- The Nothing Ear 1 are noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds with Bluetooth 5.2.
- The USB-C case supports wireless charging and efficiently fast charges the stemmed earphones.
- The Ear 1 buds are now available to buy in the UK and US. They are also on pre-order in India.
Update: August 17, 2021 (7 AM ET): We have updated this article to include sale details of the Nothing Ear 1 earbuds. Read on for all the latest.
Original article, July 27, 2021: After plenty of hype and anticipation, the Nothing Ear 1 noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds are available today. Nothing, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new company, stresses the importance of transparency and respects that form follows function with the Ear 1 design.
The company keeps things simple with its debut product. Listeners get active noise-cancelling (ANC), a case with USB-C and wireless charging compatibility, and automatic ear detection. The earbuds also feature an IPX4 water-resistant rating, which means they can be used for exercise too.
Some might say the Ear 1 resemble a pair of transparent Apple AirPods Pro earphones, but there’s one marked difference: price. The Nothing Ear 1 cost just $99, less than half of Apple’s flagship earbuds.
How good is the noise-cancelling on the Nothing Ear 1?
While the noise-cancelling performance isn’t ground-breaking, the inclusion of ANC on this budget is rather impressive. You can toggle between two ANC modes (light and maximum) to fit the loudness of your environment.
The earbuds use a three-microphone array to measure noise both inside the ear canal and externally (i.e., hybrid ANC). Nothing posits -40dB of attenuation, but temper your expectations; our sister site SoundGuys recorded a maximum net attenuation of just over -30dB, which is nothing to turn your nose up at. Other ANC true wireless earbuds that cost less than $100 do very little to combat environmental noise.
Aside from active noise-cancelling, the Ear 1 also support transparency mode — appropriate given the look of the earbuds and case. With transparency enabled, you can hear your surroundings. This is an important safety feature for outdoor athletes or anyone who walks around busy streets. The earphones also support full mono listening, which is important for the hearing impaired or if you simply don’t like how transparency mode sounds.
Do the Ear 1 sound good?
Each Ear 1 earphone houses an 11.6mm dynamic driver, which is quite large for a set of true wireless earphones. Remember, though, larger doesn’t inherently mean better. Teenage Engineering, an electronics company that prioritizes design, both designed the look of the Ear 1 and tuned its drivers. The Ear 1 follow a standard consumer-friendly frequency response, with amplified bass and treble notes.
Should you download the mobile app?
Nothing’s earbuds come with a free mobile app with its earbuds that works uniformly on iOS and Android. With the Ear (1) app, you can customize the earbud touch controls, use a “find my earbuds” feature, cycle through three listening modes (ANC on, ANC off, transparency), receive firmware updates, and more. Nothing also provides four equalization (EQ) presets to choose from. It purposefully omits a custom EQ module for the sake of simplicity; the Ear 1 are meant to be approachable earphones for listeners with varying degrees of technical know-how.
How long is the Nothing Ear 1 battery life?
With noise-cancelling enabled, you get four hours and 30 minutes of playtime on a single charge, totaling around 24 hours with the case’s reserve battery. If you opt to disable ANC, you get nearly six hours of playback on a single charge, totaling 34 hours of listening with the case’s battery included.
The case quickly charges the earbuds: 10 minutes in the case yields 60 minutes of playtime with noise cancellation. When you charge the case for 10 minutes, you get eight hours of battery life with ANC (eight hours with ANC off). The case charges via USB-C or wireless charging mat.
What Bluetooth codecs are available?
Listeners get the latest Bluetooth 5.2 firmware, which opens the door for LE Audio support and the LC3 codec. Immediately, listeners can stream over the SBC or AAC Bluetooth codecs. This is perfect for iPhone owners, but AAC’s performance on Android is highly variable depending on the hardware.
Are the Ear 1 earbuds good for phone calls?
Where can you buy the Nothing Ear 1?
The Nothing Ear 1 earphones are now available on open sale in the UK and US from the Nothing website and retail for $99/£99 in the respective countries. Nothing plans to expand availability to other retail outlets later on.
The earbuds are also available to pre-order in India through Flipkart.
Transparent noise-cancelling earbuds that promise
What’s Nothing’s next plan?
When asked, Nothing didn’t disclose specific products coming down the pike. However, a Nothing representative was able to share that the company intends to expand beyond audio with the hopes of building its own ecosystem of Nothing products (watch out, Apple). We’ll be sure to keep you posted about Nothing as the company matures.