808 Audio is back with two new portable Bluetooth speakers in the sub-$50 market that expand on the company’s standard Canz speaker. Canz GLO adds multicoloured LEDs to provide both basic illumination and light show capabilities while you’re listening to your music, while Canz H2O ($50) is a new IP67 waterproof version of the portable speaker that also floats. As the name implies, both speakers come in at around the size and profile of a soft drink can.
Both speakers feature a single, upward-firing driver, with Canz H2O otherwise wrapped in a light blue waterproof silicon covering, and Canz GLO surrounded by a metal mesh cylinder around the light surface. A USB to micro-USB charging cable is included with each of the speakers, but as with most inexpensive speakers, you’ll need to supply your own USB power source to charge them. 808 Audio promises eight hours of battery life from Canz H2O and six hours from Canz GLO. Canz H2O also includes a lanyard for carrying the speaker or hanging it, although there’s no specific mount point for the lanyard on the speaker itself — presumably it just loops under the plastic bar at the top of the speaker. Although relatively lightweight — the speakers come in at under a pound — both feel well built and solid and have a nice heft to them.
Feature-wise, there’s not much to Canz H2O — you turn it on using the button at the front, pair it with your iPhone or other Bluetooth device, and start playing music. The only control is the single power button that also doubles as a play/pause button when streaming audio through it; there are no track navigation or volume controls on the speaker. The only port is the micro-USB charging port, which is found under a flap at the rear base of the speaker, along with a charging status LED. A 1/4” universal mount is also located on the rear of the speaker for attaching it to your gear. Canz H2O paired and worked without any problems at all, and the sound quality is more or less what we’d expect in a $50 speaker — good sound with acceptable bass and reasonably loud volume, although not surprisingly for a speaker of this size we encountered a slight bit of distortion at higher volume levels.
On the other hand, Canz GLO adds a bit more flair in the form of a glow-in-the-dark design supported by multicoloured LEDs in the core of the speaker that allow you to present a light show in sync with your music. The surrounding metal mesh provides for a solid, sturdy feel with the illuminated core peeking out through a pattern of hexagonal holes. A rubber base on the bottom keeps Canz GLO from slipping around, and three buttons on the front allow you to control power and the mode and colour of the speaker light. A micro-USB charging port and AUX in port are found on the rear of the speaker. As with Canz H2O, the process of pairing and using Canz GLO is completely straightforward — the speaker initially starts up in a ready-to-pair mode the first time you turn it on, so you’re not dealing with trying to figure out exactly how to press the buttons to initiate the pairing process. The audio quality of Canz GLO is a notch below Canz H2O, with a bit less bass, but in our opinion it’s still more than acceptable in a $40 speaker; Canz GLO also doesn’t get as loud as Canz H2O, but it also doesn’t distort as much at the higher volumes. Audio aside, however, the real selling point of Canz GLO is the light show that’s included; the speaker includes seven different lighting modes, ranging from the fast-paced “Rave” mode that rapidly pulses and changes colour to the beat of the music through to single-colour modes that just provide static illumination. The speaker always powers on in “Rave” mode, and from there you can use a button on the front of the speaker to cycle through the seven different modes, or turn off the lighting entirely. A second button can also be used to cycle through the various colour options in any of the four single-colour modes; the button has no effect in the three multi-coloured modes. The different lighting effects are definitely a nice touch, and there are enough different modes to suit everything from a party to an evening of relaxation and meditation.
While we had our reservations about 808 Audio’s larger, $100 Canz XL last year, both Canz H2O and Canz GLO prove that 808 Audio seems to do its best in the sub-$50 speaker space. While this might be merely due to a lower bar being set for speakers in this price range, both Canz GLO and Canz H2O are more than respectable speakers as long as you realize you’re getting what you’re paying for. Despite the company’s marketing promises of “precision tuned dynamic sound with big bass” and “dynamic sound with crisp highs and deep lows” we’d place the sound quality in the “okay” to “good” rather than “great” range. While we’ve definitely heard better speakers in this price range, we’ve also heard a lot that are far worse. Sound quality aside, however, the additional features — waterproofing in Canz H2O and multicoloured lighting in Canz GLO — make both of these stand out in an otherwise crowded speaker market and they’re both worth considering for users in the market for budget speakers.
Company and Price
Company: 808 Audio
MSRP: $40 / $50