UK-based audio brand Nothing has launched its newest pair of wireless earbuds. Following on from its inaugural Ear (1), the updated Ear (2) promise to address the issues with tonality and timing that prevented their predecessors’ substance from matching their style. Featuring the same eccentric, almost skeletal aesthetic that is the company’s visual signature, these new buds see Nothing looking to stake its claim in a crowded headphones market.
Designed and assembled in London, the new Ear (2) are wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC) delivered in a neat, diminutive package. While the design of the Ear (2) is almost identical to the first iteration, the charging case has been repackaged to become lighter and more compact, aiming for a more premium feeling 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) feature improved touch controls whereby users can skip tracks, switch between noise cancellation modes and adjust volume by squeezing the earbuds’ stems themselves (not dissimilar to Apple’s AirPods Pro 2), and all controls can be customised on the Nothing X app.
The app itself has also been tweaked to accommodate 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 personalised sound profile test constructed in collaboration with Mimi that promises to optimise and individualise each listener’s experience.
New specifications also tease an improved user experience. The Ear (2) feature adaptive ANC, with an improved AI algorithm for better noise blocking, as well as dual device connectivity and a lowered latency targeted at streamers and gamers. Furthermore, the earphones will provide LE-supported Bluetooth 5.3, and there’s a touted IP54 water-resistance rating for the earbuds and an IP55 rating for the case.
It’s in the sound department, though, 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) promising playback of up to 24-bit/192kHz files at transmission speeds of up to 1Mbps. Combined with an 11.6mm dynamic driver, a custom diaphragm, better construction materials and a dual-chamber design for smoother airflow, the Ear (2) should – hopefully – deliver vastly improved audio performance.
Similarly, battery life has been upgraded. The original Ear (1) could reach 34 hours of life with the case and 5.3 hours on the earbuds’ single charge (ANC off), whereas the Ear (2) promises 36 hours with the case and 6.3 hours on the buds. Nothing also claims that the buds’ fast charge feature gives eight hours of battery life from a 10-minute charge.
Quick connection is supported, too. The Ear (2) is compatible with Google Fast Pair on Android and Microsoft Swift Pair for Windows devices, and will automatically turn on Low Lag Mode once connected to the Nothing Phone in Game Mode. For Nothing Phone users, they’ll need to manually turn on Low Lag Mode via the Nothing X app.
Nothing is confident in the improvements it has made, and we’re keen to see if the new buds improve upon the first-gen model’s three-star performance. “We are excited to introduce Ear (2) as a significant upgrade to our debut product Ear (1)," said Carl Pei, the company’s CEO and co-founder. "With Ear (2), we've re-engineered everything from the ground up and utilised cutting-edge technology to create the ultimate personal listening experience."
The Nothing Ear (2) are priced at £129 / $149 / AU$219 and will be available from nothing.tech from 22 March. The buds are available to purchase in person at the company’s Soho London store as well as select Kith outlets across the US, France and Japan from March 23, 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) review