The treVolo U stands out in a very crowded field of portable Bluetooth speakers because it’s not for music. Or, at least, it’s not primarily for music. The treVolo U is billed as a “dialogue speaker for learning.” It’s not just an everyday speaker with a mic that you can use for phone calls. Instead, BenQ has designed it from the tabletop up to excel at receiving and reproducing the human voice so that the people on both ends of a phone call, an online meeting, or any kind of video training session can hear and understand each other clearly.
Half the job is that the treVolo U is a very good speaker in a small but solid package. The unit just feels like a quality piece of kit. It’s tightly assembled so that you know there will never be any reverberation in the case. It has strong, clear sound reproduction, especially in the mid-range and highs. (It’s not meant to be a table-thumping rave speaker.) They take a key design step of including a separate tweeter and mid-range driver so that the sound reproduction in the frequencies most common to human speech is accurate and distinct. They also arrange the drivers so that they are angled slightly upwards, understanding that when placed on a desk or table, the listener’s head will be higher than the speaker.
The other half is in the microphone and the onboard processing. The treVolo U has a parabolic condenser mic mounted on the front next to a distance detector. When you set the speaker up with the app, it scans the space where you’re using it to figure out where you are in relation to the speaker and mic and also figures out what the ambient sound conditions are like. It uses this data to customize a sound profile for your situation to ensure you get the best sounding experience from your online meeting, training, or telehealth session, masking out the ambient noise and echoes from the audio it sends to the other end of the conversation, and identifying and boosting the voices it’s reproducing from the incoming signal.
I’ve used the treVolo U for the past few weeks for a couple of different purposes. I’ve used it for telehealth calls where I’ve also had a large fan running in the background. (Summer in a house without aid conditioning, oh joy.) I’ve been extremely happy with the results. I’ve been able to hear the speech from the other end of the call quite clearly and with a much better definition that the built-in speakers on my laptop. I could have used my gaming headset, but I’ve never liked wearing one during face-to-face calls, and the results with the treVolo U mean I’m never going back. Also, there were absolutely no issues with the person on the other end of the call hearing and understanding me, even though I had my evaporative cooler blasting away just off-screen.
I’ve also been using it for ambient sounds playing at night while we sleep. On the aforementioned trip to Kauai, I recorded the nighttime ocean sounds from our lanai for over 9 hours, and now it’s become our nightly relaxation ritual using the treVolo U. It works wonderfully, lulling us off to sleep with the clear sounds of waves crashing up against the rocky beach.
Overall, I’m hugely happy with this speaker. It fits into a niche that didn’t really exist for folks a few years back but is now extremely important to many who have either the option or the necessity of working/communicating from home. When the choices to achieve good audio for such communications are either big headsets or separate speakers and condenser microphones, having a third choice that is specifically designed for the purpose is fantastic. If you need to up your work-from-home, online education, or telemedicine communications game, seriously consider—or get your company to consider—the BenQ treVolo U. It’s the right tool for the job.