Nothing’s inaugural headphones were, let’s face it, a case of style over substance sonically.
Bright images of Nothing’s near-transparent futuristic units, with very friendly ladybugs perched on top of the box, suggesting quality and detailed workmanship – and there’s no denying that due care was taken in making them. to look Good.
The feature set – including the commendable new Nothing app – was even better, and the Nothing Ear (1) Black Edition brought Bluetooth 5.2 and improved ANC to levels rarely seen at this price point.
The IPX4 splash guard was also a nice touch, and the little red dot on the right earcup made me wonder why other manufacturers don’t offer this simple embellishment, but sound quality is ultimately make-or-break. of a set of wireless headphones and here, Nothing Ear (1) still falls short of the best wireless headphones in terms of timing and frequency neutrality, as well as in terms of bass grip and accuracy.
I tested the original Nothing Ear headphones (1) and found the sonic performance far from perfect. Switch to Cambridge Audio’s Melomania 1 Plus (currently available for much, much less), the bass is more punchy and zealous, making the Ear (1) feel utterly relaxed and languid in terms of timing. Although expansive, the Ear(1) suffers from tubbiness through the lower registers and lacks precision in direct comparison.
That said, I really think Carl Pei’s Nothing is on the right track, and if the recently leaked Ear (1) Stick headphones, tipped to launch after the much-hyped phone (1), are something to keep going, the Pei’s smart boot might finally start targeting Apple’s AirPods – if it can address these key areas.
And I’m leaving out the sound quality mentioned above – we’ve said all we need to say there. So let’s start.
1. Multipoint support
While connectivity has been improved in the latest Black Edition update, thanks to using Bluetooth 5.2, you still can’t count on any multipoint support here – and the best noise-canceling headphones of 2022 (including the Honor’s Earbuds 3 Pro) now offer the feature – and your AirPods will seamlessly switch between whichever Apple source device you’re currently using.
Certainly, as the Nothing ecosystem grows, seamlessly switching from music on your Nothing phone to a meeting on your Nothing tablet will be of paramount importance to the busy professional – and the rest of us as well.
Also, there is currently no aptX/LDAC codec support for better quality streaming over Bluetooth, something we hope will come with the new Nothing headphones.
2. Better transparency mode
The noise cancellation on Nothing’s updated and newer headphones is much improved, although it comes at the expense of battery life, because now you only get about four hours on a charge with ANC turned on and the volume at one level. medium.
But what needs to be worked on a little more promptly is the transparency profile – because it can be improved. Yes, cars and the voices of passersby are a little more available to a listener when deploying this mode (and without the baffling wind tunnel effect that some budget-conscious proposals miss), but there’s certainly still room to do that against the leaders of class on the level – and here, we point it at the Sony WF-SP800N. (You’re welcome).
3. Scope to adjust EQ levels
Nothing’s nice app currently only offers ‘balanced’, ‘higher’, ‘lower’ or ‘voice’ EQ presets – and during my own testing, switching between these profiles would sometimes cause a headset to lose its connection Bluetooth (remember though, I tested the original 2021 version).
Also, even on the new updated Nothing Ear (1), these profiles are not manually adjustable.
The option to customize the sound to your liking using a three- or even five-band equalizer tab would likely boost the personal audio performance here considerably.
4. Better touch-on-ear controls
The Ear’s touch controls (1) can be customized in the Ear app (1) for iOS or Android devices, which features the same glorious retro digital typeface printed on the case and button stem.
Along with the two visual themes, the option to disable user detection, and the handy Find My Earbud feature (which emits a sound from the headphones, for easy location if one falls off the back of the couch, say) you’ll see an image of the ear (1) above two bubbles: ‘listen’ and ‘tap’ – and it’s the Touch tab I want to focus on now, as this is where you have the opportunity to customize what happens when you triple tap or press long any headset.
I like to adapt it so that tapping the left button three times skips back a track, tapping the right button three times skips forward and a long press scrolls between the noise canceling profiles. Interestingly, a single tap plays no role here, probably to avoid accidentally pausing the track when putting it in your ears, but unfortunately I’ve found that the double tap to play and pause tracks resoundingly hits and misses.
Also, volume adjustments can be made by sliding up and down the stem of any earbuds, but again, it’s hard to make that happen – especially without dislodging one of the earbuds from my ears.
Okay, at this level, digging up my phone to change playback is hardly a problem, but if in-ear controls are included, it’s reasonable to expect them to at least work the majority of time…
If you’re out there, nothing, I can’t wait to try out the new Ear headphones (2), or whatever they might be called – I feel like we could really be something, you know?