Apple’s MacBook notebooks are widely popular amongst college students, unfortuatley the built-in speakers lack the power and sound fidelity required to produce an enjoyable listening experience. I am by no means an audiophile, but it’s pretty obvious that the MacBook speakers are simply inadequate for dailly listening. At home I plug my computer into a pair of M-Audio monitors, a relativley inexpesive and admirabe set of speakers. On the go it’s a pair of Apple In-Ear Heaphones, chosen primarily for aesthetic, none the less, the sound they produce is much superior than the Macbook’s quiet and tinny speakers. Here’s the thing, when you’re home for Christmas deprived from your beefy speakers, but your ears are sore from your earbuds, what is one to do?

Allow me to introduce you to the Twelve South BassJump, a USB subwoofer for your MacBook. When connected, the BassJump is used to play the low frequencies that the MacBook’s tiny built-in speakers are unable to pump out as a result of their inherent design. This frees your speakers for the highs, which they are much better suited to play. Essentially, the BassJump turns your MacBook speakers into a pair of tweeters.

Sound

The BassJump is far from a Hi-Fi sound system, but that’s not the point. Rather, the BassJump is intended to improve the sound coming from your MacBook in scenarios where full sized speakers or headphones would be inappropriate. I would describe the sound as good; the lows and mids sound decent, while the highs (from the MacBook) a wee-bit harsh. Coupled with the BassJump, the MacBook is loud enough to be heard accross the room. At CES this year, Shep, Kelly and I were all rocking out to Daft Punk and Kanye West despite sitting on opposite sides of the room. The general conesus? ” It’s good.”

Design

The BassJump matches the current aluminum and black aesthectic of Apple’s current machines. With it’s rounded square corners and black speaker grill, the BassJump is, dare I say it, sexy. The back features a single mini USB port, while the bottom is covered in grippy black rubber to secure it on a table. The BassJump feels solid and is a perfect match for any of Apple’s current laptop offerings. Included with the device is a black neoprene case for travelling, a welcomed inclusion from Twelve South.

Usability

A System Preferences pane consisting of an On/Off toggle, music genre dropdown and a couple sliders to change which frequeiences are played by the BassJump needs to be installed before you can use the USB Sub. Once that’s done, using the BassJump is simply a matter of plugging in the USB cable into your MacBook.

Price

At $69, the BassJump is at a price point where it will sting just a little to purchase, but is cheap enough that you may pick it up just because it’s cool to have. For the price, you could certainley find a pair of desktop speakers that would eclipse the BassJump, but would lack the portability of the cute little box.

Conclusion

My advice, If you’ve got a couple bucks to burn and would like good sound when you’re away from your desk, pick up a BassJump. Although it won’t replace your desktop speaker system, it’s a big improvement over the the built-in MacBook speakers.

Disclosure: TwelveSouth provided me with a unit for this review.