existence nonetheless dangle their very own in opposition to different mid-range buds, so in reality the principle issues listed below are my reasonably buggy early enjoy and the divisive design, which is solely as most probably to attract you in as it’s to place you off.

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