British audio brand Nothing has launched its latest pair of wireless earbuds. Following the inauguration ear (1), the updated Ear (2) promises to address the tonality and timing issues that kept the content of their predecessors from matching their style. With the same eccentric, almost skeletal aesthetic that is the company’s visual signature, these new earbuds see nothing to stake its claim in an overcrowded headphone market.
Designed and assembled in London, the new Ear (2) are wireless active noise canceling (ANC) earbuds that come in a neat little package. While the design of the Ear (2) is nearly identical to the first iteration, the charging case has been repackaged to be lighter and more compact, aiming for a premium feel thanks to scratch-resistant materials and a smarter, more ergonomic design.
As for the earbuds themselves, the user experience has been tweaked. The Ear (2) has improved touch controls that allow users to skip tracks, switch between noise canceling modes and adjust volume by themselves by squeezing the earbuds (not unlike Apple’s AirPods Pro 2), and all controls can be customized on the Nothing X app .
The app itself has also been adapted to the new Ear model. There’s now an in-app eartip fit test to help you get the best fit and seal, as well as a personalized sound profile test developed in conjunction with Mimi that promises to optimize and individualize the experience of each listener.
New specs also tease an improved user experience. The Ear (2) features adaptive ANC, with an improved AI algorithm for better noise reduction, as well as dual device connectivity and reduced latency aimed at streamers and gamers. Additionally, the earphones will offer LE-enabled Bluetooth 5.3, and there’s a touted IP54 water-resistance rating for the earbuds and an IP55 rating for the housing.
However, it’s in the sound department where Nothing hopes the Ear (2) has made the biggest leap forward. The new earphones are Hi-Res Audio certified with the LHDC 5.0 codec (an alternative to Sony’s LDAC codec) and promise file playback of up to 24-bit/192kHz with transfer rates of up to 1Mbps. Combined with an 11.6mm dynamic driver, modified diaphragm, better construction materials and a dual-chamber design for smoother airflow, the Ear (2) should – hopefully – deliver vastly improved audio performance.
Likewise, battery life has been improved. The original Ear (1) could achieve a lifespan of 34 hours with the case and 5.3 hours on the earbuds’ single charge (ANC off), while the Ear (2) promises 36 hours with the case and 6.3 hours on the earbuds. Also, nothing claims that the earbuds’ fast-charge feature gives eight hours of battery life from a 10-minute charge.
Fast connection is also supported. The Ear (2) is compatible with Google Fast Pair on Android and Microsoft Swift Pair for Windows devices, and automatically enters Low Lag mode once connected to Nothing Phone in Game mode. Nothing Phone users must manually enable Low Lag mode through the Nothing X app.
Nothing is confident about the improvements it’s made, and we’re curious to see if the new earbuds improve upon the three-star performance of the first-generation model. “We are excited to introduce Ear (2) as a major upgrade to our debut product Ear (1),” said Carl Pei, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “With Ear (2) we redesigned everything from the ground up and used advanced technology to create the ultimate personal listening experience.”
The Nothing Ear (2) costs £129 / $149 / AU$219 and will be available from 22 March from nothing.tech. The buds can be purchased in person from March 23 at the company’s Soho London store, as well as select Kith stores in the US, France and Japan, and will go on general sale from March 28.
Read our review of the Nothing Phone
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Check out our original Ear (1) rating