HomeEarbudsNothing Ear (2) Review - Value For Money?

Nothing Ear (2) Review – Value For Money?

Introducing the Nothing Ear (2), the latest addition to the Nothing product line, and the company’s first-ever second-generation product. Boasting a range of enhancements, this model has taken sound quality to a whole new level, making it an exceptional product that will delight audio enthusiasts everywhere.

At $149, the Ear (2) is priced the same as its predecessor, the Ear (1), which debuted at $99, offering an excellent value proposition for customers. In this review, we will dive deep into the features and improvements of the Ear (2), so let’s get started! Here’s everything you need to know about the Nothing Ear (2).

Design

image: Design of Nothing Ear 2 ( source – nothing official website )

The Ear (2) has undergone some noticeable changes in its design, particularly with its case. While the case is smaller in every dimension, the differences from its predecessor are only apparent upon closer inspection.

The Ear (2) case now features more angled edges, giving it a sleeker appearance than the curved design of its predecessor. The lid has a similar look, but the dimple that held the earbuds in place has been downsized. The new design also ditches the bottom cover, leaving the white plastic bits exposed. This lack of glossy plastic may help reduce the appearance of scratches, which was an issue with the previous case.

However, the opaque plastic on the Ear (2) case lacks the distinct features and finish of its predecessor. The plain white texture of the plastic is now exposed and lacks the clear plastic cover that made it touch-free. While this new design may reduce costs, it feels like a downgrade in comparison.

The lid of the Ear (2) case has also undergone some changes, with a smaller hinge that results in more side-to-side movement than its predecessor. The lid now closes with a clank instead of the satisfying thump of the Ear (1) case.

Additionally, the magnet and hinge design of the Ear (2) case now looks very similar in shape and size, making it difficult to tell which way the case opens without paying close attention.

On the other hand, the earbuds themselves look similar to their predecessor, with the only noticeable difference being the switch to pressure-sensitive buttons from touch-sensitive areas for gestures. The Ear (2) earbuds are water-resistant with an IP54 rating, an improvement from the IPX4 rating of the previous model.

Overall, while the Ear (2) has a good-looking and unique design, it feels like a knockoff of its predecessor. The changes in design may have reduced costs, but it resulted in a less distinct appearance that lacks the unique features of its predecessor.

Comfortability

When it comes to comfortability, the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds are a winner. The design of these earbuds allows for a comfortable fit with the majority of the bulk sitting inside your ears, and only a small bit hanging outside. The inner ear shape is also unobtrusive, and the soft silicone tips make it pleasant to wear them for extended periods of time.

However, there is one usability issue with these earbuds, and it’s the new pressure-sensitive gesture area. While it works well when intentionally used, it can be accidentally activated while grabbing the stem to remove them from your ears. This can be frustrating as it happens almost every time you remove them, and it takes no effort at all to activate the gesture.

To avoid this issue, some users may need to resort to unusual grips to remove the earbuds safely. It’s important to take care when handling them, as the chance of dropping them is higher due to the awkward grip required. Despite this usability issue, the overall comfort of the earbuds makes them a solid choice for anyone looking for a comfortable and snug fit.

Is the Noise Cancellation Up to Par?

image: Personalized Active Noise Cancellation of Nothing Ear 2 ( source – nothing official website )

The Ear (2) offers average noise-canceling performance with some noticeable drawbacks. The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) feature constantly fluctuates in effectiveness, even when set to the High mode. This can be especially frustrating when you’re in a quiet environment and the ANC seems to be randomly adjusting its levels. It’s most noticeable when you’re outdoors, but can still happen in quieter places as well.

Additionally, the personalized ANC feature, which generates a tuning specifically for your current ambient noise levels, doesn’t always provide the best results in other environments. In some cases, the general ANC just works better. Despite this, the personalized ANC is still worth using on a plane where the noise level is consistently high.

Even when the ANC is at its best, it only reaches a level 3, which is not as good as some of the best options available, like the Sony LinkBuds S. The Ear (2) does an okay job with low frequencies but struggles with mid and high frequencies. You can easily hear mid-range sounds like an AC running in the background, which can be distracting.

On the other hand, the transparency mode is usable overall, even though it sounds a bit muffled. If you need to be aware of your surroundings, this feature can come in handy.

Overall, the Ear (2) noise-canceling performance is average, but if you’re looking for the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market, there are better options available.

Software and Features

The Ear (2) comes with a range of software features that can be accessed through the dedicated Nothing X app, available for both iOS and Android devices. The app allows you to change a variety of settings, including the ANC (active noise cancellation), touch gestures, audio effects, and more. One of the standout features is the personalized ANC and sound profile, which uses the app to analyze your hearing and customize the earbuds’ audio output to your specific needs.

Additionally, the Ear (2) offers a low latency mode for improved audio-video synchronization and a find my earbuds feature to locate misplaced earbuds. The app also provides firmware updates, ensuring that the earbuds remain up to date with the latest software improvements.

Overall, the Ear (2) provides a robust set of software features that can be easily accessed through the intuitive and user-friendly Nothing X app. Whether you want to fine-tune your audio preferences, adjust noise cancellation, or locate misplaced earbuds, the Ear (2) has got you covered.

Nothing X App Features

image: Nothing X App For Nothing Ear 2 ( source – nothing official website )

The Nothing X app also allows for audio effects customization. The app offers a range of presets such as balanced, bass boost, and voice, as well as a fully customizable EQ. The app also features a “transparency” mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings without taking out the earbuds.

Another feature is “Fast Pair,” which is available for Android users. This allows for quick and easy pairing with compatible devices without the need to go through the usual Bluetooth pairing process.

The app also includes a “Find my earbuds” feature, which helps you locate your earbuds if you misplace them. When activated, the earbuds will emit a sound to help you locate them.

Finally, the app provides firmware updates for the earbuds. The updates can be downloaded and installed via the app, ensuring that your earbuds stay up to date with the latest features and bug fixes.

ANC settings

It’s great to know that the Nothing Ear (2) offers an ear tip fit test, which can help users determine the best fit for their earbuds. The custom EQ in the app is also a welcome addition, as it allows users to adjust the sound to their liking. However, it’s worth noting that a 3-band adjustment may not be sufficient for some users who prefer more control over the EQ settings. Overall, the ANC settings and app features make the Nothing Ear (2) a versatile and customizable option for those who value a personalized audio experience.

Customized Sound Profile and EQ

image: personalized sound profile of Nothing Ear 2 ( source – nothing official website )

If you’re looking for earbuds that let you dial in a personalized sound profile, the Nothing Ear (2) is a great option. Unlike other brands, the Ear (2) has a unique test procedure to calibrate your sound preferences.

To set your personalized sound profile, you’ll first need to set a level for a white noise sample that plays in the background. Then, each earbud will play a test tone that gradually reduces in volume until you can no longer hear it. This establishes the level for that frequency and creates your personalized sound profile.

While this process may take a bit longer than you’d like, the result is worth it. However, if you do find the white noise sample unpleasant or get impatient with the test, you can cancel it at any time. The Ear (2) also lets you change the options for pinch gestures, allowing you to set different options for the left and right earbuds.

Minor Bugs and Alerts

During testing, we found some minor bugs in the Ear (2) earbuds. The ear detection often stopped working, so the earbuds would not react to being removed from the ear. This meant there was no automatic pausing, and the sound would just keep playing. However, this issue usually only occurred with one earbud at a time, so removing the other earbud would pause the audio as intended. Putting the earbuds back in the case fixed the issue.

While not technically a bug, we found the volume of the alerts on the earbuds to be quite loud and annoying. For example, the sound the earbuds make when inserted into your ears can startle you, and the low battery alert noise is also loud. There’s no need for these alerts to be so loud, and we hope Nothing will adjust the volume in future updates.

Improved Sound Quality and Design

If you’re looking for a good pair of earbuds with improved sound quality over its predecessor, the Nothing Ear (2) is a great option to consider. The updated drivers use graphene and polyurethane in the diaphragm, resulting in a punchier and more precise sound with less bass bloat than before.

The mid-range has also been significantly improved, with more detail and separation in the sound. However, there is still a dip in the mid-range that affects certain male vocals. On the other hand, the treble region is still too hot, causing occasional discomfort when listening to high-pitched female vocals or cymbal hits.

Despite these issues, the Ear (2) is still enjoyable to listen to, thanks to its decently spacious sound with good imaging and positioning. The tasteful bass tuning and improved mid-range make it stand out from other earbuds in this segment.

LHDC 5.0 is also supported, but be aware that there may be audible high-frequency distortion at default settings. However, this can be resolved by adjusting the bitrate values, though this may cause other connectivity issues.

Unfortunately, the three-band EQ adjustment options are limited, and making changes to the EQ can significantly affect the sound across the spectrum. The personal sound profile feature also causes the sound to become quieter, making it somewhat pointless.

In summary, the Nothing Ear (2) is a great-sounding pair of earbuds with improved sound quality and design. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a solid choice and deal for those looking for a decently priced earbud option. You can buy it without any hesitation.

Great Sound, But a Disappointing Sequel

When it comes to improving the audio quality, the Ear (2) has delivered. With its bright treble being the only notable issue, it is safe to say that the Ear (2) is one of the best-sounding wireless earbuds in its price range. However, as a sequel, the Ear (2) falls short on other fronts. The design, which received heaps of praise last time, now feels stripped down and downgraded. The Nothing X app still lacks customizability, and the software can be buggy at times. Battery life is quite bad, and the latency performance is disappointing. The ANC and LHDC 5.0 codec, which were supposed to be major selling points, have issues.

Although there is potential for improvement through updates, the Ear (2) is not currently a product that we can recommend. While the Ear (1) had a rocky start but eventually managed to overcome its issues, we cannot review products based on future potential. Right now, the Ear (2) has its share of problems, and we can only hope that the issues will be addressed soon.

Microphone Performance Review

If you’re someone who takes a lot of calls or records audio frequently, the microphone performance of earbuds is just as important as their sound quality. The Nothing Ear (2) does a decent job in this regard, but there are some issues that you should be aware of.

Natural Sounding Voice, But…

When it comes to the voice quality, the Nothing Ear (2) does a good job of reproducing it in a natural-sounding manner. You won’t hear any robotic or metallic undertones that can be present in some other earbuds.

Background Noise Cancellation Needs Improvement

However, the real issue with the Ear (2) is the over-aggressive noise cancellation algorithm. It tends to cut in too often, even in quiet surroundings, which can cause dips in your voice while you are speaking. This is particularly frustrating when you’re in a noisy environment, as the microphone struggles to distinguish between your voice and the background noise.

Turn Down the Noise Cancellation for Clearer Voices

If only they could turn down the noise cancellation a bit, the voices could sound much clearer. So, if you’re planning to use these earbuds primarily for calls or recording audio, you might want to consider this issue before making your purchase.

Conclusion

In summary, the microphone performance of the Nothing Ear (2) is average, with a natural-sounding voice quality but with an over-aggressive background noise cancellation algorithm that can sometimes cause dips in your voice. However, if you’re willing to overlook this issue, the Ear (2) is a great pair of earbuds that delivers on many other fronts.

Connectivity

During testing, we experienced a range of connectivity issues with the Ear (2). One significant problem we encountered was with the LHDC 5.0 feature, which did not work as intended. When set to the full 1Mbps bitrate on the Nothing Phone (1), the Ear (2) began to stutter after a few seconds, rendering it unusable.

Even at 900kbps, the audio quality was unusable. The only time it worked somewhat stably was when we went all the way down to 500kbps. It’s important to note that all these observations were made with the phone less than an arm’s length away on a desk while sitting still. The connectivity issues would be even worse if the phone was in a bag or pocket

Two Device Connection

image: 2 device connection of Nothing Ear 2 ( source – nothing official website )

Connectivity is one area where the Ear (2) shines, with support for simultaneous connection to two devices. It’s a straightforward process to connect them, and the earbuds can use LHDC with both paired devices if they are compatible. During testing, this feature worked well most of the time, with the earbuds connecting seamlessly to both devices.

However, there was one instance where one of the paired devices could only connect to one earbud, while the other device was connected to both. But, as with other connectivity issues, this was resolved by simply placing the earbuds back in the case and trying again. Overall, the Ear (2) offers reliable connectivity, and the ability to switch between two devices without having to disconnect and reconnect is a great convenience.

Nothing Phone (1) LHDC 5.0 Problems and Solutions

When we tested the LHDC 5.0 codec on the Nothing Ear (2), we encountered a number of issues. Since the testing was done exclusively with the Nothing Phone (1), it was difficult to determine whether the problems were with the earbuds, the phone, or both. Nevertheless, both devices are made by the same company, so it’s up to them to figure out the root cause.

Distortion was also observed when using LHDC 5.0, but strangely enough, this only appeared at bitrates of 500kbps and lower. As we mentioned earlier, these are the only usable bitrates. Attempting to use higher bitrates led to the audio stuttering, which made the codec completely unusable on our review unit.

However, switching to LHDC 3.0 on the Phone (1) resolved the distortion issue. Even so, we still had to be careful with the bitrate to prevent audio stuttering.

In addition to the issues we faced with LHDC, we also had trouble getting it to work with some non-Nothing phones. While it worked flawlessly with Xiaomi phones, it didn’t work on OnePlus phones with Qualcomm chipsets. On OnePlus phones with MediaTek chipsets, the Bluetooth menu indicated that LHDC was in use, but the developer settings revealed that it was actually just AAC, unless manually changed.

Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any issues with the more common SBC and AAC codecs. These are the codecs that most phones support, and they work flawlessly with the Nothing Ear (2). While LHDC has its advantages, its rarity means that most people will be using either SBC or AAC.

It’s perplexing that Nothing chose LHDC over the more widely supported LDAC codec, given the range of issues that their LHDC implementation has. In my experience, LDAC has been more dependable and is supported by almost every Android phone currently on the market.

Battery Life: Is It Enough?

When it comes to battery life, the Nothing Ear (2) is rated for 6.3 hours with ANC off and 4 hours with ANC on. However, during testing, the ANC could not be properly evaluated due to its activation method. This means the test results are based on the earbuds being worn with ANC off.

The battery life test was conducted with both AAC and LHDC codecs. While the AAC test provided 5.7 hours of battery life, the LHDC test only lasted for 4 hours. This is significantly less than the 6.3 hours provided by Nothing for AAC or SBC codecs. It’s worth noting that these tests were conducted with the ANC off, which suggests that using the Ear (2) as intended, with LHDC and ANC, would result in an even shorter battery life of 2-3 hours.

It’s important to mention that our review unit showed a significant discrepancy between the two earbuds, with the left earbud having a much worse battery life. Therefore, the figures mentioned above are from the right unit, which lasted longer, and the left one usually died an hour earlier.

conclusion

In conclusion, the battery life of the Nothing Ear (2) might not be sufficient for some users, especially with the ANC and LHDC features turned on. If you’re looking for earbuds with longer battery life, you may want to consider other options.

FAQS

  1. How long does the battery last on the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds?

    The rated battery life for the Ear (2) earbuds is 6.3 hours with ANC off and 4 hours with ANC on. However, in testing, the LHDC test ran for just 4 hours, which is insufficient. With ANC and LHDC, you can expect 2-3 hours of battery life, which is not good for modern earbuds.

  2. How does the audio quality of the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds compare to the previous model?

    The audio quality of the Ear (2) is unquestionably better compared to the previous model, and it is one of the best-sounding wireless earbuds in its price range, despite its issues with the treble being a bit too bright.

  3. Is the design of the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds an improvement over the previous model?

    No, the design of the Ear (2) is disappointing for a sequel. It feels stripped down and downgraded compared to the previous model, which received a lot of praise.

  4. Is the battery life of the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds good?

    No, the battery life of the Ear (2) is quite bad, especially when using ANC and LHDC. With ANC and LHDC, you can expect only 2-3 hours of battery life, which is not good for modern earbuds.

  5. Does the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds come with a customizable app?

    Yes, the Nothing Ear (2) earbuds come with the Nothing X app, which provides some customizability. However, the app is still limited in terms of customizability and the software can still be buggy at times.

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Md Isteyaj
Md Isteyaj
Founder Of HACKART. A 22 years old Student, Md isteyaj is an accomplished tech news writer for a leading tech news website. Listening Music is my favourite thing.
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