The NS1100 Air are a good vehicle for Nocs’s return to earphones. Their sound is lush and smooth, the bass is deep and confident. The signature is more mass market than audiophile, but the main drawback is you can get more effective active noise cancellation elsewhere.
- UKRRP: £114
- USARRP: $150
- Large-scale sound
- Powerful and deep bass
- Long battery life
- Only moderately effective active noise cancellation
- Mid-bass limits separation a little
- IPX4 water resistanceWhile these are not totally waterproof sports earphones, their IPX4 water resistance is good enough for runners and gym goers.
- Active noise cancellationThe NS1100 Air have somewhat effective active noise cancellation, and a transparency mode that plays ambient sound through the drivers.
- Personal sound tuningThese earphones have custom sound profiles using software by Audiodo, useful if you have slight higher frequency hearing loss.
Nocs AB has been away for a while. The company used to be one of my favourite mid-price earphone makers. Old Nocs pairs had style, good sound and were solid value, and the latest – the Nocs NS1100 Air – are the first new Nocs earphones I’ve used for well over half a decade.
The company’s founder told me “we re-entered the audio space when the true wireless market had matured some and we were able to go fully wireless in a compact format,” and that these earphones were developed over a period of 18 months.
True wireless earphone buyers are hardly short on options but the Nocs NS1100 are a pretty compelling pair for their price. Very powerful sub-bass is their main draw, not least because it’s well trained enough to not leak all over the place turning music into audio stodge.
Sony has made it hard to pretty much everyone else to compete at this price, though, now the former favourite WF-1000XM3 are available for around £115 online.
- 6g plastic earpieces
- Shallow design ear tips
- Plastic charge case
Nocs AB is a Swedish company that has always paid attention to design. Its website is “nocsdesign.com” for a reason.
However, the Nocs NS1100 Air look very little like the classic Nocs pairs, many of which were smooth metal bullets. You can’t make earphones that small anymore, not if they’re going to have the battery and chipset tech required for true wireless transmission.
The Nocs NS1100 Air are black plastic earphones somewhat similar to Jabra’s Elite range. The earpieces are a bit larger than Apple’s AirPods Pro, but there’s no stem, no visible buttons and low-key Nocs branding. Nocs many have left the metal bullets back in the 2010s, but its minimalist sensibility is still here.
These earphones also have shallow silicone tips for a less invasive fit. There’s no wing part to help keep them stuck in your ears, but I’ve worn the Nocs NS1100 Air on several runs and had no problem. They feel secure.
- Up to 9-hour battery life
- Assistant support
- Active noise cancellation
Given the NS1100 Air marks Nocs’s return to earphones, this pair feels impressively feature-complete.
You get active noise cancellation, digital assistant support, a transparency mode and impressive battery life of up to nine hours. The most eye-catching feature is the sound customisation.
When you start the Nocs app you’re prompted top take part in a short hearing test, and asked for your age. This is my least favourite method of sound tuning — listening to increasingly high pitched tones until you can no longer hear them — but it’s likely the only method Nocs could use without going full Nuraphone and adding super-sensitive microphones to “hear” how you hear.
A good part of the tuning profile is down to your age. If you have some higher frequency hearing loss, the NS1100 Air will boost the treble to compensate.
You can ignore the app entirely if you like, as the primary controls are available on the earpieces themselves. Single and double taps on the right bud act as basic playback controls while a long-press brings up your phone’s assistant.
Taps on the left one cycle through the three modes: normal, active noise cancellation and the transparency mode. This last one mode feeds through some outside sound so you can hear the world around you better.
The effectiveness of the Nocs NS1100 Air’s active noise cancellation is not in the same league as Sony’s or Bose’s. You get noticeable attenuation of low-end frequencies, but nothing like the near-magical stress-busting effect of the most powerful ANC headphones. This is no big surprise. Even Sony spent years perfecting its cancellation for the WF-1000XM4. However, the similarly-priced Edifier Neobuds Pro ANC is better too.
ANC is only passable, and the microphone is also quite susceptible to wind noise (this only affects the ANC mode).
- Deep bass extension
- Rich tonality
- Some excess mid-bass
The Nocs NS1100 Air have 9.2mm graphene-coated drivers. A handful of years ago there was a lot of talk about the wonder-material graphene, and it’s used here to provide extra stiffness to the driver, in order to reduce distortion.
Bass power is the main appeal strength. The Nocs NS1100 Air have powerful bass, with real presence down into the sub-bass frequencies. Kick drums and bass synths are delivered with punch, which always makes for a fun listen.
I’m not typically a huge fan of bassy earphones but Nocs has pulled off this sound style rather well. Bass decay is snappy for a moderately affordable pair, which stops the low-end from sounding boomy.
The Nocs NS1100 Air also avoid having a very obvious upper-mid or treble emphasis to offset the powerful bass, which can lead to a pair’s sound seeming sculpted and ultimately inauthentic. There’s no obvious “scooped” character here. However, there is predictably more mid-bass than in a more reserved-sounding earphone.
This makes music sound more rich and lush, but also diminishes the separation between the mid-range, where the bulk of vocals sit, and the bass. Listening to the Nocs NS1100 Air side by side with the Klipsch T5 II, which offer one of the better instances of mid-range reproduction in this class, and you can hear there’s more mid-range detail in the Klipsch pair.
The Nocs earphones have a slightly softer presentation, but it’s offset by scale. These are a large-sounding set, and it’s a big part of why the enhanced bottom-end does not seem out of place.
I do think you need to be on-board for big bass to buy the Nocs NS1100 Air, though. It’s an integral part of their character, naturally pulls focus regularly and comes with a certain trade-off in precision. But these earphones still offer a fun and engaging listen.
Should you buy it?
The Nocs NS1100 Air are long-lasting true wireless earphones with crowd-pleasing sound: deep bass and rich mids that give them a lush character without becoming leaden.
You can get far more effective active noise cancellation elsewhere. Purists may also find the sound a little too thick, and that the mids aren’t quite as transparent as they’d like.
The Nocs NS1100 Air see Nocs AB return to the earphone world in style. They have long battery life, they look fairly good and deliver lush, powerful sound.
Their bass is quite heavily emphasised, but its impressive extension down into the lowest frequencies can be thrilling. Mid-range detail and separation are not class leading, but by avoiding any obvious peaks in the upper mids and treble, it all hangs together as a coherent, caramel-textured whole.
I’d like to see Nocs improve the active noise cancellation in future releases, though, because it’s relatively weak compared to the class-leaders.
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Tested over a few weeks
Tested against other headphones
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They have IPX4 water resistance, enough to handle some sweat or rain, but not a rinse under a tap.
These earphones can receive audio over SBC and AAC.
They do have active noise cancellation but its performance is far from best-in-class.