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ButtKicker LFE Kit Review Print E-mail
Monday, 30 November 2009
Article Index
ButtKicker LFE Kit Review
Games, Drawbacks and Conclusion
ImageTactile transducers have been around for years, but to be honest, I’ve always been a bit skeptical about them.  The thought of adding something to my home theater to shake my seating seems gimmicky and artificial.  After all, my reference system already includes two Velodyne DD-18, eighteen inch woofers capable of creating low frequency extension and sound pressure levels, far exceeding what any reasonable person would want.  Why would someone like me need to augment bass, when I already have bass in abundance?  A friend purchased Berkline Home Theater Seating with factory installed ButtKickers and convinced me they are worth trying.  


A tactile transducer is an electro-mechanical device that will shake almost anything.  Most tactile transducers are very similar to a loudspeaker woofer driver minus the cone, driven by an oscillating force (the voice coil).  They can operate at higher frequencies, but people typically cross them over at subwoofer frequencies and use them to reproduce low frequency vibration to give the added sensation of movement.  The ButtKicker LFE is a tactile transducer that utilizes a patented magnetic suspension, which is different from any other speaker or shaker and can be used on couches, theater seating, platforms, or any type of structure.  Different from other shakers or tactile transducers that use voice coil technology, the ButtKicker LFE  is more powerful and offers infrasonic or low frequency response with their resonant frequency of 9 Hz and range of 5 - 200 Hz.


Buttkicker Front ViewI contacted the Guitammer Corporation, the manufactures of ButtKicker products for a review sample.  I soon received the ButtKicker LFE Kit with ButtKicker-Link for review. At a street price of $399.99 the ButtKicker LFE Kit includes the BKA1000-4 amplifier, ButtKicker LFE shaker, mounting plate, 14AWG wire, "Y" splitter interconnect, single lead interconnect, mounting hardware, and installation instructions.  As I unboxed the ButtKicker LFE Kit, I was pleasantly surprised by overall build quality, amplifier construction and weight.  The ButtKicker LFE amplifier has a huge Toroidal-based power supply and the Class D amplifier delivers an amazing 1100 watts into a 4-ohm load and 2100 watts into a 2-ohm load!  I also opted for the ButtKicker-Link with a street price of only $69.99, which allows you to wirelessly install the amplifier in any location of your room.  The system consists of a sending unit, a DC wall-wart type power supply, a receiver unit, and its wall-wart power supply.  I connected a RCA cable from the subwoofer output of my A/V processor to the sending unit and a RCA cable from the receiver unit to the line-level input of the ButtKicker amplifier.   In less-than 20 minutes, I had installed both the ButtKicker LFE Kit and ButtKicker-Link.  


The ButtKicker amplifier provides adjustments that allow you to select the upper frequency limit of vibration, low frequency cutoff, as well as the adjustment of the amount of shaking (volume control).  After much experimentation, I found that my setting preferences were as follows:  Filters: Low Cutoff - Off, High Cutoff – On, High Cutoff Frequency: 50, and Volume: between 9-10:00 on the volume dial.  


I couldn’t wait to put the “Jurassic Park” DTS Collector’s Edition (Universal Studios Home Video) (fixed disc version PEMC-D2R2) DVD into my Denon DVD-3910 DVD player.  The ButtKicker LFE Kit made it feel like the T-Rex was stomping in the room,   as my chair shook violently.  The combination of hearing low frequencies from my subwoofers with the shaking of my theater seating was incredible.  It made watching Jurassic Park the most fun ever.  

One of the greatest, extremely low frequency bass demos in movie history is the “U-571” (Universal Studios Home Video) DVD.   Chapter 15, “Depth Charge,” is the low frequency king.  The low frequency rumble never sounded strained or artificial and the visceral impact of depth charge explosions was astounding with the Buttkicker LFE Kit added.  

Next up was the “Black Hawk Down” (Columbia Pictures) DVD, which is a great, action packed movie with an amazing, sweeping soundtrack.  On Chapter 4, “Irene,” the whirring sound of the helicopter blades creates incredible, low frequency sound pressure levels.  The Buttkicker LFE Kit augmented my subwoofers by shaking my theater seating, without seeming gimmicky.  By setting the volume at moderate level, both the subwoofers and the Buttkicker LFE Kit worked together seamlessly to enhance the movie watching experience like never before.  

I experimented briefly with using the ButtKicker LFE Kit for music listening.  Some may prefer the shaking sensation while listening to music, but it certainly wasn’t something I enjoyed. 


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