As laptop speakers go, those built into Apple’s MacBooks aren’t bad — particularly if you have a MacBook Pro. But they can be so much better. Plug Twelve South’s BassJump 2 into one of your USB ports and you have a mini sound-system that dramatically improves your MacBook’s audio performance.
Works With: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro
Whether you’re listening to music, watching a movie, or just enjoying a podcast, the BassJump 2 subwoofer gives you significantly richer and fuller sound that you won’t believe is coming from your MacBook. There’s no need for expensive external speakers that take up too much room in your bag, or headphones that limit the experience to just one person.
The BassJump 2 is priced at $69.99, and Twelve South calls it “an essential road tool for listening to and editing tracks on the tour bus, hotel room or anyplace else your music takes you.” Now, I’m no musician or music producer — but I definitely agree.
Installing the BassJump 2 is a piece of cake: you simply download the companion app from Twelve South’s website, and plug its USB cable into your MacBook. That’s all it needs for power — there are no additional cables or AC adapters. You can then click the BassJump’s button in your Mac’s menu bar to turn it on — but I wouldn’t recommend doing that right away.
First, you should open up iTunes or Spotify and start playing one of your favorite songs. Take note of how it sounds through your MacBook’s build-in speakers. If this is all you’re used to, it probably sounds pretty good. Now turn BassJump on.
The difference is nothing short of incredible. Your music suddenly comes to life; it’s no longer flat and tinny, but rich and filled with bass. Those R&B tracks send pumping vibrations through your desk, while movies and games become even more intense. And you’re not the only one who gets to enjoy it.
When you first install BassJump, you’ll spend a good ten minutes turning it on and back off again, because you’ll be amazed at the difference a tiny little box — that measures just 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep — can make to your MacBook’s sound output. That’s what I did, anyway, and I couldn’t wait to show it off when friends came over.
It’s hard to demonstrate the BassJump in a review, but Twelve South’s promotional video does a pretty good job.
BassJump works by combing the audio output from your MacBook’s speakers with the low frequency bass produced by its subwoofer. You may think it’s just an external speaker at first, and that your MacBook is no longer playing a part — but that’s not the case.
Inside the BassJump preferences window, you can choose between different sound settings for pop, R&B, classical, and rock music — or create your own. You can also adjust BassJump volume and crossover frequency, choose whether BassJump should automatically turn off when you plug in headphones, and toggle the menu bar icon.
BassJump is super portable due to its size, and Twelve South even provides a soft carry case that ensures it won’t get scratched inside your bag.
While BassJump is small, it’s a tad on the heavy side at 1.4 pounds. That doesn’t sound like much — and it’s likely to be less than carrying a set of speakers — but when you stick it in a backpack alongside a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, it makes a noticeable difference. If you’re traveling with it, then, it’s best to stick it in your suitcase with your clothes if you’re not going to need it on the way.
The only other downside to the BassJump is that it’s only designed to work with MacBooks. Twelve South did add support for Macs with Apple displays for OS X Lion, but this compatibility was broken in its Mountain Lion update, and it’s yet to be fixed.
If you want a simple, relatively affordable way to greatly improve the sound experience with your MacBook without adding big external speakers, then the BassJump 2 should definitely be on your wish-list. It’s a valuable addition to any MacBook setup, and once you’ve got it, you won’t want to be without it.
I can’t recommend BassJump highly enough if you have a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
Product Name: BassJump 2
The Good: Makes your MacBook sound incredible; super easy to set up and use; highly portable; looks great.
The Bad: A little heavy; only designed to work with MacBooks.
The Verdict: If you have a MacBook, want better sound, and can afford to spend $70, then you should buy a BassJump 2 today.
Buy from: Twelve South