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This article was published on December 17, 2020


Review: NuraLoop’s personalizable wireless earbuds are an intriguing AirPods alternative

Busting in your hearing flesh

Review: NuraLoop’s personalizable wireless earbuds are an intriguing AirPods alternative
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

It’s tougher than ever to stand out in the world of wireless earbuds, but luckily the NuraLoop have a mighty trick up their sleeve: personalized sound. Are they perfect? No, there are a number of flaws, but they’re up there with the most inreresting wireless earbuds I’ve ever used.

Come, friend, grasp my hand and we’ll go on a NuraLoop adventure together.

[Read: Why AI is the future of home security]

Who makes the NuraLoop?

A company called Nura.

Want to tell us anything else?

Fine. The company’s carved out a niche for itself selling ‘hearing-tuned’ headphones. Effectively, the cans fire sounds into your ear, creates a hearing profile for you, and plays music that’s adapted to the way you listen. There’s more information about it here.

Now, I’ve reviewed the Nuraphone — which are the company’s over/in-ear headphones — and I can tell you one thing: they sound amazing. They aren’t made to provide you the purest representation of a song, instead they make music pop. They’re probably the most fun I’ve had with a pair of headphones.

So what are the NuraLoop then?

These are the company’s wireless earbuds. They look like this:

nuraloop review earbuds angle 1
The NuraLoop are neither ugly nor pretty, they simply are.

And what are they like?

Both fantastic — and a bit annoying.

In what way?

Well, sound-wise the NuraLoop live up to the Nuraphone: these are some of the most fun-sounding earbuds I’ve ever used. Listening to music with them is a joy. The bass is rich, the mids full, and highs clear. They’re energizing and, if you haven’t used hearing-tuned headphones before, I’d advise you to try them. It really is an entertaining and, importantly, enjoyable experience.

The NuraLoop sound great — why did you say they’re annoying?

Basically, the way you interact with them is deeply irritating.

I’ve seen a few comments on the bulky design, but this didn’t bother me too much — it’s not as though the NuraLoop are too big to get in your pocket. But I find the controls a real buzzkill. Effectively, you can tap or double tap each earbud to enact an assignable feature. Think of pressing twice on the left earbud to enable noise-canceling, or once on the right to skip the track forward.

This is all fine, but it’s so easy to accidentally touch these controls and interrupt your listening experience. Also I found double tapping often made my ears feel uncomfortable — although this may be down to my weak and pathetic hearing flesh.

There’s also something called a “TouchDial” on each earbud. This allows you to make a circular motion with your finger to, say, increase the volume. To me, it felt a bit clumsy. I would’ve much preferred some regular buttons.

Finally, I really wish the band connecting the earbuds was adjustable. For some people, it might be too short, but I found it dangled low enough that it constantly jostled against my shirt or jacket, often marring the listening experience.

nuraloop review other angle
HERE ARE THE NURALOOP… again?

Is there anything positive about the design?

Of course. Firstly, I’m a fan of the adjustable ear hooks. This allows you to get a really comfortable fit and ensure the NuraLoop stay put. This is especially good if you have weird ears (like me) or want to use them for exercise. I also liked the wide selection of earbud tips, which was helpful in getting the NuraLoop to feel secure.

Another great feature is the the option to use an aux cord with the earbuds. It’s the one positive of the NuraLoop using a proprietary charging system (JUST GIVE US USB-C) and makes the earbuds far more versatile.

And the price?

They’ll set you back $199. More than the regular AirPods, less than the AirPods Pro.

What are you final thoughts on the NuraLoop?

If you’re looking for a pair of enjoyable in-ear headphones to block out some noise while you’re working from your desk, the NuraLoop could be for you.

Basically, these things sound fantastic and are entertaining, but just aren’t quite functional enough for me to tell you to rush out and buy them. The noise-canceling is fine, the transparency mode less so, but I’m really not a fan of the functionality.

Using the NuraLoop isn’t terrible, far from it, but it also isn’t a slick and hassle-free experience. I love their sound, but hope future versions can hone the design. And if you’re after the full experience, I’d have to direct you towards the Nuraphone instead.

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