Tozo is not a name DRN have worked with before, but it would be safe to say they made a good first impression.
We were offered to review the Tozo Open Buds and I of course was not going to knock back the opportunity.
The Open Buds came in a light weight charging case that is more like a large flat pebble.
The Buds themselves are nestle inside. Rather than the in-ear canal types that I have been reviewing of late, these are as the name implies, more open type.
There is nothing particularly exciting in the design space. On face value they look generic but as we know, you should never judge a book by it’s cover.
There is a large ear hook to secure them on your ear, which won’t work for Chopper Read. The speaker component is like a large pill which sits outside your ear. The ear hook just hangs them so they are close to your auditory canal.
What makes these Open Buds different, is the biaxial rotation design. This means the speaker component can rotate up and down, as well as inwards and outwards from your face, with the pivot being the front corner of the bud.
This gives plenty of scope for adjustment to suit your particular facial structure.
In my previous experience with this kind of earbud design, it has always been a two handed affair to get each earbud onto my ear.
However with the Tozo Open Buds biaxial rotation design, I can with one hand push the ear hook away from the earbuds. This means I can easily loop the hook over my ear and then push the buds in to close up to my ear. If necessary a fine tune by rotating the buds into position. This is a big plus when I rarely would have both hands free just to get an earbud in place.
The horizontal rotation can go 90 degrees, and the vertical axis goes 60 degrees. Plenty of scope
There is no need to test the fit with different size ear tips because these guys don’t ever go into your ear. They sit just off your ear and the fit is essentially universal.
The earbuds look big but they house 14.2mm dynamic drivers units to deliver the sound.
This is the heart of the unit, how is the delivery of the soundstage?
Early on, I was predominantly using the OpenBuds for calls and podcasts. I have been immersed in the end of calendar year rush to wrap up work whilst squeezing in some information from a 16 hours podcast.
For vocals, the sound is beautifully rendered and clear. The clarity of conversations, or the narrative comes through and makes it easy to process the information. Similarly the voice pick up is faithful and there is little to complain about.
Unlike other earbuds that I have tested over the past few years, the Open Buds did not get the same complains where I sound like I am drowning underwater when the fit is not perfect. I can maintain a conversation without having to constantly adjust the fit and hope it does not move as I talk. They just work because they sit on my ear and everyone is thankful for it.
What about music you ask?
Well I was very pleasantly surprised here.
We have already established that the mids are good. With the music in play, there is a little more emphasis towards the lower end of the range and the sound is not as spatially wide as one could expect. This is not out of character for wireless earbuds though.
The low end is better than I feared, although it still lack a real punch to the bass line that gets the music thumping through the body. There is plenty of clarity but not quite enough support to make it special.
The highs are also played fairly safe. I do like that the timbre maintains a cleanness to everything.
Overall the soundstage is decently impressive. Revisiting an old track from New Zealander singer Bec Runga, I could pick up the delicate tinkling of triangles in the background of the track. Interestingly enough this was something I don’t recall hearing in the past and the Open Buds brought them out beautifully. The track is full of delicate notes and the sound separation was excellent in that regard.
Pushing into more bass heavy music made it a little less satisfying, but nevertheless, I feel the performance is adequate particularly at this price point. There is nothing offensive to it.
Tozo boasts ORIGX acoustic technology in the Open Buds. This is essentially tuning to optimise the performance of vocals and mid-range to deliver immersive sound through clear layers. After trying out various genres of music, I have to say Tozo did a pretty good job.
A little tip though, is to adjust the Open Buds so they are tilting in towards your ears for best sound. It makes a huge difference compared to just haven’t it sit further out and parallel to your face.
The Open Buds offer a difference experience to the in-ear buds.
If you are finding that the in-ear buds are not sitting right or have a tendency to move especially when you are exercising, then the on-ear hooks type like the Open Buds can be a real life saver.
With the type of design, you can easily maintain situation awareness because ambient noise is not completely blocked out. I could still hear my daughter getting my attention even when I am immerse in the music.
Tozo claims 12 hours of continuous playback on a single charge, with the case providing an addition 30 hours.
Each earbuds has a 70 mAh battery and the charging case has 650 mAh capacity.
In my testing using the Open Buds on and off for about 10 days, it did not even occur to me that it needs charging. I estimate that I would have easily gone about 30 hours along the way and I charged it when I was writing up the review and checking to see if it has wireless charging capacity (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).
There is a Tozo app to accompany the Open Buds. It requires an account to proceed which you can create in app.
A few quirks with the account creation process. Firstly it won’t access passwords with special characters. Secondly it needs a full date of birth.
The app also requires you to identify your location as part of the set up process.
And here is where my concerns are. I have to create an account that does not access a complex password, with my DOB as well as location.
I understand from the app disclaimer that the location is only stored locally, and it identifies the last known connected location of the Open Buds in case you have misplaced them. But it is still a little uncomfortable that even at the most basic level I can’t use a complex password regime.
The Tozo app offers an equaliser feature. There are five presets:
- Bass +
- Treble +
They all make some differences to your experience, however there is no option to customise it further.
The Open Buds have Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity, and connection to your device starts as soon as the lid is opened on the charging case.
There is Bluetooth multipoint connection with up to two concurrent connections available.
The Open Buds have an IPX6 water resistant rating which is handy for exercise and the weather.
Aside from what I have already mentioned about the app, the only other complain I have is that there is no wireless charging capability.
Then again considering the cost of these buds, it is not a surprise.
Codec support is limited to AAC and SBC. There does not seem to be any support for aptX.
Less of a gripe but more of a “nature of the beast”, the open design means you will inevitably get some audio leakage to people around you.
The material is a little unforgiving to scuff marks.
The Tozo Open Buds were a surprisingly good unit. The design is innovative with the biaxial rotation design and makes it adaptable to pretty much any ear shape. The battery life is excellent and the wear is comfortable.
They are available in Black, White or Pink from Tozo or Amazon with an RRP of $151 although there are some deals at this time of the year with Amazon listing them for about AUD$86. So if you are still on the hunt for a late pressie or just a bargain, these are well worth considering.
DRN would like to thank Tozo for providing the review unit.