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62 x 25 x 45mm
With the TOZO NC2, the usual true wireless earbuds rules don’t necessarily apply. Undercutting nearly everything on the market, TOZO’s active noise canceling (ANC) earbuds make plenty of promises, including 35dB of noise attenuation, and a long battery life. All of that goes for under $50. Does it work without hassle?
Editor’s note: this review was updated September 5, 2023, to update charts, and to add the Jabra Elite 4 to Alternatives.
Bargain hunters who prioritize feature sets above trusted name brands will like the value of the TOZO NC2. Folks who want ANC without shelling out big bucks will be surprised by its performance. Anybody looking for a back up pair of earbuds to take where you don’t want to risk your premium earbuds should pay attention. Students on tight budgets can get the focus needed to study with the noise cancelation on tap.
What’s it like to use TOZO NC2?
Like a lot of TOZO products, the TOZO NC2 requires some guesswork on the user’s part. The NC2 does not totally follow its own instructions, so people who never look at manuals can feel justified in this case. Fortunately, pairing works as outlined in the manual (more on that later), and getting started isn’t too difficult.
Both the stemmed earbuds and case are quite lightweight and somewhat cheap feeling, but better than expected for the low price. Compared to the latest generation of earbuds, these are somewhat large, and protrude from the ears a bit, occasionally catching on my hoodie. The touch controls and in-ear detection work with better-than-average reliability. If you do not enjoy in-ear auto-play, be aware there’s no app to disable it. Generally speaking, that’s the blessing and curse of an app-free Bluetooth product: no updates or customization.
You get six different ear tips to find your in-ear fit, ranging 10mm to roughly 16mm in diameter. Each ear tip is an oblong shape in order to achieve a better fit. These ear tips feel a bit thin, and are prone to stretching out of shape, but do just fine. The 12mm and 13mm ear tips fit my ears best, with both TOZO NC2 earbuds staying in on a windy walk.
The touch controls successfully differentiate between a command and a fit readjustment without misfiring.
The case is tall to accommodate the long stems of the NC2 buds, but it’s pretty compact overall. The lid has a strong magnet to stay shut with very little flex. After a few days of use, the hinge loosens and won’t easily stay open (to prop up the case, or if held at a less-than-ideal angle) because the notch in the hinge that holds the lid open wears down. This doesn’t inspire great confidence in the long term durability of the NC2. It’s entirely made of a rather slippery, smooth plastic, which may cause trouble for butter fingers. However, the plastic remains resilient against scuffs and superficial scratches.
Yes, you can listen to the TOZO NC2 in mono mode by either removing one earbud from the case, or replacing just one. Due to in-ear detection, playback will pause when you first replace an earbud, so you will need to manually start playback again.
How do you control TOZO NC2?
You’ll find the touch control surface towards the top of the TOZO NC2 buds. It’s an intuitive placement when you’re wearing the earbuds, even if it’s not very obvious at a glance. None of the controls are on the stems, taking a different approach to the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) and its clones.
|ACTION||Left earbud||Right earbud|
ANC / Transparency mode / standard listening mode
Answer phone call
Play / pause
Answer phone call
Resume last played Spotify track
Play recommended Spotify track when Spotify app open
Smart assistant (only when no media is playing)
One press and hold
Press and hold for five seconds
Turn off earbuds
Turn off earbuds
Essentially, a few of the controls in the chart deviate from the ones outlined in the manual, because like the TOZO NC9, the TOZO NC2 does not work as described. Our definitive guide to the controls on the TOZO NC2 is as shown above. Fortunately, once you know how it works, the TOZO NC2 touch controls almost never misfire, which is impressive.
When out of the case press and hold the TOZO NC2 touch surface for 20 seconds to perform a factory reset.
How does the TOZO NC2 connect?
The TOZO NC2 connects pretty easily using Bluetooth 5.2. Subsequent reconnections occur very quickly when you pop the buds out of the charge case as well. Your codec options include AAC and SBC, which are standard. Throughout the testing period, the connection never drops out.
Interestingly, despite the steady Bluetooth connection with my iPhone over AAC I still experience some minor latency when watching YouTube videos. It’s not an incredibly distracting amount of latency, but enough that voices and mouths don’t consistently match up. Your experience may differ; latency remains tricky to predict in generalist terms depending on variables such as your device, internet connection (particularly for streaming), Bluetooth codec, and the earbuds in question.
In order to pair the TOZO NC2 over Bluetooth initially follow these steps. Once paired, it should automatically connect when you remove the buds from the case in the future.
- Enable Bluetooth in your device’s Settings.
- Flip open the lid of the case, and leave the buds inside.
- Press and hold the case button for three seconds.
- Select the TOZO NC2 on your Bluetooth Settings.
How long does the TOZO NC2 battery last?
In our standardized battery testing with ANC on, the TOZO NC2 battery lasts 7 hours and 13 minutes. That battery result is rather good for ANC earbuds. Having a greater battery life means fewer charging cycles, and potentially prolonging the lifespan of the earbuds. You get approximately four more charges in the case too.
On the bottom of the case, you’ll find the USB-C charging port, and although some sources (including TOZO’s website) state the NC2 can charge with a wireless Qi pad, our unit does not. Four white lights on the case indicate when it’s charging and how charged the case is — pretty standard stuff.
TOZO claims that you can get 90 minutes of playback from fast charging. However, it remains unclear how many minutes the TOZO NC2 needs to charge for to gain that 90 minutes.
How well does the TOZO NC2 cancel noise?
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One of the winning features of the TOZO NC2 is its overall noise canceling capabilities. Sure, it’s not the best out there, but it competes with some of the pricier premium brand offerings. Assuming you’ve got a proper fit, the NC2 isolates decently, tackling mainly very high pitched noises. Where the NC2 shines is its ANC that really does quite a lot of filtering from the lowest pitched noises through some relatively higher pitched noises, like laundry machines and fans.
Noteworthy is that the noise canceling filters somewhat unevenly, leading to some sounds reaching your ears partially and sounding sort of odd. That uneven noise filtering is not singular to the TOZO NC2; many ANC products do this. The graph shows some impressive results; in reality, the NC2 helps soften the noise in your surroundings.
A surprising amount of clangs still make it through because it does not isolate middle and high pitched sounds as well as some earbuds, and ANC isn’t as effective with incidental noises. TOZO does not include an app to adjust the ANC levels, or personalize the settings, but for plenty of folks, this is precisely all they want to do: tap an earbud to turn on ANC, transparency, or standard listening modes.
How does the TOZO NC2 sound?
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In the sub-bass and bass frequencies TOZO tunes the NC2 to play 3dB to 7dB louder than our preference. Combine that bass boost with the volume drop from around 150Hz to 550Hz, and the volume reduction from 5500Hz to 9kHz, and you’ve got a somewhat distractingly bass-focused sound. A volume boost above 10kHz mainly impacts high harmonics. It works okay with more minimal compositions where instruments won’t battle for your attention, and is fine for podcasts.
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In use, I notice some uneven channel balance with the right earbud receiving more highs and the left earbud playing more mids and lows than the other. Ideally, in the chart you want to see a flat line across 0 to illustrate that both left and right earbuds allocate audio frequencies at the same volume.
Except for frequencies above 5kHz to 9kHz, and above 10kHz, the TOZO NC2 test unit plays back frequencies through to 5kHz up to 5dB more loudly in the left earbud than the right. The difference is not enormous, and while some folks won’t even notice, this kind of variation is likely a consequence of the low production cost, so your mileage may vary.
Lows, mids, highs
With some genres the TOZO NC2 relays music just fine. Listening to Royal T by Crookers and Róisín Murphy, this vocal and bass dominant track is conveyed reasonably well. Bass fans will like the earbud tuning here, where the low end almost (but not quite) overwhelms Murphy’s voice. The chk chk of the drum machine’s cymbals play at a good volume too. However, some of the synths sound relatively quiet in comparison.
Where the more universally pleasant-sounding nature of our ideal curve shows is when listening to other music genres that challenge the NC2’s tuning. Putting on I Can Feel the Fire by Ronnie Wood, the low end frequencies play so loudly that by comparison the other instruments like organ fall out of attention. Interestingly, the vocals sound more or less okay, just too quiet overall. Meanwhile, electric guitar variously comes through somewhat quietly relative to the bass, or at a fine volume depending on how busy instrumentation is at a given section. The effect is nearly everything besides bass sounds comparatively restrained, making you want to reach for the volume up button even though it won’t solve the central issue.
You can EQ the TOZO NC2 with some success using an equalizer app. Begin by reducing volume at 100Hz and below and upping volume between 150Hz to 500Hz. Also, you may want to increase the level between 6kHz to 8kHz.
Can you use the TOZO NC2 for phone calls?
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You can use the TOZO NC2 for calls, but its mic isn’t very good outside of a perfect setting. The NC2 mic captures your voice with relative accuracy until exposed to environmental noise. In an office, it tends to pick up a lot of sounds like keyboard clacks and office kitchen appliances, making it difficult for the other person to listen. Trying to take a call on a busy street results in your voice coming through rather quietly, and sometimes the unwanted environmental sounds will cause the NC2 to cut out sections of your speech.
When you’ve got an incoming call, a somewhat British-sounding woman announces the contact calling you, which is a nice feature, especially if your phone isn’t directly in view. Some earbuds will simply pause music playback instead. Props for that feature.
Take a listen and let us know what you think of the NC2 mic performance:
TOZO NC2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
TOZO NC2 microphone demo (Office conditions):
TOZO NC2 microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the TOZO NC2?
Measured against all other earbuds, the TOZO NC2 is not the best one you can buy. However, most folks buy within a budget and have some willingness to make exceptions for quirks to save cash. In this regard, TOZO gets a lot right: it connects quickly and stays connected, has a moderately long battery life, and attenuates an impressive amount of lower pitched noise. Certainly, the price tag of the NC2 doesn’t leave you hurting either.
What TOZO misses out on is some of the user experience, like accurate descriptions of the product and instructions. The fact that you can’t reliably grab a TOZO product and know it’ll do what the box says breeds distrust. For instance, the TOZO site states the NC2 can wirelessly charge, and this one doesn’t. Ordinarily, that might be a sign there’s something wrong with a test unit, but we’ve seen similar promises concerning TOZO products that simply don’t meet the specs. Plus, the controls in the manual aren’t all correct.
Besides those uncertainties, some things are true. In-ears, the NC2 feels pretty good, if a bit loose and on the larger side. The touch commands (once mastered) usually work without hypersensitivity, and when combined with the speedy pairing, the daily experience is generally pleasant. Most folks will want to equalize the NC2 to get the most out of it, but for not much money whatsoever it’s worth a try if you’re willing to look past some of the surprises.
How does TOZO NC2 compare to TOZO NC9?
If you’re looking at TOZO earbuds for noise canceling, you might’ve seen the TOZO NC9. While usually a higher model number indicates better, or newer, that’s not necessarily the case here. Both the NC9 and NC2 have competent noise canceling capabilities, with the NC9 focusing generally on more low pitched noises and isolating more high pitched noises than the NC2. In contrast, the NC2 cancels more noise between 150Hz and 400Hz.
Neither has an app to adjust the ANC (or any other settings). In regards to noise canceling, the TOZO NC9 seems probably better for most people based on the chart, however, the NC9 introduces some of its own noise when you listen with ANC on, defeating the point of ANC somewhat.
As for which set is a better daily driver, the TOZO NC2 generally has fewer quirks than the TOZO NC9. The NC2 doesn’t do things like max out volume when you try to turn off the earbuds like the NC9. You still feel the budget with both sets, but the TOZO NC2 wears more comfortably than the TOZO NC9 and works more predictably.
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Whether the TOZO NC2 sounds better than the NC9 is a bit of a wash because neither sounds perfect by default. Both boost bass too much, with the NC9 boosting an enormous amount of bass, about 5dB more than the NC2. You’ll certainly hear treble parts better on the NC9. Even though the NC2 plays back treble more in line with our house curve, comparatively, the output of bass is closer in relation to the treble output on the NC9. However, the exaggerated curve does your ears no favors on the NC9, making some midrange fundamentals difficult to hear.
Anyway, you’ll want to equalize both. According to our score, the NC2 fares better for its frequency response.
What should you get instead of the TOZO NC2?
In some regards TOZO is in a class of its own when it comes to value priced wireless earbuds. Its also in a class of its own with its idiosyncrasies. The TOZO T6 strikes a good balance between cost ($26 at Amazon) and functionality, with a better sounding frequency response and an improved IPX8 rating. However, you lose out on ANC even if the isolation isn’t bad.
Assuming you want something more predictable and ANC, you’ll likely have to pay more money. A reliable alternative can be found in the Jabra Elite 4, which do not have great ANC, but isolate quite well. They work very predictably like most Jabra products, although Apple users won’t get the AAC codec typically found on Bluetooth earbuds and will have to live with SBC, Android users get aptX support. Plus, the frequency response sounds great for most applications for $79 at Amazon.
The Anker Soundcore Space A40 comes in at $79 at Amazon which is more than the TOZO NC2, but it also supplies a capable app, and works pretty much as described by Anker. For Android users, the A40 boasts the better LDAC codec as well, plus you still get the usual AAC and SBC codecs.
If it was the IPX6 rating in addition to the noise canceling that makes the TOZO NC2 attractive, you might also consider the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC and its IP66 rating alongside secure over-ear hooks, which is better suited to exercising. The price isn’t terrible ($89 at Amazon) and the frequency response is far better. Rounding out the package, JLab basically doubles the battery life of the NC2 with 15 hours, 33 minutes of juice to a single charge.
For the truly budget minded who don’t care about noise canceling, but want good sound for not much money the JLab GO Air POP deserves attention. For the cost of this month’s Netflix subscription you get some impressive sounding earbuds. Like all budget minded earbuds you’re met with concessions and quirks, like slightly hypersensitive touch controls. Otherwise, the IPX4 rated earbuds are cheap, colorful, and the battery lasts over 11 hours and 4 minutes. It’s worth a look for $24 at Amazon.
Frequently asked questions
Nope, what you see is what you get with the TOZO NC2. It does not use any additional apps. You’d need the TOZO NC2 PRO for app support.