Strong bass response and crisp highs. Easy to pair via Bluetooth.
Short battery life. No charging case. Single-button design makes accidents easy.
- Bottom Line
The 808 Audio EarCanz Tru earphones offer decent wire-free audio at a reasonable price, but are held back by exceedingly poor battery life.
At $79.99, the EarCanz Tru from 808 Audio are far less expensive than much of the truly cable-free Bluetooth earphones out there, but there is an obvious reason for that—unlike nearly all of the other models we've tested, they don't come with a charging case. Naturally, you might wonder if this means they have good battery life on their own, like the Axgio AH-T1. Unfortunately, the answer is no, which means you only have about three hours of listening time at best. No matter how good the audio quality is (and it's fine), you're better off with a different option.
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The water-resistant, black plastic design of the EarCanz Tru looks a little cheap—like something in the sub-$30 range. Each earpiece uses removable fin-style stabilizers to achieve a reliably secure fit—you get three pairs of these in various sizes, and a single pair of over-the-ear, hook-style stabilizers. The earphones also ship with three pairs of silicone eartips (S, M, and L).
Before we talk about the real deal breaker in the design department, let's discuss some other issues. The power button on each earpiece is the only button there is. To answer a call, press the power button. To end it, press the power button. To play or pause music, press the power button. To skip the track, press the power button twice. To adjust volume, don't bother—that will need to be done on your source device. If it sounds like it's easy to accidentally pause music when you meant to skip a track, or even power down when you meant to pause, that's because it is.
The concept behind charging the EarCanz Tru isn't a bad one—why bother with a charging case when you can simply have a micro USB port at the base of each earphone and a y-style cable that connects to both and terminates in USB? The problem is, when you only have three hours of battery life, you need a backup power supply. That's basically the entire point of a charging case, which usually hold multiple full charges, and have the ability to boost battery life quickly. Without a case, you're looking at the earphones dying every three hours—and depending on your volume levels, it could go much more quickly than that. 808 Audio does include a case, but it's the zip-up style pouch that most regular earphones ship with.
That aside, the pairing process is quick and flawless—power up both earpeices, and they automatically connect to each other and go into pairing mode. The EarCanz Tru should appear on your device's Bluetooth menu, and you're good to go. It actually works better than many of the early true wireless options we tested. You can also use a single earpeice if you wish.
The built-in mic offers below-average intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we could make out the words we recorded, but just barely.
Getting the right eartips is important to hear the bass. All three pairs of fit me securely, but only the smallest pair created the proper seal needed for deep bass. This is a little odd, in that I usually use the medium eartips, but get a solid seal from any pair I test. Regardless, if the sound signature is tinny and lacking in bass, that means you've got the wrong eartips in.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife's "Silent Shout," the EarCanz Tru deliver thumping bass response, and at moderate levels, the lows are still quite boosted. We also hear some boosting in the highs on this track, making for a very sculpted mix.
Bill Callahan's "Drover," a track with very little deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the sound signature. The drums on this track can sound overly thunderous on bass-forward earphones, but here they have a pleasant bass thump to them without sounding overpowering. Callahan's baritone vocals also have a nice low-mid richness, balanced by the sculpted high-mids and highs.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," the kick drum loop gets plenty of high-mid presence, accentuating its sharp attack, while the lows round out its thump quite nicely. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat sound thunderous. Vocals are delivered with solid clarity, and perhaps a little added sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound crisp and bright, but with some added bass depth that will appeal to plenty of listeners, though not to anyone seeking a flat-style response.
Never have I felt like I needed to race the clock when testing a product, but the EarCanz Tru battery life made things interesting. I understand the concept here, but without strong battery life (or even decent battery life, for that matter), you need a charging case to make this a product worth paying for. The aforementioned Axgio AH-T1 have up to eight hours of battery life, and are even less expensive at $50. Our Editors' Choice, JLab's Epic Air earphones, are more expensive, but they deliver better sound quality and feature excellent onboard controls and a charging case. And if you don't need to go completely wire-free, we can actually recommend the 808 Audio EarCanz, which cost half the price and last twice as long.
By Tim Gideon Contributing Editor, Audio
Contributing Editor Tim Gideon has been writing for PCMag since 2006. He specializes in reviewing audio products, and is obsessed with headphones, speakers, and recording gear. More »
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