After the Ear series of earbuds, London-based consumer tech startup recently introduced the CMF by Nothing sub-brand to launch more affordable accessories such as CMF Buds Pro, CMF Watch Pro smartwatch and also launched a charger.
Here we have the CMF Buds Pro, the company’s first ANC earbuds under the CMF sub-brand. Are these good for the price? Let us dive into the review to find out.
The earbuds come in a unique-looking and eco-friendly packaging
- CMF Buds Pro in Light Grey colour
- USB Type-C Cable
- Ear tips in Small and Large sizes (Medium pre-installed)
- User Manual, Safety and Warranty Card
Design and Build Quality
Unlike a transparent design in the Ear series, the CMF Buds Pro comes in a round casing with the logo on the top. It has a PC + ABS body with a matte finish that doesn’t attract fingerprints, but the white colour is prone to scratches.
Opening the case, you can see the earbuds and a function key below the buds. The case has magnets, so that it locks securely. There is also a magnet connecting the two parts of the case, and the earbuds also have a strong magnet that secures them in its place.
You can see the LED light on the front that glows in white and red colours. The USB Type-C port is present on the back.
The charging case measures 58 x 58 x 24mm and weighs 44.5 grams, making it slightly smaller and lighter than the Ear (1) and Ear (2). The case doesn’t have any IP ratings, which is present in the Ear (2).
The in-ear earbuds have a matte finish for the stem, and the rest of the earbuds feature a glossy finish. The earbuds weigh about 4.8 grams, which is actually 0.3 grams heavier than the Ear (2), but these feel lighter due to the tall design measuring 31.6 x 21.6 x 22.5mm. There are three mics on each earbud, which promise better wind noise cancellation.
There is an optical sensor for wear detection so that it can automatically pause the audio when you remove it from your ears and play when you put it back.
You can also see the CMF branding on the outside where the touch-sensitive area is present that lets you control play/pause, ANC and volume. The earphones have IP54 ratings for dust and water resistance that can withstand splashes or light rain, but you can’t use it when swimming.
The fit was perfect, and it doesn’t come out easily, even during strenuous activities like running or workout. Since they are light, you don’t feel like wearing the earbuds. This doesn’t have the Earbuds fit test option present in the Nothing ear series.
Connectivity, Pairing, and Controls
The CMF Buds Pro Ear supports Bluetooth 5.3 with AAC and SBC codecs. We can’t expect LDAC for the price, but the company could have added aptX for a native low latency gaming experience.
The pairing process is very easy for Nothing devices. Just enable Bluetooth on the phone, open the charging case of the buds, place the charging case close to the phone, and follow the prompts. To connect to other devices, place the Buds into the charging case with the cover opened. Press and hold the setup button in the case for 2 seconds to enter Bluetooth settings. Then, select the CMF Buds Pro.
There is a fast pair option which works in latest Android phones. We tested it on the HONOR 90 5G and Pixel 7, and never faced any pairing or disconnection issues. There is also Microsoft Swift Pair to connect it to Windows. Since the phone pairs with the case and not the headset, you will need the case if you want to reconnect it or even turn on the headset if it’s disconnected from the phone.
Unlike the Ear (2), this doesn’t have dual connection, so you can only connect to one device at a time.
This still uses touch controls that were introduced in the Ear (1). This lets you skip tracks, switch between noise cancellation modes, and adjust volume – all with a press. The controls can be customised in the Nothing X app.
|Function||Left earphone (L)||Right earphone (R)|
|Play / Pause or Answer call / Hang calls||Double tap|
|Next track||Triple tap|
|Switch between ANC and Transparency Mode||Tap and hold|
|Volume control||Double tap and hold|
Volume control is disabled by default, but can customize them with the Nothing X app on Android and iPhone. You can change actions for double tap, triple tap and double tap and hold. Tap and hold is set for noise control.
You can disable in-ear Detection from the settings. There is ‘Find My Earbud’ option that makes high pitch sound so that you can locate the earbuds when you misplace them.
The CMF Buds Pro has 10mm liquid crystal polymer (LCP) and polyurethane (PU) bass driver with and a premium diaphragm for high elasticity and more precision, says the company. The soft material of the PU is what allows the bass sound to come through purer and more accurate, it adds.
As the company says, the bass is on the higher side, and the high and mid-range frequencies were decent, but not the best. The company also says that the earbuds feature an intelligent bass enhancement algorithm that enhances the sound of bass in real time, which is true.
The rear chamber an exhaust vent to make the mid-low frequencies fuller, the high frequencies clearer and low frequencies extra powerful, says the company.
It features four equalizer presets – Balanced (default), More Bass, More Treble and Voice – so that every song can be heard how it should. You can also create custom EQ with the custom option. It doesn’t have the Personal Sound Profile feature present in the Ear series.
Noise Cancellation and Call Performance
Regarding the Noise cancellation, the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) blocks the ambient sound up to 45dB, more than the Ear (1) and Ear (2) which have 40dB. However, the quality in the Ear series felt better, especially when using outdoors.
Similar to the company’s premium earbuds, this also uses an extremely wide frequency range of up to 5000 Hz, which it says detects and effectively eliminates more types of noises. However, it is not perfect in varied sound conditions like switching from traffic or crowded areas.
There are three modes, Low, Mid, High, and misses the Adaptive Mode present in the Ear series, so you will have to adjust the quality manually. It also doesn’t have personalised ANC option, which is fine since others don’t offer it in the price range.
You can switch between noise cancellation, transparency and no noise cancellation with tap and hold gesture.
This also has Transparency mode that allows you to listen to ambient sound so that you can recognize the surrounding situation and any potential risks. The low-latency gaming mode, which is called low lag mode, works automatically with the Nothing phones, but you need to enable it from the settings for other devices. Without the low lag mode, the latency is too high, but it is decent with the mode enabled, but the company doesn’t reveal the value officially.
Coming to the call noise cancellation, it uses Clear Voice Technology for calls that uses three high-definition microphones on each earbud to cut external noise. The company says that it uses advanced algorithms that analyse the input, referencing more than 20 million sound samples, same as the Ear (2).
It also has special wind-through structure that features two holes at the top of the stem and advanced wind noise reducing algorithms. Based on my use, call quality is decent for the price, but wind noise was still audible for the receiver, and the traffic noise were faintly audible. Ear (2) was better in both wind and traffic noise cancellation.
The earphones pack 55mAh battery that promises 11 hours of standalone battery life without ANC and 6.5 hours with ANC. During my use with AAC and noise cancellation enabled, I got slightly over 5 hours in about 60% volume, which is decent.
With noise cancellation fully off, it lasted for close to 9 hours, which is also decent. For calls, it lasts only for 4.5 hours with ANC enabled, since it uses call noise cancellation tech. This is still better than the Ear (2) since this has a bigger battery.
With the 460mAh charging case, it promises up to 39 hours of total battery life without ANC and 22 hours of total battery life with noise cancellation enabled. This doesn’t have wireless charging. Charging the case fully with the earbuds takes about 1 and half hours. It also has fast charge, so that you get 5 hours of playback without ANC with 10 minutes of charging.
Overall, CMF Buds Pro is decent active noise cancellation (ANC) TWS earbuds for the price. Even though the design of the earbuds look similar to most models, the case has a matte finish, which is looks and feels good. Battery life is good, but the bass is on the higher side, and the call quality is average.
Priced at Rs. 3,499, it will be available at a special launch price of Rs. 2,999 during the limited drop sale on Flipkart and Myntra on September 30th at 12 PM IST. It will be available on sale for everyone, starting with Big Billion Days on Flipkart and also on Myntra. It will be available in offline stores including Vijay Sales and leading retail partners, said the company.
The realme Buds Air 5 in the same price range offers dual-device connection and 50dB ANC, but the battery life is less compared to the CMF Buds Pro. If you spend more, there is realme Buds Air 5 Pro with dual drivers and LDAC at Rs. 4,999, and you can also check out the OPPO Enco Air 3 Pro with LDAC, 49db ANC and IP55 ratings, under Rs. 5000.
- Good battery life
- Decent audio quality
- 45db ANC with customizable modes
- IP54 ratings for the buds
- No dual device connectivity
- Call quality could have been better