A comparison of three tactile transducers - ButtKicker Mini LFE vs. Clark Synthesis TST209 vs. Aura Bass Shaker Pro - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 201 Old 11-11-2012, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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EDIT - PEER TESTING COMPLETE.
RESULTS STARTING ON POST 50


I purchased a ButtKicker mini LFE and a Clark Synthesis TST209. They should arrive next week. I'm going to demo them out using a Inuke DSP 3000 amp and see which style I prefer.

The Inuke DSP3000 amp should be ideal for this job for several reasons:
1) voltage signal limitations -- I can set through the DSP the max 'volume' if you will or max voltage output by the amp regardless of the input - this will help prevent over driving the transducers
2) I can set a HPF and a LPF both respectively to ensure I get the feel I"m looking for. At the current I'm thinking 20hz bottom through 50hz top --- but of course I'll play with these settings and see what I like best.

Why did I pick these two units to demo?
I recently experienced a Clark Synthesis TST209 at nebrunner's home in the Omaha home theater tour and liked it. I've spend the last couple weeks casually researching these transducers and thought I'd like to compare a couple models to see what I'd like to implement in my own theater.

After reading multiple articles and google searching for all things transducer related. I found a knowledgable expert on another forum by the handle of Mr. Latte.
According to Mr. Latte - these are the two best transducers for the money (buttkicker mini LFE, and Clark Synthesis TST209) at least for a single chair solution.
http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=198159

Mr. Latte appears to have some pretty solid experience with transducers, and has written many reviews for the simulation gaming crowd, including teardowns with pictures. Here is one example
http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=266268

I purchased some rubber isolation feet from parts express for stupid cheap.
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/pshowdetl.cfm?&Partnumber=260-772

These feet are a direct alternative to these clark feet - and are the same size and look but at 1/5 the price.
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=300-876


Here is another alternative set of isolation feet that a friend, avsforum member carp, found:
http://www.amazon.com/Auralex-UBFF-Acoustic-U-Boat-Floater/dp/B0002IL6ZS/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8

I was considering throwing a $50 Aura bass shaker unit in the comparison - but in reality I probably won't be very interested in it when compared to these two more expensive models. I'm looking to potentially add some tactile feel on my basement concrete slab without gunning the captivator pair towards reference volumes. What I don't want to experience with these shakers is unnatural, out of time, one note bass feel, or ridiculous visual impairing shaking. I am looking for a natural complimentary effect to my already quite tactile Captivator Pros.

Stay tuned for feedback...

If you have any other transducers you think I should definitely add to the mix - please let me know.

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post #2 of 201 Old 11-12-2012, 05:49 AM
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This is what I use.
http://crowsontech.com/go/crowsontech/3342/en-US/DesktopDefault.aspx
TES-100 (Mono Tactile Motion System)

I really like it. It goes well below 20 Hz. It adds that extra something to movies that I really enjoy. It is not cheap though, It seems like the one I have is outdated and they have newer models out now, I highly recommend it. I am using a Butt Kicker BKA-1000 amp. I bought the Crowson from CraigJohn. I though my amp was the same as his(same model number) but they must have increased the gain because when I put the amp up to 5(which is what Craig has his set at) I fried the Crowson. Now I have the amp set at about three. I see the amp you are using is 3000 watts. With that much power I would be careful. I would set a max level or max voltage on it. They changed the amount of current in the amp that I have VS the one Craig had and that's why it got fried when I put it on 5. But it is a great setup. I will never have a setup without it now. Just check out the website. But I realize it may be more than you were willing to spend for just a test.

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post #3 of 201 Old 11-12-2012, 06:51 AM
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I have a couple of Aura shakers if you want to compare them. It could be worthwhile for people to read your impressions of entry level shakers vs. higher quality units.

Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing how transducers help out those of us cursed to be on concrete.
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post #4 of 201 Old 11-12-2012, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
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oooooh, yeah we'll throw the auras in the mix. I didn't know you had shakers...You aren't using them right? Did you ever get them hooked up? If so what didn't you like about them?

Luke wanted to come by and demo the shakers when they arrive. If you do too, then we could make an afternoon of the three way shaker comparison.

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post #5 of 201 Old 11-12-2012, 08:02 AM
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I haven't used them for 5 years or so, they've just been sitting in the garage. I had them hooked up to an old receiver, so the problem could have been a lack of power. I had them screwed in to some plywood boards that I then screwed into the wood of the couch. It was pretty cool at first, I liked the feel for music especially but over time it felt too gimmicky and I couldn't get it just right. I used a 50hz HPF (those little guys that you plug RCA cords into, they probably don't work so well) which was probably too high.

Oh yeah, I'm in for coming over to compare for sure.
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post #6 of 201 Old 11-12-2012, 05:14 PM
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Hey Guys,


I look forward to the reviews! I have recently discovered these and it sounds like a great way of adding another dimension of HT experience cool.gif
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post #7 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 11:04 AM
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I have the buttkicker lfe get and I really enjoyed it. I would let it play everything from 30hz Down. However, my Buttkicker amp just failed on me and I was wondering if I could use an old receiver to power them. My biggest question is wondering if that receiver would actually push the sub 20hz like the previous amp did. (It was designed to play low). I know I won't have the headroom I once did, but will a Sony receiver even send a sub 20hz signal from its speaker outputs?

ALSO, I too really want to know what the "real world" difference would be between the LFE kit and Clark style transducers...
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post #8 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't think a receiver is your best bet -- without some fancy hookup. By default you'd be pushing full range frequencies to the buttkicker, and that won't work very well.

You might get away with it if you feed the signal input on the second receiver from the subwoofer out of the first receiver. But an actual amp with dsp limiting the frequencies you send to the tactile transducer is the best from what I've read.

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post #9 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 11:59 AM
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That was pretty much how I was going to run it (sub out of my Yamaha receiver to the analog inputs of the old Sony.) Like I said, I just don't know if it will actually provide a FR below 20hz at all. I know I am limited on overall power output, but I am also low on cash to get a real amp. Now, when I can afford a new amp, which one should I get?

Also, do you have any input on the difference (real world) between the BKs and the transducers?

Thanks again!!!
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post #10 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 01:40 PM
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I used one of these with a receiver.. which could have been why I wasn't crazy about my shakers.

http://www.amazon.com/FMOD-Crossover-Pair-Low-Pass/dp/B0006N41DS
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post #11 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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edit --- sorry carp, somehow I ended up seeing a hpf at 70hz when I thought I clicked your link...

but clicking again after your response, it looks like you got the right lpf...

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post #12 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 05:53 PM
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No, that was a 50hz low pass not a 70hz high pass. Either way, I don't know how well those things work and I should have used a lower low pass.
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post #13 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIkeDuke View Post

This is what I use.
http://crowsontech.com/go/crowsontech/3342/en-US/DesktopDefault.aspx
TES-100 (Mono Tactile Motion System)

I really like it. It goes well below 20 Hz. It adds that extra something to movies that I really enjoy. It is not cheap though, It seems like the one I have is outdated and they have newer models out now, I highly recommend it. I am using a Butt Kicker BKA-1000 amp. I bought the Crowson from CraigJohn. I though my amp was the same as his(same model number) but they must have increased the gain because when I put the amp up to 5(which is what Craig has his set at) I fried the Crowson. Now I have the amp set at about three. I see the amp you are using is 3000 watts. With that much power I would be careful. I would set a max level or max voltage on it. They changed the amount of current in the amp that I have VS the one Craig had and that's why it got fried when I put it on 5. But it is a great setup. I will never have a setup without it now. Just check out the website. But I realize it may be more than you were willing to spend for just a test.

its a factor of 5 to 10 more expensive than I had intended to spend, since it looks like those start at $500 per seat. I'd love to experience them and I've heard and read good things about them. Those and the I-beam seem to get a lot of praise for accuracy!

are you using eq on yours? a lpf?

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post #14 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 09:36 PM
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Currently, my couch (on concrete floor) shakes when high SPL 29Hz is played. If I were to put on the rubber isolation feet, will the couch shake stronger?
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post #15 of 201 Old 11-13-2012, 09:43 PM
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Yes. I will make the job of the shaker itself much easier and will be able to transfer more of that energy toy our couch and not try and skae the floor as ell. I really is a substantial increase in efficiency and performance.
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post #16 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 07:48 AM - Thread Starter
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I installed the Parts Express rubber feet isolators last night on the berkline recliners.

I looked for a way to mount the clark transducer --- but it isn't obvious. That thing is big! Looks like an 8" UFO. In my recliners there is all kind of brace movement inside due to the reclining and foot rest mechanism. Where to put it..... frown.gif

I know that nebrunner just mounted it to the foot rest, and that seemed to work okay when the foot rest was collapsed, but I wonder how it worked when the foot rest was extended. nebrunner --- any input?

feet shaking and the rest of the body not? The manual says its best to mount the shaker immediately below your rear or the small of your back area if possible -- or the base of the chair at ground level is good too. I don't see how any of those options will work.

Out of curiosity I hooked the TST209 up to my left channel while listening to music and ran a full range signal through it. The effect is just what you'd expect. What I was surprised about though was that you can actually clearly hear the audio in the unit. Muffled, but easily make out the song, the tune, everything. It seems that might be a bit of a turnoff to the audio purists because you would potentially lessen the sound quality in your room by adding a muffled speaker to the mix. Perhaps it is unnoticeable when stuffed under a chair, but it was very noticeable when I held it in my hand in open room.

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post #17 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 08:29 AM
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I have the Buttkicker LFE and a Berkline reclining sofa, but mine is one that only reclines the 2 outside seats. What I ended up doing was removing the cloth underneath the middle seat and using a 1X6 to mount the unit. I had read that you get much better performance that way than using the foot mounting bracket.

With regard to the feel--free air, you will definitely hear it (if the Clark is anything like the BK) but mounted inside the sofa you will hear it much less. When properly dialed in (low pass, amp levels) I've found it blended in much better when it was reinforcing frequencies my subs were playing already. My previous setup was flat to ~17 Hz and I could hear and clearly distinguish when the buttkicker was playing lower frequencies. Now that I'm flat to ~7, it's much harder to distinguish and it blends in seemlessly. With music, I am of two minds about it. I like it when I'm playing hip-hop that has the deep basslines. Not so much when I play other types of music. Purists will almost certainly not like it, IMO.
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post #18 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

I know that nebrunner just mounted it to the foot rest, and that seemed to work okay when the foot rest was collapsed, but I wonder how it worked when the foot rest was extended. nebrunner --- any input?

I do not have them mounted to the footrest, it probably appeared that way to you when the foot rest is extended. It is so dark in the room that you have trouble seeing how they are installed. My Berklines had a very shallow area available for mounting, directly below your posterior. Luckily the Clarks are shallow! The problem I ran into was there is so little depth available, that you could get it mounted but then when you sit down, your weight could push the seat down enough that you felt the piece of plywood holding the tranducer. Not desirable.

I added a 3/8" additional piece of wood buffer to each end and that gave it just enough extra depth that I didn't bottom out sitting on it. I weigh around 200, you are probably another 30+ on top of that so you might run into these issues as well. Good luck.

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post #19 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

its a factor of 5 to 10 more expensive than I had intended to spend, since it looks like those start at $500 per seat. I'd love to experience them and I've heard and read good things about them. Those and the I-beam seem to get a lot of praise for accuracy!
are you using eq on yours? a lpf?
No EQ. When Craig connected it he said he liked the "pure" signal route so we are just using the outputs from my OPPO. Now I admit, I get confused wuth the LPF and HPF stuff. We have it setup, on the Butt Kicker amp that it does not play anything above 40Hz. I guess that is a LPF. The Crowson goes down to at least 5Hz. Maybe to 1Hz. I had a feeling it would be more than you were thinking about but I just wanted to through it out there anyway. When I get my server we will have to set it up again so that there will be an EQ in the mix. I am still interested in this comparison though,

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post #20 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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MikeDuke,

cool! Thanks for the additional info!

Next time I'm in PA I'll let you know and maybe I can swing by. I come up a couple times a year to visit family.

HPF = High Pass Filter - only passes frequencies above the filter and cuts filters out below

LPF = Low Pass Filter - only passes frequencies below the filter and cuts frequencies above

so yeah a 40hz LPF only plays frequencies from 0 to 40hz before rolling off.

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post #21 of 201 Old 11-15-2012, 07:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nebrunner View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

I know that nebrunner just mounted it to the foot rest, and that seemed to work okay when the foot rest was collapsed, but I wonder how it worked when the foot rest was extended. nebrunner --- any input?

I do not have them mounted to the footrest, it probably appeared that way to you when the foot rest is extended. It is so dark in the room that you have trouble seeing how they are installed. My Berklines had a very shallow area available for mounting, directly below your posterior. Luckily the Clarks are shallow! The problem I ran into was there is so little depth available, that you could get it mounted but then when you sit down, your weight could push the seat down enough that you felt the piece of plywood holding the tranducer. Not desirable.

I added a 3/8" additional piece of wood buffer to each end and that gave it just enough extra depth that I didn't bottom out sitting on it. I weigh around 200, you are probably another 30+ on top of that so you might run into these issues as well. Good luck.

Thanks for the additional info! Do you happen to have a picture of your install? I can't see how I have that option with my recliners???

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post #22 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 04:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post

MikeDuke,
cool! Thanks for the additional info!
Next time I'm in PA I'll let you know and maybe I can swing by. I come up a couple times a year to visit family.
HPF = High Pass Filter - only passes frequencies above the filter and cuts filters out below
LPF = Low Pass Filter - only passes frequencies below the filter and cuts frequencies above
so yeah a 40hz LPF only plays frequencies from 0 to 40hz before rolling off.
Thanks for the definitions. Let me know when you are in town. We can work something out.

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post #23 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 05:03 AM
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Looking forward to your comparison. I too have been curious about these but haven't really devoted any effort yet into research. Going from my living room on wood joists to a thick slab in the basement was a major difference in feel. frown.gif Once I finish up this little sealed sub project I will kick some ideas around. We'll have to chat Jonathan.

Mike - I'm going to have to check out your setup one of these days. I need to experience a good transducer one of these days I suppose!
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post #24 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorilla83 View Post

Mike - I'm going to have to check out your setup one of these days. I need to experience a good transducer one of these days I suppose!
Andrew, we will work something out. Again, probably after the holidays is a good time. It's the least I could since you allowed me to come to your place for the GTG. Just be ready that my screen is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy smaller than what you have tongue.gif. Lucky for me though, I have big sound that makes up for it.

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post #25 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 08:09 AM
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This is the best picture I've got:



I took two pieces of plywood and glued them together for some rigidity. Bolt the transducer onto that, mine is forward of center, which is why it appeared to you that it was mounted toward the footrest.

Screw the two ends of the wood piece into the edges of your chair, make sure the transducer is pointing down! Otherwise your buttocks will be hitting the transducer when you sit. Depending on your chair you may have to remove some fabric from the bottom of it to be able to mount these.

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post #26 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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All the transducers have arrived, and I'm picking up carp's aura bass shakers at the saturday meet. I hooked a buttkicker mini LFE to my chair this morning before work -- four screws were all I needed to tack it in. I really think I'm going to like these things when properly setup. As gorilla83 said, basement concrete slabs stink for those of us who are sensory deprived! biggrin.gif

I had to keep turning it down because I want it to feel natural and not shake my chair around like I'm sitting on some sort of off balance washing machine. These things are WAYYYYY too powerful for what I want. Even in only about 5 minutes of playing with the volume levels and zero DSP applied I really started to like what I was feeling! I'm going to enjoy comparing these three units over the next couple weeks. I think I may wire each chair with a different transducer initially and then watch movie clips while playing musical chairs. I'll host a movie night and invite the KC gang over and we'll swap seats as the movie progresses and see what we each like.

Gorilla83 - you are a lot like me in bass taste. I think you ought to add a project like this to your short list.

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post #27 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 03:47 PM
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Sounds fun. Don't forget, you can let me know when you are arround my area and we can work something out.

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post #28 of 201 Old 11-16-2012, 05:42 PM
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I had 2 Aura bass shakers attached to the couch and liked them but I wanted a tiny bit more. I returned them and planned on trying the Clark Synthesis TST209 to see if it was really 10 times more powerful like it says. I put it off though so now I'll probably wait to see your review.
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post #29 of 201 Old 11-19-2012, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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darn it. I"ve had some time to play with these things and they all are decent.

what now?

biggrin.gif

I had to order a couple more cables so I can check them all at once. I really need another Inuke DSP 1000 to run these things cause two channels isn't enough to test three types of bass shakers.

I've determined each really likes unique EQ.

The Buttkickers are audible if you push content below 30hz to them. lame, but the good news is when you use a HPF at 30hz then they aren' audible and you can still seem to feel everything.
The TST209 doesn't seem to be bothered by the low frequencies, but it is audible all the time if you didn't have it tucked under the seat it would be a problem.
The Aura Bass Shaker is worth the price of admision but you can definately tell it's the weakest tactilly of the three.


Truely each is unique, but I haven't decided which I like best. About the time I think I have it figured out the next clip feels better on the opposite one.

"Without subs it's just background music - with subs it's the main event!"
Archaea's Theatre Room
2011 KC Sub Shootout
2012 KC Blind Sub Shootout
My Subwoofer Recommendations by Pricepoint
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post #30 of 201 Old 11-19-2012, 11:00 PM
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Archaea, you should try the buttkicker home theater version biggrin.gif it's different & much better than the mini version, a great addition to complement the subwoofer, love it since the first day installed it
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