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Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed May 03, 2023 at 10:11 am
Latest change: Writing modified May 18, 2023 at 02:20 pm
Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless Picture
7.5
Neutral Sound
7.7
Commute/Travel
8.2
Sports/Fitness
7.3
Office
5.9
Wireless Gaming
5.8
Wired Gaming
7.2
Phone Calls

The Nothing Ear (2) are the successor to the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. These updated earbuds have a very similar build to their predecessor, with the most noticeable visual change being the case, which looks more square. They also come with new features focused on delivering an individualized listening experience, like a personalized adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) and a 3-band graphic EQ in the companion app. They also have an improved IP54 rating for protection against dust and water splashes.

Our Verdict

7.5 Neutral Sound

The Nothing Ear (2) are good for neutral sound. They're comfortable enough for long listening sessions, and their 'Balanced' EQ preset is relatively flat, ensuring bass that feels thumpy, punchy, and full without overpowering the rest of the track. An underemphasized mid-mid makes vocals and lead instruments sound pushed to the back of the mix. Fortunately, they sound detailed and clear, thanks to a well-balanced treble range. Sibilants, like cymbals, also sound bright and crisp. If you like to change the sound profile, the companion app's 3-band graphic EQ and presets let you fine-tune the mix.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • 3-band graphic EQ and presets let you customize their sound.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
7.7 Commute/Travel

The Nothing Ear (2) are good for commuting and travel. Their comfortable and lightweight build makes them well-suited for long trips. Their ANC also does a decent job of isolating you from background noise, like bus engines and passenger chatter. While their battery lasts long enough on a single charge to get you through a bus ride to and from work, they can't get you through a longer international flight without needing recharging.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • IP54 rating for protection against dust and water splashes.
  • Low leakage at high volumes.
Cons
  • Mediocre overall battery performance.
  • Mic makes your voice sound thin.
8.2 Sports/Fitness

The Nothing Ear (2) are great for sports and fitness. Their comfort, stable in-ear fit and IP54 rating for protection against water and dust exposure make these buds well-suited for light runs outdoors and sweaty workouts at the gym. Their ANC also does a decent job isolating you from heavy traffic or chatter from nearby gymgoers. However, their battery can't last through an all-day excursion without needing a recharge, and they can still fall out with intense head shakes.

Pros
  • IP54 rating for protection against dust and water splashes.
  • Low leakage at high volumes.
Cons
  • Mic makes your voice sound thin.
7.3 Office

The Nothing Ear (2) are decent for use in an office. They're comfortable enough for long shifts, but their relatively short battery life can't last through a whole 9-5 without needing a recharge. Fortunately, a ten-minute charge gives you two hours of playback with ANC off and 1.5 hours with it on. Their ANC does a decent job of cutting out ambient chatter but struggles to isolate you from whiny PC fans and AC units. Fortunately, they have multi-device pairing, meaning you can switch between your phone and laptop with ease.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
  • Low leakage at high volumes.
Cons
  • Mediocre overall battery performance.
  • Mic makes your voice sound thin.
5.9 Wireless Gaming

The Nothing Ear (2) are Bluetooth-only earbuds. While they have a 'Low Latency' feature, audio lag still falls out of good values across most platforms, which may be prohibitive for some users.

5.8 Wired Gaming

The Nothing Ear (2) are Bluetooth-only earbuds, and you can't use them for wired gaming.

7.2 Phone Calls

The Nothing Ear (2) are decent for phone calls. Your voice sounds present and understandable but thin and distorted. Fortunately, they do a good job of separating your voice from both moderate and loud background noise. Their ANC also does a decent job of isolating you from ambient noise to focus on your call.

Pros
  • Good noise handling performance.
Cons
  • Mic makes your voice sound thin.
  • 7.5 Neutral Sound
  • 7.7 Commute/Travel
  • 8.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.3 Office
  • 5.9 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.8 Wired Gaming
  • 7.2 Phone Calls
  1. Updated May 18, 2023: We incorrectly reported that the previous generation's carrying case didn't support Qi Wireless charging and have updated the text in Case.
  2. Updated May 03, 2023: Review published.
  3. Updated Apr 18, 2023: Early access published.

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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

These earbuds come in one variant: 'Black/White', and you can see our model's label here. If you come across another variant, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Nothing Ear (2) are the next generation of the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. They come with some upgraded features, like Adaptive ANC as well as ANC presets and a 3-band graphic EQ to help you fine-tune their sound to your liking. They're comfortable, well-built, and have an IP54 rating for resistance against dust and water splashes. Unfortunately, their battery life won't get you through a typical work shift or long trip without needing a recharge, unlike the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, which have a longer continuous battery life with ANC on. Overall, the Nothing Ear (2)'s ANC doesn't block out as much background noise as their predecessor. In comparison, the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless can isolate you from a substantial amount more ambient noise, from bus engines to ambient chatter and noisy AC units.

Check out our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.

OnePlus Buds Pro 2 Truly Wireless

The Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless are better earbuds than the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 Truly Wireless. They have a slight advantage in build quality, controls, and mic performance. However, the OnePlus can isolate you from more high-frequency noise, like a whiny PC fan, and has a longer battery life. Each device has better integration within their manufacturer's respective ecosystem, so you should consider the Nothing buds if you already own Nothing's phone, and likewise with the OnePlus buds.

Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless

The Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless are very similar to their predecessor, the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. Both have similar designs, build quality, stability, and comfort. While the Ear (2) have slightly worse-performing ANC than the Ear (1), their mic has improved significantly, making your voice sound more natural and better isolated from background noise during a call. While the Ear (2) now feature multi-device pairing, you can't use the buds to control the volume by default, which isn't ideal for quick inputs while on the go. We used different methods for activating 'on-ear' detection with the Ear (1) and Ear (2), which affected our frequency response consistency measurements. You can find more info in each product's test text. Although the graphs differ, both buds deliver consistent bass and treble as they both have the same in-ear fit.

Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless

The Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless are better earbuds than the Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless. The Ear (2) are a more premium offering from Nothing and have more features than the Ear (stick), like ANC and multi-device pairing. Their build quality is also better, and their silicone ear tips are more comfortable over long durations than the Ear (stick)'s tipless earbud design. Sound-wise, the Ear (2) have a deeper bass extension, giving hip-hop and EDM more thump and punch by default. However, the Ear (stick) have a longer battery life, and their minimal feature set results in a lower price that won't put as big a hole in your wallet as the Ear (2).

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

The  Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless are better in-ear headphones than the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. While both buds have similar comfort, battery life, and build quality, the Nothing come with more features for a lower price than the Apple, like multi-device pairing, ANC presets, and a graphic EQ with presets. However, the Apple have a better-functioning ANC that isolates you from more ambient noise, making them ideal for commutes and working in loud offices. They also have better compatibility with Apple's product ecosystem thanks to their H2 chip which allows for seamless pairing with other Apple devices.

Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless

The Sony Linkbuds S Truly Wireless are better than the Nothing Ear (2) Truly Wireless. The Sony have better-performing ANC and lower audio leakage at high volumes. They also last longer on a single charge than the Nothing, meaning you can use them for longer trips and commutes without needing a recharge. Latency is substantially better on mobile devices with the Sony than the Nothing, making them a better choice for mobile gaming and watching videos without audio lag. However, the Nothing have a better mic that can better separate your voice from louder background noise. Their case also supports wireless charging.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Transducer Dynamic

The design is nearly identical to the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. The body is made of transparent plastic that lets you see all the inner components. The part of the buds that goes in and on your ear is covered in white silicone. They only come in one variant: 'Black/White'.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

These are comfortable earbuds. They don't fit too deep or put pressure on your ear. Their lightweight build won't cause fatigue over time either, and the three sizes of included ear tips will help you get the best fit.

7.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

These in-ears have a good control scheme. The sensor is touch-based and found on the bottom of the stem. The buds produce a chime each time you squeeze the stem, as well as when you reach the lowest/max volume settings. One drawback is that the buds don't have volume controls by default, but you can change this in the companion app.

On either stem:

  • Single pinch: Plays and pauses audio. Also answers and ends calls.
  • Double pinch: Declines calls and plays the next track.
  • Triple pinch: Plays the previous track.
  • Pinch and hold: Cycles between ANC on and transparency mode. You can also add the 'off' control via the companion app.
  • Double pinch and hold: No action by default, but you can set this to activate the voice assistant via the companion app.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.4" (3.5 cm)
W 1.2" (3.0 cm)
H 0.8" (2.1 cm)
Volume 1.34 inยณ (22.00 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

These earbuds are superbly portable. They don't take up much space in your pocket or bag.

8.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.4" (6.0 cm)
W 2.4" (6.0 cm)
H 0.8" (2.0 cm)
Volume 4.09 inยณ (67.00 cmยณ)

The carrying case is great. Like that of its predecessor, the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless, the case supports Qi Wireless charging. However, while it otherwise still has mostly the same look, this model's case has a more premium feel and an upgraded plastic construction. It's certified IP55 for resistance against dust as well as water splashes, and there's a slight difference in the case's dimensions compared to their predecessor, which you can see here and here.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

These earbuds have great build quality. The plastic quality on the buds and case feel like an upgrade from their previous iteration. The case is rated IP55, and the buds are rated IP54 for protection against dust and water splashes. Their ANC mic has also changed placement, as you can see here.

7.5
Design
Stability

These earbuds have good stability. They stay in place during both moderate and intense exercise, making them a good option for the gym. If you're shaking your head a lot during a run or while dancing in your apartment, they'll likely fall out.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Nothing Ear (2) earbuds
  • Charging case
  • USB-C to USB-C charging cable
  • 3x ear tips
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.43 dB
Treble Amount
0.01 dB

The Nothing Ear (2) have a fairly neutral sound profile. We tested the 'Balanced' EQ preset, which is well-suited for most kinds of audio content. You can see how each EQ preset performs here.

Due to a fitting issue when testing these earbuds, the graph shows less bass than is audible. In reality, there's plenty of thump, punch, and boom to suit genres like hip-hop and EDM. However, the mid-mid suffers from an underemphasis, making vocals and instruments sound pushed to the back of the mix. Fortunately, sibilants, like cymbals, sound bright and clear. We noticed a difference in the frequency response with ANC turned on/off, which you can see here. Most noticeable is a difference in the dip between the high-bass and mid-mid. With ANC off, it's a deeper underemphasis, meaning vocals and instruments sound pushed further back and thin. With ANC on, the dip's much flatter, so audio in this range is a bit fuller and better balanced. If you'd like to adjust the mix, their companion app has a 3-band graphic EQ and presets to help personalize your listening experience.

9.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.14 dB

The frequency response consistency is outstanding. Our method of activating the "wear" sensor on headphones has improved from the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless, now using a silicone cover instead of a copper wire to trick the buds into thinking they're sensing real skin. This has resulted in a much more accurate reading this time around, and, despite their different scores, it also more accurately represents the frequency response consistency of their predecessor. If you get the right fit with the included ear tips, you'll experience consistent bass and treble delivery.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
9.1
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.31 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
-2.62 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.36 dB
High-Bass
-0.51 dB

The bass accuracy is fantastic. Due to a fitting issue on our test rig, the graph shows less low bass than there is. Rest assured that the range is well-balanced and ensures tracks have plenty of thump, punch, and boom without overwhelming the rest of the mix.

8.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.59 dB
Low-Mid
-1.48 dB
Mid-Mid
-3.38 dB
High-Mid
-0.01 dB

The mid accuracy is great. In tracks like Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust, the mellow synths and vocals in the chorus sound clear and full. However, an underemphasis in the mid-mid pushes them to the back of the mix.

8.9
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.61 dB
Low-Treble
-0.42 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.2 dB
High-Treble
-4.17 dB

The treble accuracy is excellent. Instruments and vocals, like the piano and guitar in After the Cosmic Rain by Chick Corea, sound detailed and present. Sibilants, like cymbals, sound a little dull due to a slight underemphasis in the mid-treble.

8.4
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1 dB
Dips
0.99 dB

The peaks and dips performance is great. The slight dip in the low-bass is due to a fitting issue during testing and isn't audible with real-life content. What is audible, however, is a wide dip in the mid-mid that pushes vocals and instruments further to the back of the mix. A tall peak in the mid-treble also makes sibilants, like cymbals, piercing.

7.6
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.28
Weighted Phase Mismatch
5.23
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.56
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.94

These earbuds have good imaging performance. While this manufacturer only has a couple of products on the market, they tend to have good ergonomics and quality control. Group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. However, our unit's L/R drivers have some noticeable mismatches in their phase response. The mid-mid range has a minor, yet audible, imbalance in the phase response that makes voices sound somewhat unnatural. While the peak in the low-treble is hard to spot with real-life content, the imbalance in the mid-treble makes sound feel like it's shifted to the left side. Keep in mind that imaging can vary between units.

1.2
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
2.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.1

Being in-ear headphones, they have a bad passive soundstage. Sound is delivered directly into your ear canal and doesn't interact with the outer ear, which is necessary to create an immersive soundstage. The result is audio that feels like it's coming from inside your head rather than all around you.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
8.1
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.222
WHD @ 100
0.086

The weighted harmonic distortion is great. All frequencies fall within good levels, ensuring clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.0.1.85
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
Balanced
ANC
High
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test these earbuds. Our results are only valid when using them in this configuration.

Isolation
7.2
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-17.77 dB
Noise Cancelling Yes
Bass
-13.72 dB
Mid
-18.79 dB
Treble
-21.35 dB

Noise isolation performance is decent. You can set the ANC to 'High/Mid/Low' or 'Adaptive'. We took measurements for 'High' as well as 'Adaptive', and found they perform about the same. We also tried lengthening our sweep to see if this made the 'Adaptive' mode work better but didn't find any significant changes.

While the 'High' setting is successful at isolating you from some background noise, these earbuds don't perform as well as the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. They can't block out as much bass-range noise, like a rumbly bus engine. They do a better job of blocking out noise in the mid-range, like nearby conversations. Their treble performance is just okay, so you're likely to still hear residual noise from a whiny PC fan.

8.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
32.23 dB

The leakage performance is great. If you work in a moderately noisy office, coworkers are likely to hear escaping audio when played at high volumes. However, since it's mostly concentrated in the treble range, it sounds thin and isn't as noticeable.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
6.6
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
93.77 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
6.01 dB
HFE
7,561.35 Hz
Weighted THD
4.806
Gain
-15.75 dB

The mic's recording quality is reasonable. The integrated microphone makes your voice sound present and understandable but very thin and distorted.

7.7
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
27.6 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
8.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic has a good noise handling performance. Your voice is well-separated from the background in moderately noisy environments like a busy office, but vocal quality is slightly affected by loud noises, like a car horn or passing subway. Thankfully, your voice is never completely drowned out by background noise.

Active Features
6.2
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
5.6 hrs
Additional Charges
4.0
Total Battery Life
28 hrs
Charge Time
1 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The battery performs passably. While the manufacturer advertises them to last 6.3 hours continuously with ANC on, we only measured 5.6 hours, which won't get you through a long workday or flight without needing a top-up. Fortunately, they have four extra charges in the case, maxing the total battery life out to nearly 30 hours. They also have a fast charge feature that gives you two hours of power without ANC after ten minutes, which is about 1.5 hours with ANC on. Unfortunately, they don't have any power-saving features like auto-off.

7.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Nothing X
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
Presets
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Support
No

Their companion app is good. It's not the same app as the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless, so you'll need to download the new app if you're upgrading. You can adjust the mix using a 3-band graphic EQ and presets, customize the control scheme, adjust the ANC settings, and turn on/off some of the buds' unique features like 'Low Latency' mode, in-ear detection, and a custom ANC setting. They also have a new feature that personalizes the sound profile based on the shape of your ear. Lastly, they have a 'Find my Earbuds' feature to help you locate them when lost. You can see the app in action here. Additionally, if you own a phone made by Nothing, you don't need to download an app, as all these features are built into the phone's OS.

Connectivity
8.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.3
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
334.65 ft (102.00 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
278 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
111 ms
Android Latency
196 ms

These earbuds have a great Bluetooth performance. While they support multi-device pairing, audio can't play simultaneously between devices. You need to turn the audio off on your first device before the other can play. They have high latency on PCs and mobile devices on their default setting but, fortunately, have a 'Low Latency' mode advertised to reduce audio lag. While this setting drastically lowers latency on iOS devices, PCs and Android devices still suffer from too much audio lag to game or watch videos comfortably.

These buds also feature a different audio codec called LHDC. When used with compatible devices, it can stream high-resolution audio with lower latency over Bluetooth. However, we can't test its latency performance.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

These earbuds come with a USB-C to USB-C charging cable to charge their carrying case. You can't use them wired.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

These earbuds only have full mic and audio compatibility with PCs via Bluetooth.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The earbuds' case comes with four extra full charges. The case itself can be charged either wirelessly or via USB-C cable.