Nothing Ear (a) review

Love at first sound

Nothing Ear (a) review

For the best in anything, you’re expected to shell out the big bucks. It’s the norm. But every so often comes a brand that defies this logic, and makes you question the logic of spending so much money on a product. The recently launched Nothing Ear (a) is one such product that will make you question your spending habits.

Barring the confusing name, you get the now-familiar transparent design, a new trendy colour, ANC, and balanced sound. But how different is the new Ear (a) from its predecessor, and is it worth the Rs 7,999 price tag? Having used it extensively in the past few days, here’s our Nothing Ear (a) review.

Nothing Ear (a) design

These new Nothing TWS retain the signature transparent design, which continue to grab eyeballs. If that doesn’t the bright yellow case and buds will surely do. During a recent trip, a couple of people came up to me asking about the bright yellow buds.

Apart from the splash of yellow, the earbuds themselves don’t look much different from before. You get the same high-quality buds that sit comfortably in your ear canals without causing too much fatigue.

ALSO READ: Nothing Ear review

The big change however is in the case. The design is quite different from what we’ve seen in the past, including the more expensive Nothing Ear. It’s more compact with rounded edges and roughly the size of other popular TWS cases, which makes it easy to slip in and out of pockets. You can still look into the case to see your buds resting between your listening sessions, and Nothing has retained the small touches – like the red and white dots to denote right and left buds.

Nothing Ear (a) review

For those wondering, the case is IPX2 certified, while the earbuds get IP54. What this means is that the buds are dustproof and are safe from water splashes (and sweat). The case, on the other hand, is only protected against drops or water and needs to be kept away from dust.

There are a couple of misses though, one of which is wireless charging. Instead, you get a USB Type-C port for charging, along with a cable in the box. While not a deal breaker, it is a matter of convenience that’s missing.

The other thing is more of a personal miss. I really liked the indent in the previous Nothing buds’ cases, which allowed me to use the case as a fidget spinner. Alas, it is missing in the new compact case.

Personal preference aside, the Nothing buds are designed and built well, and are extremely comfortable to wear. The case too is good to look at and is easy to carry around in tight pockets.

Nothing Ear (a) sound

For a pair of earbuds that cost less than Rs 10,000, the Nothing Ear (a) sound great. When immersed in your music, it is easy to forget that these buds don’t cost a premium. During my time with the buds, I’ve thrown everything at it – from the haunting vocals of Arijit Singh, the thumping bass of Gustavo Bravetti’s Babel to watching a fast-paced F1 race live. And the buds took everything in their stride and performed admirably.

Nothing Ear (a) review

Almost immediately after putting on the buds for the first time, I was surprised by the soundstage of these ‘budget’ offering. Even at the default equaliser setting, the buds handle complex tracks with ease, all the while sounding balanced.

For bass-heads who like the extra thump in their music tracks, there’s a ‘Bass Enhance’ feature that can be enabled and tweaked via the Nothing X smartphone app. There are five levels ranging from a mild thump to head-banging.

There’s also a low lag mode, which Nothing says will improve audio experience when gaming or watching fast-paced scenes. But in our experience, the setting didn’t really need to be enabled. The audio was top-notch whether watching F1 cars with V6 turbo hybrid engines race around the Imola circuit or feeling every punch when Invincible was pounding on super villains.

Nothing Ear (a) performance

The Nothing buds support Bluetooth 5.3, and we faced no issues with connectivity at any point. There’s also support for multipoint for simultaneously connecting and switching between two devices. This is particularly helpful when the buds are connected to your phone and office laptop. You can listen to music on your phone, and seamlessly switch to your laptop if you get a Teams call from your colleague.

Among the highlights of the Nothing Ear (a) is its ANC. During trips, the buds cancelled out the drone of the airplane engines like a pro. It is also helpful when you want to drown out the hubbub in an office and focus on your work. At other times when you want to be aware of your surroundings while listening to music, the transparency mode works just as advertised.

The buds also have ‘pinch’ controls, and I had no problems using them to play/pause music, skip tracks or answering calls. It’s worth pointing out another little touch from Nothing. When switching between ANC modes, there’s a distinctive sound, including the sound of someone exhaling, which signifies that transparency mode is activated.

The charge on the buds is good enough for about five hours of continuous usage, which is more than enough for any airplane ride. The battery life can easily be extended to beyond a day by using the charge from the case.

Nothing Ear (a) review

Unboxed take: Who should buy the Nothing Ear (a)?

It’s difficult to find anything to complain about with the Nothing Ear (a). The design remains unique, the build premium, and if yellow is too funky for your choice, then there are the subtle white and black variants.

For a pair of buds that cost Rs 7,999, they offer an audio experience that easily rivals premium offerings. The ANC does its job as well as it is expected to, and there are all the features you could expect from a TWS in this price range.

If you’re still looking for alternatives, you can choose the OnePlus Buds 3 and Realme Buds Air 5 Pro, both of which are more affordable while still being feature-packed. You can also go for the older Nothing Ear (2) which largely has the same features as the Ear (a) but adds wireless charging.

For this reason, we rate the Nothing Ear (a) ­­4.5/5. Stay tuned to Unboxed by Croma for more in-depth reviews.

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