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I've tried dozens of true wireless buds, but Nothing is as comfortable as these
If you’re the kind of person who can pick up any pair of modern true wireless earbuds and find them comfortable to wear for several hours, consider yourself lucky. Also, this article isn’t for you.
But if you’re one of the outlier people for whom most true wireless buds are painful to wear for longer than half an hour because they cause lots of pressure “somewhere” in your ear, then hear me out: you might want to try the Nothing Ear 1.
Our verdict: The Nothing Ear 1 review
This is not a sponsored post (our sponsored content is clearly marked as such), although Nothing did send me these buds for free about seven months ago to check them out. Over these months, I’ve been using the Ear 1 because of one very simple reason: I can actually wear these buds. So why am I talking about them now, after all this time? Well, because Nothing is in the news again, and every time I read an article about the hype-generating company, I remember that my favorite pair of earbuds came from this most unlikely of sources.
For seven months, I've been using the Ear 1 because of one very simple reason: I can actually wear these buds.
Let’s rewind a bit. My true wireless buds experience spans from the first Bragi Dash (I was a Kickstarter backer) to a smorgasbord of brands and units I’ve tested and reviewed over the last few years. Sennheiser, Bose, Anker/SoundCore, JBL, Poly, Motorola, and lesser-known brands such as Tribit and Monoprice — I’ve tried them all. Overall, I think I have tested more than thirty different models. The two line-ups I don’t have any extensive experience with are Samsung’s Galaxy Buds and Apple’s AirPods, though I did try the AirPods Pro briefly. I found it comfortable, but not as much as Nothing’s buds.
We recommend: The best noise-cancelling true wireless buds
So when I say that nothing comes close to Nothing, I mean that literally. These buds are magic. From the first time I inserted them in my ear, I knew their design was special. They slipped in without pushing my ear’s tragus forward. Every single other pair has failed at that simple test, to varying degrees.
The difference, as far as I can tell, is the curvature and size of the main unit right next to the rubber tip. If the unit is voluminous and jots up straight, like the Sennheiser CX 400 in the photo above, it will push my tragus so much that I start feeling pain in ten minutes until it’s no longer tolerable at the half-hour mark. The more angled and compact the main unit is, the more comfortable the buds are for me. I can manage 60 to 90 minutes tops on the best of them.
But that’s where the Nothing Ear 1 gets it right: The main unit is more compact and has a nice curved shape that fits perfectly under the tragus without exerting too much pressure on it in any direction.
I can wear these buds for as long as their battery will last without a single complaint. Others become painful after 30 to 60 minutes.
For that reason, I can wear these buds for as long as their battery will last without a single complaint. I’ve had them on during three-hour work meetings, on a few three- to five-hour train rides, and while working for several hours in noisy environments. Nothing basically built the perfect buds for me and for anyone with a slightly prominent or sensible tragus.
Is the Nothing Ear 1 perfect? Oh, far from it. The battery life is relatively poor, which is annoying because for once, I can actually wear a pair of buds long enough to kill the battery. The noise cancellation is serviceable and the sound quality average, but I don’t mind those as long as I can reduce the noise in a train or coffee shop and hear my favorite tunes while relaxing or working. However, my biggest gripe is the lack of Bluetooth Multipoint to connect them to two devices at the same time. As far as I can tell, they don’t even remember multiple connected devices — you have to unpair and repair each time you want to use them on another device. For that reason, I have two sets of these: one for my Pixel 6 Pro and one for my iMac.
The best earbuds spec sheet is meaningless when comfort is at stake.
All of these annoyances do not matter as long as I can — once again — actually use the buds. I can’t emphasize this enough. I have had more expensive, better-sounding, fuller-featured buds in my ears, and I would absolutely love to use any of them in my daily life. But I can’t. The best spec sheet is meaningless when comfort is at stake.
And comfort is so subjective. I’m perfectly aware of the irony of this article. I could write a thousand other words about how comfortable the Ear 1 are, but nothing guarantees they’ll fit your ears as much as they do mine. All I have are a few anecdotal confirmations from my friends who have tried them as well as tweets from other people who agree with me: Review Geek‘s Justin Duino, Sumukh Rao, and Curious Goose. (Much scientific, very proof.)
All I’m saying, I guess, is if you’ve had this pressure and/or pain problem with other buds and you’ve given up on finding a comfortable pair, you might want to try the Nothing Ear 1. You can curse me or thank me later. And if you’ve never had comfort or fit issues, there’s a whole world of options for you, and many of them will be better than these.
Have you had comfort issues with true wireless buds?
Continue reading: True wireless earbuds are everywhere, but I’m not convinced yet