With the Nothing Ear (2), the emerging British company focuses on innovations such as an individual sound profile and personalisable noise cancellation, especially as LHDC 5.0 technology supports high-resolution streaming via Bluetooth. Configurable pressure control, multipoint connections and a low-latency mode are also among the features of these versatile, customisable wireless in-ears.
- Comfortable fit
- In-Ears with IP54, case with IP55 certification
- Fast charging function
- Case can be charged wirelessly via Qi
- Multipoint connections
- Low latency mode
- Versatile earpiece and sound settings
- Supports LHDC 5.0
- No manual switching on and off possible
- Low battery life in ANC mode
- Sound profile cannot be used independently of the app
- Stronger background noise in transparency mode
- No USB-A adaptor included
With a weight of 4.5 grams per side, the Nothing Ear (2) are pleasantly lightweight and comfortable to wear even for long periods of time. In addition, the fit is stable, and since the housings embed themselves almost completely in the ear, these earphones can easily be worn under a cap if necessary.
The eye-catching transparent units are equipped for sports or outdoor use thanks to a dust- and water-resistant finish in accordance with IP54, while the charging case meets the requirements of protection class IP55. With regard to sustainability, the manufacturer states that the circuit boards are made of 100 per cent recycled materials and that the manufacturing process uses electricity from renewable sources. These in-ears are also delivered in plastic-free packaging.
Comparison: Nothing Ear (1) and Nothing Ear (2)
Compared to the previous model, the Nothing Ear (2) support multipoint connections with two devices simultaneously and are Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified. The option to generate your own sound profile is also new, with noise cancellation now specifically customisable after a short test procedure. While the Nothing Ear (1) were operated via touch-sensitive surfaces, the second generation uses pressure-sensitive control via the stems. In addition, the charging case is slightly smaller for the newer model, while the weight of the earphones and case has been slightly reduced, and protection against dust penetration has been added. The battery life of the in-ears has also increased slightly, but we will come back to this with more detailed information in a moment.
At high volume, the Nothing Ear (2) can last per charge for five and a half hours. However, this was reduced to three and a half hours if the noise cancellation was used in the maximum setting, but this was still not much. The earpieces can be fully charged four times in the case and then a further 70 per cent, resulting in a total runtime of 31 hours and 30 minutes in standard mode. In ANC mode, on the other hand, you can cover about 17 hours. If the batteries are empty, charging the in-ears takes about 55 minutes, with a ten-minute quick charge providing capacity for about an hour. The case can also be powered either wirelessly via Qi or via the USB-C port, which takes 65 minutes when using the included USB-C cable. However, a USB-A adapter is not included.
The Nothing Ear (2) support Bluetooth 5.3 and Google Fast Pair for quickly connecting Android devices. In both standard mode and Low Latency Mode, the wireless connection was stable, and it could cover several rooms and one floor inside buildings. Outdoors a range of up to 30 metres was possible.
In factory settings, the push mechanism controls playback, handles phone calls and assists with track selection. Switching between ANC and transparency mode is also provided, and this can be extended by the basic mode via the app. In addition, a voice assistant or volume control is available. However, the option of manually switching the earpieces on and off is missing, which means that the case is always required, but one-sided use in single mode is possible.
Wearer and sound settings
If you use a Nothing Phone (1), you can set up these in-ears directly via your smartphone.On Android and iOS devices, this is possible via the Nothing X app instead. You can optionally complete a listening test can to generate a Hear ID, which can be used in three variants called “softer”, “recommended” and “richer”, and this can be adjusted via an intensity control. However, a personal sound profile can only be used in conjunction with the app, and this, unfortunately, seems somewhat awkward. In order to use the hearing profile on a laptop, for example, your mobile device must be connected at the same time. However, the additional sound control has been well implemented. Four pre-configured settings are available for this purpose: “Balance”, “More bass”, “More treble” and “Voice”. Using a diagram with three axes for bass, mid and treble, you can also make your own settings, but unfortunately, these cannot be saved as a pre-set.
The Nothing Ear (2)’s noise reduction is divided into adaptive mode, which adapts itself to the environment, and “low”, “medium” and “high” in three static levels, which in turn can be personalised with an auditory canal analysis. The transparency mode offers no customisation options and is fixed.
Furthermore, the earpiece wear detection can be activated or deactivated, and this also applies to the low-latency mode or the multipoint connections. In addition to firmware updates, a fit test and a search function are also available, and this is supposed to make it easier to find the earpieces using sound playback.
Speech intelligibility on the phone
In a quieter environment, the Nothing Ear (2) can be used for flawless communication, as the three microphones on each side ensure a clear, distinct transmission of one’s own voice. In addition, the Clear Voice technology filtered wind noise quite convincingly. Only when subjected to strong gusts of wind was whispering in the background perceptible to the other person, especially since the voice reproduction conveyed a more indirect impression while remaining well understandable. In contrast, louder ambient noises caused an impairment, as these were only slightly attenuated.
Noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency mode
In the low and high-frequency range as well as in the attenuation of background voices, the “high” ANC level performed better than the adaptive mode. Especially as the results of the static maximum setting could still be noticeably improved by analysing the auditory canal. The Nothing Ear (2)’s noise cancelling proved to be particularly effective with monotonous, low sources.
In the mid to upper-frequency range, the reduction was passable, but did not reach an above-average level. While the noise reduction worked relatively quietly, stronger background noise was present in transparency mode. In addition, the amplification of external noises could have been a little more intensive in order to provide an increased perception of the surroundings above a medium-volume setting. However, a conversation could be held without any problems when playback was paused.
How do the Nothing Ear (2) sound?
The basic tuning of the Nothing Ear (2) was powerful and had a clean sound that neither tended to be too bright nor too dark. At the same time, the bass reproduction was aimed at providing well-measured listening pleasure, and this did not seem too slim even in the lower realms and had a certain fullness without becoming too pronounced in emphasis. Modern music styles sounded appealingly punchy but not overly rich or full-bodied. The slightly warm midrange, on the other hand, seemed a little more reserved but still tidy and clear. Vocals, as well as lead instruments, were not emphasised; instead, they were embedded in the overall structure, and this had a very harmonious effect. However, this harmonious approach was marred by the high-frequency representation, which initially appeared quite present, but lost energy quite abruptly in the upper registers.
The sound profile counteracted the drop in treble reproduction. However, the listening correction overshot the mark considerably so that the sound at full intensity seemed much brighter and, in direct comparison, downright thin. The bass range was much tighter and more wiry, while the midrange was noticeably closer. As a result, the reproduction conveyed a very direct listening impression that might be perceived as obtrusive. Although the Hear ID exposed more details, and you might benefit from a more expansive presentation, the high-frequency range sounded quite harsh and exhausting. Therefore, we would recommend setting the intensity of the sound correction quite low. More balanced imaging in the upper-frequency range could be elicited from these headphones in the range between 20 and 35 per cent while still maintaining the successful basic character of the tuning.
The weak points of the Nothing Ear (2) are the short battery life in ANC mode and a rather high noise level in transparency mode. The integration of the sound profile does not appear to be fully developed yet, although these comfortably fitting True Wireless in-ears sound harmonious and coherent, apart from a drop in the upper registers. The dust- and water-resistant construction of the earpieces and case offers advantages for everyday use, especially as the system can be adapted to individual needs in many ways. Their personalised noise suppression is also capable of achieving satisfactory results.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight without cable4,5 g each, case 52 g
What's in the box
- Eartips in three sizes (S, M, L)
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, LHDC
- BT version: 5.3
- BT profiles: BLE, SPP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP