Nura has managed to make a name for itself in a very short time. That’s because they don’t do things like everyone else, but carve out their own path.
First we got the NuraPhone headphones – a pair of over-ear headphones with a earbud in the middle of each earcup. A hybrid of earplugs and headphones, in other words. Where the earbuds provide the entire soundscape, while the headphones send thunderous bass through your skull!
But the biggest innovation of NuraPhone was that they were the first on the market to tailor the soundscape to the user’s ears. Using test signal measurements and clever digital processing, the idea was for them to act as “spectacles” for the ears. And it worked surprisingly well! The most impressive thing about them, though, was the dynamics and bass reproduction, which is still the most awesome I’ve heard from any wireless headphone.
NuraTrue measures your hearing and tailors the sound so you will hear the music in all its nuances.
Next came NuraLoop, which had kept the plugs and dropped the ear cups. A much more portable and user-friendly product, just without the hefty bass. But the plugs were wired together, in a landscape where completely wireless earbuds were achieving total dominance. Success was thus limited.
That’s why it wasn’t so long ago that NuraTrue, a pair of completely wireless earbuds, also arrived. With the same smart, customised sound. The powerful DSP requires more space and bigger batteries than usual, hence the housings are quite big and lumpy. But that was about the only downside to them.
NuraTrue Pro – lossless Bluetooth audio
Nura could easily have been happy with the NuraTrue, and just given us an annual fine-tuned version in the future. They’re that good. But I haven’t even had time to pack them away before the NuraTrue Pro slips in from the sidelines. Is there really anything they can do much better?
The answer lies in the Bluetooth protocol. Because Nura has given us the market’s first lossless Bluetooth audio earbuds! And that’s something completely new, because while both LDAC and aptX HD provide enhanced Bluetooth audio, and boast both 24-bit and up to 96 kHz, it’s not actually true lossless. Data has been fudged, using psychoacoustic models to remove sounds you don’t normally want to hear. But since no two ears are the same, it’s impossible to create a completely accurate model. It’s best not to remove anything, but that requires bandwidth. Something Bluetooth is short on.
And that’s where aptX Lossless comes in. Here, data is packaged not unlike what the FLAC format does for music. When the signal is packaged out the other end, it’s an exact copy of what was sent into the codec.
But no matter how clever this data packing is, it still requires more bandwidth than normal Bluetooth audio. In fact, up to 1.2 Mbps. That’s more than twice as much as normal. That’s why aptX Lossless hasn’t been part of the Bluetooth protocol until now, even though the codec has actually been around for several years in the production of radio and TV broadcasts (for example for DAB radio).
But since the debut of Bluetooth 5, it has been possible to manipulate the protocol to provide the bandwidth needed for lossless transmission.
Hidden in aptX Adaptive
aptX Lossless is a separate codec, but it is hidden inside the aptX Adaptive protocol. This means that when you connect the earbuds to an Android phone (good luck persuading Apple to support aptX at all!), you’ll see in the developer settings that aptX Adaptive is enabled. So we’ll just have to take Nura at its word and trust that this is indeed Lossless.
Today, aptX Lossless is not supported by many phones, as the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is required. Compatible mobiles are the Asus Zenfone 9, Motorola Edge 30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Xiaomi 12 Pro and a few more. But this list will quickly grow in the future. For the occasion, I’ve got a Zenfone 9 on loan from Asus.
Longer battery life and multipoint
Among other improvements from the cheaper NuraTrue we see new and better drivers with titanium diaphragms. And there’s support for multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, meaning it can be connected to two devices at the same time. This needs to be manually enabled in the Nura app.
Furthermore, the Pro version has increased battery life from 6 to 8 hours in the earplugs themselves, and from 18 to 24 hours in the case.
Noise reduction and ambient sound
NuraTrue Pro has noise cancellation, and this is always turned on unless you go into the setup in the app and turn it off. A light touch on the left earbud can activate or deactivate ambient sound, which Nura calls social mode because it means you can chat with someone without taking the earbuds out. But there’s no shortcut to doing the same with noise cancellation. You can change the touch functions in the app, but not in terms of noise reduction.
As with the more affordable model, noise cancellation works well; you can block out a large amount of outside noise, including noise in a car cabin. I can’t imagine an airplane cabin being a problem either, but I haven’t been able to test that. The clicking from the computer keyboard sounds louder here than in the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, and the NuraTrue Pro also has more audible hiss. Therefore, I always prefer to disable noise cancellation when the purpose is to enjoy music with the best possible sound quality. After all, you have lossless audio here!
Ambient sound works as intended, and is a nice feature. But it is unfortunately disabled during mobile calls, and cannot be used as a listening function (sidetone) to hear your own voice. Fortunately, the other party can still hear you just fine.
Dirac Spatial Audio
Another feature that NuraTrue Pro has over the standard version is Dirac Spatial Audio. This adds a subtle 3D effect to the content. But no more than that it still feels like stereo; just wider and bigger. I can occasionally appreciate the little extra kick that Dirac adds, but as the sound becomes more diffuse at the same time, I largely prefer to leave this effect off.
The app is important
Pairing the NuraTrue Pro is like with most others: find it in the Bluetooth list on your phone, select it, and the earbuds connect.
Several different cushions are included for the plugs, in both silicone and memory foam. They have a small edge that goes on the inside of the ear, which makes them fit even better.
The housings are even slightly larger than the standard version of NuraTrue, making them both highly visible but also a little heavy to wear. For the same reason, I wouldn’t use them for running, so maybe the next project from Nura should be a pair of training earbuds?
The first time you connect the NuraTrue Pro with Bluetooth, you’ll be prompted to download the app. You’ll need to charge the buds for at least an hour to continue.
The Nura app is important on the first use, because you can create an automatic, tailored sound profile for your ears. The earbuds send sounds into your ears, which are then interpreted and a sound filter is created that is tailored to your hearing. It also activates an immersion function, which is essentially extra bass. A virtual button lets you choose how much immersion you want – if any at all.
The sound of NuraTrue Pro
Make sure to enable Developer Settings on your Android phone to see if aptX Adaptive is selected as the codec. Only then will you get lossless audio. It’s also important to complete the audio calibration, otherwise it can sound flat and lifeless – as with all other Nura models. Once that’s done, though, it sounds utterly awesome!
The sound is quite similar to the more affordable NuraTrue, just with more detail. The stereo sound is great, with plenty of air, and the same crisp bass we know from the cheaper version. Perhaps even a little better defined.
The bass response in Vigil by The Mars Volta carries the song very well, and with the NuraTrue Pro it sounds rock solid. The guitar is at the forefront and appears clear as a bell. The almost nasal voice of Cedric Bixler-Zavala comes through with all its delicious subtlety, and where I thought the little brother NuraTrue lacked a little resolution at the top, the same problem is not there with the NuraTrue Pro.
With classical music on the menu, all the instruments are in check, and even if you turn on the Immersion bass in the app, the double bass still doesn’t steal the spotlight from the cellos.
Any point with lossless?
I’ve tested the earbuds with both Android and iPhone, and Android sounds the best of the two. But it does even if I switch to normal aptX audio, which is not lossless.
Admittedly, there are subtle differences to be heard when switching to lossless – noticeably when noise reduction is disabled, otherwise the inherent noise in the earbuds is too significant to notice the extra detail in the soundscape. It’s at a very subtle level.
A little is certainly gained by lossless, but the main thing is that the earbuds are so good in their own right. With or without losslessness.
NuraTrue Pro is innovation all the way, and in a very successful way. Here, technology is paramount, but wrapped in a user-friendly interface – and executed in such a way that it peels away the emotion aspect of music reproduction. Once the sound is calibrated to the user’s ears, all the instruments are given full turn, while the earplugs also have great bass. Cool!
The fact that the earbuds are also the first with lossless audio via Bluetooth doesn’t make them any less exciting. The improvement is subtle but still important, and brings you even closer to the music.
The only flaw of the NuraTrue Pro is their size. They are a bit heavy. But thankfully, they fit well.