Review: 808 Audio Canz XL Bluetooth Speaker
808 Audio's Canz XL ($100) is the larger edition of the company's Canz, which 808's website claims is "the number one selling Bluetooth speaker under $50." But whereas Canz is a tiny, super inexpensive speaker, Canz XL is competing with bigger, better Bluetooth speakers — and as such, the speaker is indeed large for its price range. Canz XL's sound comes from an upward-firing 3.5" driver, and bass is boosted by a passive radiator (and an EQ bass boost button). 808 claims Canz XL gets 8 hours of playtime on one charge, and the speaker charges using its own proprietary AC adapter.
As far as $100 portable Bluetooth speakers go, Canz XL is on the larger side of the ledger. Canz XL is a cylinder measuring 5” wide and 7.5” tall. The speaker also weighs about 2.6 pounds. It’s big enough that — despite the built-in metal handle — you might be hesitant to take it everywhere due to its size. As if that weren’t enough to restrict Canz XL’s overall use, there’s no waterproofing to speak of here.
Canz XL puts its speaker inside an anodized aluminum cabinet, with controls up top for volume, power, and bass boost. The metal handle can be hidden away near the speaker grille, and a small light near the top of the cylinder denotes power and Bluetooth connection status. Near the bottom of the cylinder are the AC adapter port and an aux cable port. At the very least, the look is a nice change of pace from all the matte black rubber speakers we’ve seen recently.
Canz XL’s sound is fine, but it doesn’t quite live up to its size. It gets loud, though not exceedingly so. Unfortunately, at the highest volume, we heard a bit of distortion from time to time in certain songs. Keep in mind, this is also a mono speaker — it sounds fine, but if you want stereo, there are plenty of good-to-great stereo options in this price range. The passive radiator does provide decent bass (we generally prefer listening to Canz XL with the bass boost on), but it never quite hits like you’d expect. Basically, Canz XL delivers a steady, nice listening experience in a variety of genres, but there isn’t one attribute that really makes it stand out.
We also experienced a few strange connection issues with Canz XL. A few times, we paused playback in the iOS Music app, and upon returning to the app not much later, the track would play but no sound would come from the speaker. We’ve seen this sort of quirkiness before with the Music app, but it seemed to happen more frequently with Canz XL. Our concerns were compounded by our testing of the speaker’s advertised “hands free calling.” Switching to Canz XL during a call only pushed us back to the iPhone, even though the option to switch to the speaker was made available. Rebooting both the iPhone and speaker gave us the same issues — so perhaps Canz XL has some kind of speakerphone function, but we couldn’t get it to work.
Overall, Canz XL is a solid speaker, but it’s held back by a number of issues. Mono sound, a lack of waterproofing, proprietary charging, possible connection issues, and a larger size that isn’t really justified by its performance…nothing listed here is a deal breaker on its own, but they all add up to keep this speaker from reaching its full potential. We don’t think you’ll be unhappy with Canz XL’s audio performance, but it also wouldn’t be our first portable Bluetooth speaker choice in the $100 range.