Apple Audio

Best Speakers For iMac or ThunderBolt Cinema Display

Of all the Macintosh computer models, iMac desktop owners are probably the least likely to buy external computer speakers for their Mac. Among all of Apple’s computers the iMac has, well, the ‘best’ computer speakers built in of any Mac. For many, the audio quality, volume and frequency response is ‘Good Enough.” But for those who want more deep bass rumble and room filling presence, there’s no shortage of 2.0, 2.1 and Surround computer speakers to fit the bill. But which speakers are best for iMac and it’s design and aesthetic? Here’s my top pick:

Self-Powered USB iMac Speaker


Aux Input + Subwoofer Output


The xTremeMac TangoBar USB Speaker for iMac is a gorgeous and outright elegant addition to unobtrusively tuck under your iMac’s front bezel and compliment it with sleek aluminum styling and add zero additional footprint to your desk space. It’s also a great match for an Apple ThunderBolt or Cinema Display which lack built-in speakers. This self-powered sound-bar speaker features a right mounted volume/mute control, and 1/8” headphone and audio inputs, plus a sub-woofer output jack at the rear. The loudspeakers contain dual midrange and dual tweeter drivers as well as passive radiator woofers. With digital amplification from a USB port’s power, they claim up to 10 watts of room-filling audio - without needing an external power supply.

Some other good options styled right for an iMac might be a sleek, silver pair of affordable Bose Companion 2 speakers or possibly a Twelve South BassJump 2 to balance out an iMac’s low-frequencies somewhat.

Portable Computer Speakers - For MacBook iPhone iPad

Ongoing trends in mobile and laptop computing has been consistent over the years; smaller, lighter, and cheaper. Unfortunately laptop and handheld audio has suffered as a result, with ever-smaller speaker drivers crammed into ever-tighter spaces.

For mobile presentation professionals or music lovers on the go, the best MacBook, iPhone or iPad external speakers embody great sound quality with compact portability. For many MacBook users, portable USB computer speakers fit the bill nicely, at their desktop - or on the road. Getting both power and pure digital stereo audio over a single cable, USB speakers can provide room-filling sound with the mere 5 volts of power from a laptop computer's USB port, no batteries required.

Quality matters: Well-engineered, sensitive driver cones in portable speakers can deliver surprising full-range frequency response in a small package if well designed. For maximum portability, look to 1-piece USB speakers for laptop computers with dual stereo drivers inside. For maximum sound quality and wide stereo separation, look to 2-piece systems. Either way, many are compact enough to be stored in your notebook's carry case. A thoughtfully chosen portable USB speaker system to let you hear what you've been missing.

As for iPad speakers? Unfortunately, the iPad table doesn't include a USB port. Even if used with the iPad Camera Connection Kit USB adapter, the iPad just doesn't have the voltage oomph on its dock port to drive USB speakers (or keyboards or hard drives for that matter) without a powered-USB hub in-between. The solution? Look to traditional battery-powered 1/8" Analog headphone jack speakers - or A2DP stereo portable Bluetooth speakers for iPad audio on the go.