some consumer electronics The wireless earbuds have matured as quickly as the categories. We went from the first good implementation of technology to almost ubiquity, seemingly overnight. Suddenly a good pair becomes cheap and they seem to be everywhere. It is precisely for this reason that it has become almost impossible to differentiate ourselves from the multitude of companies operating in the space.
But Nura has had a secret weapon since its early days, when its founders this week brought a giant prototype box of circuitry to the Meczyki.Net offices almost six years ago. The company’s user-customizable sound profile remains a truly exciting feature that has managed to set the company apart from the crowd of headphone makers.
Today, the Australian-based startup is announcing the upcoming release of NuraTrue Pro. The headphones, which will first be made available as part of a Kickstarter campaign, are being positioned as a tier on top of the company’s existing NuraTrue Buds. The two headphones are – for most intents and purposes – largely identical. The Pros effectively beef up some on-board features, including the new Qualcomm Bluetooth chip as well as better adaptive noise cancellation and the ability to play back aptX lossless audio via Spatial Audio.
These features come at a significant premium—the Professionals will run $329 (though you can get your hands on them by pre-ordering via Kickstarter), a hefty markup from the standard NuraTrue’s $199 price point. This is due to both better on-board hardware as well as all kinds of external supply chain/chip shortages/inflation issues, which have conspired to substantially drive up the cost of new consumer hardware across the board.
I met Nura’s CEO Luke Campbell when he was in New York a few weeks ago, and have been using NuraTrue Pros ever since. For this piece, I’ll be extensively comparing them to Sony’s LinkBuds S, which I reviewed in May. This is for two reasons: 1) they are my current favorite earbuds, and 2) they have become my daily driver.
Size-wise, the buds couldn’t be more different. The compact, barely-there design is a big part of the reason the LinkBuds (a big change from the company’s giant M4 buds, mind) are used. The NuraTrue Pros, on the other hand, look very similar to their older, cheaper sibling. It consists of large, round shields that sport the double semi-circle logo.
The gradient design significantly increases the overall footprint of the buds, but it also gives the touch panel a lot of real estate. The lack of contact area is one of my big issues with the LinkBuds. However, the larger size means they are less ideal for things like exercise. I tried running with Nura buds in my ears and didn’t recommend it.
One of the design’s other knock-on effects is that the case is also on the larger side, though it’s still small enough to be carried in your pocket with little problem. The case now features wireless charging, which the LinkBuds and many other companies still lack. Like the Sony, the Pros are extremely comfortable.
They’re among the best-fitting headphones I’ve tried for marathon listening as well. And, as with their predecessors, they are almost deceptively light. Obviously, comfort is one of those all-purpose things that varies dramatically from ear to ear, but I can quite confidently recommend them for longer flights. The headphones use the standard Nura customization process, which is what you get for all of the company’s headphones, aside from the company’s hardware as a NuraBuds service. If you haven’t had the opportunity to try it, I’ve always described it as feeling like a hearing test, in which the app blasts different frequencies into your ear to develop a picture of your hearing. From there, the system adjusts its settings to your specific profile.
The result is always impressive. Music sounds fuller, instruments are better separated and you pick up on familiar pieces of music that you may have missed with subpar headphones. Nura has developed something really special here that has me happily following through the company’s various hardware iterations. Pair that with the above lossless audio (up to 96kHz/24bit) on compatible streaming services (ie not Spotify), and you’ve got a truly excellent listening experience.
Active noise cancellation has been improved, as well, now featuring an adaptive algorithm that adjusts based on ambient sound. It’s an improvement, although for my money, the LinkBuds easily beat it on that front. Spatial audio is a nice addition, although, honestly, its practicality is still extremely limited. Currently this seems like more futureproofing than anything else. The buds include an eight-hour life and a total of 32 cases, which, again, should get you right through most flights. Call quality is solid, courtesy of four on-board microphones and a clever bone conduction sensor.
Preorders start today via Kickstarter. If you arrive early, you can get them for as little as $199. Otherwise, $329 is more than almost any measure. Additional features like sound enhancement, noise cancellation, and wireless charging are all nice, but for most people, not nearly enough to justify the $130 ditch.