Outstanding, customized sound
Stable, comfortable fit
Solid active noise cancellation
While not a household name (yet), Nura prides itself on the concept of personalized sound with products like the Nuratrue and Nuraphone wireless headphones. According to Nura, these products engage their wearers in a listening test that involves playing a range of tones, then measuring the sounds that ears create in response—referred to as otoacoustic emissions.
It’s a mouthful, but Nura believes the technology is key in crafting customized hearing profiles that each unique user will thoroughly enjoy. In other words, it’s a claim so intriguing that we had no choice but to hear for ourselves.
About the Nuratrue wireless earbuds
- Price: $199.99
- Battery life: up to 6 hours with ANC, 8 hours without; three additional charges in case
- Rapid charging: 10 minutes charge for 1 hour of playback
- Wireless charging: N/A
- Voice assistant compatibility: Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
- Colors: Black
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Audio codecs: AAC, SBC, aptX
- Water-resistance: IPX4
- Ear tips: two pairs of eartips, one pair of wing attachments
- Weight: 7.4g per bud, 37.1g with charging case
Most of today’s earbuds have accompanying apps, the majority of which aren’t necessary to begin listening to music. Not so with the Nuratrue. Upon connecting them to your smartphone for the first time, a feminine-but-robotic voice tells you “Before I can play music, I need to learn about your hearing.”
The robot was right. I first unboxed these buds in the parking lot of my local gym, hoping to get a jumpstart on testing them. But even after forcing my way out of Nura’s listening tests, the buds refused to play audio until I set up a hearing profile. It added a nearly 10-minute delay to my workout. Almost instantaneously, though, I chalked that up as 10 minutes well spent.
What we like
A tight, comfy fit that outshines a polarizing design
The first thing that struck me about the Nuratrue was just how secure they felt in my ears. They aren’t pegged as sport-focused earbuds like the Jaybird Vista 2, but the Nuratrue were so embedded in place that it seemed a disservice to not see how they’d handle various athletic activities. After a week’s worth of running and gym sessions, the Nuratrue were just as comfortably lodged in my ears as the day I popped them in and twisted them into place.
The elephant in the room here is the way the Nuratrue look. As Microsoft learned with the Surface Earbuds, the earbuds-as-gauges aesthetic isn’t for everyone. I don't mind the look, but others may well loathe it. It’s hard to knock Nuratrue for a matter of personal preference, and the company deserves at least a little credit for not adopting the golf-tee design that Apple (and countless others) employ.
Another point to note is that, at 7.4 grams per bud, they're far from the lightest pair out there, which could dampen their comfort for some over longer listening sessions. I didn't experience any significant loss in comfort, but they certainly aren't earbuds that you can put in and forget you're wearing them. It would also be nice if there were a few more ear tip sizes to work with, but the fit was great for my ears.
Worthwhile active noise cancellation
When it comes to active noise cancellation, the Nuratrue slide in about where you’d expect them to based on price alone. They do a better job of blocking out unwanted noise than the relatively impressive Amazon Echo Buds 2, but they won’t stack up to industry leaders like the Sony WF-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
Let me put it this way: the Nuratrue don’t provide a completely distraction-free stage for music listening in naturally loud environments like a gym or grocery store. But they provide exactly enough noise cancellation to endlessly antagonize a certain significant other by jokingly serenading her with a rendition of Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” without having to hear said rendition myself.
One caveat here is that there’s no available active noise cancellation or transparency adjustment. You can switch to the Nuratrue’s ambient mode (dubbed “social mode”) with a single tap of an earbud, but outside of an immersion slider in the app that’s really just a poorly disguised bass boost feature, you can’t play with the amount of noise the Nuratrue let in or keep out.
Superb sound quality
As soon as the earbuds run their tests and build a sound profile, they offer you the ability to audition the profile against the buds’ neutral sound signature to hear the difference. That difference, by the way, is astounding.
Compared to the custom profile, the neutral signature sounds like it’s being blasted through a megaphone: loud just for the sake of being loud, and wildly ill-defined. It's hard to tell whether this is in some way meant to improve your opinion of the custom profile, but it certainly doesn't hurt. My custom profile, alternatively, sounded tremendously dynamic and detailed, whether it was the heartwarming vocals in George Ezra’s “Budapest” or the tantalizing ensemble of instrumentals in Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”
Call quality wasn't as breathtaking, but it was plenty adequate for fielding the assortment of calls that the average person will receive on a daily basis.
The only issue I take with the Nuratrue’s sound is the same as its ANC; there are no avenues available for adjustment. It’s either the dull tones of the neutral profile, or the profile that the Nuratrue assigns to you. It’s less of a problem in this category, though. By letting the Nuratrue take the EQ wheel, these rounded earbuds easily reproduce some of the best sound that I’ve heard at this price point.
What we don’t like
Controls could use one more gesture
The Nuratrue are far from alone in committing this sin, but that doesn’t excuse them from it. The app allows you to configure the controls and assign different functions for single and double taps on the left and right buds. But with 10 possible functions and just four commands, you’re forced to leave something potentially essential out of the mix.
The controls themselves are responsive and easy to use, but c’mon, Nura. Don’t make me choose between major functions like turning the volume down and enabling ambient sound.
Average features and battery at an above-average price
To be fair, the Nuratrue do possess a nice trio of audio codec support for either Android or iPhone optimizing, and they do at least hit the once-standard benchmarks of around 6 hours of battery life with ANC and an IPX4 water resistance rating. Those specs just don’t guarantee a pass in the features department like they used to, though.
While the Nuratrue do have ear detection technology that pauses playback when you pull a bud out, they still lack features such as a Qi-compatible charging case, multipoint pairing, earbud-finding technology and, as mentioned, transparency mode customization. In this price range, it'd be ideal to offer at least a few of those.
For reference, Sony’s WF-SP800N easily eclipse each Nuratrue spec for around the same price. Alternatively, the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro essentially matches the Nuratrue’s feature set for about half.
Should you buy it?
Yes, because they sound too good not to
The Nuratrue’s crown jewel is their sound quality. If you’re after superb active noise cancellation and higher-end features, the Sony WF-1000XM4 might be more your speed. But, thanks to their unique technology, the Nuratrue manage to offer truly impressive sound at an $80 discount from Sony’s flagship buds.
Many folks’ sound quality North Star is the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, and deservedly so. To date, they have offered music playback with a near unrivaled precision in the wireless earbuds space. The Nuratrue won’t make anyone rethink their constellations. But you may be surprised at just how close these ambitious, circular buds can get to the champs.
Nura’s second shot at true wireless earbuds would undoubtedly benefit from a boost in features and the addition of a triple tap or long press when it comes to controls. In terms of sound quality, though, the company swung for the fences and, with the Nuratrue, it hit a moonshot that’s worth a listen.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.
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