Review: 808 Audio's Earcanz Tru Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

With Apple's introduction of the AirPods, the flood gates have started to open for companies that traditionally sold wired Bluetooth headsets to dip their toes into the truly wireless Bluetooth earbud market. A recent entry is 808 Audio's Earcanz Tru Wireless Earbuds ($79.99). How do they hold up against Apple's more expensive wireless Bluetooth earbuds?  Read on to find out.

Related: 10 Best Wireless Bluetooth Speakers & Headphones for iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

The Earcanz Tru wireless earbuds look like two old fashioned single-ear-piece Bluetooth headsets from a decade ago. They have an ear loop that rests against the inner ridge of your outer ear, initially giving the ear pieces that retro look before wearing them. Once placed into the ear with the ear loop resting on your outer ear ridge, they are surprisingly comfortable. Yes, they do stick out like Frankenstein neck bolts, but the ear loops do a good job of holding them in position and not allowing the earbuds to droop or fall out. They stayed tightly in place even with vigorous head bobbing and twisting.

Pairing the Earcanz Tru to my iPhone was as simple as other typical Bluetooth headsets. After pressing the power buttons on both earbuds for the first time and allowing them to connect to each other, the iPhone located the 808 EarCanz TRU Bluetooth device. Once paired, both earbuds reported this status via clear stereo.

As for sound quality, the Earcanz Tru arne't bad. At normal sound levels, the audio is a bit muddy, but otherwise fairly clear with good stereo separation. However, when the volume gets loud, the earbuds start blowing out the high end and audio sounds disjointed and muffled as a result.

Besides true wireless functionality, the major incentive for considering these earbuds is the price. At $79.99, you could purchase two pairs for less than the cost of one pair of Apple AirPods. Another considerable advantage that the Earcanz Tru have over the AirPods is they work equally well on non-iOS Bluetooth devices such as Android phones and Bluetooth-equipped PCs. Another bonus is that these earbuds use standard MicroUSB ports to recharge, meaning you don't have to carry around a custom charging case or cable to refill the battery charge. On the downside, battery life is a meager three hours; so depending on your listening duration habits, this may be a significant detractor.

One very significant problem occurred with the Earcanz Tru that I have never encountered in all my years of testing and reviewing headsets. After wearing the earbuds for about ten minutes, I noticed a nasty chemical, almost metallic taste in my mouth. I thought at first something might be smoldering in the room I was in ,but then I removed the earbuds and took a whiff of them. Blech! The chemical stink emanating from them made me nearly retch. The awful smell seemed as if it were coming from earbud stems rather than the ear tips. It was so overpowering that I was surprised I didn't notice it earlier. Even after leaving the earbuds out in the open air for two days, the synthetic odor was nearly just as strong. I don't know what kind of chemical 808 used in the manufacturing of these earbuds, but it made me very concerned about potential health effects of longterm exposure to this volatile odor.  It's of course possible the unit I was testing had a manufacturing defect that maybe missed a washing step to remove the noxious stench; but since I only had one unit available for review, I can't verify this to be the case.

Final Verdict

Assuming that the chemical volatility problem was isolated to the earbuds I used, the overall quality and low cost of the Earbudz Tru make them very compelling for those who can't wait another year for more fully wireless stereo earbuds to hit the market. If you're looking for an inexpensive, decent sounding wireless earbud solution and don't mind the early adopter risks (and possibly whatever chemical volatility diffuses into your head), 808 Audio's solution may be an acceptable solution until the rest of the Bluetooth wireless headset manufacturers develop compelling alternate listening options.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.