Bought Thunderbolt Display, should I buy external speakers


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 12, 2009
Beaumont, CA
I recently bought a Thunderbolt Display and the sound is really good, but I'm wondering whether the sound from external speakers would be noticeably different.

The only difference I hear between the Thunderbolt speakers and my Beats Studio headphones is more depth in the bass from the headphones. The Thunderbolt Display sounds more clearer though (it's a bit difficult to explain).

Would I get significantly better sound from external speakers? And what speakers would you guys recommend?


macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
Quality external speakers will definitely sound better than the built-in ones in a monitor if your source material is good. For starters you can usually get a subwoofer with a desktop speaker setup these days.

For best value, usually headphones will sound better than speakers of similar price ranges.


macrumors member
Oct 16, 2011
Beats Audio headphones play better bass because they are optimized for bass. External speakers with a subwoofer would definitely be better than monitor speakers, but I haven't ever heard music played through the thunderbolt display speakers so I couldnt compare it to anything else.


macrumors member
Aug 7, 2011
Beats Audio is geared for bass. I got a panasonic head phones that sound very simmilar (to sample store models) for only $50. People pay way too much for brand recognition. :rolleyes:

But get a simple 2.1 speaker set. You can get a logitech or creative labs 2.1 speaker set for about 30 bucks. 2.1 means itcomes with a subwoofer.

no internal monitor or tv speakers can compare to it. It's way better than spending $200 to $300 for Beats Audio. ;)


macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
This is very much a case of personal preference. The speakers in the display itself @ 40W are not going to light up the world, but they are actually quite good for what they are.

I'm an audiophile, and run all my sound through an Onkyo system. I also use a pair of Genelec's for mixing work. You can spend very little or a lot..I'd suggest you audition some speakers in store...Good way to find out what suits you best.


macrumors 6502
Oct 8, 2009
If you were looking for external speakers, get the M-Audio AV40's. They cost around $120 and have near studio grade quality, which is great bang for the buck.


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 12, 2009
Beaumont, CA
Wirelessly posted

Thanks for responding, guys.

I might just stick it out with my current headphones and the display. It seems I won't get sound that is better than my headphones unless I spend a ridiculous amount.

Still mulling it over, though...


macrumors 6502
Jul 5, 2011
Did you have a look at the twelve south bassjump2 ? Recently could test it with my MBA and the over all sound became really nice after plugging that thing in!
Maybe that could improve the sound of your thunderbolt display concerning bass

Talon Six

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2012
The Gulf Coast
First off, I'm no audiophile - I'm more of an uneducated sound snob.

I had the BassJump 2 for my thunderbolt display for about two days and then promptly returned it. The bass would fade in and out and seemed very inconsistent. I talked with Twelve South's customer service and Natalie (?) told me that the BassJump wasn't really intended for the Thunderbolt Display. 12 South allowed me to return the device for a full refund.

In the end, I typically just run my display audio only. If I need extra bass ('cause I'm having one of those days or something) I'll do multiple speakers over Airplay. I've got a Bose system in the next room that carries the bass quite nicely.


macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2009
Down the rabbit hole
It depends on what you intend to do with the setup of course but you said the sound was good, right? For my work setup (graphic/web design), one of the selling points of the TB display is the idea of uncluttering my desktop by having the speakers built in. If you want to want edit audio or watch movies or play games perhaps then I'd consider upgrading.


macrumors member
Aug 12, 2011
I would recommend trying a 2.0 system with larger speakers, like a stereo system and see if you like the audio or not(I would recommend using a more "classy" looking one, as the really flashy ones might be geared more towards bass as well, but who knows :D). Although 2.1 systems might seem appealing at first, the cheaper ones do not produce good audio and are more for the bass "boom", as they inlcude a subwoofer, meaning that the speakers in the TB Display may be on par with them at other frequencies except for the low end.

I myself use a Sony CMT-A70 stereo system that sounds really nice with Sony MDR-7506 headphones and find these quite good for listening music, playing games and whatnot.