One of the many things I love about my job as audio editor at Tom's Guide is that I get to spend a lot of my time listening to all the latest audio products. From headphones and earbuds to Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, it is an exciting and privileged role that continuously drives my expectations for better audio standards.
One of the most popular audio sectors right now are active noise-cancelling (ANC) earbuds, and 2022 has seen an abundance of model launches with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, Google Pixel Buds Pro, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, and of course the mighty Apple AirPods Pro 2, to name a few.
I've enjoyed listening to them all. They each offer a spectacular balance of noise-cancelling capabilities and sound quality performance, and I've been impressed at how these models manage to push audio performance forward.
But it's not just better ANC performance that's been driving audio developments over the past few months. One of the most exciting audio developments this year was the roll out of Qualcomm's aptX Lossless Audio codec. Originally announced in 2021, the new codec promises CD-quality sound over Bluetooth wireless connection, which for audio nuts like myself sounds like the holy grail of codecs to free us from lossy compression techniques used to carry audio data over the bandwidth-limited wireless connectivity.
So it was with eager ears that I took to listening to the NuraTrue Pro earbuds ($329 through NuraSound, and online retailers including Amazon, and B&H), the first model to be available to me with support for the new aptX Lossless codec. Intriguingly though, it wasn't the high-quality audio support that impressed me the most, although it was very welcome and paves the way for audiophile sound quality for the next generation of earbuds.
The NuraTrue Pro earbuds have been something of a revelation to me ever since I was first introduced to them ahead of their launch in mid-2022. In terms of out-and-out levels of audio engagement, these are the best-sounding earbuds I've heard, and it's thanks to the extraordinary capabilities of Nura's personalized sound tuning technology that worked perfectly for my ears.
I've experienced similar kinds of optimized tuning tech before, but nothing that sounds quite like Nura's implementation. In fact, the personalized setup really surprised me, and was a lot more powerful and effective than I imagined. By comparison, the mighty Apple AirPods Pro 2 continually adapt to optimize their sound output to individual ears, but they don't manage to hit the levels of balance and engagement that Nura's personalized sound tech managed to achieve in my ears.
Once the personalization process was completed, the sound delivery was closer to listening to a pair of speakers as part of a hi-fi music system setup at home. The sound from the Nura was big in scale and got to the heart of the music in a way that I've only ever experienced through my home hi-fi. No other earbuds managed to sound this engaging and rhythmically exciting to my ears. They just sounded right.
Several elements made the sound performance so attractive to my ears. Firstly, the levels of presence and insight they brought to vocal performances was tremendous. Voices sounded incredibly well articulated, and the balance of frequencies that makes the human voice sound so natural and convincing was perfectly pitched.
My NuraTrue Pro review highlights a couple of tracks that struck me as sounding better than I expected during my listening sessions, including "Sunshine on Leith" by the Proclaimers and Wham's "Club Tropicana," but literally everything I've heard from Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie singing "Everywhere" to Micheal Bublé's "Cry Me a River (Hollywood Edition)" and Joni Mitchell's "River" was spellbinding and never sounded anything less than spectacular. Vocals seemed to hang mid air surrounded by their own acoustical space to make me feel like I had just taken a front row seat at an intimate live performance.
All the elements of my favorite recordings were present but in a more powerful and musically engaging way. Bass was a real strength of Nura's sonic signature. There was more energy and weight to tracks when listening to the same tracks through Apple's AirPods Pro 2, for example. The NuraTrue Pro dug deep in the similar way to what I'd expect to hear from a large bass speaker driver handling bass frequencies in a home hi-fi setup.
These are my favorite earbuds of the year
It's sometimes difficult to quantify what sonic attributes make great sound, but with Nura's personalization tech enabled on its latest buds, I would find it hard to think of a more musically engaging pair of earbuds right now. I don't know the exact make up of the drivers being used inside the Nura's earbuds, but whatever they are, the result is a precise and entirely rhythmic performance that never fails to excite.
These earbuds got me close to the kind of sound I expect to hear from a pair of standalone speakers, and achieved a level of music connection that I'd more usually associate with listening to my hi-fi setup at home. Hearing the NuraTrue Pro was like having a pair of hi-fi speakers in my ears, and for that reason they are my favorite earbuds of the 2022 without question.
Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think.
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As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.