It's impossible to stop a smile creeping across your face when you first hear your newly-generated personal sound profile. Both Nuraphones and the NuraLoop analyse the wearer's hearing to automatically tune their output, and the result is nothing short of astounding.
Despite solid science underpinning the technology at work here, being able to switch between the neutral and tailored audio profiles still seems like magic; bringing in detail and depth that you'd otherwise miss with conventional, unattuned cans or buds.
Not to diminish Nura's achievements up until this point, but the personalised sound tech isn't what's most impressive about the NuraLoop; it's how well the company has managed to distil down the Nuraphones experience into something markedly more compact and portable, without significant compromise.
Nuraphones' unique hybrid in-ear/over-ear or 'Inova' ear cup design delivered impressive passive noise cancellation (the headphones did also employ active noise cancellation/ANC too) and added value with regards to bass delivery. Taking a closer look at what's on show at CES 2020 and the NuraLoop manages to keep that signature Nuraphones sound intact while still adopting a strictly in-ear design.
Rather than going 'true wireless', Nura has opted for a neckbud style, where the two buds are joined by a single cable. This cord runs through a flexible, structured armature that can be moulded to fit comfortably over each ear, ensuring they're securely supported, while a silicone ear tip design allows for reliable passive noise cancellation.
The reason for taking the NuraLoop in this direction comes from the community of users that arose from the release of the original Nuraphones. Musicians and audio technicians liked the personalised sound but wanted something that could operate in the studio or on stage and thus, this less-obtrusive design, which can easily be left to hang around the neck when not in use, makes perfect sense.
Each silicone ear tip attaches to an oversized driver housing, which offers room for two touch-sensitive dials, one on each ear. Swiping in a circular motion on each allows for ramping up or down the level of external passthrough from the active noise cancellation; what Nura calls 'Social Mode', while the other bud facilitates volume control. Tapping on each ear toggles Social Mode and pauses or plays audio respectively too - although you can customise these controls from within Nura's app.
The NuraLoop totes Bluetooth 5.0 with Qualcomm's aptX HD audio compatibility, plus an impressive 16 hours of battery life on a charge, with fast-charging granting two hours of playback from only 10 minutes charge time.
Of course, for some users and in some specific use-cases users won't want to rely on Bluetooth and to address this, the NuraLoop also comes with a proprietary connector at the midpoint of the connecting cord between the two buds. There's a compatible 3.5mm jack that then magnetically attaches to this point, granting wired connectivity, instead of wireless.
NuraLoop pre-orders placed in January will ship in March (existing pre-orders are shipping sooner), with a respectable price tag, considering what's on offer here, of £199/$199.
If our initial encounter with the NuraLoop is anything to go by, these are already shaping up to be some of the best-sounding buds of 2020, especially at their price.
Why not check out our 'Best wireless headphones' feature, to see what it's up against.
The NuraLoop was also one of ten products which we awarded a 'Best of CES 2020' commendation to. Click the article title link to see what else made the cut at this year's show.
Update 9/4/20: In a statement from Nura CTO and co-founder, Dr Luke Campbell, the company has confirmed that the manufacturing and packaging of existing Nuraloop orders is proceeding well, despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have pre-ordered the #NuraLoop we would like to share this update from our CTO and co-founder, Dr. Luke Campbell. If you'd like to get in touch you can contact us on https://t.co/zm4vS4Y4Yh pic.twitter.com/ca8DNvIEjI— Nura (@nurasound) April 9, 2020
Units should start to ship to customers beginning "mid-May".