The TreVolo is a rather extraordinary piece of equipment. It can produce remarkable sound from a flat surface. While electrostatic technology has been found in great home sound systems, to find it with Bluetooth and in portable form seems like a leap forward in sound technology. But I am an amateur in such things.
I was amazed at the flat-layered design as opposed to the cone-shaped speakers inside cabinetry. And the price tag of just $299 was a head-scratcher, to say the least. I admit, I was skeptical that any great sound could come from such a reasonable pricing.
Aesthetically, it looks as cool as can be. The smallish (7”x 3”x 5”), shiny box with very few buttons looks a bit ordinary until you fold out the “wings” of the speaker on either side. It is this feature that give the bass its resonance as the woofers sit between the outspread panels.
Set-up is relatively quick and easy, even for a non-techie like me. The Bluetooth pairing is painless with a single button on the back of the speaker. The volume controls—two buttons for up/down—are a bit limited but can better be controlled by the Bluetooth device’s own volume control.
But Bluetooth is not the only option. There are USB connections (micro USB, that is) and 3.5 Aux input/output ports. Since I was wanted to test out the speaker for my own CD listening purposes, I used the 3.5 Aux ports to connect with my won sound system.
So, let’s get on to how it sounds. Here, genre makes all the difference. Listening to Quadrophenia, with John Entwistle’s thundering bass, is not quite what TreVolo was designed for, it seems. I moved on to Chris Squire’s higher ranged bass playing on his solo album Fish Out of Water. Squire fared better than Entwistle. Even with the Red listening mode which enhances the bass a bit. The problem is that it diminishes the treble.
Let me say this, one thing I noticed—and liked—about BenQ TreVolo is the warm, almost concert, feel to it. The mid-ranges are great and the highs are crisp, which is to be expected with electrostatic speakers.
That crispness is exactly what I want for my Jazz listening. Saxes are sharp, keyboards are brilliant and guitars are stellar.
For rhythms, I turned to Multiverse by Bobby Sanabria’s Big Band. The congas and the drums were clear but lacked the body-blow effect of more conventional speakers. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
Wanting to hear how vocals performed, I went to Aimée Allen’s Matter of Time. Her range on this album would give me just the test pattern I was looking for. She kept her brightness as well as the sultriness under TreVolo’s graceful touch. In particular, the Blue mode was perfect for the vocals.
At this point, I was beginning to get hooked on BenQ’s little baby.
I went on to the lyrical guitar and piano of Hristo Vitchev Quartet’s Familiar Fields and the blistering guitar of Galen Weston’s Plugged In and found both extremes to be well-suited to TreVolo.
For all-encompassing instrumentation with keyboards, horns and vocals, I went to Robert Glasper’s Black Radio. It was wonderful. The digitized voicings are tailor-made for TreVolo.
The heavy-bass funk of Funkadelic, the rock and roll heaviness of Deep Purple don’t seem to be that well-handled. But then, I’m not a bass-a-holic. So, it was not a deal-breaker for me.
Classical music does extremely well, especially those Mozart sopranos and the cresting highs of Sibelius.
The vocals of Soul and R&B are well-expressed, also.
I was pleased with the 12-hour battery life but this depends on the volume at which you play it. Louder volumes mean shorter battery life. And you have to love the $299 price.
Are there things I would like to see added to the TreVolo? Indeed. A remote control would be excellent. Now, if that is my only complaint, then BenQ has scored well with the TreVolo.