Nothing Ear (2)
Hardware: 11.6mm Custom Dynamic Driver
Audio Support: 24bit High Res Audio
Listening Time: Up to 36 Hours
Noise Isolation: ANC (up to 40dB)
Water Resistance: IP54 Sweat and Dust resistance. IP55 for the case
Release Date: 22nd March 2023
A sample was provided for review purposes
Hot on the heels of our Nothing Ear (stick) review, we’ve spent some time road testing the Nothing Ear (2) here at Rapid Reviews HQ. There’s so much nuance and interesting storytelling behind this particular product so for this review we’ll start right there.
Ear (1) were the Nothing product that started it all. July/August 2021 were the first moments that Nothing brought their vision to the world stage, and they truly set out on a mission to revolutionise how tech can present itself to the industry. These were the buds that were offered in limited drops, that provided early access to StockX and that drove a frenzy of interest without even getting them in ear. The price was also incredibly attractive at £99. Fast forward to October 2022 and these bluetooth buds saw a 50% price increase to £149, with company founder Carl Pei citing this bump due to increase costs.
I also recall at the time, Carl’s early interviews where he talked about the very limited margins the company had to accept with these early products. It was a necessary compromise to establish a footing in what is an incredibly competitive tech industry. So fast forward to March 2023 and the impending launch of their flagship products successor. What does this mean for pricing this time around? Another big hike? Well… no actually. The Ear (2) have launched at a reduced price of just £129, and I can honestly say from the outset. This is a super impressive package at this price point.
With the success of Ear (1), Nothing have been able to expand over the past year and this has resulted in an engineering team that has worked to develop their very own custom drivers for the Ear (2). The predecessor had to make do with an off the shelf solution that was outsourced to Teenage Engineering for its audio tuning. The net result here in our testing has been a richer audio experience. Soundstage is spacious and Bass is thicker and deeper. The Ear (2) offer an audio experience that far outstrips the price point and it shows across all of our Audio testing. We also ventured into Tidal Hi-Fi streaming sampling Jazz, Dance, Indie and Rock to take advantage of the audio addition of LHDC 5.0. The result is a really authentic near lossless audio experience and it definitely felt like a level up from standard audio codecs.
There have also been some design enhancements for the Ear (2) maintaining a really comfortable fit in ear despite the case shrinking inside to a far more pocketable customer experience. Quite amazingly Nothing still managed to boost the battery life experience to as much as 36 hours this time around in a smaller case frame. Our experiences came out a little lower that the upper end goal of 36 hours and rounded out approx 25-27 hours of usage without charge. Factors such as how much Active Noise Cancellation, audio source and volume will always affect this and we’re always a little guilty of cranking the volume up high.
Levelling Up ANC
With so many effective Active Noise Cancelling options in the marketplace, I would say that Nothing’s first attempt with ANC on the Ear (1) was about average. It did an adequate job of isolating mid range droning sounds like washing machines and engines. However if you were catching a train or surrounded by chatty voices these sounds were creeping into your ear canals all day long. The Ear (2) really excels this time around, as the team went back to the drawing board to bundle more into the product. The step up to cancelling up to 40dB of noise is a big one, but this feature can be found in many different solutions in the market right now, some even below the Ear (2) price point.
This doesn’t mean those other ones are good though, as the balance here comes from cancelling volume (i.e dB) but also the frequency of sounds that can be cancelled out. This time Nothing have increased this to 5000Hz for the Ear (2) which is 2.5 times greater than the Ear (1). Its a marked improvement and in our testing, which involved many daily commutes, public transport, coffee shop lunch breaks and a flight I can confirm the Ear (2) is rubbing shoulders with some of the ANC kings. They aren’t quite at the level of the most expensive options in the marketplace but at less than half the cost they are a viable compromise.
Nothing Ear (2) bring along some clever tech refinements and continuations, with its Nothing X App experience. Personal Audio enables you to customise the listening experience to your individual ear shape and fit, Ear Tip fit testing enables you to check the bud isolation, and Dual Connection enables you to pair to two devices at once for streamlined audio switching. These aren’t brand new innovations to the industry but their inclusion in Nothing’s lineup for the first time is super promising for their ability to stand shoulder to shoulder at the forefront of tech innovation. All of this comes packaged with OTA firmware updates with a whole list of enhancements and update notes that keep you informed of improvements made to your product throughout your ownership.
For me these are the things that build brand affinity and eventually loyalty. Nothing feels like a company that listens to its customers. Its first priority is to present you with a product that makes you smile. A product that fits into your life and enhances your technology. This 3rd audio product really excels in this space and at this price point there is truly no comparison. Ear (2) are a top buy!
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
Nothing Ear (2) are available to buy here