NOTHING TWS EARBUDS: The Nothing Ear 1 is an absolute masterclass in design, especially in terms of earphones that won’t break the bank.
The Nothing Ear 1 is an affordable pair of wireless earbuds that cost less than 6K. However, there are some shortcomings such as a lack of voice assistant support or poor wear detection performance.
These shortcomings aside, the Nothing Ear 1 is a stunning pair of wireless earphones with decent sound quality and a decent playback time.
NOTHING EAR 1 TWS EARBUDS DETAILED REVIEW
Carl Pei, the ex-OnePlus cofounder, has created quite a lot of buzz within the tech community with his new venture called “Nothing”. The company’s mission was to eliminate barriers between people, technology, and each other.
The first product of the newly-founded company is called the Nothing Ear 1. Because of its unique transparent design, the device is causing a stir in the market. The Nothing Ear 1 was launched on July 27th.
Many expected it to be transparent, as shown by the Concept design Nothing was shared. This design was believed to be the final product. The final product’s design is semi-transparent.
Instead of being transparent throughout the entire earbud, the stem portion of the earbuds is transparent. This design language is intended to stand out from the sea of similar-looking TWS on the market.
The Nothing Ear 1 is priced at Rs 5,999 and features a unique design as well as premium features like Active Noise Cancellation. All this without spending a fortune. Let’s see if the Nothing Ear 1 is worth the hype and our money.
NOTHING EAR1: SPECIFICATIONS
The Nothing Ear 1 features an 11.6mm dynamic driver, Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, and support for AAC and SBC audio codecs. Teenage Engineering, a Swedish consumer electronics company, tuned the earbuds.
Semi-transparent designs allow users to see some components within the charging case and earbuds. The earbuds weigh 4.7g, while the charging case is 57.4g.
Active Noise Cancellation is available for those moments when you need to be in a bubble of sound and Transparency Mode when you want the world to speak to you.
Clear Voice Technology is also available on Ear 1. It has a triple microphone set.
The Nothing Ear 1’s battery life is 5.7 hours without ANC and 4 hours with ANC. The total playback time with the charging case is 34 hours without ANC on, while it takes 24 hours with ANC on.
Fast charging is also available for the buds. Users will get 1.2 hours of playback if ANC is on and 50 minutes if ANC is off in 10 minutes. The case can also be wirelessly charged using any Qi-certified wireless charger.
App support allows users to adjust some settings. It is available for both Android as well as iOS devices. The buds also have IPX4 splash resistance.
NOTHING EAR1: BUILD & COMFORT
The Nothing Ear 1 is a truly wireless pair of earbuds that stands out from the rest. The semi-transparent buds are not transparent as the concept.
However, they don’t look the same as other earbuds at this price. The difference is evident from the moment your eyes first touch the charging case.
Although the transparent case is made of plastic, it looks almost like a glass. Nothing guarantees that the material will not yellow or degrade over time. You can see the inside of the case through the transparent cover.
The case and earbuds are adorned with a font you won’t find on any other box. The entire design language is a beautiful fusion of industrial and elegance.
Although not transparent, the earbuds look very interesting. The transparent stem of the buds lets you see the components inside, including microphones, magnets, and silicone.
The buds’ top half has a white-angled nozzle and a silicone ear tip. The Shure Sonic 5 transparent IEMs were reviewed previously. They are expensive at Rs 42,999 so it is impressive to see an identical design on a TWS at Rs 5,999.
The charging case contains the USB-C charging port, the pairing button, and a large indentation on the top to aid with opening it.
Although the case can be opened with one hand, it’s not very easy. Eventually, you will develop muscle memory that will make opening the case with one hand easier.
Strong magnets are used to keep the earbuds in place. They don’t slip out of the case even when you jerk it around violently, which is very comforting. We love the fact that the case closes with an audible and satisfying click.
The case is very pocketable due to its flat design. However, if you wear skinny jeans, it may bulge slightly.
The fit and comfort of the Nothing Ear 1 earbuds are excellent. They lock in place with a twist and lock, creating a snug and comfortable fit. Two additional sizes of silicone ear tips have been included by the company so that they can fit most ears.
It is very secure and won’t move at all even when you move your head around frantically. The buds are guaranteed to stay in place during intense workouts and running.
The IPX4 rating means that the buds can withstand sweat and light splashes, so there’s no need to worry about any liquid damage.
The Nothing Ear 1 earbuds can also be worn for long periods of time and are very comfortable.
These earbuds are snugly fitted in the ears thanks to their angled nozzles. These earphones lasted our hours and we only noticed a slight soreness in our inner ears after listening for about 2 hours.
That’s pretty impressive. The stems of the earbuds have touch controls that allow for different actions. During our testing, the touch panel proved to be responsive and quite accurate.
NOTHING EAR1: ACTIVE NOISE CANcellATION, EAR1 APP AND OTHER FEATURES
The Nothing Ear 1 wireless earphones are a feature-packed pair. It costs less than 6K. The Nothing Ear 1 not only has Active Noise Cancellation but also offers a host of other features. Let’s begin with the headline feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).
You can switch between two types of ANC on the Nothing Ear 1: Light and Maximum. The former can be used when you need to isolate yourself but still hear the surrounding noises.
The Nothing Ear 1 can block out low-end ambient sounds like the hum of an AC or the drone of an aircraft at Maximum ANC. It won’t drown out louder or more erratic sounds like a fan, typing on a keyboard or human voices.
This is quite common at this price point and Nothing has done a good job implementing ANC in its first-gen product.
Transparent Mode, which amplifies ambient noises, is also available on the device. This allows you to hear your surroundings and listen to music.
This is useful in situations when you need to be aware of your surroundings, such as traffic on the road or an airport with important announcements at the train station/train station.
These earbuds have a Transparent Mode that can be erratic. You will be able to hear ambient noises clearly at first, but then suddenly you will notice that the level of ambient noise drops to normal mode without ANC.
These issues are less apparent with Transparency Mode’s latest firmware update.
We experienced an issue with firmware updates. It kept showing us the same update was available no matter how many times we tried to update it.
Talking to Nothing, they gave us an APK that would allow us to update to the most recent firmware. This update seems to have fixed the issues with Transparency Mode as well as the firmware updates.
You have the Ear 1 app on iOS and Android that allows you to adjust some settings for your earbuds. It displays basic information such as the remaining battery percentage and charging case.
You can also customize the touch controls with this app, but the options are limited. The default touch controls allow you to pause/play music, skip to the next track with a double-tap, and toggle between noise cancellation modes using touch and hold.
The app does not allow you to customize the function of double taps. However, you can change triple-tap functions to the next song, previous song, or none at all.
The app also allows you to choose not to assign any action to the touch and hold command. However, this is all. You can adjust the volume by moving your finger up or down on the stem.
This is quite neat. These buds don’t have a voice assistant, which is a bit strange considering that many TWS below 2K implements this feature.
Overall, although we have the ability to customize touch controls through the app, they are not very useful at this time.
You can switch between noise-canceling profiles in the Ear 1 app. You can also choose from four preset EQ settings – Balanced, More Treble, and More Bass and Voice.
The Balanced EQ was our favorite sound profile, but you can adjust the EQ settings to suit your needs. Although there is no custom EQ setting available, it’s not unreasonable to expect one due to the low price.
You can also change the theme of your Ear 1 app with dark mode enabled by default. You can also customize the case’s LED lighting, update firmware, locate your earbuds quickly if they’re lost or misplaced, and turn on in-ear detection.
In-ear detection uses sensors in the earbuds that pause the music when it is removed from the ear and then play it again when it is inserted into the ear.
Although this worked well, there was some delay in the time between the music pausing and actually being removed from the earbuds.
Other features include Mono earbud use, where each earbud acts as a master and can be used independently. There’s also Qi wireless charging support and fast pairing. They are an excellent pair of earphones with many features, but we missed the voice assistant.
NOTHING EAR 1. PERFORMANCE
The Nothing Ear 1 has an 11.6mm dynamic driver, tuned by Teenage Engineering. The earbuds support AAC and SBC codecs. While we wish they had more advanced codecs support, it is reasonable to not add them to the budget.
These earbuds have a decent sound signature for a single-driver setup. The sound signature of the buds is V-shaped, with the highs and lows slightly more prominent than the mids.
We use an objective tester from SLS Audio (Denmark) to test earphones. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is used for our Audio interface device. All of this is connected to a computer running the SMAART v2 software.
This allows us to create frequency response graphs that can be used to identify headphones’ sound signatures.
The uncompensated frequency response graph that was generated shows that the lows between 20 Hz and about 100 Hz have been exaggerated. This creates a rich bass experience.
The bass sounds clear and not muddy. Although the mids generally match the ideal flat response, an exaggerated bass response can cause auditory masking. When you listen to songs that have a lot of basses, the vocals and lead instruments can sometimes sound a bit veiled.
The frequency response graph shows a peak from 1K Hz through 4K Hz. This means that the highs are prominent in the mix. However, there is a dip past 8KHz which could obscure some details since human hearing can reach 20kHz. If you listen to high volumes, the peak at 1-4K can cause some shrillness in your highs.
The Nothing Ear 1’s sound signature is quite pleasing and can be used with many genres, including pop, rock, EDM, Bollywood, Ear 1 can also work well as it can work. Podcasts will also benefit from the close to neutral mids frequency response.
The Nothing Ear 1 has the lowest price of any TWS, coming in at just 6K. The bass response is punchy but not muddy. The mids sound clear and detailed, but there’s some auditory masking. Highs are fairly well reproduced.
Although the soundstage isn’t very wide, it’s to be expected with in-ear headphones at this price. However, the positioning and imaging are excellent.
These earbuds can cause distortion in the highs if you listen at more than 90 percent volume. Try to keep it lower. The sweet spot was 60-70% volume. ANC is also very similar with both on and off.
The microphone is the Nothing Ear 1. It has three high-definition microphones. Clear Voice Technology activates algorithms to cancel out background noise when making calls.
These buds are quite good for most purposes. However, there might be some noise if the area is windy.
The Nothing Ear 1 has Bluetooth version 5.2, which is extremely reliable during our testing. The connection was stable and we never experienced any lags, skips, or stutters.
We experienced some latency when watching YouTube videos and Netflix, as well as playing Call of Duty Mobile games, but it is not noticeable.
The Bluetooth range is also quite good. The company claims a 33-foot range without obstructions. We found that the connection must be traveled quite far to crack or drop.
NOTHING EAR1: BATTERY LIFE
Let’s now discuss the battery life for the Nothing Ear 1. According to the company, the buds can last for 5.7 hours without ANC on and 34 hours with the charging case.
The company claims that the buds can be used for 4 hours if the charging case is turned on continuously. It also offers 24 hours with the charging case.
When testing battery life, we kept the ANC turned on. The buds lasted for 3 hours and 40 minutes with 70% volume. The case could charge the earbuds five times before they needed to be recharged.
The buds have a shorter playtime than the Realme Buds Q2, which come with 5 hours of playtime without ANC.
This is a significant difference from the more expensive Realme Buds Q2. The earbuds and the charging case have good battery life.
The case charged the earbuds up from empty to full in just over an hour. With ANC on, you get about 50 minutes of battery life. This is still a little disappointing.
Qi wireless charging is a great feature. It is very convenient to just place the case on the pad and not worry about wires if you have a wireless charger or a phone that supports reverse wireless charging.
Wireless charging support is a great feature at this price, but it is not often seen in the mid-range to budget TWS segment.
NOTHING EAR 1: VERDICT
The Nothing Ear 1 is an absolute masterclass in design, especially for earphones that won’t break the bank.
The transparent case and earbuds instantly make the Nothing Ear 1 stand out. They are also very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The Nothing Ear 1 is a pair of wireless earbuds priced under 6K. However, there are some drawbacks like a lack of voice assistant support or poor wear detection performance.
These are all minor issues that make the earphones look amazing, offer good sound quality, and have decent playback times.
The sound signature won’t please audiophiles or purists, but most people will love the commercially tuned sound signature that emphasizes the highs and bass.
The Nothing Ear 1 is our favorite affordable pair of TWS headphones. It stands out in design and has a feature set that will wow you.
- Unique semi-transparent design
- Qi wireless charging support
- A beautiful sound signature
- Decent Active Noise Cancellation performance
- No voice assistant support
- Buds alone have a poor battery life
- Wear-detection may take a little longer
- Midstitch Auditory Masking
Also read: Best Samsung Galaxy Budds Pro Review