Published on October 15th, 2015 | by Greg0
BenQ treVolo: The First Portable Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker
Electrostatic technology was created to help minimize distortion- it’s a nifty trick that some speakers have used in order to provide superior sound. But it’s been reserved for huge, heavy speakers and headphones at the every top-of-the-line. The results have always impressed- clarity and transparency that can make music sound light and present. And when you think of a company that can bring the technology to a small package, you probably wouldn’t guess the one that succeeded.
BenQ might be best known for their projectors and monitors, but they’ve also created the new BenQ treVolo, the first portable electrostatic Bluetooth speaker. We first noticed it at a trade show, and were immediately impressed by the form factor- it’s small enough to sit tidily on a shelf and fit just about anywhere on your desk or side table (though not in your pocket). Weighing in at a bit over two and a half pounds, you can move it between rooms and setup wherever you need some music. Thanks to Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX, connecting is easy and files are played back in high-resolution, high-fidelity.
The rechargeable battery means you can take it to a picnic, and the 12 hour rating is very solid. Like most competitors, there is an auxiliary mini-jack 3.5mm input and a microphone for speakerphone use. Electrostatic speakers use panels to produce sound, and BenQ created nifty flip-out wing panels for the treVolo- they fold flat for storage or travel and pop out for listening. Four separate amplifiers drive the unit, housed in the base, and the dual 2.5-inch dynamic drivers which is topped with playback and power controls (and subtle EQ settings, identifiable by the color of the lighting). Passive radiators help push bass, but it’s the weakest part of the system as with most electrostatic gear- hip-hop lovers won’t be impressed by the low end.
But those who listen to mostly classical or jazz will be wowed- the treVolo is distinctly classy, putting out warm tones that are a refreshing change, like a breath of fresh air. So many speakers can sound fairly alike, but these have their own definite signature. The treVolo isn’t loud- it won’t pump a party- offering around 20 watts of power and it has a fairly narrow sweet spot. We’d describe it as snappy, and it shines brightest on tracks like Barber’s Adagio for Strings- anything with vibrato or wind instruments. Plus, it looks as elegant as it sounds, with a matte metal finish. BenQ’s treVolo is a specialist speaker, to be sure, balanced and even delicate-sounding- but it’s well-priced for an electrostatic model, available now online and in stores for $299 in silver or black.