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Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Jan 17, 2023 at 09:57 am
Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless Picture
6.7
Neutral Sound
6.2
Commute/Travel
8.0
Sports/Fitness
6.1
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
5.6
Wired Gaming
6.1
Phone Calls

The Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless are budget-friendly earbuds with a sleek, futuristic design. They're the second pair of headphones released by this manufacturer but differ as they have a one-size-fits-all bud, which means that their comfort is highly dependent on your ear shape. Although their unique look helps them stand out from other headphones on the market, they don't offer much in the way of new or revolutionary features.

Our Verdict

6.7 Neutral Sound

The Nothing Ear (stick) are fair for neutral sound. Out of the box, they have a bright sound profile. Since they're earbuds, they lack a thumpy, punchy bass, so mixes sound a bit hollow. While their mid-range is exceptionally flat and well-balanced, they have a very prominent treble response, so vocals and instruments are a bit harsh, while sibilants like hi-hats are piercing. Their passive soundstage is a bit more immersive than in-ear headphones, but audio still seems like it's coming from inside your head rather than from speakers in the room around you.

Pros
  • Graphic EQ and presets available in companion app.
  • Very comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
6.2 Commute/Travel

The Nothing Ear (stick) are passable for commute and travel. They have a comfortable fit and under seven hours of continuous playback time to last through long trips, but since they have an earbud design, they won't block out most kinds of background noise, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines. They also leak audio at high volumes, which can bother others around you.

Pros
  • Very comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Barely block out background noise.
8.0 Sports/Fitness

The Nothing Ear (stick) are great for sports and fitness. Their one-size-fits-all design means that their fit is highly dependent on the shape of your ear. However, if you can get a good fit, they won't move around too much during a run. They can fall out if you're doing a lot more rigorous activity like push-ups. On the upside, they're well-built, very comfortable, and are certified IP54 for resistance against water splashes.

Pros
  • Rated IP54.
  • Very comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
6.1 Office

The Nothing Ear (stick) are mediocre for office use. Since they have an earbud fit, they won't block out chatty co-workers, and they leak audio at high volumes, which can bother others around you. They don't support multi-device pairing either, so you can't connect them to more than one device at a time. That said, they have a comfortable fit that's suited for long listening sessions and last just under seven hours continuously. If you need to top them up, their carrying case holds an additional three charges.

Pros
  • Very comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Barely block out background noise.
  • No multi-device pairing.
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The Nothing Ear (stick) are Bluetooth earbuds. Even though they have a low latency mode to help reduce lip syncing issues, their latency is likely to be too high, even when using this mode, for competitive gaming.

5.6 Wired Gaming

The Nothing Ear (stick) are wireless earbuds, and you can't use them wired.

6.1 Phone Calls

The Nothing Ear (stick) are mediocre for phone calls. They have an integrated mic, and while it can capture your voice so that you sound intelligible, speech still sounds a bit robotic. The mic can separate your voice from moderate background noise well, which is handy if you're taking a call from a noisy office. Unfortunately, their earbud design means that they don't block out background noise effectively, making it harder to hear your call well.

Pros
  • Very comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Barely block out background noise.
  • Passable recording quality.
  • 6.7 Neutral Sound
  • 6.2 Commute/Travel
  • 8.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.1 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.6 Wired Gaming
  • 6.1 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jan 17, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Jan 12, 2023: Early access published.

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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Nothing Ear (stick) come in one color variant: 'White', and you can see our model's label here. If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Nothing Ear Stick are the lower-end sibling of the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. Unlike the more premium model (which are in-ear headphones), these buds have an earbud design and lack ANC, so they don't block out much background noise. In addition, similar to other earbuds like the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless, their one-size-fits-all design causes them to lack low-bass, which may be a deal breaker for fans of EDM and hip-hop. They have a very flat and neutral mid-range, which is good for vocal-centric content, though the extra treble makes them sound a little too bright.

Check out our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the best wireless earbuds for Android, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $100.

Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless

The Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless are better headphones than the Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless. The Ear (1) are in-ears that have a more stable fit and come with a couple of differently-sized ear tips, so you can find one that works for you. They also have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and thanks to their ANC, they can block out a significant amount of ambient noise around you. However, if you prefer earbuds, you'll want to check out the Ear (stick), which are more comfortable. Their companion app also offers more robust sound customization features.

Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless

Depending on your preferences, you may prefer either the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless or the Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless. The Apple headphones offer a lot more features if you have an iOS device, like an H1 chip for seamless pairing with other devices in your Apple ecosystem and Spatial Audio. Their battery life is better too. However, if you're an Android or Nothing user, you'll enjoy the Nothing, which have a more comfortable fit, better overall mic performance, and more customization features via their companion app.

Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless

The Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless are better budget-friendly headphones than the Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless. The Anker are in-ears with ANC, meaning they can block out a significant amount of background noise around you. They also have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, have a superior battery performance, and support multi-device pairing as well as LDAC codec for Hi-Res audio. However, the Nothing are earbuds with a one-size-fits-all design. They're more comfortable and better built.

Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

Depending on your preferences, you may prefer either the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless or the Nothing Ear (stick) Truly Wireless. The Apple headphones offer and H1 chip for seamless pairing with other Apple devices, which can be handy if you're already immersed in this ecosystem. They also support Qi Wireless charging. However, if you're an Android or Nothing user, you'll want to check out the Nothing as they're more comfortable, have a better overall mic performance, and their app offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound.

Test Results

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

The Nothing Ear (stick) have a somewhat similar look to the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless. They have a transparent stem that allows you to see the circuit boards, and the earbud itself is a sleek white. They only come in one color variation: 'White'.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
N/A

These headphones are very comfortable. They have a one-size-fits-all design, so their comfort is dependent on the shape of your ears. They sit in your concha, so they don't apply much pressure to your ear. They're also lightweight, making it easy to wear them for long periods without discomfort.

6.8
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Great
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

These buds have alright controls. They're simple to use, and all of the controls rely on pinching the ear stems. You can remap controls and add features like voice assistant in the app. While there are chimes to let you know the number of pinches you've performed, there are no voice prompts or audio cues for adjusting the volume. The buds also need to be placed in the case to turn them off or to manually enter pairing mode.

On either bud:

  • Single pinch: Plays and pauses audio. Also accepts and ends calls.
  • Double pinch: Skips to the next track.
  • Triple pinch: Skips to the previous track. Also rejects calls.
  • Double pinch and hold: You can assign this command to voice assistant or volume control in the companion app.

On the left bud:

  • Pinch and hold: Lowers the volume.

On the right bud:

  • Punch and hold: Raises the volume.

9.6
Design
Portability
L 0.8" (2.0 cm)
W 1.2" (3.0 cm)
H 0.8" (2.0 cm)
Volume 0.93 in³ (15.30 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

These buds are very portable, thanks to their sleek and lightweight design. They're small enough to tuck away into most pockets and bags without a problem.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 1.2" (3.0 cm)
W 3.4" (8.7 cm)
H 1.2" (3.0 cm)
Volume 4.69 in³ (76.90 cm³)

The carrying case is a clear tube with a white interior. It rotates for you to access the buds and is quite similar in design to that of the Monster Clarity 101 AirLinks Truly Wireless. You can see a video of how it works here. Overall, the case looks nice and feels good, but the plastic seems a bit cheap. It also sticks out when you place it in your pocket, and it isn't as compact as that of the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) Truly Wireless.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

These buds have a great build quality. They have a similarly plastic feel as the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless but feel a bit more solid. They're also certified IP54 for resistance against dust and water splashes, which is higher than the IPX4 rating of their sibling headphones.

7.0
Design
Stability

These buds have decent stability, although their one-size-fits-all design means that they can be prone to falling out of your ear if you don't get a good fit. They'll stay in place during a jog in the park but can fall out if you're doing more rigorous activities like push-ups.

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

  • Nothing Ear (stick) earbuds
  • Charging case
  • USB-C to USB-C charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-7.37 dB
Treble Amount
1.46 dB

These buds have an overly bright sound profile. Although they have a 'Bass Lock' feature, which is an auto EQ that's advertised to detect bass loss while you're using the earbuds, they still struggle to deliver the same amount of bass as in-ear headphones like the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless due to their earbud design. It's disappointing if you enjoy genres like EDM and rock, which benefit from thump, rumble, and boom. That said, this sound profile is still well suited for vocal-centric content like folk or podcasts, as the mid-range can reproduce vocals and instruments clearly and accurately. Their companion app also offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound.

Depending on how you're wearing the earbuds, you may experience more or less bass, as their one-size-fits-all design can cause bass variation. If you have a smaller ear concha, the buds will sit at a downward angle and will increase the bass slightly. If you have a larger concha and you have the ideal fit, you'll experience bass that's more representative of our sound profile graph. You can see a comparison of different passes here.

8.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.38 dB

The Nothing Ear (stick)'s frequency response consistency is great. They have slight deviations in bass and treble delivery due to their one-size-fits-all design, but once you get a proper fit, you'll experience more consistent audio delivery.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
5.9
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.97 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
155.45 Hz
Low-Bass
-10.56 dB
Mid-Bass
-5.88 dB
High-Bass
-2.2 dB

The bass accuracy is sub-par. Even though the manufacturer advertises them to have an auto EQ to help improve their bass delivery, they lack bass across the range due to their earbud design. In songs with a thumpy bassline, like New Person, Same Old Mistakes by Tame Impala, the rumble and boom is noticeably light-handed, making the track sound somewhat hollow. There's still some punch in the mix, but it isn't as prominent as the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless.

8.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.74 dB
Low-Mid
-0.02 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.7 dB
High-Mid
1.4 dB

The mid accuracy is excellent. In contrast to the bass range, the mids are pretty flat and neutral, resulting in clear, present, and accurate vocals and instruments. In songs like No Plan by David Bowie, the vocals sound rich and crisp throughout the mix.

7.2
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.15 dB
Low-Treble
3.61 dB
Mid-Treble
4.29 dB
High-Treble
-5.55 dB

These buds have satisfactory treble accuracy. The range is overemphasized, which makes voices and instruments sound harsh. Sibilants like cymbals are also piercing.

7.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.74 dB
Dips
0.82 dB

The peaks and dips performance is good. The low-mid is uneven, resulting in less thump and rumble at low frequencies but more boom at higher frequencies. A wide peak across the high-bass to low-mid adds a bit more boom to mixes, while a dip in the mid-mid affects the right driver more prominently, nudging vocals and instruments to the back of the mix. A peak between the high-mid to low-treble makes vocals and instruments sound a little harsh, while the peak in the mid-treble turns sibilants like cymbals piercing.

8.0
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.38
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.96
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.97
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.63

The Nothing Ear (stick)'s imaging performance is great. Although this manufacturer has only produced two headphones, they tend to have good ergonomics and quality control. Our unit's L/R drivers have a tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. They're also well-matched, although there's a small peak in the phase response between the high-bass to mid-mid, which sounds like minor warping. However, it's hard to hear with real-life content, and you're unlikely to encounter this with your own product usage, especially as imaging can vary between units.

2.9
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.4

The passive soundstage performance is bad, but that's normal from earbuds. Thanks to their fit, they can create a more open sound, but your audio still doesn't seem immersive seems like it's coming from inside your head rather than from speakers placed in the room around you.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.4
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.229
WHD @ 100
0.239

The Nothing Ear (stick)'s weighted harmonic distortion performance is decent. There's some distortion present at high volumes throughout the mid-bass to mid-mid, but it's hard to hear with real-life content. That said, most frequencies otherwise fall within good limits, resulting in somewhat clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.0.1.74
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
Balanced
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

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

Isolation
1.4
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-3.94 dB
Noise Cancelling No
Bass
0.22 dB
Mid
0.46 dB
Treble
-12.26 dB

The noise isolation performance is bad, but that's normal from earbuds. They don't fully form a seal around your ear, and as a result, they allow you to hear your surroundings fairly well. Unfortunately, if you're looking to block out background noise, they won't cut down any of the low rumbles of bus engines or ambient chatter. They do slightly better when it comes to high-pitched noise like the hum of a fan, but it won't be enough if you work in a noisy office.

7.0
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
39.5 dB

The leakage performance is satisfactory. Leakage is concentrated mostly in the mid-to-treble range and sounds very thin. That said, it's loud, and others around you can definitely hear it, even at moderate listening volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
6.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
106.79 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
5.81 dB
HFE
6,933.79 Hz
Weighted THD
25.761
Gain
-34.41 dB

The integrated mic's recording quality is fair. The response is a bit uneven, but your voice still sounds full-bodied, clear, and bright, although robotic.

7.5
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
15.09 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic's noise handling performance is good. The mic can separate speech from ambient noise well. If you're taking a call from a noisy environment like a busy street, your voice is still understandable.

Active Features
6.3
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
6.7 hrs
Additional Charges
3.0
Total Battery Life
26.8 hrs
Charge Time
1.2 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The battery performance is passable. The manufacturer advertises them to have seven hours of continuous playback time, and we measured just under that. Battery life varies depending on use, and the manufacturer advertises that the battery time plummets to three hours if you're taking a phone call. Luckily, the carrying case holds three extra charges, which is handy in a pinch. You can also use one bud while the other charges, but unfortunately, there are no power-saving features in their companion app to help conserve battery life.

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

Unlike the Nothing Ear (1) Truly Wireless, these buds are compatible with Nothing X, which is a good companion app for Android and iOS users. You can see a video of how it works here. If you have a Nothing Phone (1), these settings are built into this device, meaning you won't need this app.

This app allows you to see the battery life of each of the buds independently, adjust the EQ or select one of the EQ presets, remap controls, and update the firmware. You can also enable or disable features like in-ear detection and 'Low Lag Mode'. You can access 'Find My Earbuds', which plays a chime that can help you locate them.

Connectivity
7.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.2
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
306.10 ft (93.30 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
328 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
95 ms
Android Latency
183 ms

These buds have satisfactory Bluetooth connectivity. Although they don't support multi-device pairing, they have Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair for quick pairing with your Android devices. Unfortunately, they have high latency on PCs and Android devices, and your audio and visuals can fall out of sync while streaming video. That said, their latency on iOS devices is lower. While they have a 'Low Lag Mode' to help lower latency, it doesn't significantly change PC or iOS latency. It helps lower latency on Android devices to more acceptable levels. Keep in mind that some apps seem to compensate for latency.

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 headphones come with a USB-C to USB-C cable for charging up the case. However, you can't use it for audio.

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

These headphones are compatible with PCs via Bluetooth. You'll have full audio and mic compatibility. However, it's the only way to connect these buds to your PC.

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 Nothing Ear stick comes with a tubular charging case. It has a USB-C port so that you can charge it. However, it doesn't support wireless charging.

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