The very best wireless earbuds will set you back a pretty penny, with prices routinely clearing the £200 mark. But what if you could just rent your earphones for a low monthly cost instead?
That’s the proposition that Nura is offering with its new NuraBuds true wireless earphones, which is exclusively available this way, with no option to buy outright.
For £5 per month, plus a one-off £19 set-up fee, Nura will ship you its new earbuds, with the promise of a “device refresh” every 24 months as part of its Nuranow subscription service.
And the buds themselves appear pretty promising on paper. As well as working with the company’s custom audio profiles, the buds boast active noise cancellation (ANC), and boast a sweat-resistant IPX4 rating, making them exercise friendly. To ensure they don’t keep slipping out your ears on a run, they ship with three different ear tips to help you find your fit.
They support Bluetooth 5.2, aptX, SBC, AAC and Bluetooth QuickSwitch, making them pretty flexible, too.
But there are drawbacks. The battery life is relatively low compared to some rivals, with NuraBuds only providing four hours from the buds themselves or ten hours with the charging case.
More importantly, Nura’s USP – the option to generate your own personalised sound profile – can’t be done via these earbuds, so you’ll either have to import your profile via a previous test done on another set of Nura earphones, or trust that the standard in-house configuration (tested, the company says, on “almost 2,000,000 ears”) is right for you.
Then there’s the subscription model itself, which certainly won’t work for everyone. With a phone contract, you own the handset at the end of the 24 months, but that isn’t the case with NuraNow, which is more like a rental system. As the site’s FAQ explains, “if you cancel your NuraNow subscription, any devices you’ve received will be remotely deactivated and you will have 30 days to send them back to us.”
Because NuraBuds aren’t available to buy outright, it’s hard to know how they compare to other products that the company produces, but there are clues from the other products available via a NuraNow subscription: Nuraphone, the over-ear headphones, go for £11.99 per month with a £39 one-time fee, but sell for £349 when bought outright. Nuraloop, the company’s wireless earphones, go for £8.99 per month with a £29 one-time fee, and cost £149 when bought upfront.
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That would suggest that NuraBuds are a less premium product than the £199 NuraTrue true wireless earbuds we reviewed last month. All the same, our reviewer Andrew Williams was pretty impressed with what he heard in his NuraTrue review.
“The NuraTrue fit Nura’s custom sound-tuning tech into a desirable true wireless form, with great results,” he wrote. “Battery life is solid, sound customisation is as refined as seen in the original Nuraphones, and active noise cancellation is well implemented.”