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Nothing Ear (stick) Test – A lot for the eyes, good for the ears

Test report created by Timo A. on January 6, 2023

With the Nothing Ear (stick), the tech company, which was only launched in 2020 by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, is expanding its headphone line up.

The focus of the in-ear headphones, which cost around 100 euros, is once again an unmistakable design, but you also want to achieve an impressive sound. Whether it succeeds, we will clarify in this test.

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8.5
Our rating
Technical data
Overview
Manufacturer

Nothing

Model

ears

Specifications

 General 
Driver: Dynamic driver
Size: 12,6 mm
Membrane: PEN+PU

Frequency range: unknown
Impedance: unknown
Sensitivity: Unknown

 Bluetooth 
Default: 5.2
Range: up to 10 meters

codec:
* SBC
* AAC

 Accumulator 
Capacity: Unknown
Running time: 7 hours / 29 hours
Charging time: 55 minutes (10 minutes for 2 hours playback)

 other 
ANC: No
Microphone: Yes
Operation: touch, app
Water protection: IP54

Size(Earbud): 18,8*29,8*18,4mm
Size (case): 29,8 x 87,1 x 29,8 mm
Weight (Earbud): 4,4g
Weight (case): 46,3 g

Nothing Ear (stick) - Unboxing, design and workmanship

The packaging of the Nothing Ear (stick) already shows that Nothing simply wants to be different. The oblong box, which you have to tear open on both sides to open, reminds more of a candy with three corners than that we are dealing here with the packaging of a headphone.

When I tear it open, a silent pain runs through me, because once opened, the packaging of the Nothing Ear (stick) is much more for the residual waste. At one end, the accessories for the headphones come towards you, which you have packed in a cardboard box. Inside is the supplied paperwork, namely quick start guide and a USB-C charging cable.

Nothing Ear (stick) packaging

The Nothing Ear (stick) come in this oblong box.

At the other end, the case with the in-ears inside slips out, which at first glance reminded me of the lipstick cases my grandmother used to have. Nevertheless, I can get something out of the design. It's something different, even if it's not quite as pocket-friendly as the charging cases of some of its competitors.

The combination of a transparent outer shell, the grooved white interior, in which the in-ears are inserted precisely, the red finish on one of the ends, which has the USB-C charging socket and an inconspicuous shiny silver control button and finally the delicate "nothing “ lettering make the design of the Nothing Ear (stick) unique.

Nothing Ear (stick) packaging opened

To open it, you have to tear the packaging open on the sides.

The case is also prone to scratches. After just a short period of use, the first scratches became noticeable on the transparent plastic. Keys and the like should definitely be kept away!

The transparent outer shell surrounds the in-ears like a showcase. By turning the outer shell 180°, we get to the in-ears. The mechanism feels buttery soft. The glowing status LED shows that the in-ears are ready.

Nothing Ear (stick) content

Another box appears.

By the way, you don't necessarily have to put the case down. Even lying down, it doesn't roll around wildly, but rather has a center of gravity that keeps aligning it upwards with the earbuds.

The design of the earbuds is just as striking as that of the charging case. The transparent and comparatively short handle gives an insight into the inner workings of the Nothing Ear (stick), at least from the inside. Finally, the handle merges almost seamlessly into the white body. According to IP54, the earbuds are protected against dust and splash water, so nothing stands in the way of wearing them during sweaty sports or in the rain.

Nothing Ear (stick) scope of delivery

It contains the rather sparse scope of delivery.

As half-in-ear headphones, the earbuds do not require interchangeable earplugs. We will now take a closer look at how the one-size-fits-all, as known from Apple's AirPods, among other things, affects the wearing comfort.

Nothing Ear (stick) - wearing comfort

With in-ears, a distinction is made between those that are equipped with interchangeable earplugs and so-called half-in-ears, which come in one size instead of soft and interchangeable earplugs.

Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, which is why in-ears with plugs usually penetrate deeper into the auditory canal and bring out the bass more precisely thanks to their better isolating properties. Half-in-ears, on the other hand, sit more easily and unobtrusively in the ear, but due to their one-size-fits-all they offer fewer adjustment options for the individual ear canal.

Nothing Ear (stick) case standing

The case is stable.

My impression of the wearing comfort of the Nothing Ear (stick) is extremely positive. The ergonomically shaped housing stays in the ear even with fast movements and the low weight of just 4,4 g means that the earbuds can be worn almost unnoticed. With other wearers, however, this can look completely different, which is why you cannot make a general statement here.

Nothing Ear (stick) - Hardware

Nothing gives almost no information about the hardware. You will look in vain for a list of the technical data in the supplied quick start guide and there are also few on the official product page.

Nothing Ear (stick) case lying

But it is also stable without rolling away.

All that is known is that we are dealing with a 12,6 mm dynamic driver equipped with a combined PEN+PU membrane. Frequency range, impedance and sensitivity remain unknown.

Nothing Ear (stick) - Sound quality

First of all: Just like the wearing comfort, the sound perception varies greatly from person to person. This is how the Nothing Ear (stick) sound to me:

The sound of the Nothing Ear (stick) clearly falls into the category of casual music listeners who prefer a particularly warm, dynamic sound, with most music genres being particularly pleasing to the ear.

Nothing Ear (stick) Earbuds (1)

Left and right can be recognized by the colored dots.

What significantly affects the sound is the design of the Nothing Ear (stick). As previously indicated, the earbuds lack isolating properties, so external noise remains audible and little pressure is built up in the bass. The software is able to artificially boost the lack of bass, but fans of hip-hop and electronic music won't get their money's worth with it.

Although the Nothing Ear (stick) lacks substance in the low frequency range, it does really well in other areas. In Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" the mids come through well, the high vocals and back vocals hitting the right spot without getting in the way. The feel of the song is conveyed appropriately.

Nothing Ear (stick) Earbuds (2)

The transparent handle gives you a glimpse of the inner workings of the earbuds.

In "Wilderness" by Explosions In The Sky, the Nothing Ear (stick) show their strengths in terms of spatiality and localization, but also their balance. Details are easy to hear and clearly separable. The sound image blurs a bit at high volume.

I particularly liked the listening impression of voices, especially with audio books and podcasts. The open design means voices are less intrusive and much closer to a real conversation.

Nothing Ear (stick) features

Active Noise Canceling

If you look in vain for the Nothing Ear (stick). Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they need the function. ANC is a useful feature on longer trips. Accommodating additional ANC is definitely a nice-to-have.

Bluetooth codecs

SBC and AAC are supported. Unfortunately, the Nothing Ear (stick) does not get along with special low-latency codecs such as aptX or particularly high-resolution codes such as LDAC. Nevertheless, the earbuds also sound really good with AAC. Many Android users would certainly have wished for more codecs in this price range.

Nothing Ear (stick) Earbuds (4)

The Ear (stick) lettering adorns the outside.

Otherwise, the Nothing Ear (stick) leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to connection. Pairing via Bluetooth 5.2 works without any problems and the range is not neglected.

Service

The earbuds are controlled by pressing the handle. Press once to pause or resume playback. Incoming calls can also be answered with a single press. Double press changes track or rejects a call. Pressing three times skips forward or backward in playback, and pressing and holding increases or decreases the volume.

Nothing Ear (stick) Earbuds (3)

The earbuds are held magnetically in the case.

When pressing the handle, the earbuds occasionally slipped and had to be readjusted. The clicking noise that the earbuds make when pressed is positive. So you knew right away whether the gesture was recognized.

Both earbuds react to the different pressure patterns. With the Nothing X app, all actions can be reassigned with the exception of a single press.

Carrier detection

The Nothing Ear (stick) are able to automatically pause playback when you take them out of your ear and resume them when you put them back in. This works well so far, but pausing and resuming is a bit delayed. The function can be switched on and off in the app.

Nothing Ear (stick) Earbuds (4)

Left and right can be recognized by the colored dots.

Low latency mode

A special "low latency mode" is provided in the app to avoid delays between sound and picture in movies or games. In the test, however, the mode did not necessarily have to be activated if you wanted to watch a video. Even without low-latency mode, the image and sound are synchronous.

Microphone

The voice quality of the microphone is decent and calls can be made clearly and understandably with it. A noise filter is present and also works well to reduce wind noise. However, the earbuds have a hard time with road noise.

App

The Nothing X app is available for download for both Android and iOS devices in the respective stores.

The app is clearly structured and, in addition to the functions already mentioned, also offers an equalizer with four pre-programmed profiles (balance, more bass, more treble, voice) and an individual adjustment option for the low, middle and high frequencies.

In the settings there is the item "Find earphones", which triggers a chirping of the earbuds. Firmware updates are automatically received and imported via the app. The battery status of both in-ears and the charging case can also be read on the app's home screen.

Nothing Ear (stick) – rechargeable battery

Nothing makes any statements about the capacity of the built-in batteries. Instead, there is talk of a 7-hour runtime with one battery charge. With the charging option of the case, you get up to 29 hours of runtime. The charging time is given as 55 minutes or 10 minutes for 2 hours of music playback.

Nothing Ear (stick) charging socket

The USB-C charging port is on one side.

These values ​​are also reflected in practice. At 75% volume I got about 6 hours at a time. The case loaded the earbuds almost 4x. The earbuds were fully charged after 60 minutes in the case. One feature that the Nothing Ear (stick) is missing is contactless charging. Instead, you're tied to USB-C as the only charging option.

Would you also like to try gadgets like the Nothing Ear (stick)? Then joining the Heyup Community could be something for you.

Not only a technology-loving community awaits you there, with the Heyup Tryouts program you even have the opportunity to test products free of charge and sometimes even before the market launch. At the end of a test you can even keep the product.

To the heyup tryouts

Rating
Positive

Modern appearance
Good wearing comfort (subjective)
Easy handling
Dynamic sound
App with EQ
Good microphone quality
Good battery life

Negative

No ANC
No special codecs
Depths are somewhat neglected
No wireless charging

Summary

The Nothing Ear (stick) are a cool piece of technology with a unique look. You have to make compromises when it comes to the functions. Many competitors in the same price category simply have more to offer with active noise cancelling, high-resolution codecs or wireless charging.

In terms of sound, however, the Nothing Ear (stick) does not fall by the wayside. The particularly balanced, warm sound goes with most styles of music, and audio books and podcasts can also be excellently listened to. Only lovers of bass-heavy music don't get their money's worth in terms of sound, because the low-frequency range is somewhat neglected due to the little isolating seat.

8.5
Our rating
Timo Altmeyer Avatar
author

Launched the website techreviewer.de in 2016 and has been an active editor of news and test reports in all areas of technology ever since.

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Overview
Manufacturer

Nothing

Model

ears

Specifications

 General 
Driver: Dynamic driver
Size: 12,6 mm
Membrane: PEN+PU

Frequency range: unknown
Impedance: unknown
Sensitivity: Unknown

 Bluetooth 
Default: 5.2
Range: up to 10 meters

codec:
* SBC
* AAC

 Accumulator 
Capacity: Unknown
Running time: 7 hours / 29 hours
Charging time: 55 minutes (10 minutes for 2 hours playback)

 other 
ANC: No
Microphone: Yes
Operation: touch, app
Water protection: IP54

Size(Earbud): 18,8*29,8*18,4mm
Size (case): 29,8 x 87,1 x 29,8 mm
Weight (Earbud): 4,4g
Weight (case): 46,3 g

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