It was a beautiful morning in Berlin. I was a hop, skip and a jump from the huge IFA 2022 tech trade show, and the schnapps dealt to me the night before hadn't affected my head too badly – well done, me.
And so it was that in high (ahem) spirits, I accepted a curious invitation to join a journo from a competing publication to listen to Nura's NuraTrue Pro earbuds in all their lossless glory. Would these buds ace it? Would they join their older siblings as some of the best true wireless earbuds we've ever tested now that lossless audio devices are finally coming to the party?
But let's backtrack – these are unreleased earbuds after all; it is highly possible you have not yet been introduced.
NuraTrue Pro (a ‘pro’ version of the NuraTrue) launched via a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year and we tested the unreleased earbuds in June, giving them a highly-commended four stars.
The thing is, although the review was excellently conducted and I echo the thoughts of our trusted critic, having listened to the NuraTrue Pro extensively myself, it always struck me as a tad unfortunate that the thing which made the buds potentially great – lossless audio support – was unavailable to us at that time. This is because the source devices able to dish it out to the earbuds wirelessly had yet to be released. Even the best phones in 2022 couldn't do it, until now.
New source devices with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 mobile platform can now do the trick – and Nura's got one for us.
Back to Berlin last weekend and, in essence, I have now atoned for this small gap in the review. I've heard these buds in true lossless quality with a new and compatible smartphone and, although I can hear the incremental gains, I now… doubt my ability to judge them, owing to revelations thrown up by Nura's software.
Opinion: I've never doubted my hearing. Until Nura, that is…
As part of Nura's personalized audio profiling, the companion app runs tests, first checking that the units fit properly (I always downsize eartips to pass this with flying colors), then determining the frequency response best suited to your own ears by issuing various frequencies to them as you wait. It then sculpts an EQ to suit you and only you.
And for the first time in the company’s lineup of products, you can also further tweak the NuraTrue Pro’s audio response with EQ tabs in the app, which were now available to me (they weren't at the time of our review) and it was a useful tool indeed.
I listened to Rag 'n' Bone Man's Human on Tidal and crashes within the intro presented themselves with crisper leading edges and a greater sense of driving rhythm. Textured, gravel-like and previously veiled elements within Rory Graham's reticent but determined vocal were revealed too. FKA Twigs' Two Weeks was a similar story through the treble – clear, bell-like, expansive and just that bit more musically agile.
Reader, I had no competing class-leader as reference for this listening session, but that's OK, no? I back my own hearing and expertise here to make a judgement call on excellent audio quality.
Only, maybe that has changed…
You see, during the NuraTrue Pro's setup, you're given an on-screen visual representation of how augmented your personal profile is. Now, I can only surmise that what you're aiming for is a 'neutral' circle, where very little sonic help is needed – which was nothing like mine.
How do I know my profile is so… different? The audio journo I shared this appointment with got the visual record to be proud of. His was a nice, rounded orange 'personalized' profile with very few anomalies. Mine, as you can see, mushrooms out like schnapps spilled on a handwritten note (just a random observation) and honestly, it has made me doubt my very relevance in the field.
I have reason to be confident though. When hired at What Hi-Fi? many moons ago, I went through what I like to call the 'tap-out tests': sitting in the listening facility being dealt various frequencies at ever-decreasing volumes until I couldn't hear them any more – at which point one has to 'tap out'.
I hope it does not sound arrogant to say that I tended to outlast my male counterparts at higher frequencies (which is no surprise; the women have a proven prowess when it comes to noise exposure at higher frequencies) but also through certain mids – and honestly, I was no slouch when it came bass registers either.
But Nura's test seemingly changes everything. I am ashamed of mine! In our car back from the demonstration, I admit to a certain amount of shock and self-loathing. Is this profile simply the result of poor fit – because the units have never felt supremely comfortable and secure in my smaller womanly ears, despite downsizing? Or is my hearing rapidly deteriorating through my 40s? Or (and this is my hope), is this one reading a blip – a freak poor outcome in an otherwise solid set of listening apparatus?
Either way, I now feel somewhat unqualified to tell you how good the NuraTrue Pro sound. I'll be re-taking my audio test very soon though – I simply must do better. As Sally Bowles (another British visitor to Berlin) once said in the musical Cabaret, "It's gonna happen, happen sometime... maybe this time I'll win!"