The app also has some welcome customization features. There’s an extensive listening test, for example, provided by hearing experts Mimi—let the app walk you through an eartip fit test, let it know how old you are, and then listen to the series of beeps. After this process is completed, analysis of the results allows the Ear (2) control app to adjust EQ settings to best suit your hearing profile. And it will finesse the EQ in real time, depending on the content you’re listening to. For better or worse, the app even shows you a graphic representation of your hearing range.
There’s a similar test available to adjust the intensity of the active noise cancellation. Again, you’ll need to take the eartip fit—and after that, the personalized test uses seven audio filters to adjust ANC to deliver the most comfortable listening experience possible. That’s the theory, anyhow.
The Ear (2) use Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity, with SBC, AAC, and LHDC 5.0 codec compatibility. LHDC 5.0 makes the Ear (2) High Res Audio Wireless certified, and they can, when linked to an appropriately specified player, accept 24-bit/192-kHz streams. Whatever the standard of digital audio file you stream, though, it’s delivered by a couple of 11.6-mm polyurethane/graphene full-range dynamic drivers of a design that’s unchanged from the original Ear (1). Each is in a dual-chamber enclosure, intended to smooth airflow.
Pacy, Vibrant Sound
Giving the Ear (2) the best chance of impressing seems only fair, and so they’re connected to a Nothing Phone (1) using the LHDC 5.0 Bluetooth codec. The Phone (1) is running the TIDAL music streaming app. And as long as you keep the price uppermost in your mind, there’s lots to like about the way these earbuds perform.
An MQA-powered TIDAL Masters file of Prince’s “U Got The Look” lets the Nothing Ear (2) express themselves almost entirely. They’re a pacy, vibrant listen, with plenty of low-frequency control and extension—and the sort of detail levels that prevent bass from just thumping along in time. Texture and timbre are nicely described, rhythmic expression is very decent, and momentum is never in doubt.
Midrange detail levels are equally high, and that allows both Prince’s and Sheena Easton’s voice to describe their technique and character in full. The soundstage the Ear (2) create isn’t the biggest, but it’s well laid out and controlled, which means more than enough space for a singer to do their thing free of interference from elsewhere. That’s not to say they seem in any way estranged from the rest of the performance, though—the Ear (2) do good work presenting recordings with commonality rather than as a collection of discrete occurrences.
The top of the frequency range is assertive to an almost reckless degree. Paired with the Nothing Phone (1) the amount of bite and shine the top end summons approaches dangerous levels, and if matched with an unsympathetic source player it’s easy to imagine the top end getting out of hand—especially if you’re listening at significant volume. No one wants dull or rolled-off treble response, of course, but the Ear (2) may have gone just a little too far in the opposite direction.
Dynamic headroom is considerable, though, which is always a good thing when a recording veers between very quiet and extremely loud. And the more subtle harmonic details of a recording don’t go astray, either—so your solo instrument sounds intimate and immediate.
The active noise cancellation, also, is fairly well implemented. “Reduce” is the word that applies rather than “cancel,” it’s true, but still, we’re talking about a significant reduction of external sound. And it’s achieved at no cost to the sound of the earbuds, either. There’s no hint of counter-signal or noise-floor disruption when ANC is switched on. Which puts the Ear (2) ahead of quite a few price-comparable rivals.
Taken as an overall package, there’s quite a lot to like about the Nothing Ear (2). Thanks to the extensive nature of the control app, ownership feels like quite a bespoke experience, and thanks to a combination of assertive sound quality (almost too assertive where treble is concerned) and effective noise cancellation, they’re an enjoyable listen. And because of Nothing’s industrial design language, they’re quite individual lookers.
You’re not short of choice where true wireless earbuds at this price are concerned, but be assured: The Nothing Ear (2) are much more than just a (+1).
As for charging, the car is built on Kia’s E-GMP platform, which allows for superfast 800-volt charging and vehicle-to-load (where you can run your household appliances from the car’s battery should you wish). Again, the EV9 targets here are 6 minutes to add 100 kilometers of range at a high-speed charger, as opposed to the 4.5 minutes the EV6 takes to do the same at a 350-kW charger. This would suggest a battery capacity of around 100 kWh, but the EV9’s exact battery size will be given later this month.
The EV9’s interior looks as impressive as its exterior. Big enough for seven people, in the front there’s a floating panoramic dash made using a pair of 12.3-inch displays and one 5-inch display stretching from the steering wheel right to the middle. As for switchgear, “physical buttons are kept to a minimum,” which maybe does not bode well, but we’re hoping the confusing dual-function EV6 setup is improved on.
Cleverly, the second row of seats can swivel 180 degrees so passengers can chat with those sitting in the third row. This also allows the seat to spin to face outward, so you can get in and out of the SUV easily. Charging points, storage, and cup holders are promised in plentiful supply.
No mention has been made of the concept version’s solar panels, or “pop-up” steering wheel, but the EV9 will be the first Kia to offer Automode, the company’s autonomous driving tech.
Karim Habib, executive VP and head of Kia Global Design Center, says the EV9 offers “a fresh EV perspective in the family SUV sector.” That remains to be seen, but first impressions are certainly promising. Its arrival this year is timely, too, as Range Rover’s all-electric offering won’t arrive until 2024.
One of the biggest pain points with fitness trackers is how each one has its own proprietary charger. It’s a serious inconvenience—if you forget a Lightning connector or a USB-C charger, you can always borrow one from a friend or find one in a store. But a proprietary Fitbit connector? Sorry! Guess you won’t be getting your steps tallied on that Italian walking vacation!
So it was with a sense of almost mystical reverence that I removed the Vivomove Trend from my wrist and placed it on the Qi charging pad next to my desk. I leaned over it breathlessly and examined the screen. Charging! Granted, it’s not incredibly fast, but it works! Never again will I be trapped on a work trip with an uncharged watch!
Garmin’s latest entry-level hybrid watch is still a little clunky to operate, but I do love its attractive, streamlined looks and that new charging system. Wireless charging on any Qi charging pad is almost magical. That, in itself, does a lot to put it at the head of the pack.
Best of Both Worlds
If you want to track your health without wearing an overtly chunky, sporty watch, you have a few options. Withings makes a tracker that looks as much like an analog watch as possible; Fossil’s Wellness watch packs as many metrics as possible into an analog watch face.
The Vivomove Trend gives you the best of both worlds. It comes in a variety of colorways (my tester is a beautiful, if slightly dated, peach gold with an ivory band). It has a dainty 40.4-mm case and an analog watch face. However, when you click on your device in the Garmin Connect app, you can pick up to three complications that will be visible when you swing the watch up toward your face.
This allows for much more customization than you might think, because some of the complications can combine—I opted for the Techie face, with the date up top and steps, battery, and floors climbed on the bottom.
To start an activity, check your heart rate, go to settings, or set a stopwatch or timer, you just touch your fingertip to the watch face. With a haptic buzz, the options pop up as glowing icons. If you click through to the timer but then realize you want to start an activity instead, you swipe back. As a side note, I do wish more trackers would just include one measly on-off button. (Even analog watches have at least one button!)
The buzz also alerts you when you get a notification or start an activity (you can change the strength of the buzz, but I didn’t notice a big difference). You can either start an activity manually or turn on auto activity tracking with Garmin’s Move IQ.
Move IQ is remarkably accurate—it picked up a wild 3-minute dash from the parking garage to a doctor’s appointment—but if you start an activity manually, you have to double-tap to start the activity once you’ve selected it. Since it connects to GPS via your phone, my tracked results from walking, biking, and running are consistent with results from other trackers—unless I forgot to start the activity manually, which happened a lot.
As writers and testers in WIRED’s Gadget Lab, we spend all day immersed in personal technology of all kinds. It’s probably no surprise that if we work on a computer during the day and enjoy gaming in our downtime, our kids do, too. I (Adrienne) have a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old that attended school remotely and play video games; my colleague Simon Hill has a 9- and a 12-year-old. Between us, we—er, well, our kids—have tested many of the kid headphones on the market.
These are our top picks, along with some advice—such as why you might want a pair of child-specific headphones. Don’t forget to check out our other parenting guides, such as the Best Kid Tablets and the Best Kid Podcasts. Looking for a pair for yourself? Check out our list of the Best Headphones.
Updated January 2023: We updated links and pricing and added the BuddyPhones Cosmos+ and StoryPhones.
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While people’s feelings about their own gear and what it does can often affect the way they play psychologically, that doesn’t mean the gear is doing exactly what they think it’s doing. Lill jokes about a friend—whose playing, for the record, Lill insists he loves and has learned a lot from—that uses a Two Rock amp setting on a digital amplifier to get a sound that he calls “that John Mayer thing.” The issue being that when Lill asked the friend which Two-Rock amp model John Mayer plays, and which amp is in the modeler, he didn’t know.
“It’s just funny,” he says. “It’s like saying ‘Oh man, I love Dale Earnhardt. That’s why I drive a Chevy, you know, just like Dale’s.’”
Perhaps the thing that strikes me most about Lill is that, in a world of influencers actively growing their social media following, he doesn’t aim to turn his videos into his full-time livelihood. Instead, he’s just a musician, sharing what he learns with those of us who don’t have the time and resources to do the same experiments.
When asked why he started making the videos to begin with, he says, “I have noticed that knowing the answer without having any proof doesn’t always work the same as when you actually capture it on videos. So I try to make sure to capture stuff on video as much as I can.” They have a surprisingly great production value, for a man who admits that at the beginning he actually didn’t own a camera.
Instead, Lill gave me a gift for free—the knowledge that speaker cabinets and tone settings matter more than the hunk of wood and strings in my hand. This is valuable information, given the amount of time I’ve spent hunting for guitars and not messing with tone knobs.
“I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to how people convey information on the internet, and the way that I’ve chosen to go is as unbiased and as kind as I can,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter whether someone believes me or not. It’s just a guitar.”
Jim Lill’s Current Signal Chain
Given his background and his history in testing, what does Jim Lill actually use? Here’s the audio equipment that you’ll find in his studio.
Lill says, “The Anderson Tele has been my number one since high school.” The other guitars and bass are for specific sounds but aren’t used as often.
The Tom Anderson Telecaster features a 2018 Seymour Duncan Vintage Stack bridge pickup, 1980 Bill Lawrence Black Label S2 middle pickup, and a 2009 Seymour Duncan Mini Humbucker neck pickup. Lill notes that he only uses the bridge pickup in the telecaster. All other guitars feature stock pickups.
Lill uses a 2001 Boss CS-3 compressor pedal to even out the different volumes of different guitars. That goes into an Xotic RC Booster for solo volume and a 2020 Nobles ODR-1 overdrive (painted black) and 2017 Paul Cochrane Timmy V2 (white tape added to read “Jimmy”) for a bit of grit on his tone. Then signal hits a 1990s Ernie Ball volume pedal and 2018 Sonic Research ST-300 Turbo Tuner Mini for volume and tuning control. For the final steps in his chain, he adds a Boss TR-2 Tremolo (painted black) and uses a 2020 Line 6 HX Stomp, mostly for its legacy delay algorithms. “The tuner, CS-3, and delay get the most use,” he says. “Tremolo is usually for the Bass6. Everything else is just in case.”
Lill owns a 1966 Fender Bassman head (stock AB165 circuit), a heavily modified 1965 Fender Bassman head, and a 2001 Carr Slant 6V 1×12 combo. “I’m working on figuring out my amp situation right now,” he says. “I imagine one of these three will end up being my main amp.”
Lill combines his own 2022 homemade 2×12 with a 2001 Celestion Vintage 30 (with the side closed-back) and 1967 Fender Utah (with side open-back). “I’ve mostly been using the one I made,” Lill says, “but I also have two cabs that J. T. Corenflos used on sessions and a cab Tom Bukovac used on sessions.” Impulse responses of Jim’s cabinets are available for sale on his website.
Lill uses a Shure SM57 (one for each speaker). Of placement, he says, “I was taught at my favorite studio to put the mic two fingers from the grill cloth, straight on axis, pointed at the line between the dust cap and the cone. That’s where I start.”