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High-Quality Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear (a) Earbuds

  • The Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear (a) combine gorgeous design and quality tech to make for great-sounding earbuds at an affordable price.
  • The Nothing Ear is nothing short of brilliant to use.
  • The Nothing Ear (a) is less expensive and less amazing sonically, but that yellow is 🔥.

The Nothing Ear, the next generation of high-quality earbuds from Nothing Phone, is perhaps the most fantastic set of noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve ever used.

My baseline of experience is with AirPods Pro, one generation back. Nothing has created an easy competitor that may just have you switching teams for your earbuds.

The Nothing Ear(a) is a delightful, more affordable set of ANC earbuds that match the playful color of Panic’s little gaming system, the Playdate. While they don’t sound as utterly amazing as the Nothing Ear, they’re solid earbuds in their own right.

Nothing Ear Sets a High Bar

This third iteration of Nothing’s earbuds, now called Nothing Ear, currently cost $149 (£129 / €14), making them a full $100 less than Apple’s popular white wireless audio devices. What’s amazing is just how good (dare I say better) these sound.

They run a custom, 11mm audio driver with three mics in each bud. The company says the active noise canceling (ANC) can damp up to 45db, which I put to the test when vacuuming. With Apple’s AirPods in, I can still hear the motor of my little stick vacuum. With these in? The vacuum was almost silent.

The former will make sure you have a good seal on the earbuds as they sit in your ear. The Nothing X app will let you know if the seal is good, which is crucial to solid noise cancelation. Nothing has an adaptive ANC mode that will increase the sound dampening if the earbud isn’t quite set in enough.

Additionally, the Nothing X app will give you a hearing test, checking all the frequencies you can hear by playing white noise and having you press and release an on-screen button when you hear and then don’t hear a high-pitched beeping noise. Once finished, Nothing will adjust the sound to specifically work for your hearing. How great is that?
I use a Spotify playlist, Songs To Test Headphones With, to, well, do what it says on the tin. The Nothing Ear earbuds pass with flying colors. The bass is deep and round, without overpowering the music. The highs are crystal clear without painful tweeting. The mids are crisp and non-muddy, and all the sound feels well-placed in the stereo field. In other words, these are fantastic-sounding earbuds.

Nothing promises 5.2 hours of use with the Ear (8.5 hours without ANC), and a 24-hour battery life when using the case (40.5 hours without ANC), which charges via USB-C. Apple advertises 6 hours of listening time (30 hours without ANC), making these a solid competitor. I used the Nothing Ear for several days before having to charge them and can imagine they’ll last just fine for long flights or car rides.

The case is a delight to use, too, and I love the clear cover that shows off the look of the earbuds. The little places you put the earbuds in for storage and charging provide visual cues to help orient them correctly, too, like the little red dot for the right earbud, and the visible charging prongs, which help me remember which way to set them.

Nothing Ear (a) Offers a Fun, Playful Color

The marketing tease for the Nothing Ear (a) earbuds says that the vibrant yellow color is a way to express the feeling of play. It’s hard, then, not to compare it to another play gadget, Panic’s PlayDate gaming console with the tiny crank.

These earbuds are decidedly fun to look at, and as the Nothing Ear’s less-expensive sibling, they’re a delight to carry around and use. They offer a little more battery life even than the Nothing Ear, with 5.5 hours of playtime (using ANC) and 24.5 hours of use with the battery case. The case itself is a delightful bit of kit, as well, looking good and reinforcing that fun yellow color.

I wish Nothing would offer this color in the higher-end Nothing model, though, because in comparison with the more expensive model, the Nothing Ear (a) falls a little flat. The frequency response is just fine, but it doesn’t sparkle quite the way the Nothing Ear do. Bass is good, mids and treble are clear, but the spatial nature of the Nothing Ear audio just isn’t present. There’s also no personal hearing test to manage your EQ, either.

That makes these a really good deal at $99 (£99 / €99), though. I’d compare them to my set of Beats Studio Buds, which came out in 2021 and ran me $150 at the time. Good quality sound, good OS support across iOS and Android, and great battery life. Plus the gorgeous yellow color. These have definitely become my default gym earbuds, as I’m not really willing to take the higher-end, more expensive earbuds to a place I might drop and step on them (or other threats both real and imagined).

Is the Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (a) Worth It?
Both buds are IP54 water and dust resistance, with the Ear getting IP55 for its case and the Ear (a) having IPX2 for its case. That gives the Ear an advantage when in the case, with IP55 protecting against water spray, whereas the IPX2 is more basic water protection.

Both have an 11mm custom driver, 45db of ANC, and
Both of these earbuds are solid. The Nothing Ear (a) is a fun color and sounds good in all situations, the ANC is fantastic, and it uses the same Nothing X app as everything else. It’s a great deal at $99, for sure.

The Nothing Ear is perhaps the most fantastic pair of noise-cancelling earbuds I’ve ever used.

Still, for an extra $50, my money is on the Nothing Ear itself, perhaps the best set of earbuds I’ve ever used. The noise cancelling is brilliant, the sound is scintillating, and the battery life is fantastic and right in line with the best Apple has to offer.

Now, if only Nothing would make them in yellow.

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