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Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

Nothing short of brilliant?

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know
Marc Chacksfield
18 April 2024

Nothing fans have a choice to make right now: whether to go for the brand-new Nothing Ear earphones or the brand-new Nothing Ear (a) buds. Both of which have been revealed this week and both offer improvements to Nothing's current audio crop.

The Ear (a) are the (joint) sixth release from Nothing, following on from: the Phone (1), Phone (2) and Phone (2a) and the Ear (1) and Ear (2) headphones.

We have been using these ones for a little while now and have been enjoying their bright yellow colorway and some of the most impressive noise cancelling on a device at this price point. And that's the big differentiator here. When Nothing brings its 'a' game, it means that it is offering a more affordable model, with the Nothing Ear (a) buds retailing at: £99 / $99 / €99, compared to the new Nothing Ear's price of: £129 / $149 / €149.

Want to know more about the Nothing Ear (a) buds? Of course you do. Here are 5 things we learned using the new sweet little Nothings...

1. Yellow is far from mellow

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

The Nothing Ear (a) range is the Nothing’s first audio product in a color, outside of black and white. The choice of yellow is a clever one. Not only does it make the earphones standout - both in the ear and in the range - but it's still fitting to Nothing's simple 'transparency' ethos, given it's a no-nonsense primary color.

Does this mean we will see other Nothing buds in red and blue? We will see, but for now the yellow color is vibrant and fun, and exclusive to the 'a' range.

2. Pairing is easy

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

If you already have the Nothing app, then flip the earphones case, press the button on the front and it will start flashing. The buds should showed up on Pixel 8 Pro in seconds and were even the right color in the graphic that appeared.

While you can pair just through Bluetooth, it works much better if you do it through the Nothing X app. Here you can also control a number of things on the buds - including Noise Control, Bass Enhance, the Equalizer and you can also re-jig the shaft controls to your liking.

3. Nothing is bringing its (a) game

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

There is a significant cost reduction with the Nothing Ear (a), when compared to the new Nothing Ear range - some 25% difference in price. The good news is that it certainly doesn't sound like a quarter of the functionality of the full-fat earphones has been dropped from the (a) range. In fact, it's hard to see where the cost cuts have actually happened.

In fact, battery life is better on the (a) range - 42.5 hrs without ANC and with case charging, compared to 40.5 hrs without ANC and case charging.

The loudness is the same at 45db and both make use of Nothing's Smart ANC algorithm.

The biggest changes we could find were with the case. The case is not wireless charging, compared to other Ear buds and it isn't waterproof either. The buds have the same IP54 water resistance, though.

4. Performance is punchy

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

Taking a leaf from Coachella we played Grimes' first album at the wrong tempo... only joking! We did listen to a double header of How It Feels and Sonder from Barry Can't Swim through the Nothing Ear (a) earbuds and were really impressed with the sizeable bass notes and a nice warm sound in the upper register.

There was a fantastic pastoral glow to Four Tet's Three through the earbuds, too.

While the thunder of the Victoria Line wasn't quite as drowned out as I would have liked, the noise cancelling did do its job to a point. I did end up just keeping it on full whack, though, such are the joys of commuting through London. If you are in a less noisy area, then the variable option should work well.

While I was more than happy with the standard tuning of the buds, the equalizer option is a nice touch and where you can ramp up the bass, treble and voice of a track. Balance was, well, balanced enough for my ears.

Comparing these to other Nothing buds I have and there is a definite improvement with the overall sound - it's punchier and perfect for the rock stadium tones of Gaslight Anthem's History Books album.

Couple this with the option of High Res Audio listening and these are marked highly when it comes to the sound quality.

5. Battery is brilliant but missing something

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

As previously mentioned, the battery life on the Ear (a) is better than that of its more expensive counterpart. In total, we clocked around 6 hours in-ear, before having to put them back in the case to charge - and around 9 without the ANC. At this price point that is damn good.

While we would have loved wireless charging, plugging the case in certainly wasn't a problem - in fact, you only need 10 minutes' charge to deliver around 10 hours of non noise cancelling listening, which is perfect for the absent minded of you out there.

Nothing Ear (a): Final Verdict

Nothing Ear (a) review: 5 things to know

Nothing has done it again with the Nothing Ear (a) range, creating a desirable pair of earphones that not only look great but sound really impressive for their price. Dipping into the 'under £100' mark is key for the younger demographic it is going for and the new yellow colorway makes them really stand out.

While you don't get wireless charging, you do get fast wired charging and all the cool factors you have come to expect from the brand.

You can pre-order the Nothing Ear (a) earphones now which shipping expected 22 April.