Nothing is a brand that I –bad pun incoming– don’t find anything. Are the products of this brand always revolutionary? No. Yet they always know how to add enough ‘personality’ that is visually extremely stimulating and therefore not only stands out, but also lingers. Time to see if it’s all just superficial, or if the brand’s second generation of earplugs also have a soul: TechGirl LauraJenny tested Nothing Ear (2).
Nothing is confusing me a bit lately. It seemed like a brand that went very minimalist (that’s what their products look like, and that’s positive), but it still comes with a multitude of earplugs. The brand’s first product was a pair of earbuds, Nothing Ear (1) in 2021. Then, in 2022, it released its first smartphone, Nothing Phone (1). Totally fine, but then another earplugs came out later in 2022: Nothing Ear (stick).
Nothing Ear (2)
That was a regrettable choice. It wasn’t that innovative. We wrote this article about it. We have already seen the lipstick design at competitor Huawei, for example, and yes, the sound was better, but it was actually just Nothing Ear (1) cast in a slightly different form. No idea why the brand chose this, because it will release another earplug within six months. However, let me be clear: Nothing Ear (2) is a justified successor to the Nothing Ear (1), but that crazy Stick should have skipped Nothing.
Furthermore, Nothing is an interesting company. It was founded by people from OnePlus and it is based in London. It is small. This makes it a somewhat more agile company than the greats of the earth. It also exudes a certain attitude. For example, I really like the communication style: only photos of the real products and then also with an animal. Take, for example, the images with the beetle that accompany these earplugs: beautifully captured. You also notice in the app itself that there is a lot of attention to design: it all looks very nice. You get the feeling: these people have got it and don’t just release almost the same design without thinking if the world can really use it (except for that strange Stick side path).
Nothing Ear (2) does all kinds of things right that we missed in Nothing Ear (1). The special, transparent case is smaller and thicker this time, making it easier to fit in your jacket pocket or trouser pocket. One of the disadvantages of the predecessor was that it is very large and can therefore be stuffed less into pockets of clothing. That has now changed.
In terms of sound, the standard mode earbuds are still a tad shrill, but it seems to be less than the previous earbuds. Plus, you can easily choose a different sound profile in the app (or even create your own), drawing a kind of bubble towards the treble, bass and middle. I’m really a fan of a good bass, because I listen to a lot of hip-hop and afro. That’s why the bass is set high for me and I really enjoy that.
These earbuds now also have high definition audio. I find that the sound comes in really well. It is clear that Nothing wants to move towards a premium product. They succeed well, partly thanks to the driver of 11.6 millimeters. If you’re not sure whether your earbuds are in the right position, you can also find an ‘eartip fit test’ in the app. This tests whether a lot of sound is lost and whether the earplug can therefore fit better. You can also find the noise cancellation in the app, which is not disappointing. If you turn it on at the highest setting, you really don’t hear any noise through it. Although you have to be careful with a headache, because that seems to be a side effect of sitting with noise canceling earplugs for too long. Still, the noise reduction is a very nice addition to the earbuds. It ensures that you can turn the music down a bit, so that you are less likely to get hearing damage.
In terms of battery you can go on for a while: after charging the earbuds can last for 6 hours, but with the case you can extend that to 36 hours. Wireless charging is also an option. If you have a phone that is capable of this, or a wireless charger, you know that you can put your earbuds on it.
Although I am very positive about these earbuds, there are also some drawbacks. For example, Nothing seems to want to respond to the ‘tudum’ sound of Netflix. You know, when you hear that, you know: Ah, Netflix! But the sound of Nothing is not great in my opinion. It does sound a bit like a malfunction. When you put the earplugs in, you first hear that crazy sound, which sounds more like a glitch than a reassuring or encouraging sound. I’m sorry, because it’s a bit confusing.
In addition, the earbuds have some playback problems. If I just put the earbuds in and turn on a song on Spotify, it sometimes takes up to 15 seconds before the music starts playing on the earbuds. That’s very confusing: 15 seconds is a long time! You just see your playback bar go, but you don’t hear anything. During those 15 seconds you’re afraid that your music will play loudly on your phone’s speakers at any time.
Fortunately, that is not the case, but it is strange how long the earbuds initially take to play music. It is also not the case that it will happen again when you change numbers. The earbuds also sometimes continue to play when you take them off and sometimes they don’t. That of course costs battery and it makes noise. Plus, if you listen to a podcast, you’re missing out on a lot of information and entertainment. Those are some things that I hope there can be an update that fixes that, because competitors have better mastered that.
Conclusion and price
Nothing Ear (2) is also considerably more expensive than its real predecessor: Nothing Ear (1) cost 100 euros upon introduction, while (2) is already at a suggested retail price of 149 euros. So it remains to be seen what they will do in terms of sales. Ear (1) has sold more than 600,000, will this major upgrade surpass that? In terms of sound quality and noise cancellation, plus design and comfort, these are certainly more luxurious earbuds, but there are a few things that detract from that feeling, but hopefully can be fixed through an update.
Very good sound
Noise reduction is firmly in its shoes
Often only play after 10-15 seconds
Sometimes play when you take them out of your ear
Much more expensive than the predecessor