Nothing Ear (a) Review: Best Budget ANC Earphones?

Image of the Nothing Ear (a) buds

When Nothing launched a few years back, it took the world by storm with the price and quality of its earbuds. Now, after the success of the Nothing Ear (1) and (2) series, the company has finally introduced a new budget-friendly headset called the Nothing Ear (a). While the naming scheme might be confusing with the removal of numbers, Nothing claims that the Ear (a) is the successor to the Nothing Ear Stick. Starting at Rs. 7,999, the question remains: has Nothing finally delivered a compelling budget option, or does the Oppo Enco Air 3 Pro take the crown? Let’s find out in the review of the Nothing Ear (a).

Nothing Ear (a) Review

Hisan Kidwai

Design & Comfort
Companion App
Battery Life
Sound Quality


The Nothing Ear (a) are a solid pair of mid-range earbuds with great sound, impressive ANC, and good bass. While the controls and latency issues let them down a bit, they are still a good option in the under-8K segment.


Nothing Ear (a) Review: Design and Comfort

Image of the Nothing Ear (a) case and  earbuds

Starting with the unboxing experience, the box contains the earbuds, three different ear tips for various ear shapes, and a USB-C charging cable. We reviewed the Yellow variant of the Ear (a), and calling them attention-seeking would be an understatement. Wherever I carried my buds, people asked me what they were and why they were yellow.

Setting aside the color, the design is predominantly plastic. While the earbuds are extremely lightweight, the case lacks an assuring feel as it creaks, making me constantly worry that it might break. Fortunately, I unintentionally dropped the case a few times during the testing period, and both the earbuds and the case survived the falls, albeit with a few scratches. On the subject of scratches, the transparent front also means that you will pick up a lot of scuffs from daily use in your pocket or purse.

However, there is one great thing about the case: the reset button. This physical button significantly improves the experience of using the Ear (a), as I didn’t have to perform awkward gestures to put the buds into pairing mode.


Image of the individual earbud

Although the case wasn’t the best, the earbuds are much better. I have always been a fan of Nothing’s transparent buds, and the design language continues with the Ear (a). Additionally, the yellow color doesn’t overpower the looks and keeps the buds looking neat.

Moving to comfort, it is undoubtedly a subjective topic. However, during my testing, I found the pre-applied tips to be big for my ears and had to swap them out for the smaller ones. This instantly improved my experience and made wearing the earbuds for longer hours a breeze. Moreover, the passive sound cancellation was also great, thanks to the ear tips.

Nothing Ear (a) Review: Controls

Image of the control options

If there was one area where I didn’t expect the Ear (a) to let me down, it was the controls. Unfortunately, they were hit or miss every single time. To put things into perspective, the Nothing X app allows users to customize controls, and I configured the single pinch to function as the play/pause button. However, during workout sessions, the music on my Nothing Ear (a) would stop randomly, and the ANC would also turn off. This was odd because even if my hair somehow triggered the pinch action, the Ear (a) should play a pause sound, which was nowhere to be found.

Adding to this frustration, when the music stopped randomly, the controls also decided to call it a day. This made working out with the Nothing Ear (a) a headache, as I had to open my phone to play or pause music.

Naturally, I contacted Nothing Support regarding the issue, and they suggested disabling the in-ear detection feature. Once disabled, the music-stopping issue was thankfully resolved. While the controls are still occasionally problematic, Nothing’s recent updates have improved the situation significantly.

Companion App

Image of the Nothing X app

As mentioned above, you can manage your Nothing Ear (a) with the Nothing X app, which is easy to use and offers a slew of customization options. Firstly, there is the Equalizer, which allows you to tweak the sound profile of your earbuds. Users can choose from predefined settings, such as Balanced, More Bass, More Treble, and Voice, or create their custom sound profile.

Secondly, there is a Controls section that enables extensive customization options. Additionally, you can customize the controls for both the right and left earbuds separately.

Furthermore, considering the buds include ANC, the app also houses the Noise Control section, which allows users to choose from one of three options: Noise Cancellation, Transparency, and Off. Additionally, in the noise cancellation settings, users can set the degree of ANC they want or select Adaptive, which adjusts the setting based on the background noise. Lastly, there is the Bass Enhance setting, which we recommend keeping turned off, as there is already a lot of bass.

Besides the main menus, the Nothing X app also includes features such as in-ear detection, low lag mode, high-quality audio, dual connection, and an ear tip fit test.

Nothing Ear (a) Review: Sound Quality

Image of one of the Nothing Ear (a) buds

Before we dive into the results, it is important to mention that we tested the Nothing Ear (a) buds paired with both an Android phone and a MacBook using Apple Music. For our specific tracks, we chose:

  • “Oxytocin”
  • “Like That”
  • “VVV”
  • “What is Love”
  • “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

Now that we have the testing parameters out of the way, the sound quality of the Nothing Ear (a) was pleasing, with the buds handling highs, mids, and lows effectively. However, as mentioned above, there is perhaps a bit too much bass. This required me to manually turn off all the bass settings to achieve a more balanced sound.

Once disabled, the sound quality became even better, allowing me to differentiate between the different instruments effectively. Additionally, the earbuds support LDAC, which, once enabled, significantly boosts the quality.

However, there is one downside to the quality: the latency. Particularly when watching videos, the 120ms latency was noticeable, making the video appear out of sync. In gaming, the lag was even more evident. Fortunately, Nothing included a dedicated gaming mode, which significantly improved the experience.

ANC Performance

Image of the ANC working on the Nothing Ear (a)

With a rated ANC of up to 45dB, we had high expectations for the Nothing Ear (a), and it did not disappoint. I tested the ANC at the highest setting, and almost all the background noise was effectively blocked. Additionally, the adaptive noise cancellation setting was top-notch, with the device easily switching between different modes without any hassle.

Moving over to the transparency mode, I have no complaints here either. When conversing with someone, I could hear their voice clearly without any issues.

Nothing Ear (a) Review: Battery Life

The Nothing Ear (a) case houses a 500mAh cell, while the earbuds include a 47mAh battery. While the specific battery life will depend on individual usage, I got over 4 hours of battery life from the earbuds with ANC turned on to its highest level. The case was able to recharge my buds over five times before needing to be plugged in.

Are the Nothing Ear (a) worth it?

Image of the Nothing Ear (a) buds

At Rs 7,999, the Nothing Ear (a) sits in a tight spot, where competitors like the Oppo Enco Air 3 Pro offer almost the same features for much less. But if you like Nothing’s design language and want better battery life and bass levels, then the Nothing Ear (a) is surely worth considering.

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