Nothing Ear (1): form over function?
The clever marketing around the Nothing ear (1) ensured that the in-ear ANC earphones were everywhere and it was hard to miss all the hype around Nothing’s first product. The transparent design of the case and buds made the Nothing ear (1) stand out in a crowded market. But Nothing still had to deliver. And deliver it has. The effort that Nothing has put into the design is commendable. The transparent stems look great and must have taken a whole lot of effort to engineer. The new black colourway is my pick of the two colourways on offer. I have been reviewing the Nothing ear (1) and early concerns about the case picking up too many scratches have turned out to be unfounded. The form too is well thought out with the stems being flat instead of rounded as on most other TWS earphones. This makes it easier to use the touch inputs on the stems. The buds are very light as well and it is easy to find a comfortable fit. The case is built well and the hinge especially seems solid. I don’t know if it’s something that a lot of other people experience as well, but a poorly built hinge does give me a certain anxiety when reviewing a product. I had hoped for the case to be a bit more pocketable though. The large 11.6mm drivers do make a mark and the overall sound profile is very balanced. To add to that, you can choose between Balanced, More Treble, More Bass and Voice EQ in the companion app. It isn’t a lot, but it is still something that can come in handy. Regardless, even out of the box, the Nothing ear (1) sounds phenomenal with a large sound stage and a profile that is tuned by Teenage Engineering that doesn’t drown out the mids and the lows like so many other TWS earphones. Noise cancellation is pretty effective as well and stands up well in comparison to earphones that are even double the price. There are NC, Transparency and Off modes to choose from. In my opinion, the Nothing ear (1) is not too far off the Apple AirPods Pro when it comes to noise cancellation. And the sound profile might even be something that a lot of people would prefer over Apple’s. The cherry on the pie is the impressive battery life – I consistently got around 24 hours with ANC turned on. Now that the hype has settled, the Nothing ear (1) has clearly demonstrated that it is now easily the most well-rounded pair of earphones in the price range. The great sound, good ANC, standout design and impressive battery life make it easy to recommend.