USB Speakers | Portable Apple Mac Laptop Speaker Reviews

Apple Computer Speaker Reviews

Portable And Desktop Computer Speakers For Mac

USB Powered Speakers for Type-C Thunderbolt 3 MacBooks

As the Type-C interface carrying USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 protocols grows to ever more Apple computing devices, an interest in USB-C / Thunderbolt powered computer speakers is starting to emerge. Delivering more power than a rectangular Type-A USB port, USB-C speakers for Thunderbolt3 MacBook laptop computers can be significantly louder.

Creative Pebble V2 USB-C Speakers

2 Inch Driver Cones w/Volume Knob

Creative Lab's Pebble speakers - which have a native Type-C cable connection - can take advantage of the extra power of Apple's Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port to deliver higher audio wattage than the previous generation of Type-A USB computer speakers could. On the rear of one of the Pebble V2 speakers you'll find a slide switch to enable 'Enhanced' mode to deliver up to 8 watts -- instead of USB-A's typical 3 watt sound output.

Tags: USB-C Speaker, Speaker For MacBooks, USB Laptop Speaker, Thunderbolt 3 Speakers

Who Makes USB Computer Speakers With Decent Bass?

Shopping for USB speaker system with good bass? Given the voltage limitations of a computer's USB port, finding USB powered speakers with decent bass response or high-wattage audio output can be challenging. Many USB speakers are small, compact, 1-piece and designed for easy portability for Apple MacBooks, or ChromeBooks and Windows NetBook laptops. However 2-piece USB desktop systems are far more likely to deliver better bass and stereo separation with slightly larger drivers in two separate enclosures.

2-Way USB Studio Monitors

4" Woofer & 1" DomeTweeter

Speaker Engineering

With only 5 volts and 500 milliamps of power available, the engineering that goes into the loudspeaker's design matters a lot. A flexible fabric or rubberized surround on the speaker cone can allow it to move air and lower-frequency sound waves more freely. We can thank the automotive audio industry to help inspire the market for very small woofers that deliver great bass despite their small size. And the computer industry's trend towards smaller and more mobile devices has led to some engineering feats for better-sounding micro-speakers for portable gadgets.

Edifier USB Desktop System

70mm Full Range Drivers + Tuned Port

Size Of Speaker Cone

Obviously, the size of the driver cone directly affects how much air can be displaced - and you need to move a lot of it to feel any real THUMP below 100 Hertz. Given the limitations of USB's voltage, realistically a 3 inch or 4 inch driver is all that can be expected. Size does matter. It helps noticeably, as many compact loudspeakers designed for MacBook or PC laptop portability have only one to two inch drivers.

Amazon Basics USB Speakers

Well Engineered - Balanced Sound

Amazon's own line of "Basics" computer accessories has a USB powered desktop speaker system which is getting rave reviews for it's great, balanced, full-range sound and low price.

Sonaverse USB Powered Speakers

2" Quality Drivers + Side Passive Subwoofers

Passive Bass Radiators

To enhance low-frequency response, some loudspeaker designs incorporate a Bass Radiator - a passive cone or surface that 'echos' movement of the primary low-frequency driver to pump up the bass somewhat. Above, GoGroove's Pulse USB speakers feature large passive radiators on the sides of the enclosure: The larger the better, assuming there's an equally decent woofer or full-range driver to get the air in the cabinet moving. Even some small, portable USB speakers like the Edifier Sound 2 Go shown below incorporate a small bass radiator to compliment it's 25mm array of 4 main drivers.

Sound 2 Go Portable USB Soundbar

4 HQ Micro-Speakers + Oblong Bass Radiator

Enclosure Design

Loudspeaker cabinets can be of two types - Those which are completely sealed (Acoustic Suspension) or those with an opening to 'breathe' (Tuned Port). Acoustic Suspension systems can help deliver 'tighter' bass, and are used in speakers with passive radiators. However, ported enclosures - especially in USB-powered loudspeaker systems may be preferred to add more resonance and reach of the otherwise low-wattage output.

USB Sound Bar Speaker For MacBook

Portable USB Laptop Speaker for MacBooks
Looking for decidedly better music and audio quality for your Apple MacBook Pro or Air that's highly portable? Check out Edifier's design on a 1-piece USB powered laptop speaker system that's engineered better than most. This portable MacBook computer speaker features dual 1.25" Tweeters and Midrange drivers on each side as well as a center 3" x 1.25" oblong low-frequency radiator. It's light years ahead of the tiny micro-speakers built into MacBooks that Apple deems good enough for your Mac laptop audio experience.

Edifier USB Soundbar Speaker

Multi Driver Travel Speaker

The Edifier Sound To Go + is approximately 10"x1.5" right-sized for even the smallest MacBook Air on up - in a slim design that's easy to carry in your Mac laptop bag. This is the 2nd generation of Sound-To-Go model. In the PLUS version of this USB powered speaker, the revision now includes an internal lithium ion battery for separate, standalone use as an analog speaker for your Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod via the 3.5 mm audio input jack.

Of course it also provides digital stereo USB audio from your MacBook Air or Pro laptop as it recharges. There's an on-board volume control button - that when connected via USB will also trigger the on-screen speaker volume / mute icon in OSX.

High Quality USB Speakers For MacBook - JBL Pebbles

JB Lansing Speaker Systems
JBL recently introduced a new line of very stylish computer speakers that any MacBook owner would love. Of note: It's new JBL Pebbles desktop USB speakers which raises the bar for both great looking Apple accessories - and one of the best sounding all-digital USB computer speaker systems ever that gets all it's power from a single USB computer port.

The new Pebbles 2.0 USB speaker system from JBL is arguably one of the best sounding USB powered desktop computer speakers ever released. With sensitive and very high-quality Harman engineered speaker drivers, they deliver smooth full-frequency response across the audio spectrum, something that's challenging to do with the limited 5 volts of power a Mac desktop or MacBook's USB port provides.

JBL USB Desktop Computer Speakers

1-Finger Touch Volume Control

There's several color choices available in either Orange, Black or White with accents for a great aesthetic. More thoughtful technical features from JBL include a spinning fingertip volume control on the brushed metal dial, a 1/8th inch / 3.5mm analog input jack for other audio devices, and neat wrap-around and tuck away cable design built into the base. Currently retailing for around $50 USD, they're one of the nicest-sounding and most stylish USB speakers ever released.

Portable USB Speakers Impact On MacBook Battery Life

MacBook Battery Life
Some PC and Apple notebook users may wonder how USB speakers affect battery life on the road between recharges. USB powered computer speakers get ALL of their power from a laptop's battery. In it's simplest terms, of course powering external speakers will drain your MacBook battery faster depending on the volume level you choose. The loudspeakers particular design and engineering will also affect battery life to some degree depending on whether it is a small USB speaker with a single driver cone, or a 2 piece portable speaker with larger 2"-3" speakers in each enclosure, and how efficient the drivers are. Imagine two best-selling USB loudspeakers: The very portable and slim Grandmax USB Soundbar with its very small 3/4"x1.5" oblong drivers as opposed to 12 South's BassJump USB Subwoofer for MacBook with it's 3" speaker cone delivering heavy bass thump when getting it's power only from your Mac laptop's USB port. The latter will draw decidedly more current.

USB bus powered speaker systems draw current in proportion to the volume level. Cranked-up loud a USB speaker will logically draw more milliamps of current than when played softly - and in direct proportion to the volume level. Whether this significantly impacts a MacBook Pro or Air's usable battery life to a worrisome degree is hard to determine. Particularly with the latest models of Apple laptops, battery capacity and density has improved greatly. Intelligent power-management in modern Intel CPU's and Apple's OSX strive to conserve power consumption at every turn, so high-volume music listening with a portable USB notebook speaker may not be very significant in real-world use.

Computer USB ports deliver a fixed 5 volts of power and maximum of 500 mAh of current. USB speakers seem to stay within that limit. Other high-demand USB devices might pop up an alert and complain 'There's not enough power available for this USB device' when plugged in, but I've never seen this occur with any bus powered USB speakers I've tested.

Lastly, it should also be noted that many portable Bluetooth wireless loudspeakers which charge their LiOn battery via USB will have the same effect of draining some of your laptop battery capacity to some degree. Perhaps even more than a USB speaker since portable, rechargeable Bluetooth speakers ONLY use USB port for charging - and not for delivering an audio data stream. For charging, the USB Device Specification may support up to 900 mAh of current draw on, say, the latest MacBooks with USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports. Once the battery has an adequate charge, or is in a fully charged state, a rechargeable speaker system will progressively stop drawing current from your MacBook's USB port and have minimal further effect on battery life. Most speakers with built-in battery that charge via USB will operate for 6 hours or more once fully charged. And that too depends on how loud you play them.

Logitech Abandons USB Laptop Computer Speaker Market

Logitech Peripherals For Mac
It's no secret Logitech - and other notebook and desktop computer accessory manufacturers are struggling a bit. The rise of handheld devices like the iPad, iPhone and iPod in the Apple computing sphere has changed the market drastically. With an industry-wide slump in the Window PC desktop and laptop market in particular, peripheral makers are turning towards mobile computing platforms in droves. New products - particularly computer speakers - are trending towards portable Bluetooth systems for use on nearly any device. As such the market for USB powered computer speakers has waned somewhat.

Logitech USB Speakers are getting harder to find. They recently discontinued ALL of their USB speaker products. That's unfortunate because they engineered and built some of the highest-quality and best-sounding USB powered speakers out there.

Portable Logitech USB powered speakers ideal for MacBook users like the highly acclaimed Z305 and Z205, or the USB desktop models like the AudioHub, Z-5 and S150 are still available, but discontinued computer products often SPIKE in price above suggested retail price as demand for dwindling supply sometimes increased price competition. Sad, really. With Apple selling several million MacBook's every quarter, there's still clearly a healthy market for portable USB MacBook speaker systems. But corporations like Logitech are now chasing the cell-phone and tablet markets and clearly starting to look for profits elsewhere...

Need Thump? Revised USB Sub-Woofer Speaker For MacBook

12 South BassJump USB speaker for MacBook laptop
Macbook users rejoice: There's finally a great full-range portable speaker option to pump out the low-frequency audio you've been missing from your Mac laptop. Twelve South's 2nd generation USB bus-powered sub-woofer recently hit the shelves - the Twelve South BassJump 2. Not since the original Harmon Kardon iSub for slot-load iMacs have we had the missing piece - a separate USB woofer to complement the total sound spectrum your Mac laptop wasn't delivering. I'm really fond of dance music remixes, and this lets me enjoy decidedly better bass on my MacBook Air.

Featuring a 3 inch / 77mm bass frequency driver - it combines audio from your MacBooks internal speakers to provide balanced frequency response from 50Hz to 20kHz - all powered from a single USB cable. Special system software lets you shape your MacBook Pro or Air sound with its EQ Software Control Pref Pane for OSX. The software lets you customize the Bass Jump sound cross-over frequency and volume to your liking and it comes with a neroprene case for safe travel.

The BassJump is also compatible with Aluminum iMacs - and styled to match. For some, this may be a solution to slightly extend the already reasonable frequency range of the iMac's built-in speakers. (Which are better than any other Macintosh model.)