Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of getting hands-on with the new Nothing Ear Stick. They sound great, especially compared to the Nothing Ear 1s, but WANT editor Dennis Mons now doubts the shape of his (big) ears.
Nothing Technology Limited is a curious and exciting brand. In 2021, CEO Carl Pei announced that he would stand on his own two feet after co-founding smartphone brand OnePlus. And it was immediately clear: Nothing is really a different animal than the rest.
Nothing Ear 1 vs Nothing Ear Stick
Anyway, my attention was drawn. I was therefore one of the first to buy the original Nothing Ear 1s for only 99 euros (later they became more expensive). I was extremely satisfied with these in-ears, despite some drawbacks.
The good thing was that they sounded great for the price, the clean design of the caps and case was exciting, and they were damn comfortable. That’s why my interest was also piqued by the company’s latest product: Nothing Ear Stick.
Lipstick earplugs from Nothing
The first thing you notice is the (again) exciting design of the Nothing Ear Stick. It’s a cylinder that opens up to get to the caps. It also has a red detail around the USB-C connection and it feels premium. A completely unique design.
The unfortunate thing about the case, however, is that it doesn’t fit so easily in the watch pocket of your jeans (a bit of an unwritten rule). In addition, dirt is not easy to remove if you accidentally turn it into the cylinder.
Also, the ear tips look remarkably like the first ear. The protrusions, as I would like to call them, are a little longer. But it has a feature: Nothing has improved the touch controls more than the Ear 1, which sometimes falters.
In fact, they would pause once in a while when I was eating something, despite having touch control turned off. This is no longer the case with the Stick and touch controls can again be set in the accompanying app.
But what do they sound like?
In short: very impressive for headphones in this price range (they cost 119 euros) with good bass and balanced treble, treble and midrange. This is due, among other things, to the fact that the drivers have been improved compared to the first Ear.
The stick also has a so-called on-ear design, which means that you don’t put plugs in your ears, but rest them in your ear. It gives a much more spacious, full sound. I myself also use open back on ears from Teufel (Cage) and it gives the sound a different dimension. It’s great that Nothing comes close to the Stick.
That sound, as with the first Ear, can be adjusted accordingly in the Nothing X app. There you will find information about the headset, for example, and you can adjust your own equalizer settings. All I can say is that this works flawlessly.
Weird ears for the Nothing Ear Stick
Here comes the biggest drawback (in my case): I have weird ears? Unlike the Ear 1s, the Stick has replaceable rubber tips. So if they don’t sit right, you’re out of luck. I was constantly walking around feeling like they were going to fall out of my flappies so training with them was not an option for me. (In other words, a good excuse not to exercise, but hey.)
Additionally, the on-ear design is quite “bleed” prone. If you’re on the train with it and you blast some music, there’s a good chance the coupe will enjoy it. So you can get quite a few looks. In return, they will see that you enjoy very special earplugs.
Another point to mention: The Stick has no noise reduction or transparency mode. And not an insurmountable fact in itself, and some people like to get something from the outside world.
Still, I think it really should have been optional because the Ear 1s do it so well.
Still, they are my first choice when I’m out for a walk, or when I use them in the newsroom or at home: they really sound better than their predecessor. In a busy rush hour train though, I still prefer the Ear 1s because they don’t fall out of my ears and have noise cancellation (that’s nice).
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- Excellent spatial sound for its price range
- Unique design for the charging box itself and caps
- Extensive equalizer settings
- Premium feel for relatively little money
- Long battery life (7 hours)
- No in-ear so not suitable for everyone
- On the ear causes ‘bleeding’
- Box difficult to clean
- No wireless charging
The stick is therefore an absolute must if you don’t want to cough up a power immediately and find the ‘light’ feeling of on-ear more comfortable than rubber caps that you stuff into your ear canal. But if your ears are as weird as mine, it might be a good idea to check that they fit properly, otherwise you’ll always panic about losing them.