After launching its first wireless earbuds, the Nothing Ear (1), nearly two years ago, the company is back with the Nothing Ear (2). This time, the company promises an improved design, better audio performance, a more powerful active noise cancellation (ANC), better battery life, and water resistance compared to its predecessor, as well as support for a high-resolution audio codec. But do they live up to the hype?
In this review, we will take a closer look at Nothing Ear (2) and see if they are worth your attention and money.
The Nothing Ear (2) retains the same transparent design as the Ear (1), which means you can see the inner components of the earbuds and the charging case. This gives them a unique and clean look that stands out from a very crowded wireless earbuds space.
If you’re one of the few who have not encountered Nothing’s earbuds, these have a stem design. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, thanks to its ergonomic shape, and comes with three sizes of silicone ear tips. The right earbud has a red dot, while the left has a white one.
The second-generation buds feature a new squeeze control, a significant change from the Ear (1)’s touch controls. They are an improvement, in my opinion, and I actually like these better. In use, squeezing the stems are more precise and more responsive. And since you no longer need to tap the buds, you don’t push them further in your ears.
Nothing has also upgraded the buds with an IP54 dust- and water-resistant IP54 rating, an improvement from the Ear (1)’s IPX4 rating.
They also shaved off a few millimeters from the charging case, making it lighter, and more pocketable. Nothing said a more durable material was used for the case, making it more resistant to scratches as well.
The Ear (2) earbuds are equipped with new 11.6mm dynamic drivers. They also have Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity and support SBC, AAC, and LHDC 5.0 codec, allowing for high-resolution audio streaming on compatible devices and sound files.
The sound quality of the Ear (2) is a definite improvement over the Ear (1)s, which sounded muddy with the bass overpowering the highs. These second-gen buds produce vibrant, clear, and spacious sound, with a good balance of bass, midrange, and treble. The bass is punchy and deep without being overpowering or muddy. The midrange is smooth and natural, with clear vocals and instruments. The treble is crisp and airy, without being harsh or sibilant.
The earbuds also have a customizable EQ via the Nothing X app, which lets you adjust the sound to your preference and change the controls. Here, you can also access several advanced features, including in-ear detection, personalized ANC, low lag mode, high-quality audio toggle, firmware update, and more.
The noise cancellation has been improved with three levels: low, mid, and high. It still cancels up to 40db but with a better frequency range of 5000Hz. Moreover, Adaptive Mode was added, which detects distractions in the environment and adjusts accordingly.
Noise cancellation is quite effective in blocking out low-frequency and repetitive sounds like engines, traffic noise, an electric fan, and air conditioning.
There are also audio cues when you cycle through ANC and transparency mode. I like how they implemented this. You get a reverberating thump to signal that you have activated ANC. Meanwhile, there’s an audible sigh (which spooked me when I first heard it) for transparency.
The Ear (2) also comes with Dual Connection, a new feature for the earbuds. It allows you to connect the earbuds to connect to two devices at the same time. While testing, it maintained a connection to my Android phone and iPad Air without issue. There’s a slight pause when switching between devices, but it works flawlessly.
During testing, voice quality during calls is good, especially in a quiet environment.
The battery life has improved on the Ear (2) compared to the Ear (1). Nothing claims up to 4 hours of playback with ANC turned on and up to 6.5 hours with ANC off. With the charging case, that totals 22.5 hours and 36 hours respectively.
The case supports fast charge where a 10-minute charge gives 1.25 hours with ANC on or 1.8 hours with ANC off. It also has wireless charging. The earbuds come with a short USB-C cable, but it does not come with a charger.
For ₱8,490, the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds are a stylish and feature-packed upgrade, offering better sound quality, noise cancellation, and design than its predecessor. It combines the looks that fueled the Ear (1)’s hype, with improvements all around. And while Sony and Apple premium earbuds still rule the premium space, the Ear (2) can compete with them competently without the premium pricing.
If you’re looking for something unique and fun in the wireless earbud market, the Ear (2) is worth considering.
In the Philippines, the Nothing Ear (2) is priced at ₱8,490, and it is also available in Digital Walker online and retail stores.