Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition Hands-on: Stealth Style for $ 99

Are the true Nothing Ear 1 wireless headphones, in this icy transparent white finish, a little too austere for you? If so, you will probably like the new version that was just announced a lot. This is the black edition of the Nothing Ear 1 in-ear headphones, and while they retain the trademark transparent casing, the white color has been replaced with black for a stealthy aesthetic.

What’s new?

The Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition has a sleek blend of dark undertones, with the body of the headphones in matte black with shiny black necklaces, and the clear plastic on the stems adding shine to the black components inside. The transparent case cover is now smoky black rather than completely transparent, the molded interior section is black, and the various metal parts that were polished on the first version are also in black to complete the theme.

Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition headphones.
Andy Boxall / TechToSee

There’s another, arguably more important, thematic reason for the Black Edition’s introduction, as the company has also announced that the Ear 1 is carbon neutral. Nothing has worked with multiple third parties to rate the headphones and will add the 1.78kg carbon footprint data to the latest packaging of the Ear 1.

Open Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition case.
Andy Boxall / TechToSee

However, the audio and charging technology of the Ear 1 is still the same. This means that the sound is transmitted by a pair of 11.6mm drivers inside the IP54 headphones, with active noise cancellation (ANC), three microphones that cancel wind noise during calls, quick pairing for Android phones, wireless charging for the case, and up to 34 hours of total usage time. Just under six hours of use is expected on a single charge.

Listen to the Black Edition

The Nothing Ear 1 in-ear headphones came out in August and we gave them a rave review at the time. The release of the new Black Edition is a great time to revisit the Ear 1s to see if they still impress. I bought a few other in-ear headphones to compare with the Ear 1 Black Edition: Apple AirPods Pro, Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and Adidas ZNE 01 ANC. I chose the one from Nogizaka46 Boku Wa Boku o Suki ni Naru, a song with a strong, rising voice that really benefits from a natural and neutral sound profile. This is a “lossless” version purchased from the Apple Music Store.

Earphone in the ear Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition.
Andy Boxall / TechToSee

The Nothing Ear 1s have a bright sound and a wide soundstage but are slightly lacking in bass when using the default sound profile. And while the vocals sound great here, they don’t have the power that I’d ideally like to hear. Samsung’s $ 199 Galaxy Buds Pro get about the correct baseline and are just as bright as the Ear 1, but are generally more controlled, balancing vocals with the rest of the track more successfully.

Apple’s $ 249 AirPods Pro are hotter, but also struggle to really bring their voice to the fore. However, they remain a very pleasant listening. The $ 189 Adidas ZNE 01 ANC is heavy on bass and while vocals are the center of the soundstage, they get lost among the unnecessarily boosted bassline. Bang & Olufsen’s $ 400 Beoplay EQ is by far the best here, as you’d expect given the price difference, with a controlled thump, sparkling vocals, and a wonderfully wide soundstage.

After listening to the Beoplay EQ, I switched back to the Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition, and the brightness was the most noticeable difference, along with less controlled handling of the high vocals. When I listen to lyrics or make calls with the Ear 1s, they perform as well as everyone else on the list. These are clear competitors of Apple and Samsung headphones, much better than Adidas headphones, and while they can’t stand the wonderful sound of Beoplay EQs, it’s extremely difficult to recommend paying an extra $ 300 just to get them. , unless you’re really into the best sound you can get, price-no-object.

Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition with real competitive wireless headphones.
Andy Boxall / TechToSee

This is really where the Nothing Ear 1 wins, combined with the excellent comfort – they’re so light you can wear them for hours without fatigue – great ANC, wireless charging and decent battery life, the price of $ 99 not only makes them very tempting, but a smart buy in the crowded world of true wireless headphones.

How to buy the Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition

The new Nothing Ear 1 Black Edition will be available from December 13 to Nothing has its own online store and through its retail partners, for $ 99 or £ 99. Additionally, if you’re in London, you can try to pick up a pair of the first 100 models to be released, each individually engraved, from a special location at Seven Dials, Covent Garden from December 4th. Because there are only 100 available, you will probably have to be quick to get them.

Nothing also adds a new way to pay for the Ear 1 Black Edition: cryptocurrency. In the US, UK, Japan, Canada, and various European countries including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin, and Dogecoin will all be accepted through Nothing’s online store.

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