Nothing’s new Ear (2) earbuds offer better sound and ANC for $149

These earbuds are seriously no joke.

Nothing Ear (2) earbuds sitting on a wooden block.

Nothing is back. The company, founded by ex-OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has announced its newest earbuds, the Nothing Ear (2). They’re the successors to the Ear (1) earbuds which debuted back in 2021, and while they don’t look much different, they offer a good amount of improvements, all for $149.

Nothing Ear (2) out of the transparent case.

The biggest hardware improvement are the new drivers, which Nothing engineered themselves. The new 11.6mm drivers offer a dual-chamber design that allow higher frequencies to sound brighter, while low frequencies have deeper bass and improved clarity. I’ve been using the Ear (2)s for about a week and a half, and I can report that the new drivers add a wide, well-detailed soundstage.

The earbuds also offer support for LHDC 5.0, a new audio codec with lower latency, an adjustable bitrate, and–of course–lossless audio support. So far, there are only a handful of smartphones that support it from companies like Oppo, Huawei, and Xiaomi. The Phone (1) from Nothing is also compatible with it, so if you happen to own that particular device, you’ll be able to use the codec with the Ear (2)s.

If you want to personalize the sound quality of the earbuds, Nothing is introducing a new Personalized Sound feature in the Nothing X app. It uses a series of beeps at different frequencies to decide how the sound should be tuned according to your hearing ability. There’s also a new Personalized ANC feature that works in a similar way to adjust the noise cancellation to your needs.

The Ear (2)s are also getting dual connectivity, allowing you to pair them with your smartphone and a second Bluetooth device of your choice. The battery life has increased a bit, with 36 hours of combined listening time with the case and ANC off, while the buds by themselves can last up to 6.3 hours. Quick charging over USB-C is also included, with 10 minutes on a charger evening out to eight hours of listening. Wireless charging is also still here.

The microphones have been improved with an updated version of Nothing’s Clear Voice Technology. The three microphones on each bud have been repositioned so they pick up your voice better, and the AI noise reduction algorithm is more sensitive to different sounds.

Nothing Ear (2) high resolution press render in their case.

Nothing didn’t change the design of the Ear (2) very much. In fact, they’re almost identical to the Ear (1)s, save for the repositioning of the mics. The earbuds and case are still primarily transparent, and yes, that makes them far cooler than most other earbuds on the market. The case itself is more resistant to scratches and fingerprints, and you still get a little divot in the lid to fidget with it.

Oddly enough, these earbuds aren’t getting spatial audio… ever. I asked Nothing if it would eventually arrive, and they told me no current or future firmware update would include the feature. That’s a shame since a lot of earbuds nowadays are capitalizing on the feature’s rising popularity.

Still, for $149, the Ear (2) earbuds offer a pretty compelling package. I reviewed them for CNN Underscored, so if you want to know more about them, go check it out.

The Nothing Ear (2) go on sale March 28th through Nothing’s website and a few of its retail partners.