Given that Nothing made its debut with TWS buds, it already has proven expertise in this sector, and now it has chosen to add another pair to its portfolio. The new offering is part of the trio of devices launched under the CMF sub-brand, and is attempting to chart its own course through the crowded marketplace instead of sticking to Nothing’s signature design philosophy. I’ve given the new CMF Buds Pro a listen, and can share some thoughts on how it fares. So without further ado…
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Design and buildThe first thing you’d notice about the CMF Buds Pro is how orange it is. Of course, the device is available in more subtle hues like dark grey and light grey, but I got the orange one to try out and I can tell you that the vividness of this shade can surprise you with its intensity. Once you get past that, you’d notice how large and round the case is. Shaped like a hockey puck, but smaller and thicker, the Buds Pro’s case isn’t as pocketable as most others that throng the shelves. Shoving this case into a tight jeans pocket isn’t easy, and when you do manage to accomplish the feat, it makes its presence felt both to the user and to others (as an unsightly bulge).
The finish and build quality is superb though. The case features a smooth matte finish, and you’ll see the CMF logo embossed on top. At the front, there’s a small LED, while the back has a large metal hinge and a Type-C port. The lid opens up to reveal the buds lying inside, resting inside dedicated cavities. There’s a pairing button there too. The buds follow the typical TWS design, featuring small, rounded buds with silicone tips, and pill-shaped stems bearing the CMF insignia.
The stems have smooth, rounded sides, and ample space at front to make the touch controls easy to use. The buds are quite lightweight, feature an optical sensor for wear detection, and offer a good, solid, and comfortable fit for prolonged usage without causing any discomfort. And they’re IP54 rated too, indicating that exposure to sweat, light rain and minor splashes shouldn’t pose any issue.
Features and app
The CMF Buds Pro boast custom dynamic boost bass drivers, hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation) up to 45dB and Ultra Bass technology which promises to enhance the bass in real-time. AAC and SBC codecs are supported (no LDAC or aptX), while other features include in-ear detection, Google Fast Pair, Microsoft Swift pair, wind noise reduction, six mics, Clear Voice technology, low lag mode and find my earbuds via the companion app. There’s no multipoint connectivity though.
Speaking of, the buds work via the Nothing X app which comes baked into the firmware on Nothing’s own phones, and can be downloaded via the Google Play Store and Apple App Store for others. The app is easy and intuitive, and allows you to switch between ANC (which has three different levels) and transparency modes, set the equaliser preset (there are four presets plus the ability to set a custom EQ), view battery levels in the buds and the case, and also configure the touch controls. The latter work well too, with double tap set to skip songs or answer / end calls, triple tap set to previous track or reject calls, and tap & hold set to switching ANC modes. I like the fact that CMF hasn’t provided single tap as an option, which should help in eliminating accidental touches while adjust the fit.
Sound quality and ANC
The overall sound quality of the CMF Buds Pro is tuned for bass, which is good for some genres and not so much for others. The separation is pretty good, and the buds do a swell job overall, sticking to a lively sound signature. The bass does have a kick to it, and that’s something that can be felt even with the default balanced EQ press. Switch to “More bass” however, and the audio can muddy up a fair bit and sound overwhelming, depending upon what you’re playing. The ANC however, is very good, and the Buds Pro do a great job of eliminating background noise, especially on the high setting… useful for noisy environs like the office or while commuting. The call quality is decent too.
Thanks to the decently-sized 55mAh battery in each bud, the CMF Buds are able to claim a very respectable battery life of up to 11 hours with ANC off and 6.5 hours with ANC on. And the good thing is, they come quite close to these promises too. The 460mAh battery in the case promises to bump the overall battery life of up to 39 hours with ANC off and 22 hours with ANC on. These are solid numbers. There’s no wireless charging on offer at this price point of course, but the wired charging can deliver up to 5 hours worth of usage with 10 minutes of charging.
VerdictFor their asking price of Rs 2,999, the CMF Buds Pro come across as solid value for money. They might have a few rough edges in terms of the overwhelming bass which might not appeal to purists, but the sound quality otherwise is quite good, and is topped off by effective ANC and long battery life. As for the orangey bit, you always have the option to go for a more subtle shade, though I must admit the chirpy colour has grown on me in a matter of days.
Editor’s rating: 8 / 10
- Decent audio quality
- Stable, comfortable fit
- ANC works well
- Good battery life
- Bass-heavy audio can get overwhelming
- Large, bulky case