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Nothing Ear (a) review: Big sound on a budget

Published Apr 18th, 2024 6:45AM EDT
Nothing Ear (a) earbuds outside of the charging case
Christian de Looper for BGR

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Nothing Ear (a)

Rating: 4 Stars

The Nothing Ear (a) earbuds may lack some features compared to higher-end options, but they still represent excellent value.


  • Great audio quality
  • Fun design
  • Good ANC
  • Decent battery life


  • No wireless charging
  • No advanced EQ

Nothing is becoming somewhat of a budget earbuds darling. The company recently launched the new Nothing Ear headphones, which replace the Nothing Ear (2) buds as an excellent option in the $150 price range. But the Nothing Ear buds are also very similar to the Nothing Ear (2)s. Alongside those new headphones, however, Nothing is also launching an all-new cheaper alternative, called the Nothing Ear (a).

The Nothing Ear (a) earbuds come in at around $100, and while they don’t have all the features that the more expensive earbuds have, they get pretty close. How do the headphones compete in an increasingly crowded market of budget wireless earbuds? I’ve been using them for a while now to find out.

Nothing Ear (a) design

Nothing new Nothing Ear earbuds have a design that’s more or less the same as the Nothing Ear (2) buds, but the cheaper Nothing Ear (a) headphones offer an all-new look.

Notably, the new earbuds come in fun new colors. Our review model is a bright yellow, and it’s a cool look. Both the charging case and aspects of the earbuds themselves have this bright yellow plastic, which helps make the earbuds a little more unique and interesting.

Holding the Nothing Ear (a) earbudImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Don’t get me wrong, there are things about the new earbuds that are similar or the same as other Nothing earbuds. While the charging case is a little smaller than the Nothing Ear earbuds, it still has a see-through lid that allows you to see the earbuds inside. The stem on the earbuds is also still transparent, with a white dot on the left earbud, and a red dot on the right earbud.

The earbuds have squeeze controls in the stem, which I really like. Controls like this are very easy to purposely control, and very hard to accidentally control. They’re not as finicky as touch controls on such a small surface, and here, they were pretty easy to learn. You can also change how the controls work through the associated app, which is nice.

Nothing Ear (a) earbuds inside the charging caseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

On the back of the charging case can be found a USB-C port, while the pairing button can be found on the inside of the charging case. Both the earbuds and the charging case have some level of water resistance — though it’s not as impressive as Nothing’s more expensive earbuds. Here, you’ll get an IP54 rating for the earbuds themselves, and IPX2 for the charging case. It’s a good idea to keep the charging case away from water as much as possible, however while you should take the earbuds swimming, if you get caught in the rain or sweat while you run, they should survive just fine.

Nothing Ear (a) features and battery life

The big area in which the Nothing Ear (a) earbuds lag behind the higher-end Nothing Ear buds is in features. That’s not to say that they don’t have a good feature set, though.

Like Nothing’s other headphones, you can connect the Nothing Ear (a) earbuds to the Nothing app, which is called Nothing X on iOS. The app is pretty well-designed and easy to use, and offers access to some helpful features.

Nothing Ear (a) earbuds outside the charging caseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

For example, through the app, you can access a built-in basic EQ, which is pretty easy to use and gives the user control over the bass, mids, and highs. There are also a few presets, which is helpful for those who don’t want to manually change EQ controls. You won’t get the advanced EQ that you can find on the standard Nothing Ear headphones.

The app also lets you change the noise control — with options being ANC, transparency mode, or off. The ANC on these earbuds is quite good — and as good as the ANC on the Nothing Ear headphones, which is helpful. It’s not as good as some much more expensive headphones, like the AirPods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds — but it’s still better than average.

Nothing Ear (a) charging portImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The battery life on the earbuds isn’t bad. You’ll get 5.5 hours of continuous use with ANC on, or 9.5 hours with it off, which is fine. With the charging case, you’ll get 24.5 hours of listening time with ANC, or 42.5 hours without it. Unfortunately, you can only charge the earbuds through the USB-C port on the back — there’s no wireless charging here.

Nothing Ear (a) comfort

The Nothing Ear (a) earbuds have the same shape and size as Nothing’s higher-end earbuds, save for the slightly longer stem, which means they’re just as comfortable. That’s a good thing — I was able to use the earbuds for a number of hours without feeling like they got uncomfortable.

The earbuds were also pretty good at staying in my ears during use. I recommend experimenting with the included ear tip sizes to find the best fit, and they weren’t quite as snug as the AirPods Pro, for example. But they fit well enough to be used during most activities.

Nothing Ear (a) ear tipsImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Nothing Ear (a) sound

The Nothing Ear (a) earbuds sound excellent and better than any other pair of wireless earbuds in their price range. The earbuds actually have the same drivers as Nothing’s more expensive earbuds, and they’ll sound the same out of the box.

The bass response on the earbuds is quite good, allowing for good oomph from kick drums and bass guitars. Out of the box, the bass was a little too boosted for my preference, however this is common from consumer earbuds — and I easily fixed this with the built-in EQ.

Nothing Ear (a) inside the charging caseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The mids and highs are quite well-tuned, too. The mid frequencies are a little scooped out of the box, which isn’t uncommon, and the highs offered pretty good detail and clarity. The high-end extension wasn’t quite as high as I might have liked, but the earbuds still generally offered good detail and clarity, especially for a pair of earbuds under $100.


The Nothing Ear (a) earbuds offer excellent value, and they’re easily the best earbuds under $100 right now. They offer good noise cancelling, great audio quality, and they come in fun colors. Are they missing a few features? Sure — but they get all the basics right, and they serve as an excellent option for those who want great earbuds on a budget.

The competition

Perhaps the biggest competition to these earbuds comes in the form of the slightly more expensive Nothing Ear headphones. The main missing features are a lack of wireless charging and no advanced EQ — along with the lack of personalized audio, however this isn’t a feature I really found all that helpful anyway. Both wireless charging and an advanced EQ are helpful features — and if you might find them useful, it’s probably worth spending a little more on the still-great-value Nothing Ear earbuds. If not, the Nothing Ear (a) earbuds are the way to go.

Should I buy the Nothing Ear (a)?

Yes. They’re excellent earbuds at a great price.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper is based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. He has been expertly reviewing tech products for more than 8 years, and brings experience in deep technical analysis of consumer electronics devices to BGR's reviews channel.