Offering personalised audio in a striking true wireless package, the NuraTrue are excellent earbuds well worth considering
- High-quality, personalised audio
- Decent noise cancellation
- Striking and comfortable design
- Underwhelming Immersion mode
UPDATE: In December 2021, Nura released a software update addressing one of the big criticisms we had about the NuraTrue, namely their restrictive touch controls. The update also added the ability to change the volume of voice prompts within the Nura app, and made “improvements to charging case reliability”.
We didn’t experience any charging issues during our initial testing, so can’t comment on those claimed improvements, but have updated our review with details about the new touch control gestures and functions.
As their limited controls were one of only two major cons and have now been expanded, we’ve taken the rare step to award the NuraTrue an extra star. They still can’t match the class-leading Sony WF-1000XM4, but they’re excellent all-rounders that give the Bose QC Earbuds a run for their money in all areas save active noise cancellation.
The NuraTrue are the third pair of headphones from Australian audio manufacturers Nura and, like their predecessors, they analyse your hearing and create a bespoke audio profile based on the results.
This time around, that clever technology is packaged in a pair of true wireless earbuds rather than over-ear headphones or earphones, significantly increasing the NuraTrue’s mass appeal. But entering into such a popular category also brings with it a whole lot of competition.
The NuraTrue perform well when compared with similarly priced earbuds, especially in the sound-quality department, but whether their audio personalisation hook is enough to tempt people away from rival earbuds from Apple, Sony and Bose, to name a few, remains to be seen.
NuraTrue review: What you need to know
The NuraTrue offer very similar functionality to both the Nuraphone and Nuraloop in a compact, cable-free package. That’s to say they’re Bluetooth headphones aimed at audio enthusiasts with a fair amount of disposable income.
They operate over Bluetooth 5.0 and support the AAC, SBC and aptX codecs. The absence of advanced codecs such as aptX HD means high-resolution audio streaming is off the menu, but that’s forgivable given the buds are tailoring sound specifically for your personal hearing requirements.
With the exception of Hi-res audio certification, all of the key features you’d expect from a premium pair of wireless earbuds are present and correct. The earbuds offer active noise cancellation and social (transparency) modes, and pause automatically when taken out of your ears. There are also customisable touch controls, and the Immersion (think bass boost) mode seen in both the Nuraphone and Nuraloop makes a return.
NuraTrue review: Price and competition
The NuraTrue retail for £200, a price that clearly defines them as premium earbuds, though they do undercut many of their noise-cancelling competitors, none of which are able to create a personalised sound profile.
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are our favourite wireless ANC earbuds, offering excellent sound quality coupled with super-smart noise-cancelling tech that automatically adjusts based on your surroundings and actions. They’ll set you back around £250, while Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are a similar price and deliver the most effective noise cancellation of any in-ear headphones we’ve tested.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro (£219) are an attractive choice for those that own a Galaxy smartphone thanks to their handy Galaxy-specific features, while iPhone users typically gravitate towards the Apple AirPods Pro (£190) due to how nicely they play with iOS.
If those options are a little too dear, you’re not short of cheaper alternatives. Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro are impressive noise-cancelling earbuds that have dropped in price significantly since launch and can now be picked up for under £100. Panasonic’s RZ-S500W are also a decent bet and have fluctuated between £100 and £130 over the past few months.
It’s also worth mentioning another pair of wireless earbuds from Nura, the NuraBuds. The NuraBuds are available exclusively via Nura’s NuraNow subscription service, which enables you to rent the buds for a monthly fee of £5 in addition to a one-off fee of £19.
Unlike the NuraTrue, the NuraBuds won’t let you create a bespoke listening profile but instead offer an “in-house” sound signature and the ability to import a Nura sound profile created while using another Nura device.
Aside from that key difference, their feature set is similar. Both pairs of earbuds offer ANC along with a social/transparency mode, customisable touch controls and a selection of eartips. The NuraBuds are more compact than the NuraTrue, however, have shorter battery life and their case charges via micro-USB rather than USB-C.
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NuraTrue review: Design and features
The NuraTrue’s design isn’t quite as innovative as the audio technology they use to analyse your hearing, but it’s certainly distinctive enough to set the buds apart from their rivals. Large flat discs make up a sizable proportion of the earbuds, and the central sections, which feature the Nura logo, are touch-sensitive, allowing you to execute playback commands with the tap of a finger.
Nura provides five sets of eartips in the box, four of which are your standard silicone affair, while the others are made of a soft, expandable foam. I tested both the foam and medium-sized silicone tips and found the former to isolate external sound slightly more effectively but the latter more comfortable, so I stuck with the silicone.
In addition to eartips, the NuraTrue incorporate rubber wingtips into their design. These help stabilise the buds in your outer ears, and two pairs are supplied, one with longer wings than the other. I used the pre-installed set and the stability of the fit was superb. The buds didn’t budge an inch while I was exercising and remained comfortable to wear during longer listening sessions. An IPX4 rating for water resistance also certifies the NuraTrue reasonably well protected against the elements (and sweat), so they’re a fine choice for the gym.
The aforementioned touch controls can be customised via the Nura app, which is required to set up the NuraTrue and is available for both iOS and Android.
At launch, the list of functions you were able to assign included play/pause, enable/disable social mode, volume up/down, voice assistant and track skipping. However, you were limited to assigning actions to single and double taps on the right and left earbuds, which meant you could only have four commands at your disposal at any one time.
An over-the-air update in December 2021 added two new gestures – triple tap and double tap and hold – along with the ability to assign increasing and decreasing the immersion level and toggling social mode on while pausing audio to specific gestures. Those additions double the number of commands at your fingertips, making for one of the most comprehensive touch control experiences around.
The touch controls themselves are highly responsive and accurate. The NuraTrue never failed to register an input and not once did I accidentally trigger commands while adjusting the fit.
There’s no cause for complaint when it comes to the NuraTrue’s battery life, either. The earbuds deliver up to six hours of audio playback per charge, with the charging case providing three full charges to take total battery life to a respectable 24 hours. It may not be a class-leading figure but it is on a par with all of the NuraTrue’s key competitors.
The buds have a power-saving feature that sees them enter sleep mode when outside of your ears for longer than a minute, and they also offer auto-pause/resume functionality. In the device settings section of the Nura app you can choose to switch this off entirely, have it activate when one bud is taken out or only when both buds are removed from your ears.
Following the December update, the app also allows you to adjust the volume of voice prompts, with low, medium and high settings available. I personally had no issue with the NuraTrue’s prompts in the first place but such customisation options are certainly welcome.
Despite needing to house what are rather large earbuds, the case is compact and fits neatly into pockets with plenty of room to spare. It lacks wireless charging capabilities, which will be offputting for some, and the black exterior is quick to pick up marks, but neither issue is a dealbreaker for me.
NuraTrue review: Audio personalisation and sound quality
If you’re familiar with the Nuraphone or Nuraloop, then you’ll know what to expect from the NuraTrue – the process by which they analyse your hearing and create a bespoke EQ tuned to your ears hasn’t changed. But for the uninitiated, here’s a simple explanation as to how it all works.
Once you’ve downloaded the Nura companion app, created an account and signed in, you’ll be required to undergo a few tests. The first is a simple one to ensure that the eartips you’re using are the right size and that the buds are positioned correctly in your ears. With that out of the way, the technical wizardry begins.
The NuraTrue play a series of frequencies and measure the sonic responses created by your ears when they process the various sounds. These responses – known as otoacoustic emissions – are inaudible to the human ear but the NuraTrue’s highly sensitive microphones are able to pick them up, process them and reveal key information regarding how you respond to certain frequencies.
That information is then used to build an EQ profile tailored specifically to how you hear. For example, if you’re particularly sensitive to low-end frequencies, bass will be dialled back, while if you struggle to pick out bass tones, they’ll be boosted in your EQ.
Not only do you get a bespoke sound profile, but your EQ is represented in an eye-catching visual format within the app. You can create and store up to three profiles, the most recently used of which will be applied to your audio regardless of whether or not you have the app open.
Profiles also remember your noise-cancelling settings and touch control setup so you can create different ones for different circumstances or different users should you wish. You can see a couple of my profiles below and although they may look like simple splodges of pretty colours, they’re actually rather informative.
The reddish-pink areas extending outside of the central circles represent areas of high sensitivity, while the blue hues within the circles indicate lower sensitivity. When the circles are viewed as clocks, 12 o’clock represents low-end frequencies and frequencies increase as you move in a clockwise direction.
So, a basic interpretation of my results suggests that I’m most sensitive to the highest and lowest frequencies on the spectrum and lack sensitivity in the upper mid-range. I ran the tests a number of times and created multiple profiles to see whether I received consistent results. There were small differences between each profile, but the overarching pattern remained similar.
Surprisingly, those profiles were rather different to those I created when testing the NuraLoop last year. The tests and their results are heavily influenced by how well sound is being isolated by the eartips so the discrepancies are likely due to the different styles of headphones fitting differently in my ears.
NuraTrue review: Sound quality
Due to the unique nature of the sound profiles the NuraTrue create, everyone is going to experience music very differently when using them. Nura clearly acknowledges this by offering a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, allowing you to try them for yourself to see whether they work for you.
They certainly worked for me; the personalised profiles I created sounded infinitely better than the NuraTrue’s neutral profile, which you can switch to for reference on the homepage of the Nura app. They also stood up very well against some of the best-sounding wireless earbuds I’ve tested over the past 12 months, including the Sony WF-1000XM4, Bowers & Wilkins PI7 and Grado GT220.
The soundstage of the profiles I used proved nice and broad, providing plenty of room for crisp articulation of mids and treble. I wasn’t left wanting for detail and the overall balance felt well-judged. Bass was rich and full-bodied without ever becoming overpowering, so in that respect, the dialling back of low-end tones due to my sensitivity in that frequency range was certainly effective.
If you want to add a bit of extra low-end impact or dial back the bass manually, Immersion mode gives you the opportunity to do so. It’s effectively a bass slider with a fancy name and works well enough, up to a point. Once the slider hit around 70%, the additional bass injection started to sound unnaturally dominant and, if anything, took me out of the moment rather than adding to my immersion.
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NuraTrue review: Noise cancellation
The NuraTrue’s implementation of noise cancellation is pretty basic when compared to many of the industry’s big players. It’s either on or you’re in social mode, which drops the volume down and pumps in sound from the outside world, enabling you to have a conversation or be more aware of what’s going on around you.
There’s no way to adjust your ANC level like you can with the Bose QC Earbuds, nor can you create different noise-cancelling profiles for certain situations as the Sony WF-1000XM4 allow you to do. Those earbuds take a more nuanced approach to noise cancellation, which I personally prefer, but that’s not to say the NuraTrue’s ANC is ineffective.
They do a pretty good job at attenuating low-end frequencies and made long tube and train journeys a lot more bearable, while walks into town proved significantly more peaceful with the hum of passing traffic dampened. However, they’re outclassed by the aforementioned options from Sony and Bose, and the Devialet Gemini also offer better ANC performance. All three of those alternatives are more expensive, however, so that’s perhaps to be expected.
NuraTrue review: Verdict
The NuraTrue are a very capable pair of true wireless earbuds and are a better product now than they were at launch thanks to an expanded selection of touch controls and a new, albeit relatively minor, customisation option.
They look and sound the part, offer a uniquely personalised audio experience and can hold their own against pretty much any similarly priced rivals.
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 offer a wider range of impactful features and still have the edge overall, while the Bose QC Earbuds are superior in terms of how much external sound they cut out. But the NuraTrue compete when it comes to sound quality and cost a fair bit less, too, making them a fantastic choice if your budget is limited to £200.