It's no secret that factory-installed laptop speakers lack a certain luster found in conventional standalone speakers. Sure, you could carry around a pair of external speakers, but they'll require power and that ultimately limits where you can take them. Apple has significantly improved the sound quality in its line of MacBook computers, but their speakers' overall sound remains tinny and shallow.
We've yet to see a device that attempts to improve sound quality like the BassJump portable subwoofer does, and more importantly, we're not sure we've seen a product that does as good of job either. It won't turn your MacBook into an all-out rocking sound system, but the BassJump will drastically improve its overall sound quality and add that extra oomph to your music.
About the size of a Mac Mini, the BassJump isn't much of a burden to carry around. We really like the neoprene travel case that BassJump includes with it. The little box has a familiar aluminum finish that matches most current MacBook models. Its rubberized bottom ensures the unit stays put on any flat surface. On its top is a black metal grill that encases the upward-firing subwoofer.
Setting up the BassJump is a snap. First, you download the latest software from Twelve South's Web site. After you install the software and reboot, the BassJump icon appears in your system's menu bar. Once you connect the box with its included USB cord, you're all set. The BassJump doesn't need an auxiliary power source; it draws everything it needs from your MacBook.
We wish BassJump would have included a slightly longer USB cable, but we'll just chalk that up to the need to have the box close enough to the computer for the blending effect to work properly.