Story by Philip Chung, via our partner site, Digital Trends /
808 Audio joins the growing list of headphone makers to release its own set of truly wireless earbuds this year. However, going completely cord-free isn’t as simple as just removing the cable between two earbuds. They still need to feel comfortable in your ears, sound great, and maintain a reliable Bluetooth connection both to your phone and to each other. Our Earcanz Tru review reveals that these earbuds are mostly on target, but miss the mark on some features.
Aesthetically, the Earcanz Tru are generic-looking and have a minimalist design with prominent branding. They’re reminiscent of the Sol Republic Amps Air with less flair and bulk. The Earcanz Tru sit a bit far from your ear canal on an extended stem from the eartips; this positioning is intentional so you can access the single multi-function button on each earbud. However, the placement of said buttons is confusing solely because they’re not in the same place on both earbuds. On the left earpiece the button is on top and on the right one, it’s on the bottom. While awkward at first, they were easy to locate once we got use to their placement. The advantage of having only one button for play, pause, track navigation, picking up calls, and power is that there’s only one button to find with your fingers. The disadvantage is that you’re limited to those functions and volume control isn’t one of them. If you need to change the volume you can only do so from the audio source.
While compact and light, these earbuds are not so small that they’ll easily disappear if you drop one. Included are three sizes of silicone tips and fin stabilizers that nestle into the curvature of your ear to help you find the perfect fit to keep the earbuds in place, solving the problem of having one slip out of your ear while engaging in vigorous activities like running and working out. There is even an included pair of over-the-ear plastic hooks, but we found the fins did an excellent job on their own once we found the right size and positioning. Another feature active users will enjoy is water-resistance, so the buds can handle a little sweat. However, they don’t appear to be completely waterproof, and there’s no advertised IPX rating.
The biggest concession versus more expensive options is how these earbuds charge. While higher-end products like the Apple Airpods and Bose Soundsport Free utilize wireless contact charging via a battery case, the Earcanz Tru earbuds require wired charging using an included split microUSB cable, similar to the Axgio AH-T1 true wireless earphones. It’s a bit of a hassle to open the tiny rubber doors at the end of each earbud. Given the relatively short battery life of about three hours per charge, we found ourselves struggling to peel back the cover on the charging ports more often than we would have liked; a portable charging case would have alleviated both issues easily. The clamshell case also doesn’t have a secure place to store the extra eartips and hooks.
As for sound quality, the sound signature is balanced with a good amount of bass; with the right sized eartips and a proper seal you’ll hear a bit of deep bass. At times the treble register can appear overly bright with brittle sounding snare drums and excess sibilance in vocals. You’ll also hear some static and noise during low volume and silent passages, so these earbuds perform best at moderate or higher listening volumes. The overall listening experience is enjoyable for the money, with good isolation and comfort during extended wear. For calls, sound is only heard in the right earpiece but callers didn’t report any problems with mic quality.
The hardest thing for true wireless earphones to get right, it seems, is maintaining a stable and reliable Bluetooth connection. With the Earcanz Tru, the earbuds faithfully paired to each other automatically when both units were powered on, even when we didn’t follow the manual’s explicit recommendation to power the right one on first. However, over the course of our evaluation, they disconnected from each other twice, leaving only the right earbud with sound. Power cycling the left earbud seemed to fix it, though the exact cause of the dropout wasn’t clear.
The Earcanz Tru retail for just $80, one of the few pairs of true wireless earbuds under $100, but considering for the same price or less you could get great sounding wired or standard Bluetooth headphones, you’ll have to decide whether or not the smaller form factor and avoiding the hassle of cords is worth the trade-off.