I figure it is about time I try to give back a little and posted about my experiences with the Buttkicker LFEs and Earthquake 10.0. This a follow-up to posts in this thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=841157
, but my comments seem to be a better fit in this thread.
I ended up purchasing 2 Buttkicker LFE kits (one for each couch) and an Earthquake 10.0. My intention was to mount one of each in the main couch, just a BK in the side couch.TESTING / COMPARISON
Prior to installation I wanted to test the two products in as fair of a head to head comparison as I could devise without modifying my furniture. So I mounted the BK to its couch bracket and I mounted the 10.0 to a 1x8 and put isolation feet underneath so that they were mounted as similarly as I could easily get them with respect to rigidity, height, and isolation. I powered each from its own BK amp, using the same gauge wire, using the same cross-over setting and power level. Then I and a friend took turns standing on each mounting board/plate an equal distance from each transducer while playing Star Wars Attack of the Clones over and over again with different crossovers and power levels.
Primary Test Scenes:
CH 22 Jango's Apt. - wing beast surfacing to wave vs. column
CH 28 Asteroid Chase - through the asteroid landing
CH 38 Droid Factory - androids exit ship through light saber chopped in half (who knew that you could feel a light saber humm? - just before they enter the factory)
CH 40 through 44 - The Arena scene through to the war (and my absolute favorite tactile moment to date is when the rhino beast runs head-on in to the stone column - just awesome!)
My friend knew nothing about either unit and had reason to be biased toward either product, other than perhaps by the difference in size and shape. I expected the 10.0 to be more powerful than the BK based on representations from maker and the much higher cost. The result was that we both felt that the Buttkicker LFE was almost always significantly more powerful. At the same power level the BK seemed to have about 30-50% more impact. On occasion the Quake seemed to produce something subtle that the BK seemed to miss.
To make sure things were as fair as possible I switched the transducers to the opposite amp just to make sure one amp was not outputting more power - no difference. We also exchanged the transducers to make sure that one foot/leg was not more sensitive to vibration or something - no difference.
The Quake 10.0 got pretty hot during my test - I tried holding a meat thermo to it and it read over 140 degrees. The BK was completely cool to the touch. There was no way I was mounting a 140+ degree device inside my couch or paying double for less performance, so I returned it.MY CONCLUSIONS
Buttkicker LFE strengths:
Seems way more powerful
No need to hunt for a separate amp, isolator feet etc.
Buttkicker LFE Weakness:
If you drive it too hard, it will thunk or slap (hidden strength? it tells you to turn it down - or add another if you aren't happy with the results yet).
Quake 10.0 Strengths:
I believe it might be capable of greater detail - the occasional subtle effect
The number of mounting options, very nice
No thunks (hidden weakness? Maybe this conceals signs of being overdriven)
Quake 10.0 Weaknesses:
Might run hot
Customer "Service" from Earthquake and their vendor (see side story below).THE INSTALLATION
My couches have 5 legs each, one in each corner and off center from the middle to provide some additional support to the recliner section. I have two couches in an "L" configuration. The feet attach via a bolt in the foot, so I bought bolts of the same diameter. I then drilled a hole through the metal couch mounting bracket so that I could secure the BK with mounting bracket in place of the center foot. The hole was drilled so that the BK just cleared the 1x4 cross brace that it was being mounted to - figuring that the closer and more firmly mounted the BK was to the attachment point the more it would move up and down instead of twisting/wobbling. I replaced the other feet with a block of wood and isolation feet on which I had to enlarge the center hole to fit my bolts.
An odd dilemma - I think even though all 5 "legs" measure the same height, that due to the carpeting and padding and the fact that the isolator feet on the couch mounting bracket are smaller and shorter than the individual isolator feet means that the mounting plate rides on the carpet when it is not compressed causing the couch to wobble a little when you first sit on it (the bad part). Once there is weight on the couch it is stable. I think this is forcing the BK couch bracket to be really tight against the floor and causes the brace under the couch where the BK is mounted to bend up a little (pre-loading it if you will). I suspect that this may be resulting in a fair amount of energy being radiated in to the floor - which I love. I get great impact through the couch, perhaps aided by the "pre-loading" and can feel it in the floor so that there is no disconnect between my feet and the rest of my body. I may try to get the couch to not wobble just to see if my hunches are correct or if it still kicks just as much ummm butt (and feet) without the extra compression, or perhaps even more since the whole reason for the isolation feet is supposed to be to de-couple it from the floor and enhance the sensation. If I have to choose between great whole body vibration and super-great upper-body vibration and bored feet then my couch is going to wobble a little
I need confirm this next point as it was a casual observation that I didn't really contemplate at the time, but I'm pretty sure that my dB meter showed a significant dB increase with the BKs running. If this is not a normal observation, then it may be the way the BKs are coupling to and interacting with my floor, perhaps turning the floor into a giant subwoofer.FUTURE PLANS
As I stated I occasionally get thumps during really aggressive scenes most likely when they contain content at the resonant frequency of 9 Hz. To try and solve this I am going to add another BK driver to each couch. I will drive two units per amp, since I only have them at 11:30 to 12:30 and don't want to increase total perceived output; I just want to have more "head room" (?) at the resonant frequency or during the extreme peak content if I am wrong about the resonant thing. I figure two units each doing 1/2 the work will have more dynamic range. I figure I may have to turn the amps up to overcome the minimum power needs of the additional transducer.
I plan to ask the Buttkicker folks what they think about me putting one LFE and one Concert in each couch to flatten or broaden the response curve. I also need to determine is a 2 ohm (Concert) and 4 ohm (LFE) can/should be driven from the same amp or if I need to drive both LFEs from one amp and both Concerts from the other.
BTW I have the two BK amps and a Def Tech SC Ref plugged into the same 15A outlet and it is not a problem - I measured the actual draw (during WOTW the emergence scene) and it was surprisingly low, I want to say 11A, but don't remember. I will re-measure the power draw after I add the additional BKs and post in case anyone needs the real world draw.-----------------
Side Story: My bad experience with the 10.0 vendor and maker
I ordered my Quake 10.0 from Lightning AV, AKA Thunder AV, AKA infiniteelectronix. Several days pass, no shipment notification. Call to see what is going on and the guy tells me that Earthquake has not shipped it yet - 4 days after ordering it ships. I do my testing over the weekend and decide this is not the "most powerful transducer in the world" and not worth the money or risking a hot sweaty backside or worse. I email the vendor about my findings and concerns. He says that I may have a defective unit and that I need to return it for an exchange. I tell him that I just want my money back, but that if they determine that it was defective that I would consider re-testing it, please send me an RMA number, no response. I email several more times over several weeks, no response. I call and he says "oh, I'm still waiting for Earthquake to issue the RMA number". I email and call Earthquake and they say they don't know what I'm talking about. Earthquake tells me that I must have been overdriving the unit and probably damaged it - this despite them telling me in emails during my research phase that the Buttkicker amp does not put out anywhere near the claimed power and that I should use something else to drive the 10.0. I explain how the Buttkicker has a claimed 2 ohm peak of 2,000 watts, and how since RMS output is usually 33-50% of peak, and that since they claim that is a generous (if not false) figure that since I had the volume knob <= 50% and the 10.0 has a claimed max input of 1,000 watts RMS, that I don't see how I could have been over driving it. They give me an RMA (more than a month after first requesting it from the vendor) and I ship the unit back. I never hear from them, no word that I broke the thing, no word that it was a defective unit and should give it another try, no refund from the vendor. I expected the vendor to stiff me on the refund, because he dragged his feet and gave me a song and dance on everything else. I disputed the charge and months later had all my money back.
More on the vendor: I had a slightly iffy feeling about this vendor, so I used a new credit card (a new, never used, expiration date) to place the order (sure wish I had thought to use one of those one time CC numbers). For some reason I also used a phone number that I don't usually give to stores and I know for a fact that I have never used that credit card with that phone number. Low and behold I get a call from a web-host asking me to contact them regarding my new web-hosting contract. I call and tell them I don't know what they are talking about. How was this paid for? Yep, the new credit card. I tell them it is a fraudulent charge and call the CC company to cancel the card. I call the guy at Lightning AV and he says "oh, no couldn't have been me" but then switches to "the only other person that it could have been was my ultra religious cousin who I recently fired, but he is retarded and would not know how to get or use your credit card."
More on Earthquake: When I was emailing Earthquake and explaining my experience/problem, including the details of my testing methods, they kept saying things like, "well we just got back from some show and all the professionals were raving about our product", "our shaker is by far the most powerful in the world", and "you are wrong that you perceived that our product was not far superior". The company rep came off as an arrogant ass and seemed to think that I should just trust his biased opinion and the alleged observations of the "pros" over my own first hand (and I believe unbiased) experience. I asked if they perceived any errors, oversights or unfairness in my testing methods and they ignored the question if favor of badgering - I take that to mean that they found no obvious flaws in my methods aside from the self-contradictory assertion that I overdrove the unit. I seriously doubt that I will ever even consider buying another Earthquake product.