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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a non-scientific newbie comparison but this is what I found.


I have been comparing 1 Buttkicker ("BK") vs 2 Aura Pro Bass Shakers ("shakers") in a riser about the size of a couch with an overstuffed couch (that reclines) sitting on top. I mounted all 3 of them under the riser and used six 120# isolators to get the riser off the floor. I had them set so they would give a sensation that seemed balanced with the movie but not jar your vision. It would take more than 1 BK or two shakers to make that happen in my set up. The BK used its corresponding Buttkicker amp (sold as a set) and I ran the Shakers off a 100 Watt per channel amp using one channel for the two shakers, wiring run in series (8 ohms).


Both worked well with the BK hitting a little harder and reacting more to lower frequencies although the shakers did a good job and in some ways seemed better (beside the fact they are cheaper) when set up in a similar manner to the BK. I think the reason the shakers seemed better was because the BK would vibrate to very low frequencies, so low that I couldn't even hear what they were vibrating to. This made the BK seem to vibrate when there wasn't a corresponding sound to go along with it which made it seem a little out of synch with the movie. I am not sure if this makes sense. The shakers on the other hand may not react to frequencies as low but did seem more in sync with the movie. Both were good with CounterStrike on Xbox(shoot-em-up type game). When a grenade would go off or a weapon fire it was very realistic. My teenage boys loved it.


I think the trick to getting the shakers to be their best is in the set up. By mounting them to the underside of the riser and not directly to the recliners, I got a more spread out and realistic feel. When mounted inside the recliner I could tell exactly where they were, especially when strapped to the springs right under the seat. This was not the way to use them because it would only shake your butt and seemed very unrealistic. Sure, fun for a while but got old fast. They also got in the way of using the recliner mechanism. I would think they could be hooked up under a couch that didn't recline, and produce more even results, if there was a support or board added that went the width of the couch and the couch feet were on isolators but then your feet wouldn't get the effect. I tried it several ways and the riser method worked best and really made it seem more realistic in my opinion. I even created a low riser which consisted of a thick piece of plywood with isolators as feet and the shakers top mounted at each end and it did great for the matching loveseat although not as nice looking. The biggest difference is using the isolators. The difference was huge. The effectiveness of the vibration was very much more realistic and stronger when the isolators separated either riser from the floor.


The cost of 1 BK and the Buttkicker amp is around $850. The cost of 2 Aura Pro Bass Shakers and an amp is around $250. The isolators are recommended for either setup and vary in price (more information on them on the Buttkicker site or do a search for buttkicker to get internet sites selling both) but are in the $13 each range so around $100 for a couch size platform. They are expensive and there may be other make shift ways to isolate the vibrations but I know the isolators work well and I can't imagine anything else coming close.


Both setups were great and added an effect to movies and games that was addictive over time. I expected the BK to really be a lot better but my personal preference was with the shakers. Setup could be a factor and with more time perhaps I would feel differently and have noticed the BK advantage some rave about but for now I am going with the less expensive shaker setup and use the money I save toward buying a better sub. It appears more companies are coming out with new products to do the same thing and I expect something better may be not too far down the road. The shakers are an inexpensive way to get your feet wet and they really do work well if set up correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update...


The BK amp has a switchable (either on or off) low cutoff filter at 25Hz and a variable high cutoff, 40 HZ to 160 Hz. I have been trying the variable cutoff at about 40-50 and will try it with the low cutoff on which will give me a range of about 25 Hz through 50 Hz getting through. This may clear up the problem I think is associated with the BKs kicking in with low frequencies that are not audible. This would be a great amp if it just had a remote control for crossover and volume. It is 1100 watts @4 ohms (1 BK) and 2100 watts @ 2 ohms. You can hookup two BK and get 1050 watts each if wired in parallel the instructions say.


I was running the shakers last night and they sounded like they would bottom out before I had them as high as I wanted (watching HBO/Showtime) so I am still experimenting. It would just happen once in a while. It takes some serious vibration to get through the wood and up through the recliner. I actually have 8 shakers and have only 4 hooked up, 2 under the couch and 2 under the loveseat. I will probably hook up all eight if I decide to keep them, can get an amp powerful enough (considering the $140.00 250W AP sub amp but not sure it will be enough power for 8 shakers) and I am not quite sure how to wire eight 4 Ohm shakers into one output and still keep it at 4 Ohms. This is all a little over my head and you would think the shakers would come with a bunch of wiring suggestions but they don't. I may try the BK amp but I was hoping to not have to spend $350 for the amp. Any suggestions or assistance with the speaker wiring would be helpful.


This has been fun but I need to get this project finished and the stuff I am not keeping returned.
 

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You want a 4 ohm load into a single channel amp, right? I don't think you can do that with 8 x 4 ohm shakers. You either end up with an 8 ohm load or a 2 ohm load. And each pro shaker needs 50 watts of power regardless of the final resistance load. Some amps can't handle a 2 ohm load and you will need a 400 watt amp for an 8 ohm load.


If you have two amps (or a 2 channel amp), then you could have two 4 ohm loads.



Here's how to wire them:


Take 2 shakers and wire them in series for an 8 ohm load and repeat this for the rest to end up with 4 sets of shakers.


Now take two sets and wire those up parallel for a 4 ohm load and repeat this for the other two sets. This will give you two wire pairs that are each 4 ohm loads on the amps. If you want a 2 ohm load, wire these two pair of wires in parallel. If you want a 8 ohm load, wire them in series.
 

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Aura were the pioneers of "tactile transducers" and they do give you some "feel" to bass. I noticed Russ Hershellman installed some in his $4,000,000 Disney gig called the Ultimate Home Theater Experience www.uhte.com I have see posts of even the Pro Bass Shakers how they sometimes were not enough to get through the fiber fill in their sofas, but most say they add the bass feel when used with a conventional subwoofer.


The Buttkickers are extreme and much more intense, but thus the $1000 for a pair and one of their amps.
 

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I have two pair of the regular Aura Bass Shakers that I'm planning to install in a riser that will be about 12'w x 6.5' d x 10" h. I have a 250 watt plate amp that I'm planning to drive them with. Are the Aura's up to the task to move an entire riser that will have 3 Berkline 090's on it? Or, should I scrap that idea and go with a Clark or Buttkicker product? I'd hate to get the riser complete, carpeted, and have the chairs on it only to find out that the Aura's won't do the job.


Thanks for any insight,


Dwight
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My opinion is that they will not do the job but I do not know for sure. I know that one buttkicker or two 50 watt Aura Pro Bass Shakers will handle a 3'x7'x10" riser with a couch/recliner on it but with little headroom. In other words you will feel the explosion but it won't jar your vision which is the way I prefer it. Pearl Harbor was excellent as was an Xbox game called CounterStrike. I heard the single buttkicker bottom out (it has a distinctive hammering sound when it does) when pushed too far. My test riser is obviously consideraly smaller than your riser. I would think it will take 3 Aura Pro Bass Shakers to handle the riser I plan on building which will be about 4'x8'x10". Perhaps you would do better with 2 buttkickers or something comparable from Clark to do it right but that is just a guess based upon my limited experience. The Buttkicker amp is made to handle two Buttkickers so you are looking at about $850 for the amp and two Buttkickers plus the cost of the isolators which could cost another couple hundred (and tax). You could do 4 Pro Bass Shakers and an amp for around $250 but I am not sure how it would be for that size of riser. It is also like speaker advice in that what I think is adequate you may find less than adequate. My goal is to have an effect that blends well with the rest of the experience and for it to only come on when there is an explosion or other significant low frequency event, but when that event happens it has a little punch. I don't want to feel vibration all the time because I think it will get old then.


The small shakers would probably do better if mounted in the furniture. I read that some of the newer theater furniture is coming equipped for easy transducer installation or with them already installed. What you loose by putting them in the furniture is vibration through your feet if your feet are on the floor and a more spread out vibration that the riser installation provides. When I had four shakers in my couch they got in the way of the reclining mechanism and I knew right where they were which was still fun but not very realistic. What you gain with a furniture installation is less to vibrate and more effect at the same volume so you can use smaller shakers. Based on what I have read, the shakers you have were designed more for an in/on furniture installation and there smaller size is a plus. No matter what you use (BK, Clark or shakers) you will want to make sure that you use isolators to separate the riser from the floor so you aren't loosing vibration (unless you put them directly in the furniture). I tried one set up with isolators and then without and the difference was significant. There may be a cheaper way to get the same effect (while still looking good) from the local Home Depot but I haven't thought of it yet.


It may take some experimentation to get what you want. You could build the riser and see how they work (assuming you need the riser anyways, which I suspect, since it s so high). I was told that you want the riser to be solid with no rattles, use screws and liquid nails, but not overly rigid. It was suggested that any supporting boards run lengthwise and be from 16"to 24" on center. Minimal or no cross bracing. Only the perimeter structure should touch the floor through the isolators with perhaps an isolator or two in the middle. Some have used 2x4s for the interior structure but I am not sure that will handle the load in your size riser. The goal is for vibrations to flow as free as possible without trying to shake the floor beneath. I hope something in there was helpful. I know just enough to be dangerous and am learning as I go as well. There isn't too much information available on this topic since relatively few have tried it, especially to the extent you are thinking. Most just slap a board under their couch, hookup a couple shakers to it, run them off an old amp and enjoy their favorite movie which is what I wish I could do (darn recliners). You might give the folks at Buttkicker a call for more detailed information on the installation of their product which would likely apply to any transducer/shaker.
 

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Hi Troy,


Thanks very much for the input - I take advice from folks who have actually tried something quite seriously. I will probably be better off with transducers that have plenty of punch; after all, I can always turn down the power, but if there isn't enough headroom available, it's pretty tough to crank it up...


Thanks again,


Dwight
 

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"I heard the single buttkicker bottom out (it has a distinctive hammering sound when it does) when pushed too far." (from Troy)


This one is hard to buy. Three things can bottom out a BK: overpower, (which means more than 1500 watts feed to it), grossly underpowered, or crossed too low under the Fs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by hometheaterguy
"I heard the single buttkicker bottom out (it has a distinctive hammering sound when it does) when pushed too far." (from Troy)


This one is hard to buy. Three things can bottom out a BK: overpower, (which means more than 1500 watts feed to it), grossly underpowered, or crossed too low under the Fs.
You may be right but it sure sounded like it to me. I was running one BK off the BK amp which is 1100 watts @ 4 ohms and had it cranked pretty high but I think the BK is rated above that. The only crossover I had on was for above 60 Hz, no low filter. I was trying to see if I could get it to vibrate enough that my vision would blur as some had described - didn't happen before the noise started and I think that would only work in a more direct BK-to-wood-to- butt configuration like in a drummer's seat or a gamer's chair. It was a definite sound like a hammer hitting metal so I dont think it was something else hitting but may have been.


On a side note, I remember reading where a guy thought he bottomed out his big SVS sub on the Nemo DVD (glass tapping scene I believe) while showing it off at high volume to some friends. He even called the manufacturer to discuss it. He later got up close to the sub while the same scene was playing and found out it was a ceramic pot and saucer (with a plant in it I think-his wife had been doing some accessorizing) that was jumping about a 1/4" off the top of the sub and then clanking back down. He removed it and the problem was gone and he was relieved.


Anyways, during a discussion with the manufacturer before I got the BK, he mentioned that if it made a noise like this it was being overpowered and to back the volume down. The noise was exactly as he had described. As my kids will say "thats my story and I am sticking to it."
 

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I did some comparison shopping before buying my transducers too. I run a Crowson Couch Kit powered by a Yorkville proaudio amp. I have an old friend on the west coast who has the original BK and he complained about the same things you point out, Troy: 1)Clanging noise when it bottoms out; and 2)Weird rumble sometimes when he doesn't expect it. I was leery of this when I purchased but the guy at Crowson explained that their design would not have these problems. I have been real happy so far.
 

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Wow, I have learned. I may not get Butkickers after all. I guess any amp, or speaker in this world can be limiting to clipping, distortion, or other evils. I just liked the BK idea because many Pro Bass Shaker users complained that they were not enough and had to modify their furniture for more bass "feel".


Thanks for the heads up gentlemen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am not sure the BK would do this if I wasn't turning it up so high, past where I would use it. I also think some of the other concerns I had with them could be corrected with a low filter but I just haven't had time to play with them anymore. I still think the shakers could do the job cheaper if there are enough of them and they are properly installed. Mounting three pro shakers on a piece of thick plywood an setting the couch on the plywood isn't going to do it. If you put isolators under the plywood or put the plywood in the bottom of the couch I think it will work fine. Recliners can be a bear to work with, especially when using the larger shakers.
 

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I am trying to find a good place for the Pros on my Berkline 090's. At lot of people ziptie them to the bottom springs. I am still searching for the best way to attach the pros to the 090's


- Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I tried the zip tie method under the seat and there was plenty of vibration but it was all in one spot, not up my back or down my leggs. It was fun for a while but not really what I was looking for.
 

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I returned my Buttkicker2 two weeks ago. Although I purchased a Clark Synthesis silver a year and a half ago, I wanted to try the BK2 to see if I would like it better. At first I loved the power and lower bass extension, but after awhile the novelty wore off and I did'nt think that it was worth it for all of the extra money considering my budget. With the Clark's and Bk2's, the price for the amplification is what costs so much, and I just couldn't justify paying alot of money for vibrations that I'll only need for some movies.


I did have one time when the Buttkicker shut off though. It was when I was watching Black Hawk Down and if you've seen the movie and/or experienced a Buttkicker2, you can imagine the rumbling that takes place continuasly for at least 5 to 10 minutes. I have to admit it was fun, but I wouldn't crank it up so high the next time. Eventually the amp must've ran to warm and it automatically shuts off (thank goodness)! I cranked it up to see how much the BK2 could take and also to see if I would like it that way.

The BK2 is an excellent product but because of my budget, I returned it and will use the rest of the money for a projector.


I still have my Clark silver and I think I'll by another for my other recliner. If I could start over from the begining with tactile sound transducers, I would start with the Aura's (the cheapest) and work my way up.


After all, the Auras seem to give alot of "bang for the buck" for many members on the forum and products like that are what I want.
 

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Scott, I have the cheaper Aura Bass Shakers and have them zip tied to the springs. I tried them in the back springs but didn't like it and it created too much lumbar. Another member attached them to the footrest of the recliner and said he got great results. I just haven't talked myself into screwing them into the bottom of the footrest. I also haven't figured out a way to get the wire to pull back in and how to ensure it doesn't get caught up in the footrest mechanism. I can just picture the wire getting mangled, shorting out and burning up the other shakers and possibly the 5 channel amp they are connected to.


Another idea I had was to install a plywood board underneath the chair that spans a gap in the frame. Then screw the plywood into the frame and the shakers to the plywood. Then the shakers can shake the chair frame and not just the springs.
 

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I have 4 of the Aura Pro models screwed to the bottom of the floor under the furniture and I am very pleased with the effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
When you say bottom of the floor, do you mean your actual floor or are they under a riser that the furniture sets on with the riser sitting on the actual floor? What kind and how powerful of an amp are you using and is it turned all the way up?


I compared the 1 BK to two Aura Pros again last night in my temporary riser and although the BK has more power, more than I need, the 2 Pros had plenty enough for my objectives. I didn't try to get the BK to bottom out again but I would say that point is way past where I would set it anyways. I returned the 2 BK and the amp today but kept the isolators I was using under my risers. The BK definitely had more kick, as well it should for the price, but since I already have 8 Aura Pro Bass Shakers to play with I think I will have plenty of shakin goin on and at less than half the price. If you have a couple large risers to shake, the BKs (with matching amp) and isolators under the riser is probably the easy way to get it done quickly and correctly but it will cost you a little over a thousand when its all said and done.


Something else that might be of interest, while reading the installation instruction for the Buttkicker, there was a section on isolators and risers. they suggested that the isolators be put along the two short sides of the riser with the long sides floating above the floor so that more vibration will flow freely.


Has anyone thought of or used anything else (that is cheaper)below their risers or furniture to do the same thing the rubber isolators do?
 

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