Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


How to make your laptop louder (with a caution for Windows users who are going to download the software)

May 29, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

If you're a laptop user, you've probably suffered an embarrassment that goes something like this: At the family picnic, everyone gathers round while you start playing a video, maybe from YouTube. What comes out is a movie with an almost inaudible sound track, even though the volume is turned up all the way. Nobody can understand it, and you just look stupid.

That's happened to me so many times, on so many occasions, that I decided to do something about it -- and no, I don't mean I scrapped my laptop and started toting around a 40-lb. desktop computer with Rocket Power speakers.

No, I simply I gave my laptop some adrenalin in the form of a little software program. The speakers haven't changed -- they're still tiny and sometimes even a bit tinny -- but now they are screaming laptop zonkers. They're LOUD.

Because this new software was for my Mac laptop, I figured Windows users shouldn't have to suffer in silence, either. So I also hunted down the same sort of boost for Windows laptops and tried it out on my Acer netbook. The result: Two laptops from different sides of the aisle with much better sound.

The Mac audio-boost software is appropriately called Boom. It's $8.99 from Global Delight Technologies, a company in Udupi, southern India. You can try it for free from www.globaldelight.com/boom.

The Windows sound-slayer is the SX Fidelity Amplifier from Sound Genetics. It's $19.95. The Sound Genetics website wasn't responding when I wrote this column, so I located a download here (using a shortened address): http://tinyurl.com/3d92ktm.

Note: At this download page, skip the "official" download site; it's the one that's not working. Then, after you've finished the download and have double-clicked on downloaded file, DO NOT INSTALL THE BROTHERSOFT TOOLBAR. DO NOT INSTALL IT. Just install the sound software. It will come up for installation after you turn down the Brothersoft toolbar. Repeat: DO NOT INSTALL THE BROTHERSOFT TOOLBAR. I do not approve of sites that try to force scamware on you, but the Brothersoft site was the only one I could find that had the program.

Both sound boosters have extra features for adjusting various frequencies. My little MacBook Air's speakers don't do well with bass sounds -- the speakers are hidden under the keyboard and are basically bassless -- so I didn't have much hope that boosting the bass with Boom's controls would help much. It didn't.

But the other frequencies responded well. With both programs, I especially liked the way I could trim back the typical laptop squawk that makes everyone sound like they have a cold. And I was ecstatic each time I filled a room with sound.

This sort of thing should come installed on all laptops. Forgive the pun, but Apple and Microsoft, are you listening?