Nothing Ear (1), the Wireless Earbuds to Hear Nothing!

- 8 minutes read - 1570 words

Spoiler: I regret buying them. Its trash. It had one job, and failed at it. No good points can make it ok as long as no music reach my ears.

Nothing ear (1)
Nothing ear (1)

Why Nothing ear (1)

First, let me explain how I have chosen them and why. I’m not a wireless guy usually. I still use wired headphones and earbuds, and will probably continue for a long time. With covid, and mask, it was cumbersome to put on and off earbuds because of the mask. It’s not an existential issue, I give you that, but it was enough for me to look for wireless earbuds anyway.

My key buying points

  • Small, not creating a big visual ball in ears (Unlike some sony’s propositions)
  • In-ear design as I always preferred this for noise isolation and quality (to lower the volume)
  • Does not require to sel organs to buy it
  • Ultimately, comfortable enough but this is really hard to consider without testing them myself beforehand.

After some searches I ended up with few candidates with two main eligible categories

  • Good but not so expensive earbuds (around 100€)
  • Really cheap (between 9€ and 40€ shipping included )

I’m able to afford ~100€ for this and I think that the really cheap ones might be garbage just because of the price.

More expensive felt too much for the requirements and usage I expect to have.

The final choice was the Nothing ear (1) because of the form factor, size, and quality reviews. Other candidates were also good options, and all of them was meeting requirements but ultimately the price convinced me, as the Nothing ear (1) were between 10€ and 30€ cheaper for the same features as others.

First experience: promising

Upon reception, I tested them for few days, mostly indoors at home. Quality was good enough (it was not my main concern anyway). Range was almost covering my 40m² flat, with the phone in center. Noise cancellation was good, especially covering hoover’s noise. At this point they were the perfect cleaning accessory to listen to music or podcast when doing chores.

Freddie Mercury vacuuming in  [Queen - I want to break free](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Mc-NYPHaQ)
Freddie Mercury vacuuming in Queen - I want to break free

Real usage: they are useless

At some point, I had to get outside, to go to work or just wandering around. This was the real test because it is outside I intended to use them.

To put it simply

A cat tries to jump but fail miserably
A cat tries to jump but fail miserably

As soon as I was outside, music started to constantly cut, degrade, cut and degrade again.

By “cut” I mean, no sound for 2-3 seconds. By degrading I mean, “mono phone quality with real bad compression artefacts” sound for 10-20s.

For you to fully understand what I just said, I made a quick simulation of what it is to experience those earbuds. You have to listen until the end to really understand. Micro drop are also a thing in real life.

The only ways I found to avoid those issues was keeping my phone into my hand, in front of me. This is unacceptable for me as the place of my smartphone is in my pocket, not around my neck. The distance between my pocket and my ears is roughly 1m ! I even tested with my phone in my interior jacket pocket, same behavior.

To put it simply, I cannot use those earbuds at all outside, moreover if I need my hand for something else.

I tested all the different latency options. No change. I tested on a one plus 5, one plus 7t Pro, and finally on my Sony Xperia one mark IV, same behaviour. I consider all those phones either top of the line or excellent and don’t consider them the source of the issues.

Unfinished product

As useless as it is, it’s not the end. I don’t know the conditions in which the product was designed and built, but it was probably terrible. There is many little things that shows that nobody involved in the making of this thing cared at all about its usage, or even used it.

It does not memorise parameter like noise cancellation level. I have to re-enable it each time I connect the ear buds. The nothing ear (1) App still display the option as enabled, but I have to manually disable it and re-enable it to make it work again. To make this worst, half the time, only one activate the noise cancellation. I don’t know if you tried this before, but it is really unconformable to have only one ear with such option activated. With or without music. To fix that I always have to put them in the box again and redo the whole process hoping it works this time.

From IT-Crowd, a guy on the phone doing helpdesk, asking Have you tried turning it off and on again ?
From IT-Crowd, a guy on the phone doing helpdesk, asking Have you tried turning it off and on again ?

Some gestures and touch actions cannot be disabled at all. Not a problem if they were not getting in the way. I personally disable the “Pause when removing earbud” feature, mostly because it never worked for me. Consequently, when I take them out I always accidentally activate touch actions. Annoying when removing one to speak to someone, I always end up with a pause or worse, a skip on my music app.

Transparent mode is a joke to. Really, don’t bother at this point. It is intended to hear what’s going on outside mixed with the music. In reality, music quality become bad and I don’t hear much of the outside things or people speaking (Even if it’s better than other modes).

I simply never successfully used the touch and hold feature to change the noise cancellation mode.
Maybe I do not know how to use my fingers, but it never worked when needed. I could only make it work when I did not want to, all the time I really needed them it ended up skipping or pausing the music. (one of the un-disablable touch actions). I finally simply disabled this feature at all.
That would not be an issue if buds simply kept memory of the noise cancellation options they had last time I used them.

The sound quality is good, when on the highest level. As it goes to garbage mode pretty all the time, It’s better to make a call and listen to the crappy waiting music than listen to those ear buds.

Often, one of the buds does not connect properly. It just does not connect at all. Putting them in the case again and retrying the connection always solved the issue. Not a big deal, just annoying because frequent.

From IT-Crowd, a guy on the phone doing helpdesk, asking Have you tried turning it off and on again ?
From IT-Crowd, a guy on the phone doing helpdesk, asking Have you tried turning it off and on again ?

All those details clearly show this product was finished in soo bad conditions that I do not wish to know how badly people were treated.

The good things

All the reviews online already point to the good things, nothing new here, but for fairness, I wish to list some of them.

When you have the chance to have the highest quality codec working, sound quality is good. I don’t expect more for a nomad listening device anyway. I personally add an EQ to lower the basses, but it’s my preference.

The case is small enough for me and do its job. The red and white color do not help me as I’m always putting the wrong one first (You know, like you have to test the 3 side of a USB plug). You may have a better brain than me tho.

The autonomy is plenty enough for me. Only had them reach the end once in all the time I had them. It was a long cleaning day!

The low latency mode still has a noticeable lag, but it’s enough when you watch a movie or a tv-show for me.

And …, that’s all. Nothing good bring the nothing ear (1) to the level of any simply functioning earbuds, unfortunately.

Conclusion: I regret buying them

Droopy lying on  his dog's house under the rain
Droopy lying on his dog’s house under the rain

It’s my first time with wireless earbuds. It’s bad. The product quality is bad, and the only feature required to be expected to works by this product is not … working at all. By itself, this is a big disappointment, and I really feel I just lost 100€

All the details of badly implemented stuff, and broken feature are soo many clues over the conditions this product was made. The nothing ear (1) is unfinished, release in an alpha state, even 6-8 month after I bought them (firmware and app updated the latest available in October 2022).

To conclude, don’t bother buying the nothing ear (1). I will personally boycott Nothing for all their futur product, because there is too much red-flags here to gamble again on another of their product.

I will get back to my wired earbuds I use for more than 20 years now, that cost 10€ and have an ok sound that just works.

Nothing ear (1), the earbuds to hear nothing!

Thanks reading me,
Bisoux 😗

ps: This is my experience and thoughts, Your mileage may vary and if you find yourself enjoying your Nothing ear (1), please continue, nothing wrong with that. Moreover, there is still a chance my earbuds were defective, but I’m not convinced of that.

Nothing
Nothing
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