The simple plastic SoundJaw makes a huge difference to the iPad's shameful speaker
It would be hard to say anything good about the iPad 2’s speaker. It is tinnier sounding than the surprisingly good speaker on the first iPad. It faces backwards, firing all sound away from you. It is far too easy to cover it with a hand or a Smart Cover and, worst of all, it is about the ugliest piece of design to come out of Apple since that stupid hockey-puck mouse that shipped back in 1998.
Luckily, there’s a fix. It’s called the SoundJaw, and it is a little plastic scoop that clips on to the bottom right corner of the iPad 2 and goes passively to work. The inventor, Matthew McLachlan, sent me one to test out.
Slip the SoundJaw onto the iPad and the transformation is dramatic. The widget scoops the sound from the rear-firing speaker and pushes it out of a small opening that looks like the return coin slot of an old-style payphone.
I showed it to The Lady and she said that it sounded “tinny.” This is true, but it’s not actually making the sound any tinnier — flip the iPad over and listen to it naked and the tinniness is still there. The SoundJaw just makes it louder. In fact, it also works as a kind of horn speaker, amplifying the sound as well as bending it.
With music, the shortcomings in the iPad’s speaker mean you probably still want to use an external speaker like the SuperTooth Disco. But for movies, games and general listening the SoundJaw is perfect. Dialog tracks that are indecipherable become loud and clear, and the sounds of grunting pigs and angry birds can’t be muffled by a mis-placed hand.
I see no reason to ever take the SoundJaw off. The Smart Cover closes just fine, and some slip cases also work with the widget still attached. It might not work in folio-style cases, but those of you who encase your slim, lightweight tablet in a thick slab of padded plastic or leather are a lost cause anyway.
And if you have an iPad 1, don’t bother. You can sort of jam the SoundJaw most of the way on, but it sticks out and makes no difference to the sound whatsoever.