Tag Archives: speakers

Frivolous Internet Purchases, Part I

TwelveSouth BassJump

There’s usually two kinds of online purchases. There are those that you do a ton of research on, looking up reviews, spec sheets, comparisons with other similar products, and whether anything else even comes close to offering better value for money.

Then, there are the ones where you just pull the trigger on something without looking into it beforehand, thinking it will satisfy a particular need or want. Others call these “impulse purchases”, I believe, but I prefer the term “frivolous internet purchases”.

The TwelveSouth BassJump 2 I recently purchased falls squarely into the latter category.

Strangely enough, I couldn’t find it from any of my usual Australian retailers of TwelveSouth gear, so I jumped onto Amazon and ordered it from there. Ordering from Amazon meant it took a little longer to arrive, but I wasn’t in a massive rush to get it anyway.

Before we talk about the BassJump 2, I suppose I better explain why I wanted one in the first place.

I use a set of Audioengine 2 speakers at my desk. They’re a 2.0 set which I bought back in 2009, and I love them to death. They rank among the best speakers I’ve ever used, and are definitely the best 2.0 set I’ve ever come across. I had nothing but praise for them back in 2009 — and in 2014, they continue to impress me with their consistently balanced sound, great mid-range, and capable, punchy, bass.

But as good as they are, I get kind of jealous when I hear the chest-thumping, wall-shaking bass from other, albeit pricier, 2.1 systems. We have a set of Bose CineMate GS Series II speakers at work, and any time we crank up the bass on those bad boys you can feel it. Even the more humbly-priced Companion 5 have much more epic bass by comparison. While I’m generally OK with the bass produced by the Audioengine 2s, it doesn’t scale well — at higher volumes there just isn’t the same amount of bass as there should be. Obviously, units with a dedicated subwoofer will pump out the low-end more than my lowly 2.0 set ever will, but I wondered if there was a way around that didn’t involve adding a bulky bass unit to my compact setup.

Hence, the TwelveSouth BassJump. Technically, the BassJump is marketed as a bass-extension to the inbuilt speakers of any portable Mac, but I thought it’d be able to serve as a compact subwoofer for my Audioengines, too.

It could, and kind of couldn’t, at the same time.

After installing the BassJump driver, I had to plug my Audioengines into the headphone jack1 on my MacBook Pro. Combining the Audioengines and the BassJump was pretty underwhelming — the BassJump just didn’t have the amount of bass that I was expecting, and honestly, the Audioengines produced better bass by themselves, without using the BassJump as a separate subwoofer.

In hindsight, it was probably a little much to expect the same amount of bass as the CineMate’s gargantuan, almost PC tower-sized subwoofer, from a USB-powered subwoofer the size of a desktop external hard drive. I guess that’s why they call them frivolous internet purchases, right?

In any case, the BassJump is great for what they’re marketed as, i.e. a companion to your built-in speakers on your portable Mac. It actually does a great job of providing some much-needed low-end when paired with your inbuilt speakers, which handle mids and highs OK by themselves. But if you already have a great set of 2.0 speakers and are looking to add a little wall-shaking thump, my recommendation is to look elsewhere — there’s probably a reason all dedicated subwoofers are big, bulky things.

  1. I knew beforehand that the BassJump was powered by USB, but didn’t know they wouldn’t be compatible with my Thunderbolt dock (the Belkin Thunderbolt Express dock, for those interested). Normally I plug everything into my Thunderbolt dock, including my display, Ethernet, Audioengines, external USB hard drive, iPhone dock, and another USB hub, and that works fine — getting all those peripherals connected to my MacBook Pro via one Thunderbolt cable is great.

    But the headphone jack on the Thunderbolt dock shows up as a UPnP audio device on the Mac, which the BassJump driver somehow overrides in order for it to do its own thing over USB, which is why I had to plug in my Audioengines directly to my computer via the headphone jack — the usual UPnP sound device of the Thunderbolt dock had simply disappeared after I installed the BassJump driver. It may also be worth noting that it did not reappear even after uninstalling the BassJump driver. I ended up removing a file called “BassJumpOverrideDriver.kext” from /System/Library/Extensions, reboot, and then my Thunderbolt/UPnP audio device magically re-appeared again. 

15 Links: The Browser Clear Out Edition

It’s that time again – my browser desperately needs a clear out, so here we go…

  • Weebly
    Their tagline is “Create a free website and blog.” I don’t know how well it works, but it seems to be a nice version of either Tumblr, or WordPress.com – except not purely related to blogging. Sure, do it. Whatever.
  • Wikipedia’s List Of People Who Have Mysteriously Disappeared
    This is pretty freaky, actually – it’s not like we know for _sure_ that those people pre the 1800 actually did disappear under mysterious circumstances. Only two entries in 2008, however – some Russian who could have been the victim of a political murder plot, as well as a Florida resident who has recently been taken off medication. Mysterious? You be the judge.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Trailers
    If the trailers are that good, then you know the movie will be. Hopefully it isn’t too long, though – last time my sister and I went, the queues were massive. The movie is out July 17th, so strap yourselves in – July seems to be gearing up for a ripper of a month.
  • 30 Exceptional CSS Navigation Techniques
    Another smashing post from Six Revisions (not to be confused with Six Apart, mind you), this article will not only tell you how to achieve stunning navigation, it’ll also tell you how to do them using CSS – which is, of course, completely awesome.
  • Gizmodo explains the difference between $100 and $100, 000 speakers
    An interesting read, if a little long. Wait, I think that’s been said before – in that case, it’s a great read, however, it’s a little long. Filled with information, though – so read it anyway, and hopefully you’ll have learned something by the time you get to the end. 🙂
  • 12 Gauge Shot Glasses
    Yeah, you read that right. 12 Gauge. Shot glasses. Not shotgun, but shot *glasses*. What could be more awesome (or stupid, if you’re so inclined) than alcohol and shotguns? 😛
  • Tweetlite flashes tweets in morse code
    To be compltely honest, I don’t quite understand the point of this one. It’s actually quite pointless, unless you really love Twitter and your morse code. Well, whatever brings in the green, yeah?
  • Cosmic Nitro
    From the guy who developed Galcon for the iPhone [iTMS Link], comes his latest creation, Cosmic Nitro. It’s basically a pretty rehash of the “space-invaders” like genre, similar to Missile Command, where you have to defend your city from waves of incoming stuff (including toxic waste, comets, asteroids, aliens, etc). It’s not bad – and at $1.19, it’s probably worth it. [iTMS link]
  • iTypeFastr
    From the dark side of jailbroken iPhones, comes a custom keyboard. Unlike other keyboards for the iPhone, this keyboard comes with a custom layout. No, it’s not dvorak, (someone make this, please), but it does change the size of the keys to reflect an updated QWERTY layout. It makes the most-frequently used keys larger (so they’re easier to press), all without making any of the other keys smaller by using up all the available keyboard space. Again, your mile may vary – I haven’t personally tested this cos I can type fine on the standard iPhone keyboard anyway.
  • Tweetie for Mac
    The excellent @chartier takes a look at Tweetie for Mac, from the guy who made the iPhone app of the same name. It’s damn slick – the interface is as good as any, and besides – it’s nice to see Cocoa-based Twitter apps (AIR sucks, btw). You can tell it is a beta, though – there are certainly features missing, and the current feature-set seems a little lightweight for my liking. It’s not as featured as Twhirl is, for instance. It is being released on Monday, so keep your eyes on teh (sic) interwebs (sic). 😉
  • Apple market share shows negative growth
    Oh great. I’ll pin this one on the Global Financial Crisis, then – thanks to the PC market crashing haphazardly around the US (see what I did there?), Apple’s market share has also taken a tumble as a result. Sure – it’s not right to pay $500 for a logo, but it’s so much more than just the brand, you know?

And lastly, we have:

  • Apple WWDC developer videos
    The interview from Cultured Code was the only one I actually watched, but I’m sure they’re all excellent. It’s especially interesting to see if they actually went through all the steps in the video, or if they were putting on a show for Apple… I’m sure it’s the former, though. Those Germans know how to do things right. 🙂

And we’re done for another week. Cya, and as usual, comments below. Doing links (esp with “Smart Links”) in WordPress actually sucks. Next time, I might just be a lazy blogger and put in the links – none of this fancy <a href=”link here”>some text here</a> crap. Pfft. Screw that. 😛