First Impressions: NuraTrue Pro Review
Nura’s entry into the premium are of true wireless market boast an impressive feature and forward-looking set. In the here and now they sound pretty good, but we’ll have to wait when there are more Snapdragon Sound devices available to hear what they’re truly capable of.
Nura hasn’t been around for long in the headphone market but the Melbourne-based company has been at the forefront of pushing personalised sound in the market. And with its latest NuraTrue Pro model, it’s looking to usher in the next era of high-quality wireless audio.
Ahead of their unveiling on Kickstarter, we spent a couple of weeks listening to the NuraTrue Pro, which bundles in the enticing selection of ANC, Dirac Spatial Audio, Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity and aptX Lossless Bluetooth into a premium priced earphone.
Here’s our first impressions of Nura’s latest and very ambitious wireless earphones.
- UKRRP: £299
- USARRP: $329
- EuropeRRP: €359
- AustraliaRRP: AU$499
The NuraTrue Pro are currently available to pre-order on their Kickstarter page. Anyone interested in taking advantage of the early bird discount will see a generous amount knocked off the asking price, down by 40% from $329 to $199.
- Good comfort
- Selection of ear- and wing-tips
- Responsive touch panels
The NuraTrue Pro model bear similarity to the previous NuraTrue with their disc-based touch surface and the ear-tip section but that’s really all it is – similarities. The Pro model are a sleeker, more polished effort that marks it out as the premium option in the line-up.
I can’t complain about comfort levels in the time I’ve spent with the NuraTrue Pro as they’ve presented no issues in that regard, the rubbery material offers a good cushion when they’re seated in the ear. The fit isn’t necessarily tight but I don’t feel any sense of apprehension that they’d fall out. The Pro comes bundled in with four ear-tips of different sizes plus a wing-tip version for that more secure fit.
The large disc surface is for operating the earphones, and operation has been fairly seamless and responsive with single, double and triple taps alongside double tap and hold providing a variety of options for interacting with the earphones. You can customise the touch controls within the Nura app
My only slight issue is the strength of the design’s noise isolation, i.e. its ability to block environmental sounds through its design. It certainly nullifies a fair amount of ambient noise, but wind noise is a little more noticeable than it was on other pairs I was listening to around the same time. It’s not that there’s a sense of air being whipped into a frenzy but it’s noticeable, especially when swapping between the NuraTrue Pro and the Sony LinkBuds S.
They’re only available in one colour – black – and like the standard NuraTrue there are glossy silver accents on the disc and the logo that help it stand out in a minimalist way.
- Effective noise cancellation
- AptX Lossless support
- Social mode that passes through sounds
In terms of their spec, the NuraTrue Pro are forward thinking in their approach. These buds aren’t looking to cover what’s already available but to put themselves (and consumers) in the advantageous position of supporting advanced headphone features when they duly arrive.
There’s Bluetooth 5.3, which is the latest Bluetooth standard, auto-pause tech, active noise cancellation, wireless charging and 32 hours of battery life.
Really though, the headline feature is Qualcomm’s aptX Lossless tech. AptX Lossless has been in the pipeline ever since it was announced in September 2021. AptX Lossless says it offers bit-perfect, 16-bit 44.1kHz audio quality over a Bluetooth wireless connection and features as part of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound ecosystem that covers a range of supported devices that includes headphones and smartphones.
So in order to benefit from uncompressed, lossless audio, you’d need a high-quality source capable of delivering CD quality audio (Tidal or Qobuz), and both a device and headphone that supports Snapdragon Sound/aptX Lossless.
With the NuraTrue Pro you get the last part of that chain but what’s still lacking are the devices in-between, smartphones/portable music devices that bear the Snapdragon Sound seal of approval. As those aren’t out yet – they’re expected later in 2022 – in the meantime Android users will have to make do with aptX Adaptive at best. If you’re an iPhone user you won’t benefit from aptX as Apple supports AAC instead.
Spatial or 3D audio has become a more popular mode of listening in the past few years. 3D sound might still be considered a gimmick by some but the number of brands and headphones supporting for it suggests that’s changing and that momentum is building. The NuraTrue Pro support Dirac’s spatial audio solution, similar to the Sudio E2 earphones that launched earlier this year.
Dirac’s Spatial Audio takes stereo content and adds more width, depth and height, the idea is it’s akin to the kind of soundfield and stereo imaging you’d get from listening to a pair of hi-fi speakers in front of you.
The active noise cancellation has been good so far, but I wouldn’t say it was in the class of the Sony WF-1000XM4 or even the class-leading Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. Cars, voices and general sounds are suppressed well but some ambient sounds still make their way through even with a switch to the larger ear-tip. While those noises aren’t enough to really disturb the flow of music, like the wind noise I mentioned earlier, the noises are just slightly noticeable even with music playing.
The transparency or ‘Social’ mode is pretty good. A single tap on the left earbud sets it up, allowing sound to come through and reducing the volume of whatever you were listening to. It makes it easier to have conversations with someone as you can hear them more easily without having to take the earphones out. Give the left earbud another tap and you’re back to full noise cancellation. There’s no slider in the app to change the strength of the ANC or Social mode.
If you’ve used the Nura app (iOS and Android) before, it’s virtually with a few features specific to the NuraTrue Pro (Spatial Audio has to be manually toggled on). For whatever reason I keep seeing a ‘create your account’ page when I open the app, but I imagine that’s just a odd quirk that will (hopefully) go away. There’s no sign of the ProEQ function for manually adjusting the EQ settings yourself but otherwise it’s the same clean, visual experience of before.
- Smooth, warm approach to sound
- Dirac Spatial Audio is subtle
- Rich bass
I find the personalised approach to sound that Nura has taken intriguing. Having used the NuraTrue and NuraPhone, both readings from the measurement tests are close to the NuraTrue Pro. So there’s a degree of consistency in its implementation that carries across the line-up of headphones.
But with the personalised sound, does that mean what I’m hearing is completely different from you? And by how much? And what effect does that have on the accuracy of what I’m listening to – as I hearing it as the artist intended? And what’s Nura’s own approach to sound in terms of tone and fidelity?
Those are probably questions for another time, but in terms of Nura’s approach the NuraTrue Pro take a smooth and warm approach across the frequency range. There’s clarity, width and a rich tone to bass that makes for sound that I’d imagine would have wide appeal.
High frequency notes are clear and defined though not the brightest rendition I’ve heard, but there’s is a nice crispness to cymbal crashes. The midrange is free of any sibilance, voices described with a good feel for clarity, though the warmth of the sound does seem to shave some detail and outright definition of instruments. I also wouldn’t say they’re the most dynamic in terms of expressing the difference between peaks and lows in tracks. They’re not attacking or driven in that sense, taking a slightly leisurely, comfortable tone instead.
With regards to the Dirac spatial audio, this isn’t whizz-bang immersion with instruments flying this way and that. I’ve found the experience so far to be very subtle in terms of positioning of instruments in the soundfield to the point where I sometimes wonder whether I’ve toggled Spatial Audio on (or off) in the app. I suppose that’s the point, that spatial audio is not meant to distract or draw your attention to something that ends up sounding unnatural.
It’s meant to elevate the experience but in a general sense, I do wonder whether you’d want something more forceful than subtle. It’s an interesting still not entirely convinced by the merits of spatial audio just yet. There still seems to be some experimentation in how much to push the effect or not push the effect, whether we’re dealing with upmixed stereo tracks or native mixes.
That’s it for first my first impressions of the wireless earphones. They will undoubtedly be more updates to come for the earphones as they near their official release date, and with the release of Snapdragon Sound devices later in the year they’ll be fully able to take advantage of lossless audio.
Hopefully we’ll have a Snapdragon Sound device in our possession, and we’d be able to give a much clearer indication of whether the NuraTrue Pro are indeed leading the way forward for the future of wireless headphone audio.
NuraTrue Pro spec
Bluetooth – named after 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth who united Denmark’s tribes into a single kingdom – is a method of wireless transmission that allows for the exchange of data between devices over short distances.