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Nothing Ear (stick)

Lightweight True Wireless earbuds with high wearing comfort

With the Ear (stick), Nothing have added True Wireless earbuds with a half-in-ear design to their range, and these can be worn comfortably by those with sensitive ears. In addition to Bluetooth 5.2 standard, these earbuds support the high-quality audio codec AAC, and the sound and remote settings can be adjusted to suit your own preferences.

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Unlike classic in-ear models that sit in the ear canal, the Nothing Ear (stick) are worn inside the ear cup. This “loose” fit relieves the ear, so there is no feeling of pressure even during prolonged use, especially as the low weight of five grams per side is hardly noticeable. For people who are sensitive to pressure, these earbuds are recommended as an alternative. Further design-related differences can be found in the shielding from the outside world since the half-in-ear design does not block out ambient noise in such a way that responsiveness remains.

Like the Nothing Ear (1), the Ear (stick) also allows you to see inside the case thanks to the transparent finish, with the earbuds manufactured to conform to IP54 standard as dust, water and sweat resistant. Even the stick-shaped charging case, which can be opened and closed with a rotating mechanism on the right side, has a degree of weather resistance and meets the requirements of the IPX2 standard.

Battery life

At high volume, the Nothing Ear (stick) can achieve six and a half hours of listening time per charge. In addition, these earbuds can be fully charged in the case almost three times, with the third charge cycle providing one hour less runtime. This results in a total runtime of 25 hours before an external power source is needed. While the earbuds are fully charged again after 55 minutes, a quick charge of ten minutes provides capacity for just under two hours. The case’s battery reserve can be restored in 70 minutes via the USB-C connection, for which a USB-C charging cable is included. However, the package does not contain a USB-A adapter.

Operation

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The Nothing Ear (stick) support Google Fast Pair for quick connection of Android devices and single-sided use in single mode. Multipoint connection with two devices is not provided, and neither can the earbuds be manually switched on and off via the push mechanism embedded in the side of the stem, which means the case is always required. While the first pairing can be done directly by opening the case, the pairing mode must be activated manually by pressing and holding the case button when connecting additional iOS devices.

When a wireless connection is established, a simple press controls playback and is used to answer and end phone calls. This setting is fixed and cannot be customised, whereas device control is customisable in other respects. In factory settings, a press and hold control the volume, which is reduced on the left earpiece and increased via the right earpiece. It is also possible to skip forward to the next track by pressing twice and skip back by pressing three times. In addition, a voice assistant can be retrofitted, this can be activated by pressing and then holding, for example, and overall, this works flawlessly.

App connection

If you use a Nothing Phone (1), you can directly access the headphone settings, and this is possible on Android and iOS devices via the Nothing X app. In addition to the option to configure the remote, a low-latency mode and the ear (stick) wear detection can be activated and deactivated to automatically pause playback when the earpiece is removed from the ear. In addition to a battery status display for the earphones and case, there is also a search function to make it easier to find the earbuds using a beep. For sound control, there are four preconfigured modes to choose from: “Balance”, “More Bass”, “More Treble”, and “Voice”, while custom settings can be made via a diagram with three axes for bass, mid and treble. However, multiple user settings cannot be saved as pre-sets; this would be a desirable functional extension. Finally, firmware updates can be carried out via app.

Speech intelligibility on the phone

According to the manufacturer, the Nothing Ear (stick)’s Clear Voice technology is supposed to ensure wind-protected conversations without background noise. Filtering of wind noise does work well, and one’s own voice can be easily understood even in stronger gusts. Outside noise, on the other hand, is only slightly attenuated and can impair intelligibility. In a quiet environment, we noticed that the display tended to hiss and overdrive in the upper frequency range on both sides. In contrast, the “loose” fit offers a natural conversation situation that is pleasant for the user, and their own voice can be heard while speaking.

Low lag mode

In order to be able to reduce latency during films and mobile phone or computer games, the Nothing Ear (stick) is equipped with a so-called low-lag mode. This is particularly noticeable when the SBC audio codec is used because otherwise, there is a perceptible lag between picture and sound. In everyday use, however, it is advisable to deactivate the function, as the latency optimisation affects the stability and range of the Bluetooth connection, and occasional dropouts are possible. The bridgeable distance is also reduced a little from twelve to ten metres indoors and from 20 to about 15 metres outdoors.

Sound

Due to their construction, a disadvantage of these earbuds is that bass components are lost due to the half-in-ear design. The Ear (stick)’s Bass Lock technology is designed to prevent this by automatically adjusting the lower frequency range. This works convincingly with pop and rock music, as the upper and middle bass ranges are compensated. However, low bass is hardly present, and if the bass range is boosted too intensively via the sound control in the app, the lower ranges overdrive. If you primarily listen to club music or hip-hop, you will probably not be happy with these Earbuds and should go for an in-ear model instead. These earbuds have a characteristic tight and dry bass reproduction, but they are not full-bodied or bulky with deep bass.

One of the strengths of these earbuds is an open, expansive listening impression with a lively representation of voices, which benefits films, audiobooks and podcasts. In balance mode, which is the default setting, the sound is bright rather than dark and is characterised by a prominent high-frequency presentation that increases as the playback level rises. As a result, the tuning sounds appealingly clear and tidy at moderate volume settings, while the upper regions tend to exaggerate sibilants and can develop sharpness at higher levels. However, this can be remedied by lowering the treble.

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2 weeks ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 3.88
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

What sets the Nothing Ear (stick) apart is their “loose”, extremely comfortable fit that allows for awareness of the environment while wearing them, and this is especially advantageous for mobile use. These True Wireless earphones are not recommended for bass-orientated music styles, as the low bass lacks substance. Otherwise, these weatherproof earbuds are solid all-rounders with a high recognition effect that can be adapted to suit your own preferences via earpiece and sound settings.

  • High wearing comfort
  • IP54-rated earpiece, IPX2-rated case
  • Fast charging function
  • Low latency mode
  • Earpiece and sound settings
  • Earbuds cannot be switched on and off manually
  • Do not support multipoint connections
  • No USB-A adapter included

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingEar-Bud
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Weight without cable4.4 g each, case 46.3 g

What's in the box

  • USB-C charging cable
  • Charging case

Special features

  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC

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