Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Jennifer Allen

CMF By Nothing Buds review: stylish budget earbuds with a vibrant flair

The CMF by Nothings Buds on a window sill.

CMF Buds: Two-minute review

The CMF By Nothing Buds are very cheap for what they offer. At just $39 / £39, it’s predictably too good to be true to expect great Active Noise Cancellation, exceptional sound quality, and all the other things that come from much pricier earbuds. However, there’s a charm to the CMF By Nothing Buds with their minimalist yet attractive case and that extends to use.

They certainly won’t rival most of the best wireless earbuds but among budget buys, there’s a temptation here. The CMF By Nothing Buds sound reasonable if not exceptional. There’s a crispness here but bass is pretty weak and understated. Music won’t stand out here and even the soundstage is a little lackluster but they’re fine for listening on the move.

Similarly, ANC is more about dampening background noise rather than taking a proactive approach, but it’s better than nothing. You’re left being merely impressed that the CMF By Nothing Buds even attempts ANC at this price. There’s also app support, although it’s temperamental. 

Dual-device connectivity and reasonable battery life all add up to make the CMF By Nothing Buds a nice pair of budget buds, even if not the pair you’ll want to live with forever. That’s not bad at all for under $50 / £50, although in an ideal world, you’ll want to invest more into the best noise-cancelling earbuds.

CMF Buds review: Price and release date

(Image credit: Future)
  • Released in March 2024
  • Officially price dat $39 / £39

The CMF By Nothing Buds was released in March 2024 for $39 in the US and £39 in the UK. The Nothing site directs you exclusively to Amazon for online purchases while UK customers can go to the Nothing store in London if they prefer.

The earbuds are available in orange, dark gray, and light gray. Orange is the most eye-catching color and it’s already proving to be the most popular. Typically, the best budget wireless earbuds are usually black or white so being able to get something more distinctive is a nice perk. 

The biggest rival at this price is the JLab Go Air Pop, which is slightly cheaper but lacks ANC. Other than that, you’ll have to pay more for options like the Sony WF-C700N with the budget wireless earbuds market fairly limited when you go this low.

CMF Buds review: Specs

(Image credit: Future)

CMF Buds review: Features

(Image credit: Future)
  • Up to 35.5 hours of battery life with ANC disabled
  • Companion app
  • Dual-device connection 

Perhaps surprisingly for the price, the CMF By Nothing Buds cover all the bases for essential features. There’s what Nothing calls dual-device connectivity so you can switch between your devices. There’s app support, ANC, and decent battery life.

The app is a little bit of a mixed bag. It’s simple to use and clearly laid out with options for adjusting the equalizer, activating Ultra Bass which makes things a bit more bossy, along with ANC controls. The issue with the app is that I found it would sometimes forget my earbuds. My phone would happily pair with the CMF By Nothing Buds and then switching over to the app would report an issue so I’d have to re-pair them. It’s not the end of the world but it can be mildly irritating if you just want to change the ANC settings briefly.

The ANC is also pretty poor. It dampens down surrounding noises but never to the point where it isn’t entirely obvious that the noise is there. That goes for whether you have the Transparency mode enabled or you go ‘full’ ANC. I’m not exactly complaining though as efforts are made and at this price, any kind of attempt of blocking out noise is a welcomed thing.

Nothing promises a battery life of up to 35.5 hours via the charging case and 6.5 hours on one 10-minute charge. That seemed about right in my time with it and I had no complaints at all. Diving into the app can always help you see what’s going on with power. As is often the way, Bluetooth 5.3 means no chance of dropouts. 

Features score: 3 / 5

CMF Buds review: Sound quality

(Image credit: Future)
  • Weak ANC 
  • Little quiet 
  • Small soundstage

The CMF By Nothing Buds’s strong point definitely isn’t audio quality. They don’t sound awful but it’s very run-of-the-mill stuff. These aren’t hidden gems to rival the best earbuds

Instead, you get a fairly weak aural experience that you’ll have to crank up to enjoy. That’s fine for going for a walk but if you want to hear every crisp note of your favorite songs, you’ll be a bit disappointed. I worked my way through David Guetta’s discography and nothing truly caught my attention. Bass is fairly flimsy and trebles and mids are distinctly weak. Better however was listening to podcasts. Sound is reasonably crisp so voices come through clearly. 

That’s less the case when you’re walking near busy traffic as the CMF By Nothing Buds’s ANC doesn’t do much to block things out. The soundstage also feels pretty narrow so you won’t feel wrapped up in the magic of a hit through these. Even when using the ultra bass setting on the Nothing app, the likes of Muse’s Hysteria struggled to truly grip me.

Sound quality score: 3 / 5

CMF Buds review: Design

(Image credit: Future)
  • Super smooth case
  • Touch controls 
  • Room for a lanyard 

The CMF By Nothing Buds’s case feels like a minor work of art. It’s angular yet smooth and it looks so much cooler on your desk than regular earbud cases. It has a silver sliding circle that moves around to reveal holes for a lanyard. I received a lanyard with my earbuds but these don’t come as standard. Still, it’s easy enough to get hold of your own.

The case isn’t a wireless charging case which is hardly surprising at this price, but it means it’s lightweight and easy to store. The buds themselves are fairly standard and they fit snugly in your ears with a selection of silicone eartips included to get things how you like them.

Each earbud has a touch-sensitive area for controlling things like skipping tracks, answering calls, switching between ANC and Transparency mode. No complaints here. For a change for touch controls, it wasn’t overly easy to activate the controls.

Design score: 4 / 5 

CMF Buds review: Value

(Image credit: Future)
  • Cheap for what they offer 
  • Not perfect but appealing 

The CMF By Nothing Buds aren’t perfect at anything but they’re incredibly cheap for earbuds that offer ANC, even if it’s not great. 

In an ideal world, you’d want to spend more and enjoy ANC that actually works well, of course. The likes of the Sony WF-C700N and the JLab Go Air Pop sound better but the former cost a lot more and the latter lack ANC. It all depends what’s most important to you.

Value score: 3.5 / 5

Should I buy the CMF Buds?

Buy it if... 

Don't buy it if.. 

CMF Buds review: Also consider

How I tested the CMF Buds

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested over seven days 
  • Compared to Soundpeats Air4 Pro and Apple AirPods (Pro 2 and 3rd Gen)
  • Listened to Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube videos and Twitch 

Over the lasts even days, I’ve replaced my usual AirPods Pro 2 with the CMF By Nothing Buds. Of course, the price difference is huge so I also reacquainted myself with the more affordable Soundpeats Air4 Pro that I was using fairly recently. 

I used the CMF By Nothing Buds on my daily morning walks. I know the route well enough that I can tell you all the worst places for traffic noises, so it was a good way of seeing how well the buds fended off distractions.

I also used them on a run to see how well they coped with wind and speedy (ish) movement. It was a good test of the Transparency mode in particular so I didn’t have to worry about missing hearing a bike ride past me.

At home, I used the CMF By Nothing Buds to watch Twitch videos and content on YouTube. That went well with my podcast listening to check out how clear voices sounded on them. 

For music, I predominantly listened to Apple Music and Spotify. The iPhone 14 Pro was driving most of that with a MacBook Pro entertaining me with videos. My taste is fairly varied so there was a lot of spoken word content but also Linkin Park, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, and David Guetta.

I’ve reviewed audio products for over 10 years. I might usually use pricier earbuds as my main option but I regularly use cheaper earphones and headphones for work and so I can keep up with the biggest work-related question I’m asked by friends -- ‘do you know of any good cheap earbuds?’.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.