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The BenQ treVolo U is a compact Bluetooth speaker that emphasizes clear vocals, for users who need speech clarity without a sweaty headset or greasy earbuds.
Zoom video calls exploded in popularity in the last few years as business meetings have moved online. Additionally, online classes have become commonplace, and many use an iPad or MacBook for these online interactions.
The built-in speakers on an iPad or a MacBook might not be loud or clear enough during video calls where vocals are particularly vital. If you’re using an external speaker that leans towards heavy bass, the bass settings can overpower vocals and result in muffled sound.
For example, if you are taking online classes to learn a different language, it is imperative that you can hear the teacher with the utmost clarity. Factors such as a bad Internet connection or an outdated device may create unclear audio.
A speaker designed for vocal clarity can make a class go from frustrating to instructive.
treVolo U – Wireless features and battery
A desk may have piles of textbooks or notebooks, so having a wireless speaker such as the treVolo U can minimize clutter on your desk. You can connect the treVolo U speaker to a MacBook or iPad via Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth was easy to set up, as you press the Bluetooth button on top of the speaker to make it discoverable. The Bluetooth connection was stable once connected to an iPad or MacBook.
The Bluetooth had a range of about 30 feet, and we tested the speaker by playing an audiobook with an iPad in one room and the speaker in another. We could hear the audiobook clearly for over an hour without issues, even with the iPad in another room separated by a wall.
When away from the treVolo U speaker, there is an option to perform functions remotely using the treVolo app. With the treVolo app, you can remotely adjust the volume and check the connection status and battery life.
You can also set up a customized sound profile in the app, to experience the best sound quality for your environment. The app will play six frequencies on the speaker and adjust the sound of each frequency based on your responses to set up your customized profile.
To keep up with your long Zoom calls or all-day classes, BenQ claims that the treVolo U speaker has up to 12 hours of continuous playback time. It has an internal lithium-ion battery and uses a USB-C to USB-A cable to recharge, so you would need to use an adapter if you want to charge the speaker with your MacBook.
It includes a USB-A wall charger to plug the speaker directly into the wall. You will also get a 4-pin 3.5 mm audio cable to connect this speaker to your device.
treVolo U – sound modes
The treVolo U speaker delivers crisp, clear sounds for online learning. There are three modes that you can choose from by pressing the buttons on top of the speaker, covering video learning, live learning, and music.
When video learning mode is on, it filters delayed echo and ambient sounds so that the vocal quality becomes crystal clear. This video learning mode is helpful, even if the video has less than an ideal connection.
We tested the video learning mode during an especially precarious Zoom call where the connection was unstable. Initially, we used the MacBook speakers for this Zoom call, but the audio was unintelligible.
Even if we turned the volume all the way up, it still was not loud enough to hear clearly.
Of course, this terrible audio was due to an unstable internet connection and faulty audio input from the other end of the Zoom call, not the MacBook speakers. However, we switched the audio to the treVolo U speaker and instantly noticed a big difference.
The audio was still problematic because of the bad connection, but it improved because we could turn the volume up way more with the treVolo speaker than with the MacBook. The video learning mode reduced ambient noise and noticeably improved the clarity of the audio.
We tested the speaker on another video call using the live learning mode, and it worked as expected. The treVolo speaker has an electret condenser microphone, and the sound from our mic was clear and loud.
Also, with the live learning mode, we could hear the speaker clearly due to the noise reduction and echo cancellation features.
A third sound mode on the treVolo U is the music mode. Although this is a dual-driver speaker, this is not the best if you enjoy music with rich bass.
The video learning or live learning mode produces flat and tinny music because these modes augment human voice, not musical instruments. When the music mode is selected, it makes instrumental sounds more balanced and passable in a pinch, but it is still not the best music-listening experience.
Voice commands and safe volume detection
Besides switching between sound modes, if you press and hold the sound mode button, it will activate the voice command assistant. When voice command is on, you could say Hey Tredo to ask the treVolo U speaker to do things for you, much like one would with Siri.
You can use voice commands to perform functions like adjusting the volume, turning on safe volume detection, and switching to different sound modes. You can also connect treVolo U to your iPad or MacBook with Siri enabled, and the speaker will synchronize with your device’s voice control systems.
We found the voice command feature challenging because the treVolo U speaker didn’t always recognize the verbal voice commands given. Although this was a thoughtful feature, it was not reliable and thus did not add much to the speaker’s usefulness, much like the safe volume detection feature.
Press and hold the safe volume detection button on the right of the sound mode button to activate safe volume detection. The safe volume detection feature could come in handy if you have loud Zoom calls or boisterous virtual classrooms. However, this is unlikely and is why the safe volume detection feature is not especially practical.
Vocals over instruments
The treVolo U speaker is a colorful companion to cheer you on during those long days of Zoom calls or online classes. It will be there for you when you need the utmost clarity with crisp and clear vocals, and it will leave a minimal footprint on your desk with its small size and wireless capacity.
It is surprisingly loud for a small speaker, and as long as you don’t expect it to blast music for a house party, this is a solid choice for a Bluetooth speaker.
treVolo U – Pros
- Crisp and clear vocals
- Very loud for a small speaker
- Electret condenser mic
- Stable Bluetooth connection
- Three sound modes: video learning, live learning, and music
treVolo U – Cons
- Need an adapter for the USB-A to USB-C when used on a MacBook
- Not for musical instruments
- Unreliable voice command functions
Rating: 4 out of 5
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