808 Audio CANZ Glo portable wireless speaker mini Review

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Back during CES, 808 Audio introduced a bunch of new speakers boasting features like strong bass and a rugged design. We recently got our hands on one these speakers, the CANZ Glo. Unlike the models intended for use in harsh environments, the CANZ Glo are designed for your portable partying needs. This small cylindrical speaker features an outer metal grille and an inter white plastic that, when activated, glows various bright colors with different rhythms and speeds.

Lighting Effects & Control

The CANZ Glo is part of 808 Audio’s CANZ Bluetooth speaker series, though with a unique twist: inside the metal cabinet is a glowing light component that toggles between colors like yellow, orange, green, red, blue, purple, and more. Users are given a decent amount of control over the colors thanks to “mode” and “color” buttons. Press the mode button and the colors will disappear entirely, making the 808 speaker nearly invisible depending on where you place it.

Press the “mode” button again and a single light will turn on and persist as a static accent. Press that button yet again and the glow will begin pulsing to the beat of the music that is playing. You guessed it, yet another press changes that, getting rid of the beat-based pulse and replacing it with a smooth swirling light. Push that mode button again and the lighting pattern will switch to a slow pulse, one that fades out and then back in.

If you’re not happy with a single color, pressing mode again will cause the speaker’s glow to transition smoothly and fairly rapidly through all of the colors one at a time. If you’re on a mode that uses a static color, pressing the “color” button allows the user to manually choose which color they prefer. Finally, there’s one mode where all of the colors play at the same time in a swirling fashion that presents a light, nearly pastel-like rainbow design.

This kind of control mechanism is very simple and quiet welcomed — you can find a color and lighting pattern to suit just about any mood, whether you’re playing soft music for a romantic dinner or you’re taking the speaker outside for a night of loud fun.

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Design

The CANZ Glo speaker is much smaller than I anticipated based on photos, but that’s not a criticism. You can easily palm this speaker, even slip it into a pocket or a purse. This 808 offering is quite light in terms of weight and yet it doesn’t feel cheap — in fact, I squeezed the metal speaker cabinet as hard as I could to see if the metal would give, but it didn’t so much as dent. I’m quite confident you could drop this speaker onto a hard surface and it would likely survive with, perhaps, just a scuff mark or two.

The speaker is cylindrical-shaped and the actual speaker component is positioned on the top of the device so that audio is propelled upward away from whatever surface the speaker is sitting on. You’d be fair in expressing skepticism about this orientation — a single speaker pointing upward tends to cause highly directional audio that can diminish the listening experience of anyone who isn’t directly in the audio path.

That’s not the case, fortunately. Yes, pointing the top of the speaker at yourself will provide the strongest audio, but the overall experience is just fine the way it is. 808 Audio did a great job of ensuring the audio is dispersed around the speaker, and in fact you’d never guess you were listening to something with such a directional design based on the audio alone.

At one point I had the speaker sitting on a stand — without the lights turned on — playing jazz and it was nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly where the audio was coming from. Your experiences with this will, of course, vary based on location and room design, but overall I found the build quality and audio dispersion to be surprisingly excellent for a $39 speaker.

Audio Quality

Again, I didn’t expect much from a $39 speaker, but the CANZ Glo managed to surprise me. That’s not to say that it can compete with better, more expensive models, because it certainly can’t. But for speaker this small with a speaker pointing upward and audio being delivered, more often than not, over Bluetooth, the audio quality was quite acceptable.

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The CANZ Glo’s audio is full, though not without its moments of tinniness and muddiness. Both those crop up more often in video-sourced audio than music, oddly enough, though neither is so pronounced as to ruin the listening experience; in fact, someone who doesn’t know what they’re listening for is unlikely to even take note of the muddy notes.

One thing that particularly impressed me was the speaker’s bass, which is strong enough to have a pronounced ‘thump’ in your palm. When the speaker is placed flat on a desk, and despite the rubber ring on its underside, light vibrations can be felt from the speaker in my hands as I type. Listening to something more bass-heavy than big bang and swing took that up to a new level.

Wrap-up

Big things can come in small packages and 808 Audio’s CANZ Glo proves that. While this speaker won’t compete with big products from the likes of Sonos, as one example, it’s unlikely anyone considering this model would expect it to. Rather, the CANZ Glo excels at what it was designed to do: provide loud, bass-rich audio in a small package that can be unplugged and taken just about anywhere.

If you’re looking for something small to connect to a TV, the CANZ Glo isn’t for you — I tried this and the audio was far too tinny in that case. On the other hand, this model excelled as a small speaker to place on a dining room table, bookcase, desk or night stand to provide a blanket of 360-degree audio; the lighting effects were icing on the cake, so to speak, lending different atmospheres for all sorts of environments.

The CANZ Glo is available from 808 Audio now for $39.95 USD.

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