True wireless earbuds are about to blow up big time, and I’ll take any reason to dunk on AirPods again. We’ve gone through a lot of earbuds here at MajorHiFi, many from known brands trying their hands at this innovation. Brands like Strauss and Wagner and JBL have all tried their hand in creating a gratifying true wireless experience, and they’ve had varying degrees of success. Recently I had the pleasure of trying out the Tozo NC9, a pair of true wireless earbuds from a company I have never heard of. I wasn’t expecting them to offer much, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by everything Tozo brought to the table with the NC9, and they only coast you a mere $59.99. So let’s talk about the NC9, and delve into all its properties.
What You Get
Tozo plays it straight and keeps things on the simpler side in terms of packaging. Opening the square box reveals the pill-shaped charging case, as well as the earpieces themselves right next to them. The only other items included are a case of five different ear tips, and the pieces themselves will have tips already attached so that makes six total options for the NC9. Under the container, you’ll find your USB charging cable for the NC9 carrying case.
Look and Feel
The NC9 sports a sleek black angular design. The face or each earpiece has a flat surface for gesture interface, and they feel as big as they need to be without causing fatigue. The rest of the housing has an angular design that sits comfortably in your ear causing little to no distraction or discomfort. The buds feature a long nozzle and feel secure at all times. I could see this being a good fit for a workout or a run.
Design and Functionality
In terms of performance, Tozo wants to show you exactly what its tech can do. The NC9 sports a 9.2mm driver which is significantly greater than most true wireless systems. This isn’t a 6 driver armature or anything like that, you get one big driver to blast your ears with sounds and scenarios, and it works for a true wireless system. The main focus in design for these buds is mostly how you interact with them.
Like most true wireless systems, the NC9 implements a touch-sensitive control system to access its interface. Some wireless systems can have some major problems getting these controls to work a hundred percent of the time, but the NC9 get things so right. Every feature on the NC9 can be accessed through simple touch rhythms, no slides, or other complicated gestures that might not come out properly. You use both the left and right buds to perform different functions. Pressing the left bud once activates ANC, in which a voice will tell you whether it’s on or not. Pressing it twice rewinds to the previous track, and pressing it three times activates voice assistant, like Siri. Holding down the left bud also decreases volume, and if the earbud is turned off, it’ll turn it on. Touching the right bud once will pause or play the current track, and pressing it twice will skip to the next track.
Like the function on the left bud, holding down the right increases volume, which is my new preferred system for volume control on a true wireless earbud. Picking up a phone call is also made simple on the NC9, as answering the phone is only takes one touch, as well as one-touch to hang up. Overall these functions work brilliantly, with little delay, and is so far one of the best I’ve experienced using a true wireless system.
Thankfully the NC9 makes use of Bluetooth 5.0, making for higher bandwidth and overall range. The buds connected seamlessly, and my iPhone was recognized easily. There was a slight issue with connections at some point, as the buds would sometimes disconnect for some indiscernible reason. This only happened once or twice but is still notable.
In a single charge, the NC9 will last for eight hours of playback time. The charging case goes for an additional 24 hours which is a considerable amount. The total life is nothing to write home about, but at full charge, 8 hours is long enough for most trips or commutes.
The NC9 will absolutely please lovers of noise-cancelation, as not only do these buds support ANC, but they’re naturally self-isolating. Inside the NC9 are two microphones, one in the nozzle for passive noise canceling, and one just under the touch control surface. The nozzle mic picks up noise in the ear canal and passively masks them just by inserting the buds in your ear. The Active system produces its “anti-noise” to mask ambient noise from the outside. The self-isolating system is the most natural sound, but the ANC doesn’t interfere much in dampening the sonic fidelity of the earbud. Both noise-canceling systems should work well on airplanes, train rides, or car trips.
As most true wireless systems stand, the NC9 has a heady soundstage, meaning there isn’t a huge sense of space, but sound elements are still conveyed with proper placement. Imaging is kept tight but is still respectable for a true wireless earbud. Natural stereo positions in specific tracks are translated well, and probably better than most wireless systems. Percussion elements on hard rock tracks lack some separation, like each instrumentation is trying to fight for the middle space, but on folkier or more contemporary tracks they become easier to discern. The left/right placement of the dual acoustic guitars on the track “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon come right up to the edge of the housing and come in with pristine clarity.
What the NC9 really boasts is its depth. Instrumentations layer over each other in quite an impressive manner. Tracks with multiple instrumental sections play with each other in the space smoothly, as spacing gets deeper rather than expands. I found tracks like on the strings only track of “Something” that was added to the Abbey Road super deluxe edition that came out last year, where the sections mix together beautifully bringing lead elements to the front, and long chord sustains to support them. It’s a very complex space for a true wireless system that I keep finding new ways to enjoy.
There’s a low-end focus to the NC9 that’s sure to make bass heads happy. It’s punchy, dynamic, and just thick enough to not be considered bloated. I’d liken it to a cleaner version of what a JBL earbud sounds like. It’s a fun sound that never gets in the way of non-bass focused genres and makes bass instruments a lot more clear for analytical purposes. The sub-bass is tight but effective in its reach and feel. Drums sections feel especially clean and impactful, as tracks with sick fills really start to stand out.
While the low mids are definitely boosted to create a warmer timbre, the other bands don’t get lost in the shuffle. There is some considerable body to these mids, even though you can tell some bands are favored more than others. However, that doesn’t keep them from showing off some surprising fidelity. I go on about vocal ranges a lot, but the NC9 really delivers here, as performances are pushed forward to exude their shining qualities. This section is intimate and demands focus. Along with its superb noise-cancelation, the NC9 creates a great space for its vocal registers, so listening to podcasts or audiobooks sound more desirable and focused, and outside noise will be hard to distract you.
Other than sacrificing some high mids, the detail can get up there at certain points. However, it isn’t enough to make up for some lacking qualities in this range. There’s some nice sprinkle on higher pitches, but lack in gain and don’t bring much to the table. Some artifacts can be heard, especially in acoustical performances, but electronic samples and synth melodies lack proper sizzle.
For what they’re worth, I found the NC9 to be a must buy. The price is unbeatable for the level of quality Tozo is producing, and should be the first earbud that comes to mind when recommending an alternative to more popular brands. The NC9 has some flaws, but for the price, you won’t find a more fun-sounding bud.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Thumping bass, easy touch interface, price, noise-canceling
Cons: Lacking high end, connection issues
Tozo NC9 is available on Amazon
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