Nura is an audio tech start-up based in Melbourne, Australia, that emerged in 2016 with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign for their advanced Nura headphones. In this article, we will examine the NuraLoop wireless earbuds to determine if they live up to the audio tech promise, while also taking into account their lower price point.
The NuraLoop wireless earbuds are a premium audio product that provides users with the same advanced personalized listening experience as Nura’s higher-end devices. However, the NuraLoop wireless earbuds differ from their siblings in terms of form factor while retaining the advanced audio technology.
In the box
The NuraLoops themselves are delivered in a surprisingly complex piece of packaging that hinges open down its centre revealing multiple compartments. The first thing you’ll see are the earbuds nestled in a very secure foam cut-out insert. Lift the facing flap and you’ll discover a neat neoprene bag for storing your NuraLoops and accessories that comes with a sturdy zip.
Lift the earbuds out and you’ll find what looks remarkably like a set of in-ear monitors off a concert or show. The NuraLoops are a matt-black rubberised loop of plastic that wraps around the back of your head from one ear to the other (Hence the name, I guess). The rear flowing loop hooks over the top of your ears and back down into the business end of the earbud itself, defining the distinctive look. Apart from the aesthetic quality of the design, I found them to be very comfortable and they really don’t move when adjusted properly.
Behind the foam insert you’ll find some spare ear tips for that perfect fit, a box with a charging cable and one with an analog cable – curiouser and curiouser!
It’s all done with magnets
Now you may have noticed I mentioned a neoprene case but haven’t mentioned a charging case of any sort. Well, that’s because the NuraLoops don’t have one. No, they aren’t powered by unicorn tears but they do have something unusual about them. Positioned in the centre of the loop which sits behind your head when they are in use, you’ll find an unusual custom connector which is where you magnetically attach the USB charging cable for the device. Luckily, you might not be using the cable very often as the NuraLoops have a claimed 16-hour battery life!
But this isn’t a one-trick pony, the connector can also be used to connect a standard headphone jack cable if you want to go old school with a walkman or if the device you’re using doesn’t support Bluetooth. Just to be clear though, the NuraLoops are fitted with Bluetooth 5.0 for a solid connection with almost all smart devices and have a range of up to 10 meters.
The NuraLoops are made for moving around so of course they are rated at IPX3, so while you won’t be swimming in them you’ll be fine in a light shower or if you’re working up a sweat on the run or at the gym.
That may be all well and good but what do they sound like? Well, just like Nura’s previous models, the NuraLoops have the same state-of-the-art audio profile tech built in. If you haven’t read my review of the NuraTrue Pro Wireless Earbuds, first, why not? And secondly, I’ll summarize the tech here…
To take full advantage of the sound profiles, before you listen to any music you’ll have to download and install the nura app (available on ios and android), then connect to your earbuds via bluetooth. I love how the app provides you with a little visual tutorial on how to fit the NuraLoops properly on your head and an interactive tutorial on how to get a good fit in your ear canals.
You’ll then be guided to set up a hearing profile. The process is a little like a hearing test but the outcome is slightly more fun. The process takes advantage of otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) which are the curious little sounds your inner ear makes while reacting to specific sounds. These OAEs are apparently 10,000 times fainter than the sounds going into the ear and they are picked up by super-accurate and precise microphones built into the earbuds. The volume of the OAE is different for every individual and by measuring the OAE coming back out, the Nura app is able to understand which frequencies your ears are more or less sensitive to and build a totally customised hearing profile for every Nura user.
It sounds complex but it plays out very simply and it involves nothing more than listening to a few strange noises for around a minute and it’s all over. Your bespoke hearing profile is then stored in the Nura app and sent via Bluetooth to your earbuds and there you have it. On the app you’ll find a preset generic profile which is fine if a bit dull, but once you activate your personal set-up the difference is astounding. You get every detail, every nuance, every treble note and every bass note. If you have multiple Nura devices, you can send your profile over to those via the same app too.
The surface of each earbud is where you’ll find the touch-sensitive control surfaces. You can assign and define standard controls to tap the surface as you’d expect. But the coolest control UI feature is indisputably what Nura calls TouchDials. You simply scroll your finger around the earbud like a dial which allows you to increase or decrease the volume or skip tracks.
Another setting you can activate with the touch UI is Nura’s Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Like Nura’s other devices, their implementation of ANC is excellent. While sounds are not completely blocked out, Nura’s ANC system blocks external noise fairly impressively, reducing road noise and crowd sounds very effectively.
At the totally opposite end of the spectrum, you have Social Mode. which allows the earbuds to pass-through sounds from the outside world allowing you to avoid having to lip-read when you’re partner is talking to you or to stay somewhat aware when navigating busy streets while walking. I found it particularly handy when I found myself in a busy station where I would have missed the announcement that I was just about to get on the wrong train without having social mode switched on.
In the end, I still believe Nura’s personalized sound profile system is reason enough to buy the NuraLoops. Combine this with the sporty form factor, the great implementation of ANC, social modes and a 16 hour battery life, you’ll struggle to find a better or equivalent product.