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Nothing ear (1) review: Great sound by design

Nothing ear (1) review: The wireless earbuds have a stunning design, but how is the overall audio performance on the first product from Carl Pei's new startup? Read our review to know more

Nothing ear (1) review: The best budget wireless earbuds in the market? Let's find out in our review. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

By the time the pandemic is over, earphones would have become as ubiquitous for most of us as watches are now. Earphones, especially wireless ones, have become an important part of our connected lives, linking us to our virtual offices, teams, and contacts from the safety of our homes.

And with truly wireless earphones, it is important that they fade away into the background soon after they are worn. And that is exactly the experience Nothing hopes to offer with the ear (1), the first product from the startup.

Nothing ear (1) review

A design that is unique and still not a stumbling block in itself is something Nothing will strive for with its products. And this design language, where transparency seems to be a key element, is visible with the ear(1) too.

Let me start with the charging case, which has a transparent cover with metal hinges. You can see the earphones inside and an LED light that shows the earphones or the case is charging. There is a USB-C charging port, but you will not need to use it if there is a wireless charger at home. I kept this case on the Apple MagSafe charger and it started juicing up with ease thanks to the two small metal spots at the base.

The charging case has a transparent cover with metal hinges. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

The ear(1) earphones are transparent too for the most part and you can see the two microphones as well as some of the circuitry inside. The parts closer to the ears are in a white casing. White and red dots indicate left and right. Overall, this is the most stunning truly wireless design I have seen since the AirPods Pro came along a few years back.

The ear (1) app on your phone lets you control what the touch fields on the earphones should be used for and to switch from active noise cancelling to transparency mode and normal. The same can be done on the earphones too. The Bluetooth pairing, meanwhile, is initiated via the case.

Nothing ear (1) has a balanced audio profile that packs a bit of punch if the composition desires. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

I have always held that there is a correlation between audio quality and the price you pay for an audio product — the more you pay, the better the audio gets. Once in a while a product comes along, that makes you feel that you are getting more than what you paid for. Having used a plethora of devices in the Rs 6000 range over the past couple of years, I think the Nothing ear (1) is clearly the best I have heard.

Nothing ear (1) has a balanced audio profile that packs a bit of punch if the composition desires and not by design. It offers a rich, head-filling experience most of the time. So much so, that in a couple of days of getting the ear (1) it was conducting my treadmill playlist, a position I reserve for only the earphones I really love.

The design ensured that even as you are running to nowhere on the treadmill, then Nothing ear (1) stays where it should. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

The soulful vocal renditions of Sreevalsan J Menon in Tambura Hymns showcased how the ear (1) did the basics perfectly well. When I changed gears to a bass-heavy Heartbeat by Sandor as I shifted to a faster rhythm on the treadmill, the ear (1) played along. As I hit crescendo with a Mallet Quartet: III. Fast by Steve Reich, I was sweating and ear (1) was enjoying the ride. This is a clear all-rounder that is versatile and good across the spectrum of audio experiences you will have on a regular day.

Also, the design ensured that even as you are running to nowhere on the treadmill, then Nothing ear (1) stays where it should, as it would when you are stretching yourself during a boring zoom call. This is despite the fact that the earphones are among the lightest around at 4 gm a piece.

The earphones have active noise cancellation, again one of the best I have encountered for something this affordable. As you move from transparent to ANC you do hear the ambient noise been sucked in and your ears being filled with negative noise. I kept the ear (1) on for long hours without any music, just to enjoy the silence and clarity to think.

Nothing ear (1) come with support for wireless charging. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

The ear (1) offers good call quality too and there were no complaints from the other side. The only place where I did struggle a bit was with the connectivity which drops for a few seconds with certain kinds of interferences, very common in a high-rise like the one I stay in. The battery life can last you a full workday on a full charge, and it can recharge quickly once in the case.

At Rs 5,999, the Nothing ear (1) is highly recommended for those who love their music as well as their silence. This is for those who need a dependable earphone that stays true whether it is work or play. There is a new star in town.

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