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Knowles balanced armature and LDAC support for better sound quality – MBReviews

The Tozo Golden X1 is an ambitious pair of TWS earbuds which, with the help of a few interesting features, such as the customized Knowles balanced armature driver and the support for LDAC, it attempts to throw punches above its weight. And, while the aforementioned technologies could be considered enough for the Tozo Golden X1 to challenge the more expensive TWS earbuds, there is more.

The seemingly now mandatory ANC technology is implemented, as well as a fairly reliable microphone system for improving the call quality. The charging case also comes with some unique features, especially considering the price tag of the earbuds.

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Tozo Golden X1 TWS Earbuds.

There’s wireless charging besides the USB-C port and this is the first charging case that I have seen which accurately shows how much battery is left, as well as the charging status of the earbuds. I have seen that the Tozo Golden X1 is proudly carrying the Hi-Res Audio badge, but is there any merit to it? Yes, the earbuds are actually Hi-Res certified and that’s because the treble can go up to 44.1kHz, passing the requirements needed to get the badge.

Does that mean the sound is actually better? Not necessarily, but it does show a certain potential and then again, I have tested earbuds that used a similar set of features and they sounded great. So, let’s just put the Tozo Golden X1 to the test and see how they perform.

Build Quality and Design

The Tozo Golden X1 are very curiously shaped and, if I didn’t check for the R and L logos, I would have had no idea which earbud goes in which ear. After actually putting the earbud inside the ear, the shape did make sense and they actually felt comfortable enough to wear for more than an hour. The case of each earbud is made of plastic covered by a black matte finish and there is a small hook that made me helpful that the Tozo Golden X1 may actually remain inside the ear while jogging and doing outdoor activities.

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The driver on the Tozo Golden X1 earbud.

No such luck because the small hooks are there for added support, so that the earbud won’t irritate the ear canal. And I wore the Tozo Golden X1 while working out and depending on the exercise, it’s possible for them to fall out the ear. So no, I would not suggest using these when working out outdoors unless you don’t mind searching for the earbuds on the ground. Each earpiece is fairly small and measures 1.0 x 0.8 x 0.6 inches (or 2.5 x 2.0 x 1.5cm) including the protruding piece for the silicone cover.

And it’s worth mentioning that inside the box, Tozo has made available five extra pairs of silicone tips, ranging in size, ensuring that the earbuds will fit any type of ear (even by age). Fairly close the silicone tip, there are two charging pins and I could also see the three microphones, two on the middle section, while the third can be found on the bottom of the small hook. As expected, there is no actual button (it seems that the trend has died off) and instead, there is a touch-sensitive section on the outer side of the each earbud for control.

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Earbuds and the case.

The system is somewhat similar to the GravaStar Sirius, another pair of earbuds from the same price range, so long tap on the right earbud will increase the volume, while a long tap on the left earbud will lower it. Double tapping the right (left) earbud will move to the next (previous song) and a single tap on the right earbud will Start/Pause the track. An uninspired decision was to put the enable ANC or Transparent mode by tapping on the left earbud, because I am accustomed to use either earbuds to pause a track.

They could have just made it three taps or something similar (can be changed from the app, so all is good). When someone calls you, tap once on any earbud to answer and then tap and hold to hang up or reject it. One complaint would be that there is no in-ear sensor and it’s a bit of a bummer to see it missing considering the price tag of the device (the Sirius does have it). Can you wear the earbuds when it’s raining? The Tozo Golden X1 is IPX6-rated, so yes, you can wear the earbuds when it’s raining, while showering and sweat will also do no damage to them.

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Hi-Res badge.

I suppose you could also swim with these earbuds, just be careful for them not to slip out – also know that Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater.

Tozo Golden X1 Charging Case

The charging case of the Tozo Golden X1 is one of the best I have seen on a pair of earbuds due the particular features I mentioned in the intro, but at the same time the build quality is not that great. The case is made of plastic that’s covered by a black matte finish and while the lid is magnetic, I could shake it left and right. So nothing really screams premium. At the same time, there are the redeeming features. Inside the case, in between the dedicated holes for each earbud, there’s an LED digital display which shows how much battery is left for the charging case.

And, after adding the earbuds, each has a dedicated icon which will light up, showing how much battery is left for each one of them (plus there’s an animation to show that the earbud is being charged). The case has a USB-C port on the rear side, but the manufacturer also added a Qi coil inside, so it’s very much possible to charge the device wirelessly using any universal Qi charger.

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The size of the charging case.

The wireless charging is done at 5V / 400mA. I almost forgot to mention that the Tozo Golden X1 charging case measures 2.7 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches (7.0 x 3.8 x 3.4cm), so, while it’s not the smallest case out there, you should still easily manage to put it in the pocket of your jeans.

Internal Hardware and Connectivity

One of the most important features of the Tozo Golden X1 are the 12mm dynamic driver (quite big for earbuds – then again, the Haylou G3 do use 13mm drivers) and the customized Knowles balanced armature driver which should improve the sound quality. As I expected, it does help offer a very detailed sound with very good differentiation between treble, mids and the powerful bass (which does not bleed into other frequencies). Speaking of frequency, the supported range is much better than most earbuds in the same price category, going between 12Hz and 44.1kHz.

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Source: Tozo official website.

Additionally, the Tozo Golden X1 does use Bluetooth v5.3 which has a very similar range to other BT version – about 30 feet with some walls in between the earbuds and the phone. The advantage of the Bluetooth 5+ versions is that it’s possible to transfer data at a higher rate and the Tozo Golden X1 does support AAC, SBC and most importantly LDAC which is the perfect codec for high quality audio. But you do need to use compatible source devices – for example, my iPhone 12 does not support LDAC, but the far older Pixel 2 XL does. Go figure..

Bluetooth Multipoint

The Tozo Golden X1 earbuds do support Bluetooth Multipoint, so you can connect them to two audio source devices at the same time. The pairing process is the same as with other earbuds/headphones that support this feature (OneOdio A10, EKSA H1 and the Haylou S35): pair the earbuds to one device, turn Bluetooth off and then pair the X1 to the secondary device. Turn Bluetooth back on on the first device and connect the earbuds (usually done automatically).

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The Tozo Golden X1 earbuds in the case.

How the sound is played depends on the type of priority implemented. In the case of the Tozo Golden X1, the calls will take priority over anything else and, when playing songs from YouTube on both device at the same time, I noticed that my Windows PC would always have a higher priority than the iPhone. So, it would automatically pause on the iPhone when listening to something on the PC, but not the other way around – I had to manually pause the track on the PC.

The Sound Quality

Before I started the actual tests, I immediately encountered a problem. While the earbuds would work fine with AAC using an iPhone, that wasn’t the case at all with LDAC on Android smartphones. Like I said before, the Pixel 2 XL does support LDAC, so I connected the Tozo Golden X1 and the sound would come at full volume from the right earbud, while on the left, it was barely audible. I made peace that the smartphone is drawing its final breath and I connected the earbuds to another smartphone that supports LDAC, the AGM G2 Guardian. But I experienced the same behavior – what’s going on? I reset the earbuds and nothing.

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The app hearing test.

I then decided to install the app and see if I am missing something. And yes, I did miss something: I didn’t yet install the app. After the app saw the earbuds, they happily started working properly. The curious thing was that even after connected back to the Pixel 2 XL which doesn’t have the app, the earbuds would still function normally – like a switch was enabled after the pairing. Anyway, install the app to get the maximum performance. That being said, let’s get to the actual tests. I first wanted to see the behavior of the drivers, so I ran a quality test. It’s a sweeping tone that should be clear and not produce any buzzing – while the sound was overall clean, I did hear some very faint buzz.

The driver matching test showed that indeed, the sound played straight in the middle, with no deviation. I then moved to the binaural song to get an early idea about what to expect when listening to various types of music. I could tell that there wasn’t white noise to enhance the ANC ability (some earbuds do use this trick – Haylou S35), the imaging was good and I could tell where the instruments were located, as well as whether the singer was closer to the microphone or not.

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Source: Tozo official website.

The sound stage is not very wide and just out of habit, I expected that the ANC will cut some of the depth. And I suppose with ANC off, the treble is slightly enhanced and there is more detail – the sound stage is a bit wider as well. Bear in mind that it’s not a massive difference and the ANC mode is well implemented considering the price tag of the device (this cone effect can be felt on the Sony WH-1000XM3 as well which was far more expensive). Moving forward, it’s worth mentioning that I made no changes to the EQ and just moved between Normal mode and ANC on. That being said, I first played ‘Zhu – Faded’ which puts into perspective the potent bass that’s able to be produced by the Tozo Golden X1.

It’s full and doesn’t overshadow the mid bass, but it’s interesting to see that the ANC does narrow the sound stage a bit, so the bass does sound slightly different with ANC on and off. Even so, the song sounds absolutely amazing. Then, I moved to ‘Morph The Cat by Donald Faga’ and the mid-bass sounds great, the instrument differentiation is well executed, and the voice doesn’t seem forward or recessed, but we will see with other songs as well. Next, I played ‘System Of A Down – Mr Jack’ since I wanted to see how well the Tozo Golden X1 is able to reproduce this complicated and chaotic song.

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I used Amazon Music for a better quality sound.

Usually, the TWS earbuds tend to offer a somewhat muddy sound, but the Tozo Golden X1 handled it well – ANC cuts a bit of detail and makes the song sound a bit smoother than it actually is. The multi-beats song ‘Déjà Vu Affair by Sofi Tukker’ sounds really good (full and plump) and this is the track that made me realize that the treble is slightly enhanced with ANC off. The song shows ‘She Burns by Foy Vance’ shows that the male voice is properly reproduced. I could hear a lot more details, some that I couldn’t with other earbuds, only with Monitor headphones (the heart-beat-like effect is more enhanced here).

Again, it seems that the sound stage is getting a bit wider with ANC off. Listening to ‘Breathin by Ariana Grande’, I realized that the female voice is also properly reproduced and that the song is actually fairly balanced and detailed regardless of turning the ANC on or off. Lastly, I listened to ‘Guns n Roses – Sweet Child o Mine’ and I didn’t expect much, so I was surprised to see that the sound was not too colorful, but balanced and pleasant, so listening to treble-focused songs won’t induce fatigue. I don’t really have complaints about the treble reproduction, but the sound can become better by slightly adjusting the EQ from the app.

The App

As I mentioned in the previous section, the app has some sort of initialization role to get to use the LDAC codec, so it’s necessary to install it right away.

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The app installation and layout.

The app will always search for the earbuds, so it wants permission to access Bluetooth and see the device. It also collects pretty much every info that you enter in the app, as well as GPS location and even audio from voice assistants (Alexa). The app will send info about your device and more, plus understand that this data is being shared with third-party providers, so yeah, as most apps for this type of devices, it’s a privacy nightmare. After connecting the Tozo Golden X1, you should be greeted by the interface and the first thing that you’re going to be asked is to run a Hearing Test so that the earbuds will be tuned to your hearing level (using AI – vague statement, so I guess some compensation algorithms).

I could hear all sounds, so no ‘AI’ was needed, and this was the Earprint section. We can explore the Noise Cancellation window next which will show the battery level and the bottom half of the screen will be dedicated towards the various available modes. Besides the default Normal Mode and the Noise Cancellation (ANC), there’s a Transparency mode that amplifies the ambient sounds so you can hear what’s going on while listening to music. There’s also a Reduce Wind Noise mode for when it’s very windy outside (quite effective) and, if you found the ANC mode too aggressive, there’s ANC lite called Leisure Mode. Lastly, accessing the Custom pattern, you can quickly choose the Noise reduction level, but what interested me was the EQ which can be found under the Sound Effect.

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The mobile app.

Here, you can adjust the frequency response, but it’s also possible to select preset sound effects. I noticed that it’s possible to change the Touch Controls and I suppose this fixes one of my previous complaints. Besides the Home section, the Tozo app has an ad-dedicated section for its Products and some songs you can play (under Explore).

The Call Quality

The Tozo Golden X1 uses ENC to isolate your voice from the external environment noise and it does work well especially in quieter areas. A lot of earbuds perform well in quiet areas, but it’s worth mentioning that the Tozo Golden X1 has less of an echo effect on your voice. If you need to answer a call in a noisy area, then the environmental sounds are very well kept in check, and, while the voice is going to be audible – the caller will understand what you’re saying – there is a perceptible echo-y effect.

The Battery Life

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The USB-C port.

The Tozo Golden X1 TWS earbuds have installed 50mAh batteries and the manufacturer says that it should last up to 5 hours on a single charge using ANC, while with ANC off, it’s 8 hours. The advertised amount is somewhat accurate because I have gotten about 4 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge and that was with ANC enabled, LDAC and 70% volume.

The Conclusion

The TWS earbuds market is absolutely ruthless and the $100 to $200 segment is perhaps the most delicate since the users expect flagship-level features at a cost only a bit above the entry-level models. But, the good news is that the Tozo Golden X1 are able to deliver a good sound quality and yes, both the Knowles armature and the LDAC support make a difference. The ANC works well and it does manage to cancel droning sounds, and it also doesn’t have a very noticeable impact on the sound quality. I am not really fond of apps for sound devices, but the support for custom EQ is definitely worth it since you can make a good pair of earbuds sound even better. So, should you consider the Tozo Golden X1? In its price range, there are some really good devices available, but even so, I do think that the Tozo Golden X1 are worth checking out.

Tozo Golden X1

Tozo Golden X1 Tozo Golden X1

Pros

  • Knowles balanced armature
  • Support for LDAC
  • Very good sound quality
  • Charging case that accurately shows the remaining battery
  • ANC + EQ using app

Cons

  • The charging case feels flimsy
  • No in-ear sensor

Author

Silence Dogood

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