Nothing Ear (1), the latest wireless earbuds from Carl Pei’s Nothing that former Apple executive Tony Fadell backs, aims to shake up the wireless earbuds segment with its unique design and excellent sound quality. But do the Nothing Ear (1) earbuds live up to the hype?
The TWS market is already very crowded, but Carl Pei’s latest venture, Nothing, aims to shake things up. Pei previously co-founded OnePlus and was the director of the company until last year. The Nothing Ear (1) aims to set itself apart in the busy TWS market with its unique design and excellent sound quality at an affordable price point.
Like the earbuds themselves, the Nothing Ear (1) charging case also has a transparent design that helps to set itself apart.
Aside from its unique design, the Nothing Ear(1) features an 11.6mm speaker driver and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) support. Nothing also claims the earbuds can deliver up to 5 hours of music playback per charge, which can be extended to 34 hours with the bundled carrying case.
In the US, the Nothing Ear (1) is priced at $99, making it a fair bit cheaper than the AirPods.
Nothing also offers a dedicated iOS and Android app for the earbuds to allow users to control every aspect of the earbuds.
So, how good is the Nothing Ear (1)? Is it a viable alternative to the AirPods? As per reviews, it does seem that Nothing has come up with an impressive product.
The transparent design of the Nothing Ear (1) means you can see the internal components of the earbuds pretty clearly.
Like all transparent tech, the Ear 1s are fun to examine up close. On the outward-facing part of the stem, you can see the voice / ANC microphones, touch sensors, and a dot — red (right) or white (left) — to indicate which ear that bud is for. On the side facing your ear, there’s some circuitry, magnets, and the pins where the earbuds connect to the charging case.
It is the transparent design that helps the Ear (1) distinguish itself. Otherwise, it would look just like the AirPods Pro.
The Ear 1s definitely look cool, but do they come off as radically different? I’m not seeing it. If the clear stem were opaque white instead, these earbuds would look just like Apple’s AirPods Pro or any number of competitors.
The earbuds also have ANC, but that’s not very impressive, though that’s expected given the price point.
Noise cancellation is… passable. On the “max” setting, it could eliminate low-frequency hums inside my local coffee shop, but I never really forgot about my surroundings. Overall noise isolation was solid thanks to the good seal I got from the ear tips, and I’d reach for these before the $99 Pixel Buds A-Series, which require me to crank the volume to overcome nearby noise. But Nothing isn’t on the same level as the similarly priced Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 when it comes to noise cancellation — not a surprise since this is the company’s first swing at it. Transparency mode is adequate, but doesn’t match the natural feel of the Echo Buds or Apple’s AirPods Pro.
The Nothing Ear (1) design definitely sets them apart, but you can’t deny they look similar to the AirPods Pro.
These in-ears arrive in a refreshingly small, soap-sized package, but everything you need is right here: small and large eartip options to complete the set (a medium size comes pre-fitted), a USB-C charging cable and, of course, the rounded-edge, square, see-through case containing the headphones.
Considering how keen Nothing is to move away from the physical product and to impress upon you the uniqueness of its inaugural proposition, we can’t help but remark that the glossy white pill-shaped driver housings and silicon tips are practically identical to those of Apple’s AirPods Pro.
The sound quality is good, but not as impressive as they were hyped to be.
The Ear (1)’s tuning emphasises higher midrange vocals, bringing them forwards in the mix to gain detail and excitement, but the resulting sound comes off a little thin and is compressed through the higher frequencies to complete a somewhat confusing presentation overall. As the track builds to a reverb-heavy crescendo, we aren’t feeling the end of days quite as forcefully and cohesively as we might have hoped.
You can also check out some video reviews of the Nothing Ear (1) below.
What do you think about the Nothing Ear (1)? Do you think their design and $99 price point help them stand out? Drop a comment and let us know!