Nuraphone, unique headphones that work with a special type of hearing measurement, was introduced by the Australian manufacturer Nura about two years ago. Now their in-ear version, NuraLoop is available. We ask: Was it worth the wait?
NuraLoop are sweat-resistant, wireless in-ear headphones with a neckband that is also worn over the ears. The lightweight earpieces are quite large and are inserted into the ear canal at an angle.
The device can be used via Bluetooth 5 or via an audio cable. An interesting design feature: the audio cable and the USB charging cable, both included, are connected via a magnetic closure in the middle of the neckband. An elegant solution that comes in handy.
They come with two touch-sensitive outer surfaces on the earpieces which are used for function control, they also have active noise cancelling and support for codecs SBC, AAC and aptX HD.
NuraLoop score points with a considerable and practical running time of up to 16 hours as well as a quick charging function. There is also a useful automatic switch-off function, which activates as soon as the headphones are removed from the ear.
The free Nura-App (iOS, Android) enables updates and performs the hearing test (see below) as well as allowing you to make adjustments to the touch functions and the aforementioned automatic switch-on/switch-off. A level limiter according to EU standard can also be activated here.
Adaptation to your own ears
We were already impressed by the Nuraphone with its concept of linearising the frequency response by measuring your own hearing. As with those headphones, the process here takes approximately one-minute to evaluate otoacoustic emissions, which are recorded by highly sensitive integrated microphones in the ear canal. These are frequency-dependent sound waves emitted by the eardrum during the hearing process, as a result of a modulation of the hair cells in the inner ear. As these emissions are about 80 dB below the input signal, the special microphones are indispensable for this measurement and a real unique selling point in the headphone market. According to the manufacturer, the measurement with these is technically slightly different from the Nuraphone and requires an adjustment via software. However, the aim of the measurement is still the detection of your personal hearing ability and a subsequent linearisation, which compensates for possible degradations as well as the unique characteristics of your ear shape. Three such profiles can be stored in the Nura app, which allows you to share the device with other users, making it very useful.
Wearing comfort and fit are a matter of taste. Personally, I find the neckband too short; I quickly found that putting on the NuraLoop seems unnecessarily cumbersome. Conventional neckband designs are often particularly comfortable to use, especially in those moments when you don’t want to listen to music and can dangle the earpieces around your neck. Due to the length of the neckband, you can’t do that with these, and neither is there the useful addition of a magnetic closure to allow the earplugs to hang securely around your neck.
The functional range of the two touch fields can be defined quite comprehensively with version 3.196 of the app. For example, actions for clicks and double clicks can be assigned to each side, as well as to the touch dials, which take some getting used to due to their size. Longer clicks and triple clicks are not supported, nor can you call up a voice assistant. With my iPhone 8 I had problems managing incoming calls, they were repeatedly not redirected to the headphones.
The functions that are preconfigured to the right side are volume control and play/pause, and on the left side, you can control social mode and its intensity (see below). Track skipping is done using the double click functions.
It is very easy to accidentally touch the touch surfaces when you put the headphones on or pick them up. A problem NuraLoop shares with some of its competitors: But where else could you touch them?
I didn’t completely trust the genius of the automatic switch-off. Again and again, I took the headphones off but they remained switched on. Alternatively, you can switch NuraLoop off manually with a long touch on both touch surfaces. Amazingly, it is only in this mode that another automatic function is available, which switches the device off after a while if no music is playing. The Bluetooth wireless link is now stable since the latest firmware update and covers several rooms. Interim conclusion: Further updates should bring further improvements.
You cannot adjust the intensity of noise cancelling. It does, however, produce remarkable results, albeit with low background noise. The reduction of ambient noise creates an adequate but not too intensively isolated quiet room, from which especially low frequencies and static noises are faded out and which I found suitable for everyday use. I would describe the intensity of the lowering as medium; for example, you can definitely still perceive everyday sounds from vehicles and construction sites. Over-ear models, such as those from Sony, have more to offer in this area. The social mode is comfortable and worthy of praise; you call it up by tapping the touch area, and it feeds environmental noise into your ear via the microphones. You can adjust the intensity, and it is ideally suited for fast communication.
If NuraLoop fit correctly in your ear (which is sensed by the headphone electronics), the resulting sound is extremely impressive, even during longer listening sessions. They reproduce titles in most genres in a powerful and well-balanced way. At higher levels, in particular, it is a pure joy to listen to pop and rock titles with NuraLoop. Add to this the high resolution of details, good dynamics, a wide, precise stereo panorama and an above-average three-dimensionality. All aspects benefit from improved signal-to-noise ratio thanks to their noise-cancelling.
The bass is tonally secure, rich but still tight. It reaches the lowest octave without overdoing it. Based on this foundation, the mid-range offers a natural warmth that gives acoustic instruments, voices and the essential spectrum of rock music the necessary density and at the same time traces the required separation of elements of a mix. Even with dynamic jazz and classical recordings, NuraLoop does not fail – quite the contrary. The tuning in the highs is fast, detailed and open. Harshness is only there when the mix contains it on purpose.
At the same time, the sound quality is highly dependent on the hearing measurement. In the app, you can switch between a neutral (uncorrected) and a personalised hearing profile. The latter sounds significantly different and considerably improved. Nevertheless, it remains a guess how big the difference would have been with a different basic design. In my opinion, operating NuraLoop without the correction makes no sense.
Also significant is a controllable function called “Immersion Mode”. Here, you can adjust the bass to create a more powerful sound image. Depending on the genre, this control can be turned up quite a bit to give the impression of a punchier, more intense bass reproduction. This is indeed successful and reaches far down into the low bass. The only thing that remains a bit unclear is where the neutral position is located. Convincing results are always achieved, mostly in the middle position. Here additional power and listening pleasure remain in harmony with continued contoured reproduction. If you like your sound more neutral and less “chart friendly”, simply adjust the immersion mode back to the start.
I would not describe these headphones as completely sound-neutral, not what I had expected due to their being designed for mobile use. I would also say that in the area of transparency and detail resolution more expensive and explicitly audiophile designs are superior to the NuraLoop. But to be honest, who cares?
Finally, the call quality of telephone calls is a plus point.
If NuraLoop fit well, securely in your ear, they are one of the best wireless in-ear headphones in their price range. The sound is well balanced, full and detailed, and is also tuned to the individual listener. In my opinion, this innovative method of hearing measurement is far advanced from the competition. Operation and functionality are also fundamentally impressive, although there is room for improvement in certain areas. However, in view of the latest firmware updates, I am almost certain that further improvements can be expected in the future.
Ultimately, the sound quality is high and emphasises listening pleasure, without neglecting the hi-fi aspect, and thanks to ANC and Immersion Mode you can dive deep into the music.
With a price of 229 euros, I would definitely recommend the NuraLoop, and you should be curious about what this manufacturer from Australia still has in their box of tricks.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight with cable25 g
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of ear tips in different sizes
- Jack cable
- USB A charging cable
- carrying pouch
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX HD
- BT version: 5.0
- compatible with iOS 9.3 and Android 5.0 and higher