Jan 31, 2019
The following article was sponsored by BenQ Audio, who have kindly provided a set of treVolo S wireless speakers, asking for my opinion and a possible review. I was slightly surprised at first, as I've never done product reviews on this page (besides never having considered myself an "influencer" of any kind), but the representatives from BenQ assured me that the speakers themselves are most suitable to use during meditations, and could provide a sound quality worth experiencing and that the readers of this page might even be interested in these combined.
Reminding myself that this would not be the first technology-related article to appear on Meditation for Beginners (although Faith's excellent guest article focused more on the role of apps and online communities), and curious why the people at BenQ are so confident about their product, I agreed to give them a try. I have not regretted it one bit.
I get to keep the speakers whatever I write about them (and as far as I understood even if I never write a word). The following is the summary of my experience of using the treVolo S speakers every day for some months, with no strings attached. (No really, no strings at all, the speakers are wireless.) ;)
Your own meditation guide in a box
I have been practising meditation for well over two decades, and while music meditation had been an essential part of these practices, in the last few years, I've spent less and less time listening to music, and more specifically meditation-music in an active, focused manner. Part of the reason for this was the more time spent on quiet, introspective techniques, and deeper meditation; but the lack of quality audio-equipment certainly played a role as well (although this latter point was not all that obvious before receiving my treVolo S speakers).
BenQ provided some sample music files to test the speakers with, and while I was impressed by the sound quality, I thought it best to do what I usually would, and probably what other people reading this blog might also be also interested in, and focused more on guided meditations and meditation music.
Starting with a lossless (FLAC) recording of a guided meditation (a gift from a former teacher), the very first impression of the speakers was the clarity of the spoken voice. Without exaggerating, it really felt like someone was sitting next to me, speaking. I have to admit here, that I have never really been into guided meditations much, at least not the spoken variety (as I do regard music meditation as a form of guided meditation), but for anyone who enjoys listening to a soothing voice, these speakers will make you feel like the guide is right there with you. I imagine that this could further enhance your meditation experience, creating the sense of intimacy, as a one-one-one meditation session would.
BenQ also emphasised that the speakers are tuned for natural voice and acoustic music, and I have to say they got it right. The probably only downside (if you can call it such) is the high quality itself: When the audio files are not the clearest or highest quality, you can really tell. You will definitely want to use lossless studio recordings with these speakers, as with lower quality audio files this deficiency will be more noticeable.
Returning to music meditation
Quite impressed, I then proceeded to listen to some of my favourite meditation music. This is mostly acoustic stuff, quite eclectic in style, with a lot of clear instrumental parts and some non-verbal human vocals. What happened this time was the realisation of not only that I had never really owned high-end audio equipment, but that I hadn't even realised that I needed it. Now I know. And now I have it, so all is fine.
Seriously though, I did, in fact, hear nuances in the music that I have not previously discovered, even when using headphones. (I prefer the approach of contemplating the music closely, focusing on it, rather than letting myself be carried away by it. You can read more about my approach to music meditation here.) Once again, the quality and clarity of the sound were amazing. I have later discovered that BenQ also did send me links to sample meditation tracks, which had further reinforced these opinions. While they are not the type of meditation music I usually enjoy, the details in those tracks were absolutely convincing.
What is more amazing to me now, is that these speakers did, in fact, make me return to a daily (or almost daily) music meditation practice, a habit I have abandoned years ago, and have not even realised I missed, until taking it up again. So I have to say thank you to BenQ. (Sorry, bad pun, I know, and I'm not even sure if it's pronounced ben-Kyou, or ben-K, or what.)
Limited offer! Buy the treVolo S on Amazon US with a 10% discount before the end of 2018 using the coupon code: CA5UV5XW
Getting a bit more technical
Subjective opinions apart, there are a few things worth mentioning about the treVolo S from a but more technical point of view as well. The speakers themselves are surprisingly small and portable, although the nearly 1kg weight gives them a really dense feel. They conveniently fold into a brick, and as the set comes with a carry bag, it is easy to take them with you anywhere. This means that you can use them outside, or while travelling, although they do not seem weatherproof, which might limit the amount of sitting in the middle of a lake, or in the middle of a monsoon-like downpour you want to use these speakers in (not that these would be the most usual environments to listen to meditation music, but who knows).
The build quality is excellent, the speakers feel sturdy and robust, even the fold out bits give the impression that they can withstand a lot of abuse (although I have not tried stress-testing them, I might not be getting another set.) They are genuinely wireless, with a large battery. I can confirm that the 18 hours battery life BenQ claims, seems to be an understatement, as I usually use them for well over 20 hours on one charge, although on moderate volume.
The Bluetooth connection is stable and fast (and lag-free). The speakers can produce louder volumes, although the maximum output is still moderate at best. Even so, you probably do not want to use these for parties, so the loudness is more than adequate. The only problem I had was the lack of any battery indicator. I had to download an Android app to monitor the battery status, which was only a slight inconvenience.
The sound is as natural as it gets. As already mentioned, the treVolo S makes human voice feel like a live person is talking, and acoustic instruments are as clear as listening to a concert. I did try heavy metal as well, because why not, and even distorted guitars sounded really good, although that sort of music might benefit from a richer low-range. These speakers are not the bass-heavy party boosters that are so fashionable (and provide such a poor overall experience besides booming basses and drums), and they do not need to be. I use them mostly as "meditation accessories", and to listen to online radio while washing up after dinner, and are perfect for both scenarios.
There is a 3D sound mode that further enhances the richness of the sound. I find that I use that with certain types of music while leaving it off for human voices. While an indicator of the status of this mode would be nice, you can monitor it from the aforementioned Android app too.
As an interesting phenomenon, the overall richness of the sound (not only the lows but the full spectrum) can be massively enhanced by placing the treVolo S in front of the wall, and even more by putting them into a 90-degree corner, some one or two feet away from the walls. The tech specs claim the membrane-less technology actually uses the surroundings and the echo-effect of the wall behind. I found this to be quite significant, and the enhancement in the overall experience is really noticeable.
Highly recommended speakers
There is nothing much else left to say, these speakers are of superb quality, both the hardware itself and the sound they produce. They even look good, and I'm sure they would seamlessly fit into a modern home. (Although my house is not nearly modern or stylish, they don't stand out there either.) For me – and this will sound like a lousy sales-pitch,
but hey, I'm not even selling anything (or not yet) Well, this statement has quickly become obsolete. While technically I'm astill not selling them, buying it through the links/coupon codes on the site will now support the site. – these speakers meant the rediscovery of the long-lost habit of daily music meditation. I think that alone was worth it, and if not, the sound experience certainly would have.
Limited offer! Buy the treVolo S on Amazon UK with a 10% discount before the end of 2018 using the coupon code: NJEWZ7QK
Disclaimer: Both of the above links are of the affiliate persuasion. When buying through these links using the codes, you also support Meditation for Beginners to be able to remain advertisement and thus surveillance free.