Opening up the box for the BenQ TreVolo, we have the following; the speaker, a ‘Quick Guide’, a leaflet explaining not to pick the unit up by the fold-out speakers and a power lead for charging the device. On first impressions, the device is very smart, and has quite a weight to it leading to the feeling of a product that has been well built and sturdy.
It can be connected to an audio source by either Bluetooth or a line-in jack on the rear of the device and also features a line-out so that you can connect it to a larger sound system that may not have Bluetooth functionality. There’s also an app available named “BenQ Audio”, that when your device is connected allows you to control certain aspects of the device. Making the connection was painless and I could see how much battery life the device had left, as well as switch the audio mode (more on that below). Strangely, there’s a glaring omission of being able to control the volume of the device through the app, although you can control the volume of your Bluetooth connection, if you make the mistake of leaving the TreVolo’s volume low - you’re going to have to get up and change it. The app also serves as a manual for the device, which could be handy if you lose the printed one and forget how to use it.
Onto the meat of the TreVolo - its sound. Folding out the speaker panels from the base unit doesn’t detract from how nice the unit looks, in fact I likened the experience to a peacock fanning out its feathers. I played many different genres through the TreVolo, to get a good all round experience of how the speakers sounded given different dynamics. This ranged from dance to new-wave, rock to rave and everything sounded nice and clear, without any “muddy” or “tinny” experiences as can be had with other small speaker sets. Tracks that contained vocals seemed to fair the best, though this may have been down to the specific mixing of the songs I listened to, rather than anything to do with the hardware of the TreVolo. One thing that I did note though, is that there’s a noticeable dip in volume caused by the sound processing in the unit to stop it from clipping. It’s not too bad for the average user, but audiophiles may find this more annoying than anything.
Bass is handled not by the electrostatic speaker, but by a small standard speaker set in the middle of the unit. This allows for the overall sound to not become entirely dominated by the higher frequencies. Whilst this does mean the unit isn’t entirely electrostatic, the end result is a much fuller sound.
The TreVolo also has three pre-set audio “modes” that you can switch between; green, blue and red. To my ears, the blue mode (known as “vivid”) provided the best clarity for audio. Green (“pure”) upped the bass a little over blue, but caused the mix to sound muddy. Red (“warm”) really overdoes it and makes the audio muddier again and therefore having the least desirable output of all the modes.
One of the unique attributes of electrostatic speakers, is that the audio becomes bi-directional. It sounds the same in front of the device as it does behind and that makes the TreVolo an excellent contender in an area that has foot flow all around it. However, this in turn makes the higher end sounds more directional in contrast, so an ideal listening height can be found by adjusting the angle the base of the unit sits at to ensure that it’s directed towards your ears.
I watched scenes from a couple of different movies using the TreVolo too, to see what it would be like when faced with something outside of it’s standard grounds of playing music. I picked some high action scenes in an attempt to test in, but the TreVolo strided through it without issue. If you’re ever stuck with only your phone for entertainment and you’re bored of listening to music, then the Trevolo will step up to the plate to make sure you can enjoy the audio.
Last up was to try it with some gaming. I hooked up the TreVolo to my PC, fired up DiRT Rally and went pedal to the metal. The TreVolo, once again handled this situation with aplomb - it really can hold up against any scenario you can throw at it.
BenQ TreVolo Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker
When all's said and done, the TreVolo is a fantastic little Bluetooth electrostatic speaker and really looks the part. It’s a little pricy at £200 which is probably the TreVolo’s sticking point, though stock currently seems to be limited.