The app also has some welcome customization features. Audiologist Mimi, for example, offers an extensive hearing test — let the app walk you through an eartip fit test, let it know your age, and listen to a series of beeps. Once the process is complete, analysis of the results allows the Ear (2) Control application to adjust the EQ settings to best suit your hearing profile. It adjusts the EQ in real time based on what you’re listening to. For better or worse, the app even shows you a graphical representation of your hearing range.
There is a similar test for adjusting the strength of active noise cancellation. Again, you’ll want to try the earbuds on – afterward, a personalized test uses seven audio filters to adjust the ANC for the most comfortable listening experience. Anyway, that’s the theory.
The Ear (2) uses Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity and is compatible with SBC, AAC and LHDC 5.0 codecs. LHDC 5.0 certifies Ear (2) High Res Audio Wireless that they can accept a 24-bit/192 kHz stream when connected to an appropriately specified player. No matter what standard digital audio files you’re streaming, though, it’s delivered by a pair of 11.6mm urethane/graphene full-range dynamic drivers, identical in design to the original Ear (1). Each is housed in a dual chamber housing designed for smooth airflow.
rhythmic, energetic sound
It seems fair to give the best impression of the ears (2), so they use the LHDC 5.0 Bluetooth codec to connect to Nothing Phone (1). The phone (1) is running the TIDAL music streaming application. As long as you keep price at the forefront, there’s a lot to like about the performance of these earbuds.
The MQA-driven TIDAL Masters file of Prince’s “U Got The Look” allows Nothing Ear (2) to express itself almost entirely. They’re fast-paced and vibrant, with plenty of low-frequency control and extension—and the kind of detail level that keeps the bass from thumping over time. The texture and tone are described very well, the rhythm is decent, and the momentum is beyond doubt.
The level of mid-range detail is equally high, allowing Prince and Sheena Easton’s voices to fully describe their technique and character. The soundstage created by the Ear (2) isn’t the biggest, but it’s well laid out and controlled, meaning singers have plenty of room to do their thing without distractions elsewhere. That’s not to say they seem in any way alienated from the rest of the performance, though—the ears (2) do a good job of presenting recordings with commonalities, rather than as a collection of discrete events.
The top of the frequency range is almost reckless. Paired with the Nothing Phone (1), the amount of bite and sparkle on the top-end summons approaches dangerous levels, and when paired with an apathetic source player, it’s easy to imagine the high-end getting out of control—especially when you’re listening at significant volume . Of course, no one wants dull or decayed treble response, but the Ear (2) may have gone a little too far in the opposite direction.
There’s a decent amount of headroom, though, which is always a good thing when recordings vary between very quiet and very loud. The subtler harmonic details of the recording don’t go astray either—so your solo instruments sound intimate and immediate.
Active noise cancellation is also well implemented. The word “reduce” applies rather than “canceled,” it’s true, but we’re still talking about a significant reduction in external sound. And its implementation doesn’t do anything to the sound of the earbuds. When ANC is on, there is no sign of back signal or interruption of the noise floor. This puts the Ear (2) ahead of many similarly priced competitors.
Taken as a whole, there’s a lot to like about Nothing Ear (2). Owning them feels like a bespoke experience thanks to the breadth of the control app, and they’re a pleasure to listen to thanks to the combination of confident sound quality (almost overconfident in the treble) and effective noise cancellation. They look very personal thanks to Nothing’s industrial design language.
You’ve got no shortage of options when it comes to true wireless earbuds at this price, but don’t worry: the Nothing Ear (2) is more than just a (+1).
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