Even with the best will in the world, the audio that a MacBook or MacBook Pro produces could only really be described as 'a bit thin'.
Sure, basic physics is against you if you're trying to belt out confident, rounded, balanced audio from such a cramped space, but it's nevertheless true that the weedy, tinny sound that even the most recent Apple laptops dribble out is unlikely to wow anyone in a meeting or command the attention of students in a classroom.
The Twelve South BassJump aims to solve this problem. It's portable – it comes with a natty little neoprene case – and plugs into your laptop over USB to supply both audio and power to the unit.
You need to install audio drivers and a System Preferences pane that shows some cute analogue-style amber-lit VU metres, and lets you adjust the volume and cut-off point at which frequencies are sent to the BassJump.
There are a few presets for different music genres here, but it's worth tinkering yourself to find a custom setting that suits you.
Let's be clear: this isn't a full frequency (mono) speaker. It's a low frequency bass augment to your laptop's own speakers; you're adding bass to your laptop's built-in speakers.
What we're saying, really, is that you shouldn't expect audiophile-quality music. It doesn't magically make your laptop's speakers better; it merely adds the bass that they usually lack.
The result is certainly significantly better, and a genuine boon for showing videos to a boardroom or classroom, say. But unless your standards are particularly low, don't buy this thinking you'll now do all your music-listening using it.
Far better to buy a regular 3.5mm mini jack or, more rarely, a USB powered speaker system for regular music playback from your laptop.
We'd like to have seen Twelve South integrate a small USB hub into the BassJump simply so that we wouldn't lose one of our MacBooks' precious USB ports, which is particularly relevant when giving a presentation, as you may need to plug in a remote control receiver.
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