Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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November 29, 2011 • Reviews

Twelve South Bass Jump 2 Portable Subwoofer for MacBook Review

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The MacBook air isn’t designed to be an entertainment device. The anemic speakers on it make that point quite clearly. Sure, they work well enough, but I would be hard-pressed to call them anything more than functional. The speakers on the iMac are far better but even they still fall a bit short. That’s where Twelve South’s BassJump 2 Portable subwoofer for MacBook comes in. Let’s take a look.

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From Twelve South:

Designed exclusively for MacBook Pro and Air, BassJump 2 is a sweet, one-of-a-kind, go anywhere, USB-powered subwoofer that turns your MacBook into a mini-sound system. One single USB cable delivers power and sound. Custom software blends the music coming from your built-in MacBook speakers with extra bass. The result is dramatically improved MacBook

MacBook Air never sounded better: BassJump 2 makes the great sounding MacBook Pro even better. But the sound improvement BassJump adds to MacBook Air is truly mind-blowing. Create a hotel room sound-system, boost your next Keynote soundtrack or create a movie theater right in your bed with your MacBook and BassJump. At the office, it’s an elegant, simple way to improve the sound of your MacBook or iMac without cluttering up your workspace with clunky replacement speakers and cables.

Essential World Tour Road Gear: Since its debut, BassJump has been a hit with professional touring musicians because it lets them monitor audio directly from their MacBook speakers – while giving their headphones (and ears) a rest. Rock-and-roll road warriors also appreciate that extra power supplies, international adapters or batteries are not required. BassJump 2 works with most pro audio software, including Apple’s Logic Studio, making it an essential road tool for listening to and editing tracks on the tour bus, hotel room or anyplace else your music takes you.

Custom software you can see and hear: BassJump 2 software combines audio coming from your MacBook speakers with the low frequency bass coming from the BassJump 2 subwoofer. By blending the two audio sources, you hear a dramatically richer, fuller sound. iTunes will sound better, and so will your favorite games. And wait till you see the BassJump 2 preferences window. Two big, glowing, old-school style analog VU meters add a bonus visual experience to your sweeter sound. There’s even a cool little VU meter in the preferences bar. The BassJump preferences window also lets you to customize the sound to suit your style of music: rock, pop, R&B, etc.

Number one, with a bullet: One software download. One USB cable. One volume control. You get the idea. BassJump 2 makes it easy to better your MacBook listening experience. Once the software is installed, it’s pretty much plug and play. Just in case you forget what your MacBook sounds like without BassJump, you’ll find a big on/off switch. Use it to hear how much better your MacBook sounds with this bass boosting bundle of joy.

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Twelve South not only makes some of the most awesome Apple accessories but, like Apple, they know how to create an awesome unboxing experience. The package is heavy, attractive and nests accessories neatly inside.

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Speaking of packaging, I love the way in which Twelve South suggests various ways to reuse the packaging. Their message, “Be creative! You don’t need to just throw this out and make more trash in a landfill”. Good for them!

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When you do dig into the box you’ll find the BassJump Subwoofer, a BassJump 30-inch USB Cable and the BassJump Travel Case.

The unit is 2.24″ (57 mm) by 5″ (127 mm) by 5″ (127 mm) and weighs 1.4 pounds (.64 kg). That means it is a bit weighty but small enough to take on the road if you want to get better sound from your MacBook when you travel. The travel case makes it easy to being the device along and it all fits together into a nice, neat package.

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Aesthetically, Twelve South has, yet again, nailed it. Their products seem to fall along one of two lines. There are the Twelve South products like the BookBook that are made from distressed leather and have a classic appeal and there are those Twelve South products that are made from aluminum and have clean lines and a sharp, Apple-esque appearance. This, obviously, falls into the latter category and, were it not for the number 12 embossed in the side, you might as well be looking at something Apple made themselves.

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On the other side of the device you will find a single miniUSB port. The included cable connects to this port and then gets plugged into the computer. Through the single cable both the audio data and the power are transmitted. Once you plug the cable in it takes just a few seconds before the sound comes out of the BassJump and you discover that MacBook’s don’t have to have piss-poor sound.

Before you get to the point of being able to connect the computer and the speaker you need to download and install the BassJump 2 software. It can be found on the product page. Interestingly, the physical hardware of the BassJump 2 is the same as that of the original BassJump. It is, in fact, only the software that has changed. That means owners of the original BassJump can still use the device they purchased and simply download the software to take advantage of the improvements.

System Preferences

The software interface is rather simple but it is effective none-the-less. The setting are found under the “other” category in system preferences. There you can turn the speaker on and off, select the source of the sound the device captures, select the pre-set sound setting choice, or adjust the volume and crossover frequency. I played around with these last two until I found the combination that sounded right to my ears. The settings area also lets you choose whether or not you will see the BassJump icon int the Menu Bar.

The offerings in the BassJump Sound System are not extensive by any stretch of the imagination but that means it is simple to use. I like that.

I was reading up on the device while listening to some BassJump 2-enhanced music coming from my MacBook air and I came across their FAQ. Some of them helped explain the device in a bit more depth and I thought I might share them here in this review.

Is the BassJump 2 Hardware the same as the original BassJump?

Yes. The physical hardware is the same. All BassJump 2 improvements are software based. This means that if you previously purchased a BassJump, you can get all the BassJump 2 features and improvements for free – just by downloading and installing the new BassJump 2 Software here.

What does BassJump sound like?

BassJump mixes with the sound already coming from your MacBook speakers to create a fuller, richer audio experience from the speakers you already have. It’s like going from the sound of a hand-held AM radio to a full hi-fi sound system – using your existing MacBook speakers. BassJump just helps them sound better.

How does BassJump improve my MacBooks sound?

BassJump improves MacBook’s own sound by becoming the woofer/subwoofer for your MacBook. Your MacBook speakers then function as stereo tweeters. This is often called a 2.1 sound system. This combined sonic performance sounds tremendously better than your MacBook speakers alone. You will be blown away by just how good your MacBook speakers can sound – with just a little low-end help from BassJump.

With the new BassJump 2 software:

– BassJump is 8 decibels louder.

– BassJump can be paired with external USB speakers and Apple Cinema/Thunderbolt Display speakers.

– You can save customized BassJump Settings.

– Several user interface tweaks make BassJump even easier to use.

Compatibility

MacBook Pro (13, 15 or 17-inch)

MacBook (black, white or aluminum)

MacBook Air

iMac

Apple Cinema Display

Apple Thunderbolt Display

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The Twelve South BassJump 2 is available now for under $70 and it even ships for free. More information and ordering instructions can be found here on the Twelve South website.

MSRP: $69.99

What I Like: Great packaging; Great design; Actually makes a huge difference in the sound coming from my MacBook Air

What Needs Improvement: Meant, in part, for travel but is rather heavy; No matter what you do the MacBook Air isn’t for audiophiles

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