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Twelve South BassJump (original) review: Twelve South BassJump (original)

Twelve South BassJump (original)

Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
Jeff Bakalar
3 min read

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.


Twelve South BassJump (original)

The Good

Portable subwoofer for Apple MacBook laptops; simple setup; blends with factory speakers for an impressive sound; grabs power and sounds from single USB cord; design matches most current MacBook models.

The Bad

Only designed to work with MacBook laptops; included USB cord a bit short.

The Bottom Line

Though it won't turn your MacBook into an all-out rocking sound system, the BassJump will drastically improve its overall sound quality and add that extra oomph to your music.

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.

The BassJump reminds us of a Mac Mini.

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.

A simple Mini-USB connection provides power and audio to the device.

We were impressed with BassJump's software. It gives you a visual representation of the audio currently playing--with analog gauges to boot--and lets you control the overall volume of the BassJump. Most importantly, the software gives you access to the crossover frequency that you'll probably need to tweak, depending on your preference. That said, the BassJump immediately impressed us with its out-of-the-box sound. The system software also contains various preset crossover settings for all types of music genres.

In terms of performance, the BassJump makes a MacBook's speakers sound the best they're probably going to sound without turning to external speakers. After a bit of tweaking, we were able to find an optimal balance between our MacBook Pro speakers and the BassJump and were very satisfied with the results.

With the BassJump, the jazz-inspired mixture of instruments from Koufax sounded heavy and full of bass, whereas the harder rock of Them Crooked Vultures proved to us that the BassJump had enough oomph to handle a wide variety of tunes.

When we pushed the BassJump to its limits, we were glad to hear an absence of distortion. Incredibly enough, the unit can go quite loud--even though it's primarily responsible for adding a low frequency effect to your existing music.

We didn't realize how good of a job the BassJump was doing until we continued to listen to music after disconnecting the device. Without it connected, music from our MacBook just sounds a bit hollow and underpowered to us. The BassJump adds a rich and thick layer of muscle to our MacBook's speakers.

Since the BassJump draws power from your MacBook, we did notice a bit of a battery drain when used for a long time. However, considering the amount of sound it's able to produce, we're happy to sacrifice a few minutes of battery life.

Overall, we were impressed with the BassJump portable subwoofer. For the MacBook owner who doesn't want to splurge on an external stereo system or speakers, we think the BassJump is the best way to go. It costs as little as $60 online, but we don't think you'll find a product that does a better job at improving the sound from your MacBook Pro's internal speakers.


Twelve South BassJump (original)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 7