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Nothing Ear Review hero

Nothing Ear in the test: Old look, improved sound, new functions

Updated by Timo Altmeyer on the 18. April 2024

With the Nothing Ear, tech trendsetter Nothing is launching the third generation of its transparent in-ear headphones. While little has changed in the distinctive design, there have been major improvements under the hood: optimized sound and new functions are intended to take the listening experience to a new level. Our test shows whether the balancing act between style and substance is successful.

9
Our rating
149€ nothing.tech
Price Comparison

Nothing Ear: design, workmanship and comfort

Nothing remains true to itself: the new Ear headphones also rely on the unmistakable transparent design that has become the trademark of the London company. But wait, aren't they called "Ear (3)"?

None. Nothing has decided against the expected name and presents the new headphones simply as "Nothing Ear". A bold decision that could well cause confusion. But perhaps there is also a desire for a new beginning, a kind of reset for the series. Enough speculation, let's take a closer look at the Ear.

Nothing Ear charging case closed

Visually they are almost identical to  No Ears (2) . The earbuds are available in white and black and, thanks to their clear appearance, provide exciting insights into the technical inner workings. Compared to the Ear (2), they have gone through a small growth phase: at 29,4 x 21,7 x 24,1 mm and 4,62 g per earbud, they are a touch larger and heavier than before. But don't worry, you won't notice it at all when wearing it.

Nothing Ear charging case opened

The compact charging case comes in a familiar format and fits in any trouser pocket. A cool detail: The magnets provide pleasant haptic feedback when opening and closing. Sure, that's not a selling point, but there's something to be said for such a little gimmick.

Nothing not only paid attention to the design of the Ear, but also thought about their suitability for everyday use. The earbuds are IP54 certified, which protects them against dust and splash water. Perfect for anyone who doesn't want to miss out on their music even during a downpour or a sweaty workout. The charging case even tops this with IP55.

Nothing Ear Earbuds in front of charging case (1)

And the wearing comfort? There's nothing to complain about here either. Thanks to the ergonomic shape and the different earplug sizes (S, M and L), the Ears fit securely and comfortably in the ear. Even after several hours of continuous watering, nothing pinches or pinches. Top!

Nothing Ear: Sound

Hardware

Compared to the Ear (2), Nothing has reduced the size of the driver from 11,6 mm to 11 mm. At first it sounds like a step backwards, but as we all know, size isn't everything. At the same time, Nothing has relied on an improved ceramic membrane, which is intended to provide more rigidity and thus crisper highs.

Nothing Ear Earbuds (5)

Nothing has also improved the Bluetooth connection: Instead of Bluetooth 5.2, version 5.3 is now used. And with LDAC, another high-resolution codec joins LHDC. You'll still look in vain for Qualcomm's aptX, but most current Android smartphones support LDAC anyway, which enables Bluetooth connections with up to 990 Kbit/s at 32 bit/96 kHz.

sound quality

Sounds promising, but what does it look like in practice? When you listen to it for the first time, it quickly becomes clear: Nothing didn't promise too much. The sound of the Ear is balanced, powerful and dynamic. Compared to the Ear (2), the bass and frequency bandwidth have noticeably increased.

Let's take for example  "Billie Jean"  by Michael Jackson. The iconic bassline grooves properly and gives the track the necessary punch without becoming intrusive. The mids are clearly defined and Jackson's voice comes across present and natural. The highs also shine with a pleasant clarity and brilliance without becoming too shrill.

Let's change the genre and listen to each other  "Stairway to Heaven"  by Led Zeppelin. This shows how well the Ear can cope with more complex arrangements. The acoustic guitar at the beginning sounds warm and natural, almost as if Jimmy Page is sitting right next to you. When the electric guitars and drums come in, a wide soundstage unfolds that puts you right in the middle of the action. Each instrument can be clearly located and the sound remains controlled and tidy at all times, even at high volumes.

Nothing Ear Earbuds in front of charging case (2)

The Ear's sound signature follows a classic V-curve, which primarily emphasizes bass and treble. This meets the taste of most music listeners and makes the headphones real all-rounders that are suitable for a wide variety of genres. No matter whether hip-hop, rock, pop or classical - the Ear always deliver a gripping and rousing sound.

If you want to get even more out of the headphones, you can use the equalizer in the Nothing X app. There are 4 prefabricated profiles to choose from that optimize the sound for different genres. If you like it very individually, you can also use the 8-band equalizer and tune the sound according to your own preferences.

Nothing Ear Earbuds (4)

An exciting new feature is the Bass Enhance function. An algorithm analyzes the low frequencies in the music in real time and highlights fine details in the bass range. This provides even more oomph and dynamism without overdoing it. Especially with bass-heavy tracks like  "Lose Yourself to Dance"  by Daft Punk it really puts you in the mood.

Nothing Ear: Features

Let's get to the functions of the Nothing Ear. As with its predecessors, the Nothing X app plays a central role here. It not only provides information about the charge level of the earbuds and the case, but also enables numerous settings. In addition to the already mentioned Bass Enhance mode and the equalizer, Active Noise Canceling (ANC) can also be controlled here.

Active Noise Canceling (ANC)

While the Ear (2) still had a noise cancellation of 40 dB, the new Ear has a whopping 45 dB. This may sound like a numbers game, but in practice it makes a noticeable difference.

Whether on the train, on the plane or in the open-plan office - the Ear largely blocks out ambient noise and ensures undisturbed music enjoyment. Sure, there are competitors like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra, which are a bit better at noise cancellation. But they also cost twice as much.

The new Smart ANC algorithm is really clever. It automatically checks whether the earbuds fit optimally in your ears and adjusts the noise cancellation accordingly. If a plug doesn't fit perfectly, more ANC is simply switched on at that point to compensate for the seal. And this happens every time you insert the earbuds - without any additional intervention.

Nothing Ear Earbuds (3)

The Adaptive ANC has also received an upgrade. It automatically adjusts the level of noise cancellation based on the environment. Less ANC is needed in quiet rooms, and correspondingly more in the subway or on the street. This means that the Ear always offers just the right amount of peace and quiet without completely isolating the wearer from the outside world.

In the test, however, the function turned out to be more of a gimmick, as there felt to be no significant difference compared to the highest suppression level. Maybe my test environment was just too loud.

Speaking of the test environment: Sometimes the user wants to know what is happening around him. For example, in traffic or when waiting for an announcement at the train station. There is the transparency mode for this, which specifically amplifies ambient noise. Switching between active noise cancellation (ANC), deactivated ANC and transparency mode is done directly using the earbuds' pinch gestures. This eliminates the hassle of rummaging around for your smartphone.

Wear detection

But the ANC is just one of many smart functions. Take carry detection for example. It ensures that the music automatically pauses when an earbud is removed. When you reinsert it, it continues seamlessly. This is super practical when you need to speak to someone for a moment.

However, the function is not always 100% reliable. If the sensor is covered when you remove the earbuds, the music may simply continue to play. But hey, nothing is perfect.

Low latency mode

Interesting for gamers and series fans: the low latency mode. It ensures an extremely low delay between image and sound and thus prevents annoying asynchronies. But even without this mode, the latency is so low that there shouldn't be any problems when gaming or streaming.

Fit test, operation and voice quality

A nice gimmick is the fit test. He checks whether the buds fit perfectly in the ears and gives tips if not. The Ear is controlled using the so-called pinch gestures. You simply pinch the stem of the earbud, which is then confirmed with a cool click sound.

This worked reliably in the test, but can sometimes lead to unwanted actions if the buds are gripped a little too tightly. In the app you can set which functions should be controlled with the gestures. The options include music playback, call control, noise cancellation and the voice assistant.

For making calls, the Nothing Ear is equipped with three microphones per bud. There is also an improved microphone design with an additional opening in the stem and AI-powered noise cancellation. Street noise or wind noise are generally well blocked out without the voice starting to sound unnatural.

Nothing Ear: battery and runtime

Nothing has made a lot of improvements to the battery compared to the Ear (2). This was sorely necessary because the running time of the predecessor was one of the biggest points of criticism - especially with ANC switched on, it often ended after just 3 hours and the earbuds had to go back into the charging box.

That's enough of that. Nothing has increased the battery of the earbuds from 33 mAh to 46 mAh and also given the charging case a few extra milliamp hours (from 485 mAh to 500 mAh). It doesn't sound like much at first, but it's definitely noticeable in everyday life.

Nothing Ear charging case with USB-C

With ANC activated, the Nothing Ear now lasts around 4 hours, about an hour longer than the Ear (2). If you turn off the noise cancellation, you can get up to 7,5 hours. Then it's off to the charging box, which can fully charge the earbuds up to four times. After just under three quarters of an hour via USB-C or 3 hours via wireless Qi charging, the small power packs and charging case are then fully ready for use again. If you're in a hurry, you can tap juice for a whopping 10 hours of music enjoyment in just 10 minutes thanks to the quick charging function. Running!

Sure, they have a running time of up to 5,2 hours (with ANC) or 8,5 hours (without ANC) per charge and a total of 24 hours (with ANC) or 40,5 hours (without ANC) including the charging case Nothing Ear yet no endurance monsters. But compared to its predecessor, this is quite a leap forward.

The battery life is sufficient for everyday use and thanks to the fixed charging options, you won't run out of breath so quickly, even on longer trips. The bottom line is that Nothing has made exactly the right adjustments to the battery and eliminated the biggest weak point of the Ear (2).

Nothing Ear Review hero

Ear

9
Rating
Positive

Iconic design
Good wearing comfort (subjective)
Reliable print service
High resolution codecs such as LDAC and LHDC
Dynamic, powerful and detailed sound
Range of functions (Bluetooth multipoint, equalizer, bass enhancer)
Good microphone quality
Fast USB-C and Qi charging

Negative

Wear detection is not always reliable
Battery life with ANC could be better

Conclusion

With the Nothing Ear, the London manufacturer has delivered an all-round successful update to its true wireless headphones. The transparent design is and remains a real eye-catcher, even if the naming may cause some confusion.

But the Ear not only scores with their appearance, but also with their inner values. The sound is powerful, dynamic and leaves nothing to be desired thanks to the improved driver and the new ceramic membrane. Whether bass-heavy beats or complex classical arrangements - the Ear master every genre with flying colors.

Nothing has also improved its functions. Active Noise Canceling is stronger than ever and smarter with the new Smart ANC algorithm. The transparency mode, wear detection and low latency mode round off the package.

A big plus is the improved battery life. With up to 4 hours per charge (with ANC) or 7,5 hours (without ANC) and a total of 20 hours (with ANC) or 34 hours (without ANC) including the charging case, the Ear are a lot more durable than their predecessor.

Sure, there is still room for improvement. The battery life could be even better, the wear detection sometimes works a bit and the pinch gestures can also lead to unwanted actions if handled carelessly. But these are small things that don't cloud the positive overall impression.

The bottom line is that the Nothing Ear is an all-round successful package that skilfully combines design, sound and functions. If you are looking for a stylish and powerful everyday companion, the transparent earbuds are the right choice. Nothing delivered - and how!

Price Comparison
149,00€
Timo Altmeyer avatar
author

Timo is the founder of techreviewer.de and a real technology expert. From smartphones to e-bikes, from home cinema to smart homes, he always has his finger on the pulse of the latest trends.

4 comments

4 comments

  1. Ricardo

    19. April 2024 10 to: 47

    Hello and thank you for the detailed review. I'm currently torn between the Nothing Ear and the Sony WF-1000XM5. Do you perhaps have a comparison for me? My main concern is that I can play my FLACs without loss. Something like ANC is rather irrelevant for me. Things should just sound good. 😀

  2. Timo admin

    19. April 2024 11 to: 23

    Hi Ricardo,

    I'm glad you liked the test. Unfortunately I don't have the Sony WF-1000XM5 and therefore don't have a direct comparison for you.

    • Ricardo

      21. April 2024 18 to: 46

      Hello Timo, I have now ordered the Ear. Those should be enough for me. I'm excited to see what they sound like. 🙂

  3. Chris

    12. May 2024 16 to: 03

    Hi, how do I get LHDC running? When I turn it on in the app, my smartphone says that it is connected to the Ear via AAC.

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More of Nothing
Overview
Manufacturer

Nothing

Model

Ear

Specifications

 General 
Driver: Dynamic driver
Size: 11 mm
Membrane: ceramic

Frequency range: unknown
Impedance: unknown
Sensitivity: Unknown

 Bluetooth 
Default: 5.3
Range: up to 10 meters

codec:
* SBC
* AAC
*LHDC5
*LDAC

 Features 
*In-ear wear detection
*Google Fast Pair
*Microsoft Swift Pair
*Dual connection
*Low lag fashion

 Battery 
Capacity: 46 mAh (earbuds), 500 mAh (case)
Runtime (without ANC): 8,5 hours / 40,5 hours
Runtime (with ANC): 5,2 hours / 24 hours
Charging time: 10 minutes for 10 hours playback
Wired: USB-C
Wireless: Qi with 2,5 W

 Other 
ANC: Yes, up to 45dB
Microphone: Yes (Clear Voice Technology)
Operation: Touch, App (Nothing X)
Water protection: IP54 (earphones), IP55 (case)

Size(Earbud): 29,4*21,7*24,1mm
Size (case): 55,5 x 55,5 x 22 mm
Weight (Earbud): 4,62g
Weight (case): 51,9 g