nothing ears (stick) a timely reminder that less is more & less may be sufficient

nothing ears (stick) a timely reminder that less is more & less may be sufficient

nothing ears (stick) a timely reminder that less is more & less may be sufficientnothing ears (stick) a timely reminder that less is more & less may be sufficient

Less is more. Less may be sufficient. These phrases may not always be true in real life. Or at least the assumptions won’t allow it. The tech world works a little differently, and sometimes (just sometimes), there’s an urge to shy away from complexity. Something that just works. An ode to the past, perhaps? Simple Time. True wireless earbuds, as great as they are, have become incredibly bulky in the short time since they came into existence. Surprising. Something had to be given.

Nothing, the London-based tech startup that effectively did a great job of trying to refresh the otherwise quite mundane smartphone space, is at it again with wireless earbuds. To get the desired result of uniqueness, we will not keep it to them. The Nothing Ear (Stick), as they are called, has now become his second wireless earbud, joining the ear (1). Incidentally, also more expensive at 8,499 (the predecessor set you back around 7,299).

A design that’s a strange ode to the past

Time has really flown by quickly. Is the eccentric cylindrical case worth the effort? Simplification is how the ear (stick) is trying to build the user experience. Broadly speaking, it’s a return to the design of earbuds that don’t use silicone ear tips and instead rely solely on the design of the buds to stay in place in your ears. Overall, this type of design is fast disappearing from the earphone space.

In a way reminiscent of the original Apple AirPods. In the time since, less ingenious earbud makers have copied that design, but never really got around to developing the concept. nothing. Admittedly, the design of the Nothing Ears (Stick) might look a bit quirky, but we get it, it grows on you.

The family resemblance is evident, right down to the transparent stem area of ​​each earbud, giving you a glimpse of the components inside. Not a sight you see everyday.

Case plays a big role. The cylindrical form factor, which you have to gently slide (twist, more like) to open, is like nothing else in the earbuds space. And this is not something we say lightly. Eventually, some Indian tech companies (Crossbeats, for example) even tried charging cases that double as wireless speakers.

Look closely, and the in-ear portion of each bud feels more rounded and a bit chunkier than the AirPods. It should, theoretically, be a slightly better fit for certain ear types. No one size fits all – nothing can get right with earphones, as comfort is admirably subjective. In our experience, the original AirPods never posed any fit issues (nor did they fall out of the ear). The Nothing Year (Stick), is actually one step better.

 

 

After that you will get used to how you will wear them. They more or less sit down, rather than being pushed in. Logically, the comfort level should improve when wearing the earbuds for longer periods. Unlike buds with silicone tips, there’s no feeling that something is tightly fitted in the ear canal – although we’ve all undoubtedly become used to it over the years, going away from it reminds us of what we’ve missed all along whereas.

The flip side – a lot of ambient noise will get filtered out. But for the added comfort in terms of fit, it may be worth the trade-off if it works better for your ears.

For once, a sparse features list is a good thing

True wireless earbuds have generally lost a sense of simplicity, in the direction of embracing more features in a blinker-on approach. For example active noise cancellation. Or head tracking, as we noted recently. There is so much more. The Nothing Year (Stick) draws our attention to that which is essentially the opposite. Very sparsely populated specs sheet.

No noise cancellation (you can let the ears breathe; the design won’t allow it, even if nothing is tried). No complicated learning curve anywhere. As they often say, a manual transmission car is meant for the pure driving experience. The lack of a thick layer of processing has a similar effect on in-ear audio. It feels pure(er) in a way.

The big limitation here is codec support, which is SBC and AAC. This is a bit frustrating for users of AptX Ready Nothing phones (1), for example. Perhaps something could have been done to add support for more codecs.

The controls on each of the earbuds aren’t touch specific, but are more pressure sensors. To control music and calls you will need to press and hold for a while. These are configurable with the Nothing X app (this is a rebranding of the Nothing Ear app; available for Android phones and iPhones).

Talking about the app, there is a handy Equalizer (EQ) option to tweak the sound. That, out of the box, is neutral, with no obvious forced boost to low frequencies or vocals. With EQ available, you have that option. Also, the app has improved tremendously in terms of ease.

 

 

The Nothing Ear (Stick) isn’t compromising on the baseline at all, which is audio hardware. Each ear houses 12.6mm audio drivers, which are large in comparison to any. Earbuds that cost more than twice the in-ear (stick) have similarly sized audio drivers.

the sound is mostly hitting the right notes

To get an idea of ​​how Sound works when aided by its ecosystem and when it isn’t, we compared the Nothing Ear (Stick) to the Nothing Phone (1), the Google Pixel 7 Pro and the Apple iPhone tested with. So we were able to quickly dispel any notion that these earbuds might sound better with one source device over another. they do not. Equality is good.

Secondly, the tuning is neutral (at least out of the box). The soundstage is wide and robust, with high frequencies coming through very neatly without sounding dissonant. It’s on the low end of the spectrum, where you might feel a little less power than you’d expect (we can move to this after the Google Pixel Buds Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro, both of which pack a bass) Pair of depth .

This can be quickly rectified using the companion app, which should be just the ticket for your playlists leaning more towards remix, trance or electronic genres. Interestingly, dialing back the bass ever so slightly (we did this in increments) didn’t overshadow the vocals. But there’s a limit to how long the Nothing Ear (Stick) can hold fort with dynamic range on some of the more complex tracks.

There’s a sense from Nothing Ears (Stick) that, despite their potent pitch, they don’t feel rough, neither in terms of use nor in terms of the music they deliver. Don’t try to get the best of these with low quality tracks (either downloads or streaming). The ear(stick), as might be expected, isn’t the kind of grunt to make rough(er) recordings sound good.

so is battery life

The Nothing Ears (Stick) deliver a few minutes over 7 hours on a single charge with just the battery in each earbud. Factor in top-ups, of which the charging case can manage three full cycles, and you end up with extremely respectable battery life from these earbuds.

The design of the case is one reason (cost is of course the other) there’s no wireless charging option. But it’s USB-C, and it’s fast enough on its own to last you a whole day without fully charging.

Going Back to Basics?

The Nothing Ears (Stick) make one thing very clear – no one here is attempting to redesign the wheels of wireless earbuds. In fact, on the contrary, the route taken is that of minimalism and going back to the roots. Good audio, without the complexities and learning curve of more features.

Whether the Nothing Ears (Stick) work for you or not, once you factor in the price, will depend on how important active noise cancellation is to you. And how much does the uniqueness of the design of the charging case and earbuds matter to you. There can be times, for example the restrained bass or the very lack of noise isolation, to feel limited. There seems to be a premium here for simplicity. Maybe it’s worth it. That’s definitely your call.

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