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review

TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones

7
£49.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Good sound quality and compatible with helmets and glasses, but they struggle in windy conditions
Good battery life
Compatible with a helmet and glasses
Impressive sound quality
Environmental noise drowns them out
Only one size
Small buttons can be difficult to press
Proprietary charging port
Weight: 
31g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones feature an open-ear design that is intended to help you remain aware of your surroundings while cycling without sacrificing sound quality. The sound quality is good, and they have a great battery life, but the wind noise while riding drowns out their sound.

Bone-conduction headphones are gaining popularity among cyclists because they don't go inside your ears, which allows you to remain aware of the sounds around you, in theory. However, they can be pricey.

2023 TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones - boxed.jpg

The TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones feature an open-ear design similar to that of bone-conduction headphones, but they rely on 'air conduction' rather than bone conduction. Instead of covering your ears, the headphones incorporate a small speaker that sits in front of your ears.

In the box, you get the headphones, a manual and a magnetic charging cable – and I found the headphone easy to set up. After your phone (or other device) establishes the Bluetooth connection, the pairing process is nearly instantaneous when you turn the headphones on.

Because the headphones don't go into your ear canal, I found them comfortable to wear for long periods without any numbness, but they're a one-size-only design and I found the headband strap around the back of my head was too long. It would be good if the headband was available in two or three different lengths, as if you've a large or small head you might find it hard to get a good fit.

The headphones themselves hooked over my ears well if I stayed still but they moved away from my ears with slight movements of my head while I was riding – though there was never any risk of them falling off.

The main issue with cheaper air-conduction headphones tends to be the size when you're wearing them with sunglasses and a helmet, but I found that my glasses and helmet straps fitted well over the top of the earpieces, and a positive of the strap being big at the back was that the headphones sat nicely underneath my ponytail.

Controls

The TOZO OpenReal headphones operate via both touch and physical controls located on the right side of the headphones. Only the plate on the right earphone is touch-sensitive and this allows you to play and pause music and answer calls.

2023 TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones - buttons.jpg

Under the right module behind the ear, there are two small rubber buttons that control volume up/down, power on/off and next/previous song commands and I found these difficult to press with a helmet and glasses on and even more difficult with gloves on. A double-tap feature on the touch area, like that on Apple's Airpods, would be more useful when riding to change songs as I found myself using my phone to control the headphones.

Sound

The sound quality was good out of the box and TOZO's App enables you to customise the sound to improve it further, allowing you to change things such as the bass level.

2023 TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones - earpiece.jpg

However, the design's main advantage is also its main disadvantage – and the sound gets drowned out when it's particularly windy or if you're riding at higher speeds. If I had the volume turned up, I found I wasn't any more aware of my surroundings than if I had been wearing 'regular' earbuds. However, they were absolutely fine on the turbo for Zwifting.

Also, because the mini speakers sit in front of your ears, they do suffer from sound leakage when the volume is at 50% or higher. This isn't an issue when you're riding by yourself – but you might make yourself unpopular in your local library or in a train's quiet carriage.

Charging and battery

The claimed battery time of the TOZO OpenReal headphones is 16 hours when played at 50% volume and I found this figure accurate. Charging time is quick too, taking just one and a half hours to charge. In addition to this I was able to get two hours of play time after just 10 minutes' charging, which is handy when you realise the battery's flat just when you're about to go out for a ride.

Somewhat less convenient is their proprietary magnetic charging port – a USB-C charging port would have been more convenient, especially when travelling, when it means you'll have to carry yet another easy-to-mislay accessory.

2023 TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones - charging port.jpg

Value

The £49.99 price is very reasonable and a fraction of the price of other open-ear or bone-conducting headphones we've reviewed.

At £118 the OneOdio OpenRock Pro Wireless OpenEar Air Conduction Earbuds are more than twice the price, but Iwein really liked their sound quality and comfort, if not their looks.

The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone-conduction headphones are even saltier at £159.95, and like the OneOdio earbuds they still struggle with wind noise at higher speeds, which is inherent in their design. But Steve found them light, comfortable and with a great sound.

The Aftershokz OpenMove Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones that Steve found light, effective and comfortable, are closer in price at their £79.95 RRP – and are often available for around £60.

Overall

The TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones provide an affordable alternative to traditional headphones – and they have good battery life, compatibility with helmets and glasses, and a good sound quality. But they struggle in windy conditions, the buttons are difficult to press when you're wearing a helmet and they only come in one size.

That said, because of their design more expensive air-conduction and bone-conduction headphones face similar challenges from wind noise.

Verdict

Good sound quality and compatible with helmets and glasses, but they struggle in windy conditions

road.cc test report

Make and model: TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The TOZO OpenReal Air Conduction Sport Headphones use air conduction technology to transfer sound enabling you to be aware of the ambient noises around you.

TOZO says:

"TOZO OpenReal features an innovative open-ear design for comfortable all-day listening. With air conduction technology, they deliver clear and concentrated music. The Bluetooth 5.3 and dual-mic ENC ensure stable connection and clear calls, while the 16.2mm dynamic drivers provide beautiful sound."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Type: Open-ear

Model: OpenReal

Colour: Black

Driver: φ16.2mm dynamic driver

Frequency response range: 20Hz - 20kHz

Audio codec: AAC/SBC

Call noise cancellation: Dual-mic ENC call noise reduction

Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.3

Effective Bluetooth range: 10m

Battery capacity: 120mAh

Music play time (AAC, default setting, 50% volume)*: 16h

Cable charge time: 1h

Charging port: Magnetic charging

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Well built, but I think it would have been be useful if the headband strap was adjustable to accommodate different head sizes, or if it was made in different sizes.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

The sound quality was good but they struggled in windy conditions or when I was riding at high speeds.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No concerns.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

The earpieces themselves are very comfortable because they don't go into the your canal, which meant there weren't any pressure points and I didn't experience numbness.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Very reasonable indeed - and less expensive or much less expensive than the competition.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I found the sound quality good and they were comfortable to wear, but I did find they struggled to compete against wind noise, so that I had to turn the volume up – which meant I wasn't necessarily any more aware of my surroundings than I would be if I was wearing 'regular' earbuds.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The good battery life, the fact that it fitted with a helmet and glasses – and the impressive sound quality.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They are only available in one size and the headband strap was way too big for me at the back, so they moved around when I moved my head. Environmental noise can also drown them out and the buttons are difficult to press when you're wearing the headphones with a helmet or you have gloves on.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They are a fraction of the price of other open-ear or bone-conducting headphones we've reviewed.

The OneOdio OpenRock Pro Wireless OpenEar Air Conduction Earbuds cost £118 and the Shokz OpenRun Pro bone-conduction headphones are more than three times dearer at £159.95.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your overall score

They are a cost-effective option in contrast to conventional headphones boasting impressive battery life, compatibility with helmets and glasses, and high-quality audio. Nevertheless, they encounter difficulties in windy conditions, present challenges with operating the buttons if you're wearing a helmet, and are available in only one size.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 175  Weight: 64

I usually ride: specialised tarmac sl6  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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1 comments

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roboito | 8 months ago
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I have a pair of bone conduction headphones from a different brand, they also struggle in windy conditions but that's the point, I want my ears open. I use a buff - full in winter, cut off strip in summer, it makes a massive difference.

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