The Ear Stick are Nothing’s latest wi-fi earbuds and solely the corporate’s third product to this point. The Ear Stick are as a lot of a style product as a tech product, with a shocking rotating case design in what has grow to be the corporate’s trademarked clear plastic.
The Ear Stick are supposed to be a substitute for the beforehand launched Nothing Ear 1. Whereas the Ear 1 have a extra widespread in-ear design, the Ear Stick use the older half in-ear design just like the AirPods. As such, additionally they lack options like lively noise cancellation and transparency mode.
What they acquire as a substitute is a for much longer battery life, bigger drivers, improved antenna design, customized EQ, and higher noise discount for calls. And naturally, that candy new case design. All for $99, which slots in beneath the lately price-bumped $149 Ear 1.
The Nothing Ear Stick have one of the vital distinctive designs I’ve seen, not only for a pair of earbuds however for any tech product in latest instances. We see the identical use of clear plastics for the design because the Ear 1 however whereas the Ear 1 utilized the clear supplies to a extra conventional TWS case design, the Ear Stick creates one thing fully unconventional out of it.
The design of the Ear Stick case relies in your common lipstick. You flip the underside of the tube whereas holding up the highest and the earbuds swing into view. The case turns each methods and could be spun infinitely in both path.
The principle receptacle for the earbuds additionally homes the battery and the remainder of the electronics for the case and is roofed by a tubular clear plastic shell with a gap on one aspect. The clear plastic ensures the earbuds are at all times in view no matter whether or not they’re “open” or “closed”.
The clear plastic shell additionally extends to the underside of the case, which homes a pink plastic module that incorporates the USB-C charging port. Subsequent to it’s a silver button that visibly extends out from the primary physique of the case. The button sits flush with the underside of the case in order to not get pressed unintentionally, which additionally makes it more durable to press deliberately.
The mechanics of the spinning cowl are well-designed. There’s a satisfying fluidity to the movement and the mechanism snaps in place when it reaches the tip of its journey. You possibly can spin it for hours and never get bored with it.
The clear cowl for the case is made solely out of shiny plastic. The white portion on the within has a matte end with a wonderful dotted texture that makes it simple to grip and slide if you wish to open it one-handed.
As engaging because the case design is — and it is rather engaging — there are a number of points with it. The case doesn’t seal in any respect when closed, leaving it open to mud, particles, and worst of all, hair. It’s totally simple to search out random bits of hair or mud contained in the case and as soon as it will get in there it could solely get out by itself, as there’s little or no you are able to do from the skin however stare at it.
The dearth of a seal means the case can also be not water resistant, despite the fact that the earbuds themselves are.
The shiny exterior of the case can also be simple to cowl in fingerprints and smudges, and though they don’t seem to be simple to see, you recognize they’re there. The case additionally turns into fairly slippery when lined in oils or sweat out of your fingers, and turns into troublesome to open. The plastics additionally get scratched fairly simply and won’t maintain up properly over time, particularly in the event that they perpetually dwell inside your bag or purse.
Lastly, the tubular nature of the case means it could solely rise up vertically. If you happen to put it sideways, there’s a very actual hazard of it simply rolling away. And despite the fact that it’s volumetrically smaller than, say, the Ear 1 case, it’s thicker and stands out extra in your pocket. There is a joke right here a few three-inch tube in your pocket however I refuse to make it.
Whereas the downsides are notable, it’s simple to look previous them merely due to how distinctive and attention-grabbing the design is. I am undecided how properly the transferring components will age and the clear plastics have already began to scratch however in my thoughts, the design will at all times stay recent and timeless.
In comparison with the case itself, the earbuds appear much less attention-grabbing, in all probability as a result of we have now seen this design earlier than on the Ear 1. However despite the fact that they could appear related at first, the Ear Stick earbuds are very completely different from the Ear 1.
Essentially the most notable distinction is the obvious one; the Ear Stick buds have a half in-ear design versus the in-ear design of the Ear 1 buds. This implies they sit simply exterior your ear canals reasonably than inside them.
This fashion of design has largely gone out of style nowadays, largely due to how categorically worse it’s in comparison with the in-ear design. The in-ear design gives a greater, safer match, higher sound isolation, and most significantly, a greater atmosphere for the smaller drivers to do their factor. Compared, the half in-ear design has to have a one-size matches all strategy, can simply fall out if they do not match properly, have the noise isolation equal of overlaying another person’s ears, and make the drivers cope with mainly an infinite quantity of air as there isn’t a seal.
The one merchandise holding this archaic design alive are Apple’s AirPods and the one cause they promote is that they’re the most cost effective AirPods you may get, not as a result of they’re good. It is a design that ought to have been left behind within the twentieth century together with cassette gamers, and the 4 individuals who nonetheless declare to desire it have to get with the instances.
Apart from this reasonably massive downgrade, the earbuds on the Ear Stick are simply as cool-looking as these on the Ear 1. In reality, they’re a bit cooler as a result of they now make use of extra dependable controls that require you to squeeze the stems reasonably than simply faucet. The antennae have been moved additional away from the face to make the connection extra secure. The motive force inside can also be bigger, though simply by a millimeter. The remainder of the design is simply as clear as on the Ear 1 however the transparency remains to be restricted to only the stalks and you can not see inside the motive force chamber.
The Ear Stick presently come solely in white however at this level, it is easy to guess that there might be a black model someday sooner or later.
The Ear Stick are reasonably snug pair of earbuds. Whereas consolation generally is a subjective subject, it’s particularly subjective with regards to half in-ear fashion earbuds. These will both fit your needs properly or under no circumstances. For me, they do match properly as they appear to be roughly the identical dimension because the AirPods, which additionally match me properly.
Nevertheless, simply because they fit your needs doesn’t suggest they are going to be snug. Whereas in-ear earbuds primarily anchor to your ears utilizing the tender suggestions and the seal contained in the ear canal, the half in-ear buds should exert stress on the partitions of your concha to safe themselves they usually do that with laborious plastic. This causes your complete interior ear to really feel a bit sore after a few hours of use, which was my expertise as properly with the Ear Stick.
And that is if the earbuds fit your needs. There might be loads of individuals for whom the earbuds will merely fall out and at that time, you could as properly return the product.
The Nothing Ear Stick assist the brand new Nothing X app, which is an up to date model of the earlier Ear 1 app with unified assist for all present and future Nothing audio merchandise. The app is offered on Android and iOS.
The Nothing X app encompasses a barely up to date design with a couple of extra options. From the primary display screen, you’ll be able to see the battery percentages for the earbuds and the case. You can even go into the equalizer or the management settings.
The equalizer setting for the Ear Stick has 4 presets in addition to a three-band customized EQ. The EQ is visualized in a reasonably odd spherical sample as if the audio spectrum is a circle reasonably than a flat line. You need to select one of many EQ presets and there’s no choice to disable it fully. For my testing, I selected to make use of the default Balanced preset because it appeared to behave because the ‘flat’ profile as there was no discernible distinction between it and the customized preset to zero values.
One attention-grabbing factor about this app is that the customized EQ is simply obtainable for the Ear Stick and disappears when you pair the older Ear 1. All you get are the 4 presets that had been obtainable earlier than within the older Ear 1 app. Why the cheaper Ear Stick has a customized EQ and the $50 dearer Ear 1 would not is a thriller.
The management customization permits you to change the bindings for the double press, triple press, press and maintain, and double press and maintain gestures for both earbud. You’ll be able to select from skipping tracks, voice assistant, or adjusting the quantity. The only press is at all times sure to play/pause. Whereas the press gestures work higher than the tapping on the Ear 1, the stems on the earbuds are a reasonably small goal to search out in your ears.
Different options within the app embody disabling in-ear detection, a low latency mode for gaming, a Discover My Earbuds characteristic, and the flexibility to replace the firmware.
When you have a Nothing Cellphone 1, all of those choices are constructed into the Bluetooth settings, so that you need not obtain the app. You can even entry most of the options from fast settings.
When it comes to software program stability, the Ear Stick carried out very properly. This was a serious difficulty on the Ear 1, which had a number of bugs even months after launch. The Ear Stick are inherently less complicated so that will even be why issues are working higher this time round. The app can also be well-designed (apart from the foolish round EQ) and straightforward to make use of.
Audio high quality
The Ear Stick have a single 12.6mm dynamic driver on both aspect. They assist SBC and AAC codecs over Bluetooth 5.2.
The Ear Stick have a really upper-midrange, treble-forward sound that makes them sound aggressively vivid. This, coupled with the dearth of a fleshed-out low-end, makes the general tonality fairly tinny and reedy at instances.
The low-end response from the drivers is weak. That is to be anticipated from a half in-ear design though Nothing did declare to have solved this with the software-based ‘Bass Lock Know-how’. No matter it is purported to do, it is not doing very properly.
Talking purely from a reference degree perspective, the low-end lacks a lot of the rumble and heat current in recordings. You get a milquetoast punch and slam with a touch of rumble however it’s missing in depth and sounds hole. Maxing out the bass EQ provides a bit extra power to the low finish however it sounds considerably disjointed from the remainder of the sound. It additionally pushes the motive force to its restrict, which might introduce some distortion in bass-heavy tracks.
The mid-range, unencumbered by the low-end, has a variety of presence within the combine. The decrease mids do sound a bit hole however the higher mids could be fairly forceful, virtually to the purpose of being aggressive. Sadly, the mid-range has reasonably disappointing timbral traits, as a variety of the vocals and devices have a considerably nasal, metallic timbre and lack their pure heat and tonality.
Numerous this vivid, metallic power is carried into the decrease treble as properly, which can be fairly aggressive and in your face. It does create a man-made sense of a better decision, extra detailed sound however you do not essentially need all particulars blasting at you always, particularly when they tend to sound tinny. After some time, I discovered myself skipping the brighter tracks in my playlists due to how fatiguing they may get to take heed to.
The higher treble is not as vivid and actually, rolls off pretty shortly. This does end in a considerably darkish high-end, which lacks a few of the air and brilliance on the high finish.
The general sound tends to sound considerably one-dimensional, as a lot of the power is concentrated within the higher mids and decrease treble ranges, with the other ends of the spectrum taking a backseat within the combine. You get the distinct impression of listening to a reasonably small set of laptop audio system, which frequently have a really restricted frequency response, reasonably than a set of floor-standing audio system with a number of drivers overlaying the whole frequency spectrum.
With the half in-ear design, the bass was by no means going to be a powerful level of the sound, so I can see why Nothing selected to have a mid and treble-forward sound so the audio system not less than have some character. Nevertheless, it’s fairly an acquired style and one that won’t discover many suitors. And that is coming from somebody who usually prefers bright-sounding audio system.
On a technical degree, the Ear Stick carry out okay. The sound does appear fairly vigorous and detailed because of the vivid tuning, so you aren’t getting the identical darkish, boxed-in feeling you get from most Bluetooth earbuds. The imaging is considerably odd, because the sound appears to be coming from a airplane positioned simply behind your head reasonably than in entrance of it. The soundstage additionally feels artificially inflated, with considerably stretched stereo separation that sounds just like the audio system are positioned additional aside within the room than they need to be.
Total, the audio high quality on the Ear Stick was disappointing. Whereas it could sound satisfactory with some content material, it feels compromised largely because of the choice to have a half in-ear design. The humorous factor is that the sound is best in some methods than the Ear 1 however for the reason that Ear 1 have an in-ear design, they sound higher total. It might be attention-grabbing to see the identical drivers with the identical tuning inside an in-ear design.
The Ear Stick have first rate microphone high quality. There may be a few of that telltale clipping towards the tip of sentences because the noise discount algorithm rushes in to silence the background noise however the total voice high quality is kind of ample for voice calls.
In noisy environments, comparable to subsequent to a working sink, the earbuds battle to take care of readability within the voice and the background noise splashes via a good bit. That is one thing the extra premium merchandise in the marketplace are rather a lot higher at.
The Ear Stick have an okay latency efficiency. When used with an Android or iOS smartphone for watching video, there’s basically zero lag because the cellphone will routinely delay the video to sync with the sound.
This doesn’t, nevertheless, work when watching movies from a PC. I measured near 300ms delay when watching movies from a Home windows PC, which is extraordinarily noticeable.
The delay can also be current when taking part in video games on a cellphone, which can’t do the identical audio syncing trick for apparent causes. For that, you’ll have to allow the low latency choice from the Nothing X app, which does deliver down the latency to a extra tolerable degree. In case you are on a Nothing Cellphone 1, this mode is routinely enabled if you launch a recreation.
The connectivity efficiency on the Ear Stick was largely good. Apart from only a few minor pauses whereas taking part in music, the connection was in any other case fairly secure and dependable.
The Ear Stick have a rated battery life of seven hours of steady audio playback. In my testing, the earbuds ran for six hours and 50 minutes constantly, which is fairly near the official declare and a great end result total.
Nothing additionally claims 2 hours of playback after a 10-minute cost. I discovered this declare to be fairly correct, because the earbuds performed for precisely 2 hours in my testing.
The Nothing Ear Stick are a sexy and ingeniously designed product. There is not any one which I confirmed them to that wasn’t instantly fascinated by their design and I can see lots of people buying them merely due to the best way they give the impression of being.
In addition they have good battery life, dependable and well-designed software program expertise, and first rate name high quality.
The earbuds are let down by the choice to have a half in-ear design. Match and luxury are sure to be a problem for a lot of with this one-size-fits-all answer because it lacks the flexibleness of in-ear variants. Audio high quality can also be unimpressive, with a skinny, overly vivid sound that lacks the stability and heat of excellent in-ear fashions.
At $99, the Nothing Ear Stick prioritize kind over operate. In case you are completely enthusiastic about their appears and don’t care how properly they match or sound then it is not an particularly massive sum of cash to half with to have a cool-looking fidget spinner in your pocket. But when audio high quality and luxury are a precedence then are a ton of different choices in the marketplace proper now.