We tell you our opinion of the Nothing Ear 1 in an analysis in which we put to the test the first headphones of the Nothing company, founded by Carl Pei, which beyond their interesting technical characteristics attract attention for their unique design and, above all, for its price.
Surely if you follow the technological news, the name of Carl Pei sounds familiar to you. It was, along with Pete Lau, founder of OnePlus, the company that had the philosophy of creating ‘flagship killer’ mobiles. This translates into mobiles with top-of-the-range features, but at a much lower price than the market.
Pei left his company a few months ago to found Nothing, a company that resembles “nothing” and that had the same philosophy as OnePlus, that of offering devices with high-end features, but at a mid-range price.
His first creation is a Nothing Ear 1 that we analyze below to tell you how these true wireless headphones wear that have a very, very unique design.
Sections of the analysis of Nothing Ear 1 :
- Design: the prettiest headphones with the most troublesome box
- Connectivity and control: multi-device and customizable touch controls
- Sound quality: resounding sound with active cancellation that meets its price range
- Microphone quality: call noise cancellation and clear sound, but not the best
- Autonomy: great battery and both fast and USB-C charging
- Conclusion: following the OnePlus philosophy at the heart
The prettiest headphones with the most troublesome box
Design is essential in any type of device and, therefore, we usually start talking about this section, but in this case, I think it is mandatory.
And it is obvious that we are in front of some special headphones, which do not look like anything and that, of course, manages to catch the eyes. And yes, I think they will be one of those as hated as they are loved by users.
Before we talk about headphones, let’s stop at the box. As usual, the box serves both to store and to charge the headphones. The weight of it is not too high, less than 60 grams, and its size is also contained.
In the pocket it is a quite comfortable box and, in addition, it slides well through the fabric, but of course, I think that in this case, aesthetics has prevailed in a first impression than what we will have in the long term.
And it is that, that it is transparent is tremendously striking, yes, but with the passage of time it will be marked on all four sides. If you usually carry the TWS box in your key pocket, surely sooner rather than later it will end up being marked.
The hinge does not seem the strongest in the segment either and I think that the entire body of the box could have been used to fit a larger hinge, but the magnet that holds both parts is firm and provides security.
Inside we have the charging pins and magnets, as well as some red and white circles that suggest the charging area of each of the headphones: red for the right and white for the left.
On one of the sides, we have the USB-C and the pairing button and inside the box, in the soft area, a status LED that indicates whether or not we are connected to a device.
It is, as I say, a tremendously attractive box and that yes, it has that ‘wow’ effect when you take it out of the box, but that I would like to see in a couple of months since it will surely be more marked from the account.
And the headphones follow that flashy design line with a very short pole that has a plastic, again, transparent.
This allows us to see both the plate and different elements (battery, magnet, charging pins) and the microphones (two on the body or pole and one on the head).
They are very comfortable once we put them on and the truth is that the size is compact, something I appreciate.
We have three pairs of pads and it is the first time that the ones integrated in the helmets are not the ones that suit me the best. I have had to use the larger ones to create good passive cancellation.
And yes, surely you are wondering if what says ‘Nothing Ear (1)’ on the side of the headphones is a screen. And … no, it would have been great, but the battery would have flown if it was a ‘display’ and it is simply a sticker that goes on the inside.
Multi-device and customizable touch controls
When we open the box for the first time we see that the LED begins to blink. If I go to the Bluetooth settings of the mobile or tablet I see that the Nothing Ear 1 appears there without having to press the synchronization button.
They connect to our device via Bluetooth 5.2, if our device is compatible, of course, which reduces latency as much as possible.
If we do not have a mobile, tablet, or PC with Bluetooth 5.2 nothing happens, obviously, simply the latency will be higher and, possibly, the battery consumption of both devices is also higher.
You will be able to use the Nothing Ear 1, as I said, with any device without using the complementary app and we will also be able to enjoy noise cancellation without it, but it is best to download the application.
We have been testing a preliminary version that, it seems, will be the only one available before July 31, when they will go on sale officially, and the options are quite basic and accessible.
And while it is nice that the technology is simple, it is also essential to be able to control as many things as possible from the headphones. We can triple tap on the right to go to the next song and the same gesture on the left to go back, but nothing else.
With a double press, we stop the video, and by sliding the finger up or down on any of the sticks we will control the volume. This is something that I love.
With a long press, we activate or deactivate the noise cancellation and the customization is to put that action … or none at all.
We will be able to remove the option to pause the content when removing the headset and, in addition, we have an option to “find my headphones”. There is no map or anything like that, the headphones just start to emit a high-pitched and clear sound, and it seems like a very good idea.
In these days of use, I have not had any disconnection problems or strange things beyond the fact that, randomly outdoors, the helmets decide that they should be put in transparency mode, at least one of them.
It is not a security option and I think what happens is that the proximity sensor goes crazy. I have received several firmware updates these days, which indicates that Nothing is quite pending and they will surely fix this.
Something that I do like, and a lot, is that we can make the touches in any part of the headset, not in a specific area. It is something that makes things easier when we are in the gym or running, for example.
Resounding sound with an active cancellation that meets its price range
Both my statements and, above all, by the expectations created by users in recent months, we all expected a lot at the performance level of these Nothing Ear 1. And well, the best we can say is that they have delivered.
It is, absolutely, a device that more than meets what we expected of it by presenting a sound that has enough volume to make us enjoy music on a train, on the street, or in the most difficult case, the gym.
It is a resounding sound that most purists may think to have a somewhat higher bass than the account, but in general, it presents a forceful sound that will make us enjoy what we play on the mobile.
With Tidal HD and Spotify, I have been listening, above all, to metal and alternative rock, where the bass and treble are very important, but I have also been listening to soundtracks such as Interstellar or Red Dead Redemption 2, the Euphoria soundtrack by far. hip hop or styles like synthwave or deep-house.
Come on, I’ve been listening to almost everything (the good stuff), and the feeling in all cases has been the same: very good quality of mids, good highs, slightly higher bass, but that give presence to the song and a very pleasant experience when playing. final.
We have an equalizer in the application that is very simple because it only has four modes. The one that I have had is the balanced one, but we also have the one that prioritizes the voice, the one that gives more importance to the treble, and the one that enhances the bass, which I do not recommend at all.
In addition to a very pleasant experience of using music, I must say that I have not noticed any problem in terms of latency, and both in YouTube videos and in games the experience has been optimal.
Now, let’s talk about noise cancellation. We have three special modes, so to speak. One is the ‘transparency’ mode that reproduces external sounds for us to attend to in a conversation or something like that.
It does not activate by itself, but we have to hold a long press on any of the headphones and there is no guiding voice that tells us that we enter another mode, but a beep.
If we keep pressing again, we enter the noise cancellation mode and from the app, we can choose if we want active cancellation or not and two ANC modes: strong and light.
I’ve been using the headphones this week with the most aggressive cancellation and the result has been amazing. On the train he has been able to isolate me completely with the appropriate pads, on the street I have gone in my world and at home, he has eliminated the frequency of the music coming out of the PC speakers.
That is, when testing them I was playing a video with music on the PC and Spotify through the headphones. Well, I knew that there was music on because I heard something light in the background and, above all, because the table vibrates with the subwoofer.
In the gym, it is a bit more complicated because the noise is not so regular and there is a great variety of frequencies, and here you can see that the Sony are above, but again, what this Nothing offer has a lot of merits.
As I said, they are not perfect because I would like an assistant to notify you of the mode you are in (transparency or cancellation, as in other headphones) and there is the problem that I have already mentioned about the headset that enters by itself in transparency mode, but for what others, to take off his hat.
Call noise cancellation and clear sound, but not the best
It is clear that the fundamental thing in headphones is that they sound good and, in that, the Nothing Ear 1 does wonderfully.
However, many of us also use them to talk on the phone or make video calls, and many times that is the difference between a TOP headset and others that are not so good.
In the case of Nothing, we have three microphones per earpiece and noise cancellation technology to eliminate everything that is not our voice.
It is not something that you can activate and deactivate, since this cancellation in calls is always present and the result is a filter that tries to mitigate the sound other than our voice as much as possible, which means that it tries to reset the decibels whenever not let’s talk or between words when we make a minimum pause.
The result is a somewhat robotic voice that will not prevent the one on the other side from receiving the message well, but it is clear that they are not the best microphones that we have tested in a device of this type.
Great battery and both fast and USB-C charging
Autonomy is another key aspect and here practically all brands in the different segments offer more or less the same autonomy.
Nothing has wanted to differentiate itself with autonomy that promises to be the most generous if we combine the battery in the box and the headphones.
Specifically, they speak of 34 total hours without noise cancellation and 24 if we use cancellation, as well as 5.7 hours without cancellation or 4 with cancellation. The headphones have 31 mAh and the box goes up to 570 mAh, being one of the most generous.