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Gone are the days when the remote speaker options for home living resembled a small room heater and sounded like a transistor radio. Nowadays the average device is compact, good looking, and can sound as good as the next bit of hi-fi (accepting that the playback rates are determined by your phone or computer import quality or choice of streaming service). The treVolo can also be jacked into you home audio, if preferred.
The BenQ treVolo is certainly small, its electrostatic speakers folding away in a unit that takes up no more table space than a couple of paperback books. It also comes with up to 12 hours powerless playing time which means it can be tucked away pretty much anywhere when you have friends over. It also has a nice bonus feature by becoming a handy speakerphone when connected to a mobile. Connection to devices is quick and easy, the Bluetooth capacity no worse than other devices (there’s the usual struggle to get through several brick walls if you move about).
The sound is more than acceptable for casual listening. The treVolo’s speciality is its typically crisp electrostatic soundscape – especially noticeable on vocals – and is readily apparent across all genres, from rock to classical. Listening to some Buxtehude cantatas, the sound is excellent with great clarity to the voices and a sharply defined continuo. Trying it with heavier operatic fare – in this case Rostropovich’s classic EMI set of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – the small speakers cope remarkably well with the substantial voices, pulling them forward and giving them a nice separation. The picture is equally good with rock or musical theatre (Spring Awakening combines both and benefits from a decent bass response as well).
The response to solo instrumentals is pretty decent. Some Galuppi piano sonatas sound most natural, the piano given plenty of space. An older recording, Nikolaeva’s Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, and the sound gets a little muddy in the fortissimos but there’s no suggestion of distortion. Only in substantial orchestral scores does the system falter, not quite able to create the space to display the fully differentiated soundscape. The treVolo comes with only three equalizer settings (the rather unhelpfully named pure, warm and vivid) and perhaps a little more hands on control would have helped here.
In summary, a good, room-sized Bluetooth, if a little pricey at $399.
Father's Day is the 6th of September, so why not surprise him with a subscription to Australia's essential guide to classical music and the arts. We've partnered with BenQ and ABC Classics to make dad's day extra special!
Subscribe to Limelight before September 17 and you'll be entered into our special subscribers' prize draw to win a BenQ treVolo. Valued at $399.
The first 20 subscribers will also receive a $50 voucher to spend on the treVolo at BenQ online! Plus, you'll also recieve your choice of an ABC Classics CD as a welcome gift.