What is Basslet?
Invented by a Kickstarter collaboration between ex-Ableton and Native Instruments employees, the Basslet is a wrist-mounted “subwoofer” that uses a state-of-the-art haptic engine to transform sub-bass frequencies into vibrations, enhance music listening experience, and, more importantly, enable producers and musicians to feel the low frequencies that their monitoring setups can not automatically reproduce.
Nicely packaged in a neat cardboard box, it comes in two parts: the Basslet itself, which looks like a faceless square plastic watch, and a tiny box of tricks called the Sender.
The Sender attaches to your audio device’s minijack (computer, phone, etc.) at one end and your wired headphones at the other end, transmitting audio from input to output and translating low frequencies to a control signal that is beamed over Bluetooth to the Basslet. In response, the motor in the Basslet vibrates, feeding you the sub-bass information via your wrist.
The batteries last around six hours and charge via micro USB, with the Sender receiving the cable and forwarding power to the Basslet through two magnetic connectors acting as Intensity buttons to adjust the haptic engine’s ‘volume.’ Very clever.
The strap, on the other hand, sucks, being maddeningly difficult to fasten. Fortunately, it can be swapped for a third-party alternative. The haptic motor reacts to frequencies between 10Hz and 250Hz, and the dynamic range and sensitivity are impressive, the vibrations matching up to the music with remarkable accuracy and precision.
The implication of sub-bass localized to such a small area is simply never going to bear any resemblance to the real thing, though – while the short pulse of a kick drum connects to the peripheral nervous system well enough, extended notes are far less successful, coming across as a sort of flappy buzz. Given the size of the thing, how could it be otherwise?
Ultimately, for the producer working on headphones or low-end speakers, the Basslet makes for a fair physical analogy to a spectrum analyzer, giving genuine insight into what’s going on unheard at the very bottom end of the mix, albeit in a purely analytical rather than musically or ‘emotionally’ meaningful way.
Basslet key features
- Watch-sized, silent, haptic subwoofer
- Frequency response 10 to 250 Hz
- 6+ hours playtime, 1 hour charge time
- Sender unit attaches to any device via mini-jack
- Connects wirelessly to Basslet via Bluetooth
- Ultra-low latency for perfect sync
- A very neat idea.
- The implementation of the strap is not good.