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Valco NL21 Review Easy To Use Bluetooth Earbuds With Flat Sound Signature

 

The new Valco NL21 are true wireless earbuds with a really long stem (3.5cm) - easily the longest stem style earbuds on the market - with a microphone (for calls) at the very tip. The microphone quality is decent for calls, although it's not as good as the VMK20 headphones


The Valco NL21 earbuds do not support volume control, which is a feature that comes standard in most true wireless earbuds and makes using the earbuds more convenient. Volume control is useful, especially if the earbuds do not support transparency/ambient sound passthrough as this allows you to reduce the volume to hear external sounds better. The Valco NL21 do not support ambient sound either so, not having volume control is a disadvantage when competing against other earbuds.


Another possible deal breaker for the Valco NL21 earbuds are the earbuds status led, which blink blue overly bright (every 10 seconds) when listening to audio. There is no way to turn it off and that is likely to be an issue as some people dislike blinking lights on headphones as they find them to be annoying and distracting - so much so that some people go as far as putting electrical tape over the blinking light! This is why some earbuds manufacturers are disabling the status led so, it doesn't flash during audio playback. There are other ways to make the earbud blinking light more user friendly by hiding it behind the stem or by making the status smaller and dimmer.


Long battery life is a strong selling point for the Valco NL21 earbuds. Granted, the NL21 earbuds don't have the loudest volume but the earbuds have a long nozzle neck which helps drive the sound deeper into the ear canal. The NL21 earbuds manage an impressive 7 hours of playtime at 50% volume via SBC codec. They also support AAC codec, which offers lower latency but higher power consumption on android devices. The charging time for the Valco NL21 earbuds is 1.5 hours - and 2 hours for the case. The earbuds support quick charge and the charging case battery leds stay turned on after closing the lid until the earbuds are fully charged. The charging case can hold over 40 hours of extra charge to rcharge the earbuds 6-7 times.


Touch controls are very nice - they are highly responsive so, you don't have to forcefully tap on the stem. Touch control functions are limited to play/pause, track skipping, calls and voice assistant. There is no app support; hence the touch control gestures cannot be changed. Mobile app support is a big selling point for earbuds too, allowing the earbuds to incorporate audio equalizer and touch control remapping. 

 

The NL21 earbuds aren't the most "feature packed" earbuds you can get but simplicity is also a strength. Their basic functionality makes the NL21 earbuds ideal for those looking for easy to use bluetooth earbuds for seniors, watching TV or outdoor use (e.g. running, biking or cycling). The NL2 have IPX6 water resistance so, you can safely sweat with them and long wireless range via bluetooth 5.0. There is no dual connectivity (multipoint) support.

Valco NL21 charging case isn't the most pocket friendly. It weighs 40 grams and measures 7cm long, 3.5cm wide and 3cm high. The case is bulky but robustly made with a strong hinge lid that keeps the lid from flopping around. 

 

On top of the lid, there is a raised plastic Valco brand engraving. More branding can be seen printed on the side of the earbuds stem and very prominently too. While it works for advertising purposes, overly prominent branding can put off buyers, especially self-conscious ones who don't like being walking billboards.


The USB-C charging port is located on the side of the charging case. The battery capacity of the charging case is only 540mAh, which is about the same size you get with smaller charging cases so, there aren't any advantages with the NL21 charging case. Given that the case is already bulky, a larger battery capacity (e.g. 700mAh) would have made more sense, as well as integrating wireless charging and a "power-out" powerbank function to recharge external devices.


As far as fit, the Valco NL21 earbuds weigh 5 grams each and are comfortable to wear and stay in securely, thanks to a smooth glossy plastic finish. The NL21 earbuds come with custom silicone eartips (only two sets) with a really short inner bore, which makes the ear tips shorter than standard eartips.


The custom eartips feel very comfortable but, because of the short bore the eartips can be a bit fiddly to attach to the nozzle tip of the earbuds. You can use standard silicone eartips but you won't be able to close the charging case lid properly. The only way you can perhaps use regular eartips is by trimming down the inner bore.



When it comes to audio quality, the Valco NL21 earbuds have a flat sound signature so, they reproduce sound exactly as it was recorded without over emphasizing the bass to make the audio lively and more dynamic. If you like accurate sound, that's what you get with the NL21 earbuds.


To power off the earbuds automatically, you simply put them inside the charging case and close the lid. When taken out of the charging case, the earbuds re-connect instantaneously without delay, making the user experience more enjoyable when switching between earbuds for mono listening. Instantaneous re-connection is also very convenient if you want to quickly answer a call with the earbuds while they're in the charging case. Most earbuds on the market do have some re-connection delay so, in this regard the Valco NL21 earbuds have an advantage. You can buy the Valco NL21 earbuds directly from Valco.  


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