Nothing returns to its first love with a new pair of wireless headphones, the Nothing ear (2). The format of the first model has been retained, but with many improvements. Here is our detailed review of the Nothing ear (2).
- Bluetooth multipoint compatibility
- Comprehensive Nothing X application
- Customizable pinch controls
- Effective active noise reduction
Nice and original design
- Low battery life
- Average call quality
Two years after its first wireless headphones and after having released models without in-ear tips or noise reduction, Nothing is back in the audio business. The British manufacturer has given an overview of its new Nothing ear (2). While the earphones are largely based on the design of their predecessors, they have much more advanced features.
Whether it’s the case or the earphones themselves, we’re treated to Nothing ears (2) that rely on transparent plastic to allow some of the components to be seen through. If the stems are transparent, this is not the case with the shell placed inside the ear cup in shiny white plastic.
However, this choice seduced us for the first ear (1) and continues to be relevant for the Nothing ear (2). Despite this aesthetic choice, the earphones are well assembled, and the shells are well bonded together. With a size of 29.4 x 21.5 x 23.5 mm and a weight of only 4.5 grams per earphone, the Nothing ear (2) are also relatively comfortable in the ears and does not press too much on any part of the outer ear or the ear canal. I could wear them for several hours without being bothered by the comfort.
It should also be noted that these are in-ear headphones. As such, they benefit from the passive isolation provided by the silicone ear tips. The Nothing ear (2) offers three ear tips: S, M and L.
Nothing has taken the same approach to housing the Nothing ear (2) as for its first model. We find the same principle of a square transparent case but with some differences. This is notably the case of the white block positioned inside the case and which will house the battery. While it was recessed in the case of the first version, it is more apparent in this new iteration.
The white plastic is, therefore, in direct contact with the outside. The case is also a little less textured for more sobriety. We are on the same principle as the Nothing ear (1) but with a slightly smaller case of 55.5 x 55.5 x 22 mm and 51.9 grams, compared to 58.6 x 58.6 x 23.7 mm on the first generation. It can be easily stored in a handbag or small pocket. Beware, however, that the Nothing ear case (2) still needs to pass the pocket test.
As for the buttons, connectors and indicators, there is a USB-C socket on the right-hand side, next to the pairing button. A single indicator light integrated into the case allows you to check the headphones’ battery level and pairing status.
The Nothing ear (2) is protected against splashes, rain and perspiration thanks to their IP54 certification, but also against dust. The housing is also IP55 certified.
The headphones also hold up well during sports activities and will have no trouble staying in place during your training sessions, even with potential shocks such as running. This is aided by their stemmed design, which helps keep the earphones in place.
USE AND APPLICATION
Connecting Nothing Earphones to an Android smartphone couldn’t be easier. Compatible with the Google Fast Pair protocol, the Nothing ear (2) will invite itself onto your smartphone, displaying a small pop-up at the bottom of the screen the first time you open the nearby case. Thanks to the Microsoft Swift Pair protocol, the same applies to the connection to a Windows PC.
If your device is incompatible with these two protocols, it will still be possible to open the box and press the pairing button for a few seconds until the LED flashes. The Nothing ear (2) will then be visible in the Bluetooth settings of your phone, PC, TV, or tablet.
To ensure the Bluetooth connection of its earphones to a smartphone or computer, Nothing uses version 5.3 of the Bluetooth standard. The manufacturer also indicates that it used larger and better-positioned antennas than the first Nothing ear (1). In principle, this ensures a more stable signal. The previous earphones of the brand could suffer quite regularly from connection jumps. This is no longer the case with the Nothing ear (2), which maintains a stable signal even in conditions that bother their predecessors – for example, when running with the smartphone in an armband or walking with the phone in the pocket and the hand on top.
The headphones are also compatible not only with Bluetooth LE Audio but also with multipoint Bluetooth. As such, they can be connected to a smartphone and a computer simultaneously, allowing you to watch a video meeting on your PC while answering a call on your smartphone. To activate this mode, go to the “dual connection” option in the Nothing X application. Furthermore, it is not necessarily the last source played that will be given priority, but you will have to pause the music on one source to enjoy the sound from the other. Phone calls, however, will necessarily take precedence.
Like the previous version – and unlike the Nothing ear (Stick) – the Nothing ear (2) has an active noise reduction function. This is based on the three microphones integrated into each earpiece – two on the outside and one towards the outside – as well as on the passive isolation offered by the silicon tips. According to the manufacturer, this would reduce certain sound frequencies by up to -40 dB. However, as is always the case, these figures should be taken with great caution as they only reflect a single frequency without considering all the frequencies audible around you.
Nothing offers low, medium and high to manage the noise reduction on its headphones. An adaptive mode is also available to automatically manage the noise reduction level according to your sound environment. Finally, a “personalised noise reduction” mode will adapt to your ear canal.
The Nothing earphones also offer a transparency mode that lets you better hear your environment or the people around you. Here, the result is very effective, with a reasonably natural rendering and a faithful reproduction of the sounds you could perceive without wearing the earphones. It’s a success.
Nothing has largely revised its copy for the audio part of its wireless headphones. If the manufacturer still integrates 11.6 mm diameter transducers designed in-house and in partnership with Teenage Engineering. Nevertheless, Nothing has revised the calibration of its earphones and the materials integrated into its transducers. The diaphragm used for the drivers is made of graphene for the highs and more flexible polyurethane for the lows.
Nothing has also integrated two echo chambers into its headphones to improve sound wave circulation and give the sound more amplitude.
Regarding Bluetooth audio codecs, the Nothing ear (2) supports the most common codecs on the market, AAC and SBC, and the LHDC 5.0 codec. The latter is supported not only by the Nothing phone (1) but also by smartphones from Huawei, Oppo, OnePlus and Xiaomi. It offers Hi-Res Audio compatibility with a bandwidth of up to 900 kbps, 24-bit depth, 96 kHz sampling rate and a dynamic range of 144 dB.
Of course, the Nothing ear (2) can be used as a microphone to make phone calls. The earphones are also equipped with three microphones each, which are used to capture and reduce ambient noise while recording your voice. Nothing also uses its noise reduction algorithm called “Clear voice technology” for calls.
In reality, however, the Nothing ear (2) has difficulty reducing the noise around you. Suppose the earphones manage somewhat moderately in the case of constant noise. In that case, an open tap will be well attenuated after a few seconds – this is, however, at the expense of the clarity of the voice, which will be strongly compressed for your interlocutor.
Above all, the headphones have difficulty filtering out noise in a noisy environment such as a busy street. They will tend to let everything through, even vehicle sounds, horns and surrounding voices, as if they were your voice.
Overall, Nothing ear (2) can be frustrating to use in a noisy environment, and the person you are talking to may become frustrated after just a few minutes.
To ensure the battery life of the earphones, Nothing has integrated a 33mAh battery for each earphone, while the housing has a 485mAh battery. By comparison, the first models had a 31mAh battery in the earphones and 570mAh in the case.
According to Nothing, this battery should allow the headphones to be used for 4 hours with noise reduction – 22.5 hours with the case – and for 6.3 hours without noise reduction – 36 hours with the case.
To charge the headphones in the case, it will take 35 minutes to go from 0 to 90%, then another 52 minutes to go from 90 to 100% battery, so a full charge in 1 hour 27 minutes. Again, this is a far cry from the standards seen over the last two years.
The Nothing ear (2) case can be charged using a USB-C plug – a short USB-C to USB-C cable is supplied – or wirelessly, thanks to its compatibility with the Qi induction charging standard.
Two years after its first earphones, Nothing hits hard with its earphones (2). The manufacturer has improved almost every aspect of its wireless headphones and delivers excellent mid-range wireless headphones here.
We particularly appreciate the improvements made to the ergonomics with the management of multipoint Bluetooth and the controls by pinching, as well as the better Bluetooth connection stability. With a precise, pleasant, warm rendering, the headphones are not outdone in sound reproduction.
Nevertheless, the Nothing ear (2) are no longer the entry-level headphones that their predecessor was when it was released. For a price of 149 euros, they still suffer from some particularly notable shortcomings. This is the case with the battery life of the headphones alone, which is too short with the active noise reduction and will force you to put them back in their case during a long journey of more than three hours or a day at work. This is also the case for the call quality, which is still too average.
Nothing Ear (2) - Wireless ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) Headphones, Hi-Res audio certified, Dual Connection, Powerful 11.6 mm custom driver - White
|Current Price||£113.49||December 11, 2023|
|Highest Price||£169.99||March 27, 2023|
|Lowest Price||£97.00||November 30, 2023|
Last price changes
|£113.49||December 10, 2023|
|£114.00||December 7, 2023|
|£98.49||December 4, 2023|
|£97.00||November 30, 2023|
|£99.00||November 1, 2023|