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Old 04-25-2006, 07:02 AM   #1
bapenguin
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[HARDWARE] - The Buttkicker LFE Kit

Product: Buttkicker LFE Kit
MSRP: $459.95 ($399.99 MAP)
Product: Link
Reviewer: Nicholas “bapenguin” Puleo

Back when Arcades actually existed, there were these great driving games that really immersed you into the experience. These games had a gear shift, pedals and a steering wheel. But the best thing about those games was always the feedback provided by shaking the seat. Every time you’d crash or go over a jump the seat would rumble your pants* accordingly. This is something that has long been missing from the home gaming market, thankfully a company called Guitammer has brought us a solution with the Buttkicker LFE Kit.

With HDTV gaming coming into the light, the era of big screens and big sounds has begun. Gaming on your grandma’s 13” TV with mono sound is a thing of the past. Now gamers are immersed with 52” screens and glorious 5.1 audio. To take this experience further, the Buttkicker LFE kit will shake your couch (or the entire floor) with every in game effect. What makes the Buttkicker different from a subwoofer or a shaker is its ability to accurately reproduce these effects without making any noise. The Buttkicker is able to reproduce a large frequency range of effects. The box states a resonant frequency of 9 Hz and range of 5 - 200 Hz.

What’s in the box?

The Buttkicker LFE Kit comes with everything you need to get up and running and get your butt kicked. The kit comes with the Buttkicker Amplifier, this is what powers up to 4 Buttkicker LFE devices. Also included in the box is the Buttkicker LFE itself, the chair mounting kit, speaker cable, various cables for different hookup options, chair isolators and plenty of instructions.




Installation

Installation is pretty straightforward. The Buttkicker Amp connects to your subwoofer out on your home theater receiver. If you already have a sub connected via this method, there is an included Y adapter. The Buttkicker LFE is then mounted onto the chair mounting plate. This plate sits underneath one of the legs of your couch. Under the rest of the legs you place the rubber isolators. Once the amp is connected and LFE mounted, use the included speaker cable to connect it to the Buttkicker LFE to the amp.


The nice thing is for most chairs that have dustflaps the Buttkicker LFE hides nicely underneath it.

One thing I had some trouble with was getting the LFE to perform exactly like I expected. For me, I was looking for something that would simply reproduce the more powerful sections of games. Out of the box the LFE was very sensitive which caused to vibrate almost constantly. Even the soundtracks of the game would cause vibrations. Luckily the Buttkicker Amp offers plenty of tweaking options. After turning down the crossover frequency to less than 80, turning on the high cutoff filter, and turning off the low cutoff the Buttkicker LFE was near perfect.




Performance

So what is it like when using the Buttkicker? It really is something that needs to be experienced because it feels so natural. For instance in Burnout: Revenge on the Xbox 360 when you speed burst there is sort of a rocket flame effect. It’s not a very powerful one, it’s very slight. So the Buttkicker LFE has a soft continuous rumble that it outputs. But in that same game if you crash into a wall the Buttkicker puts out a singular power punch on impact, followed by several smaller ones as each piece of your car hits and tumbles. And when you execute a crash breaker? You better hold on to your pants for that one.

Playing Battlefield 2: Modern Combat was the most intense experience I’ve had to date with gaming in a home theater setup. My recliner turned into a massaging chair during my firefights. I could feel the helicopter blades whirling over my head. I nearly jumped out of my seat as missile whizzed by my head. With every tank shell that is fired the chair gave me a solid kick to the pants.

I also watched a few movies with the Buttkicker LFE. I have two “test” scenes I use when checking out new audio and video setups. The opening battle scene from Gladiator was up first, and the Buttkicker did not disappoint. The effect is especially cool as the catapults are loaded. I also used the Oliphaunt charge scene from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Needless to say, every stomp from an Oliphaunt is another kick to the pants.


Conclusion

The entire LFE kit will set you back around $400 bucks from various online retailers. At first I thought this seemed overly expensive, but when you compare this to most middle range subwoofers it’s on par with the price. Each additional LFE unit will set you back about $200-220 as well as the cost of another chair mounting kit ($49.99). Of course, one LFE is powerful enough to shake a whole couch so additional units may not be needed. There are actually instructions on how to hook the LFE up to the joists of your floor to shake an entire room. Needless to say, you’d need to be in a special situation (a.k.a. Single) to do this.

The Buttkicker LFE provides an amazing immersive experience while gaming. It adds an entire dimension to gaming that feels completely natural. The LFE performs great for movies as well and makes a truly great addition to your subwoofer. If anything, at least try to find a local dealer who can demo the Buttkicker LFE for you so you can see what you’ve been missing in gaming!


The Good
+ Amazing immersive experience
+ Large range of effects, very realistic
+ Lots of hookup options and tweaking options
+ Silent, not boomy like a subwoofer

The Bad
- Kind of expensive

The Ugly
- No remote for Amp

Score
4 out of 5 EvilEyes


*NOTE* this review contains excessive kicking to the pants. *

Last edited by bapenguin; 04-25-2006 at 07:16 AM..
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:07 AM   #2
fitbabits
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Farking AWESOME!
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:09 AM   #3
bapenguin
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Originally Posted by fitbabits
Farking AWESOME!
Yeah....I have to buy it now. It simply feels like something is missing when it's turned off.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bapenguin
This plate sits underneath one of the legs of your count.
Umm... "count" == "couch", I suppose?
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:13 AM   #5
fitbabits
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bapenguin
Yeah....I have to buy it now. It simply feels like something is missing when it's turned off.
Be prepared to be hammered with a metric ton of questions when we move to Colorado on how to oprimize our new home theater setup!
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:17 AM   #6
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joruussuun
Umm... "count" == "couch", I suppose?
Yeah, had my spell checker on and the idiot checker off. Thanks.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:24 AM   #7
AntB
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I always wanted one of those. Pair it with colored lights, it could be one hell of an immersive experience.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:24 AM   #8
fitbabits
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Originally Posted by bapenguin
Yeah, had my spell checker on and the idiot checker off. Thanks.
Oh, I also need an idiot checker. Especially for when my wife isn't around.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:25 AM   #9
Skjef
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That sounds pretty damn cool.

But... How long did you use it for? I'd like to know how long it would last before dropping $400 on something like that.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:28 AM   #10
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I have a feeling that this would piss off my downstairs neighbors in my apartment if my couch was constantly vibrating against the floor. Totally a cool idea though. I do have to wonder about the long term effects of it on your furniture though; my couches are already creaky as it is - I'm not sure that sending shockwaves through them would be very good for their health!
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:31 AM   #11
AntB
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I don't think it's any worse than FreeWilly diving onto your couch.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:33 AM   #12
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupelix
I have a feeling that this would piss off my downstairs neighbors in my apartment if my couch was constantly vibrating against the floor. Totally a cool idea though. I do have to wonder about the long term effects of it on your furniture though; my couches are already creaky as it is - I'm not sure that sending shockwaves through them would be very good for their health!
It's completely isolated to the chair. Thats what the rubber isolators are for.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:51 AM   #13
XxSATANxX
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Buttkicker makes a great product!

This effect can be had for as little as 30 dollars with a bit of know how and some searching.

Another option is to go with a boomchair.

The new generation of boomchairs will retail for 99 dollars and include vibration.

Still Buttkicker makes the best overall transducerm 400 dollars is just more then you really need to spend.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:52 AM   #14
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I would be concerned about hooking it up to your floor joists. "Immersive" would be redefined when you dropped through into your basement during an explosion.
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Old 04-25-2006, 07:54 AM   #15
bapenguin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Letter 3
I would be concerned about hooking it up to your floor joists. "Immersive" would be redefined when you dropped through into your basement during an explosion.
From what I've read the floor actually "shakes" less than that of when someone is walking on it. The difference is this is concentrated and it's transferred. Basically it goes through the floor, through the couch legs, through the couch frame and into your body. So it feels a lot stronger than what is actually happening.
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Old 04-25-2006, 08:13 AM   #16
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I know it's not intended for this at all, but did you try it with music?
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:00 AM   #17
DirtyChimp
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How long did you use it for? And did you try it with music?
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:04 AM   #18
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What's the return policy like in the event that I shit myself due to the vibration and it shorts out the rumble part?
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:10 AM   #19
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Tried it with Rez? You know you want to!
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Old 04-25-2006, 09:13 AM   #20
Lon Lon Rabbit
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That sounds awesome.

I picked up "The Interactor", cheap, about 7 years ago, cos I remember trialing it at a store when I was a kid and thinking it was amazing, and it was the biggest piece of gaming related crap I have ever bought. For whatever reason they thought it was a good idea to have not only the vibrations but the game sound coming out of the back of it through the most crappy speaker ever, so there was a constant noisy dirge that could not be switched off, and if the game had loud music then the damn thing would just vibrate to that, basically by just constantly shaking in a completely incongruous way to the game's atmosphere.

I wouldn't be willing to drop this much money on this sort of thing, but I'd love to give one of these devices a proper try; NOTHING could be worse than the Interactor.
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