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TOZO OpenBuds Review

Last updated: 4 months ago
11 min read
Editor
rating
3.7
TOZO OpenBuds earbuds in case

TOZO OpenBuds offer a unique take on sports earbuds with an air-conduction design. But forget the features that would improve the user experience, resulting in a half-baked product.

UPDATE 5/3/2024: We added more tables and comparisons between different headphones we’ve tested.

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

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  • List price (MSRP): $69.99
  • Manufacturer: TOZO

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Related: Best open-ear headphonesBest workout headphones – Best headphones for cycling

Our Conclusion

Similar to TOZO OpenReal, the TOZO OpenBuds are air-conducting true wireless earbuds for sportspeople. They let you hear everything around you while listening to music.

Due to increased awareness and excellent stability, the OpenBuds are a perfect solution for runners and cyclists. They even improve comfort compared to similar Skullcandy Push Ultras.

However, despite the higher asking price compared to the OpenReal model, they lack a custom equalizer, which would fix the thin and occasionally sibilant sound.

You’re left with a product that could’ve been so much better. Hopefully, TOZO will address this via firmware updates.

Pros & Cons:

  • Comfortable & stable fit with multi-angle ear hooks
  • IPX6 rating is high enough for all sports except swimming
  • Full surrounding awareness thanks to air-conduction design
  • Long battery life at 7.5h, albiet not as advertised
  • Great indoor Bluetooth range of 50 feet & multipoint
  • Disappointing treble ruins sound quality
  • No customizable audio equalizer
TOZO OpenBuds static noise
Earbuds emit a faint static noise when there’s no audio playing.

Compare similar headphones

1.
Sonic9Score 3.7
Earbuds with amazing ergonomics but lack of features
Sound rating 3.0
Comfort & fit rating 5.0
Durability rating 4.0
Battery rating 3.5
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Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 3.0
Battery life Claimed:12h Test:7.5h
2.
Sonic9Score 4.2
Headphones with a high-quality audio & durability
Sound rating 4.5
Comfort & fit rating 4.5
Durability rating 4.5
Battery rating 4.0
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Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 4.5
Battery life Claimed:13h Test:12h
3.
Sonic9Score 3.9
Premium-feeling headphones with a full, smooth sound & feature-packed app
Sound rating 4.0
Comfort & fit rating 4.5
Durability rating 3.0
Battery rating 3.5
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Bluetooth rating 5.0
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Battery life Claimed:14h Test:12.5h
4.
Sonic9Score 4.1
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Sound rating 3.5
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Durability rating 3.0
Battery rating 4.5
Features rating 4.5
Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 4.5
Battery life Claimed:17h Test:20h
CONTENTS (show more)

    Our Analysis and Test Results

    Our testing showed promising performance but ultimately failed delivery, especially in sound, which could be so much better with custom EQ.

    Otherwise, they’re easy and comfortable to use, with a robust 50 feet indoor connection and multipoint support.

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    TOZO OpenBuds have a full low-end and (sometimes) balanced midrange. However, treble is all over the place, making the sound unnecessarily thin and occasionally harsh.

    Key points:

    • Good bass response for the open-ear design.
    • Unbalanced and harsh treble makes these earbuds undesirable for audio purists among sportspeople.
    • Big soundstage and an accurate imaging are a great bonus.

    TOZO has proven with OpenReal that they can deliver clear and full sound with air-conducting headphones. The OpenBuds are no different. They have a high potential for good sound.

    However, the default tuning is less than optimal, “thanks” to a highly uneven treble. There are a few EQ presets in the app but no customizable EQ. And that’s a problem.

    Let’s dig into bass, mid, and treble frequencies.

    Bass: Full but not well extended or controlled

    Bass sounds full and powerful enough to add punch and warmth to any music you’re listening to.

    Lower frequencies have a respectable quantity and extension for air-conducting open-ear earbuds with drivers even further away from your eardrums than classic earphones.

    That said, the extension and fullness still can’t match the bass from in-ear earbuds. And there’s no sub-bass rumble. You’d need noise isolation for that.

    Furthermore, the bass control is less pronounced than in the OpenReal model. On the other hand, OpenBuds have better details and more nuance when listening to bass guitar.

    TOZO OpenBuds driver opening
    A mesh behind the big opening reveals the 14.2mm dynamic driver.

    Midrange: Sometimes balanced, sometimes thin

    For the most part, midrange frequencies sound okay. In certain songs, vocals and instruments sound fine, albeit thin.

    On the flip side, in many other songs, the boosts in the treble affect the tonality of the midrange, making vocals, in particular, very thin and sibilant. Guitars also lack energy, indicating a dip around 3-5 kHz.

    Usually, we can show you a frequency response graph. However, we have difficulties making an accurate frequency response measurement on our MiniDSP H.E.A.R.S since the latter isn’t made to measure air-conducting headphones, only standard earbuds and headphones.

    Treble: Very uneven and lacking detail

    The main issue with TOZO OpenBuds is the tuning of higher frequencies. It’s highly uneven, with huge middle and upper treble boosts.

    Highs can sound metallic, with poor detail retrieval and a lack of texture. Cymbal crashes have poor resolution and way too much sizzle.

    If only TOZO would enable a custom EQ so you could try to fix this imbalance. The tuning contrasts entirely with the OpenReal, which have a much darker sound signature.

    Moreover, all the extra 4 EQ presets you get in the app sound less than ideal, so we can’t recommend any.

    TOZO OpenBuds hooks
    The opening on top of the earbuds acts as a “bass reflex” and is crucial for achieving a fuller bass response.

    On the other hand, the soundstage is big. More so than in the OpenReal model. It is deeper than wider, and you also get a good sense of sound playing “behind” you.

    Interestingly, the imaging is also excellent. It is a bit blurry between the center and left/right image, but it is much more accurate than in many true wireless earbuds we’ve tested lately.

    One thing worth pointing out is the static noise earbuds emit when playing music.

    You can hear it right after pressing play, but you’re still waiting for the song to start. You can also hear it when listening to music at lower volumes and a few seconds after you press pause.

    It is important to note that this isn’t an issue during sports activities, but it is still something we thought was a thing of the past. Even much cheaper earbuds don’t emit such noise anymore.

    Sound Comparison

    My conclusion

    TOZO OpenBuds don’t convince us with their sound, especially after testing the OpenReal headphones, which sound fantastic (after customizing their EQ).

    The latter is also the biggest problem of the OpenBuds: they need a custom EQ. And for $70, that is a very strange decision from TOZO.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    TOZO OpenBuds have a unique ear hook system and a cleaver design to ensure exquisite comfort and a secure fit. You can easily attach them with one hand.

    TOZO OpenBuds use ear hooks to hold onto your ears, not ear tips. Despite their bricky looks, they gently lean on your pinna, avoiding poking or pain.

    However, how you adjust the hooks is like anything I have ever seen. TOZO calls it “biaxial rotation” or “multi-angle adjustment”.

    TOZO OpenBuds ear hooks size
    Moving the ear hook adjustment all the way up and down ensures “compatibility” with various ear shapes.

    Ear hooks can rotate up to 100° left and right and up to 60° up and down. This up-and-down motion adjusts for the size of your ears and uses increments when adjusting. Increments produce clicky feedback.

    That is an excellent solution to otherwise mouldable ear hooks that you need to constantly stretch and squeeze to fit your ears.

    This brilliant design makes the OpenBuds very comfortable since the hooks don’t squeeze your earlobes and can fit just about every ear. Most importantly, it makes them extremely stable, too.

    Earbuds didn’t move much during our head-shaking test, even when leaning the head in weird positions. We never managed to make them fly off our ears.

    There really isn’t much else to say since TOZO did an excellent job here. The only hassle is that to place them back into the charging case, you must adjust the ear hooks to a specific size.

    TOZO OpenBuds one-handed adjustment
    You can easily place the earbuds onto your ears using just one hand.

    Compared to other similar models

    TOZO OpenBuds are even comfier than SoundPEATS RunFree Lite despite looking bulky. That means they’re also more comfortable than all the other open-ear headphones.

    Are you looking for headphones for running or cycling? Here are some suggestions:

    Durability

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    TOZO OpenBuds have an IPX6 rating, so you can use them in the shower. They’re built well, although the big and thin plastic of the charging case looks like it could easily crack.

    Earbuds, while big, appear well-made. The housing is glued together from at least 3 parts, but it is impossible to crack it open without crushing it with something heavy.

    The ear hooks are the only concerning part of the buds—particularly the multi-angle mechanism. However, while it has the potential to break, it would be hard to break it unintentionally.

    Another point of concern are at least 3 openings protected with a fine mesh. The opening on the top reveals a glimpse of the 14.2mm dynamic driver inside.

    That is where the IPX6 rating comes into place, as those protective meshes are fine enough to prevent water from entering. So earbuds can survive heavy splashes and a shower.

    TOZO OpenBuds water resistance
    TOZO Open Buds can survive water sprays from all sides.

    On the other hand, IPX6 is one rating short of confirming complete waterproofness, so avoid dunking the OpenBuds into water.

    Strangely, earbuds aren’t rated for dust resistance since they’re ideal for all sportspeople, even outdoor runners.

    The charging case is small in height but huge in width—even wider than a credit card. It’s a bit clumsy.

    That can be a problem since the plastic looks thin, especially on the lid. So, you should take good care of it, dropping is not advised.

    Are they suitable for…

    • Wearing in the rain: Suitable.
    • Running & exercising outside: Suitable, but keep in mind they aren’t (officially) dust-resistant.
    • Sweating: More than suitable.
    • Dipping underwater: Not suitable; they would need to have an IPX7 rating for that.
    Wearing in light rain
    Suitable
    Wearing in heavy rainSuitable
    ExercisingSuitable
    SweatingSuitable
    Dipping underwaterNot suitable

    Durability comparison

    TOZO OpenBuds are pretty tough with their IPX6 rating, meaning you can take them under shower. However, the OpenReal model can withstand full submersion, whereas the OpenBuds can’t.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TOZO OpenBuds have a real battery life of 7.5 hours, which puts them pretty high compared to other true wireless competitors. But that’s less than advertised. Also, the case doesn’t support Qi-wireless charging.

    Tested battery life7 hours 31 minutes
    Official battery life12 hours
    Difference4h 29min (-37.3%)
    Quick chargingn/a
    Qi wireless chargingNo

    TOZO OpenBuds battery comparison:

    TOZO OpenBuds battery comparison

    Big earbuds’ housing promised a larger battery and longer playtime. The result is still above average but not as high as expected. It looks like driving that 14.2mm driver isn’t easy.

    Real battery life test:

    In our battery life test, where we leave earbuds to play music at 50% volume, we got:

    • Precisely 7 hours and 31 minutes.

    That puts TOZO OpenBuds above the average in the true wireless category without ANC, but not among the best. Earbuds also perform worse than advertised, lasting 4.5 hours less (TOZO claims 12 hours per charge).

    The big charging case holds another 30 hours of battery life, but it strangely doesn’t support Qi wireless charging (since it is so big and flat).

    Furthermore, there are no mentions of the fast charging feature.

    • Earbuds will charge from 0-100% in 1.5 hours.

    Here’s how OpenBuds’s battery rating compares to ratings of similarly priced competitors:

    Note: The battery rating considers battery life compared to alternatives, wireless charging support, and the speed of recharging.

    Features

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TOZO OpenBuds have a companion app but few features, especially for a $70 pair. Most notably, you can customize controls and use the buds in multipoint connection.

    Some brands spoil users with tons of features even at around $50. We’ve come to expect the same treatment from all of them, including TOZO.

    TOZO OpenBuds first page
    TOZO app just shows the battery percentage in each earbud.

    While TOZO Open Buds have a few notable features, they lack custom EQ, which would’ve greatly increased their value.

    But first things first, let’s see what the OpenBuds do offer inside the TOZO app (apart from Bluetooth multipoint, which we’ll discuss later).

    Customizable touch controls

    The app covers all the most essential commands, so you don’t need to constantly reach for your phone.

    TOZO OpenBuds control customizer
    The “long press” gesture is reserved for earbud volume control only.

    Each command is freely remappable to whatever gesture you want. Except for the volume controls, which only works with a “long press” gesture.

    You can occupy single, double, and triple click gestures on top of a long press gesture.

    Sound Effects, aka EQ presets

    This time around, TOZO disabled the customizable EQ and only offered 5 sound presets or profiles. In other TOZO headphones, you get at least 16 presets.

    TOZO OpenBuds sound effects
    A barebone “Sound Effect” feature with a scarce selection of EQ presets.

    Unfortunately, none of the available profiles (Bass+, Classical, Vocal, Treble+, and Standard) fix the unbalanced sound, so we can’t make any recommendations.

    Soothing & relaxing sounds

    Under the Explore tab in the app, you can find many audio clips, primarily meant as background music to help you relax or fall asleep.

    TOZO OpenBuds soothing sounds
    Soothing audio clips with a dedicated audio player.

    Their length varies and can go up to 5 minutes per clip. To maintain a fluid audio playback, you must open the app’s music player and select to repeat the clip or jump to the next. Otherwise, the music stops when the clip is over.

    It is worth noting that some clips refuse to play for some reason. It could be a regional licensing issue, but I find this unlikely.

    Microphone quality

    TOZO OpenBuds wireless earbuds offer a decent call quality in all environmental situations. Just know you sound very thin and quiet when talking to others.

    Here’s a mic test:

    TOZO OpenBuds microphone test: (no noise test from 0:00-0:29, with background noise test from O:29-0:54)

    Like with any other headset, microphones inside the OpenBuds work best in quieter situations. They pick up your voice clearly so others can easily understand you.

    The only downside is that you sound thin and quiet, so others might have to raise the volume to hear you better.

    TOZO OpenBuds bulky fit
    Despite their bulky appearance, TOZO Open Buds don’t produce much extra wind noise.

    Moving into a noisier area makes your voice even thinner while adding some background distortion. Performance is still passable but not quite to professional phone call standards. So, it is best to avoid noisy places while having a conversation.

    Features rating comparison

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TOZO OpenBuds have zero passive noise isolation by design, but they do fairly well at handling sound leakage and suffer from minuscule wind noise, which is excellent.

    Due to the air-conduction open-ear design which doesn’t block the ear canal, hearing ambient noise is one of the OpenBuds’ features. So, we’re ranking how well they manage sound leakage and wind noise.

    TOZO OpenBuds on a branch
    Earbuds aren’t exactly … aerodynamic. It’s impressive they don’t produce any wind noise.

    Starting with leakage, there is some. But not as much as you might expect. At around 50% volume, people need to sit beside you to hear anything. You might even get away with using them in a library.

    However, these aren’t exactly the loudest earbuds, so you might raise them to 60-70% volume, making them unsuitable for libraries.

    Moving to the wind noise, you’ll be happy to know there’s very little of it despite the housing looking non-aerodynamic.

    We made a quick test by running with and without earbuds to hear the difference in wind noise, and there was hardly any.

    This makes them a great choice for cycling and running.

    Noise isolation rating comparison with other models

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    TOZO OpenBuds offer a reliable Bluetooth connection with up to 60 feet of indoor range but more stutters than competitors. You also get Bluetooth multipoint for connecting up to 2 devices.

    Bluetooth version5.3
    Bluetooth range
    (no obstructions)
    200ft+
    Bluetooth range
    through a wall
    50ft (15.2m)(stutters)
    65ft (20m)(no audio)
    MultipointConnect up
    to 2 devices
    Audio latency
    (audio delay)
    n/a

    Earbuds use Bluetooth 5.3, which has proven to ensure stable wireless connectivity. You don’t get any audio stutters, even when there are many other wireless devices in the room.

    TOZO OpenBuds many wireless devices
    Using other Bluetooth devices in the same room as TOZO Open Buds shouldn’t affect the connection stability.

    Furthermore, OpenBuds do a good job maintaining their connection over long distances. In our indoor Bluetooth range test, we got:

    • Up to 50 feet (15.2 meters) before we noticed the first audio stutter, but the music continued playing. That is right after passing the second brick wall.
    • Up to 60 feet (18.3 meters) before the audio stopped playing.

    That puts these earbuds above the average, meaning you can safely use them while walking around the house.

    How to pair TOZO OpenBuds?

    1. You simply take them out of the charging case when pairing them for the first time. The pairing process starts when small LEDs on the buds start blinking.
    2. To pair them to a new device, place the earbuds back into the case and hold the physical button between the buds until you see blinking LEDs. That means they’re in a pairing mode.
    TOZO OpenBuds earbuds in the case
    You can see the “pairing” button down between the earbuds.

    Bluetooth multipoint in TOZO OpenBuds

    TOZO OpenBuds also support basic Bluetooth multipoint. That enables you to pair them to 2 devices simultaneously.

    1. To do that, you individually pair them to 2 different devices following the instructions above.
    2. Then, first, connect them with one device.
    3. After, you enable Bluetooth on the second device and connect them to it as well.

    Earbuds automatically select their audio source based on where you click “play”. They will also switch to your phone when you receive phone calls.

    What Bluetooth codecs do they use?

    TOZO OpenBuds have a standard selection of Bluetooth codecs, including SBC and AAC.

    Is there an audio lag?

    Earbuds show no lag when playing videos on YouTube or social media apps. In contrast, there’s a noticeable delay when playing mobile games.

    Sadly, OpenBuds don’t have a Gaming mode, which makes them unsuitable for serious mobile gamers.

    Bluetooth rating comparison

    Should You Get TOZO OpenBuds?

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    TOZO OpenBuds are overall decent sports earbuds with fantastic comfort, stability, and reliable connection. However, while they exceed in functionality, they disappoint in performance.

    What’s a better alternative?

    We recommend TOZO OpenReal headphones more, as they’re functional and also sound really good. And it is the latter where the OpenBuds model needs to improve.

    TOZO OpenBuds on a tube
    TOZO OpenBuds’s case is big, so it takes up quite some space in a backpack or pocket.

    Pros & Cons

    • Comfortable & stable fit with multi-angle ear hooks
    • IPX6 rating is high enough for all sports except swimming
    • Full surrounding awareness thanks to air-conduction design
    • Long battery life at 7.5h, albiet not as advertised
    • Great indoor Bluetooth range of 50 feet & multipoint
    • Disappointing treble ruins sound quality
    • No customizable audio equalizer

    Who are these best for:

    Who should avoid them:

    • Users who want to use them for casual listening or anything besides sports.

    How do TOZO OpenBuds compare to the competition?

    • Compared to other open-ear headphones, they offer an equally stable fit but much better comfort due to the lack of the neckband arch.
    • Around 7.5 hours of battery life makes them equally good as competitive true wireless earbuds, if not slightly better.
    • Furthermore, OpenBuds have similar Bluetooth connection stability to other air-conduction headphones, with similar indoor range results.
    • They can’t reach the same sound quality as some cheaper competitors.
    • Earbuds have fewer features than competitors, which can at least customize EQ settings.

    Here’s their value rating compared to similar alternatives:

    Are they worth the price?

    TOZO OpenBuds typically cost around $70, which is a high price for what you get. They’re comfy and have a unique design, but the alternatives are so much better they’re hard to recommend.

    TOZO OpenBuds alternatives

    TOZO OpenReal

    TOZO OpenReal for workout

    You can change their dark default sound into an incredibly neutral one with the provided custom EQ, making them suitable for audio purists who want to workout with quality audio.

    The battery is much better at 12 hours per charge but uses an annoying proprietary charger. Headphones are also fully waterproof, whereas OpenBuds only have an IPX6.

    TOZO OpenReal review

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite on a wall

    While not the most detailed sound quality, you can get their tuning to sound better than OpenBuds, but with a tad less bass extension.

    Headphones also support dual device connection and beat the TOZOs with their 20-hour battery life. Moreover, they have Game mode, which reduces latency and makes them suitable for mobile gaming.

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite review

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 on a tree

    If you want something more “traditional”, TWS1 Pro 2 deliver a fuller and bolder sound without treble harshness.

    Furthermore, they have a decent active noise-cancelling performance and a surprisingly stable fit for lacking ear wings. On the flip side, they only last for 4.5 hours compared to 7.5 hours from OpenBuds.

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 review

    What’s in the Box?

    TOZO OpenBuds accessories
    • TOZO OpenBuds true wireless earbuds
    • Charging case
    • USB-C charging cable
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: True wireless
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 14.2mm dynamic
    Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 0.35 oz (10 g) per bud, 2.7 oz with case
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: IPX6
    Battery life: 7.5h + 30h in case
    Charging time: 1.5h – USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 60 feet (18.3 meters)
    Microphone: DSP call noise reduction

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