The Nothing Ear 2 is the brand’s first-ever second generation product, and it brings a number of improvements over its predecessor. These include improved sound quality, better, more accurate earbud controls, as well as the same sleek transparent design and price tag as the Ear 1, albeit after a price hike last year.
That is not to say the Ear 2 is without flaws, of course. While I appreciate its unique aesthetics and improved sound quality, it still has some notable drawbacks here and there, such as its battery life and active noise cancellation (ANC) performance.
But for only RM599, you could do a lot worse.
What It Is
While the Nothing Ear 2 looks strikingly familiar to its predecessor, the wireless earbuds do feature a number of improvements under the hood, naturally. These include a custom 11.6mm dynamic driver for better sound quality, new pinch controls, and longer battery life.
The diaphragm of the Ear 2’s custom dynamic driver, for one, is made out of a combination of polyurethane (PU) and graphene, which is said to deliver “purer, more powerful” bass. It is also capable of producing highs that sound clearer and brighter – I find the latter especially true, and I’ll come back to this further down the review.
Other specifications of the Ear 2 include active noise cancellation (ANC), up to six hours of use on a single charge – can be extended up to 36 hours with the charging case – pinch controls on the earbuds instead of the more iffy touch controls found on its predecessor, as well as an IP54 rating; IP55 for the charging case.
Given that it retails at only RM599, the Ear 2 definitely offers respectable feature set for the money.
The Good Stuff
One of the most eye-catching features of the Nothing Ear 2 – and possibly the best reasons for some folks to get these earbuds – is its transparent design. From the see-through case to the transparent shell of the earbuds themselves, Nothing’s signature design element really gives the Ear 2 a unique aesthetic, and I absolutely love it.
Fit and comfort of these earbuds are good too; at least, that’s the case for my ears. I can wear them for long periods of time comfortably, and the default medium ear tips give me a good level of isolation. There’s even a convenient ear tip fit test through the Nothing X companion app to make sure I’m getting a good fit.
It’s important to get a good fit to get the best possible audio quality, and in this regard, the Ear 2 sounds good…even if I’m not a big fan of its bright tuning. I prefer a warmer sound signature, so the pronounced treble of these earbuds is not to my liking, though I can definitely see – or rather, hear – the appeal of such a tuning to some folks.
But I do love the bass response of the Ear 2. While it doesn’t have particularly strong sub-bass – so it lacks a bit of low-end rumble – the mid-bass is certainly there. Basically, it has punchy, relatively well-controlled bass (unlike the Ear 1) that’s sure to appeal to listeners who want good bass output.
Earbud controls of the Ear 2 are well-implemented too. Compared to the Ear 1’s touch-based controls, the Ear 2’s pinch controls are much more refined and “deliberate” in the sense that accidental inputs are reduced. I like that the controls are customisable too, so I can easily adjust the volume or activate ANC with different pinching actions.
And that is a good segue to the next section..
The Bad Stuff
Unfortunately, the ANC of the Nothing Ear 2 leaves much to be desired. While it can eliminate low-end rumbles like bus engine quite well, it can’t do the same for higher frequencies, especially human speech. Granted, for a pair of RM599 wireless earbuds, this level of ANC is within expectations.
Battery life of the Ear 2 could be better too. With ANC activated, I can only get about four hours of listening time on a single charge, which is in line with Nothing’s quoted battery life. With ANC disabled, the battery life can be stretched to around six hours. That is…decent, but certainly not great.
Last but not least are the proprietary ear tips of the Ear 2, limiting its compatibility with aftermarket ear tips. It’s good that three different ear tip sizes are provided with the earbuds, but there’s always a chance that some folks won’t get the best fit with any of them.
Is It Worth It?
If you’re looking to get a pair of wireless earbuds with a bright sound signature that also offers good, strong bass in a unique, transparent design, then the Nothing Ear 2 is certainly worth considering. Plus, with a RM599 retail price, it’s not awfully expensive either.
It would’ve been great if the Ear 2 has longer battery life with better ANC performance, but with its price tag in mind, these two drawbacks are not dealbreakers by any means, in my opinion. Even more so if you’re a fan of the Ear 2’s transparent design, which I certainly am.