The ultimate battle of the bass: can there be only one survivor?
Compare power, performance and price of ALL the major bass shakers, side by side.
Reviewed by Jerry Toga on the 15th January, 2014
After technical specs of the ButtKicker LFE? Go to my Comparison Chart.
Words of joy: With buckets of power and punch, the ButtKicker will not disappoint. The ButtKicker can 'hear' extremely low sounds - down to 5Hz - so you're in for some bass treats. Attach it to your couch or recliner and discover a deep, dramatic level of immersion in movies and music.
PRICE: $299 retail, but currently around $230 online.
Check online prices.
Words of caution: Remember that when you buy any bass shaker, you also need to get an amplifier. Unlike the cheap and cheerful Aura Bass Shaker which works with any ol' amp, the ButtKicker needs a great amplifier, so that is going to add to the price. You'll need to invest in a high-quality subwoofer amplifer that only sends low sounds - otherwise your ButtKicker will bottom out. I recommend ButtKicker's own range of amplifiers. Also, the ButtKicker does have a lot of power, so pop some rubber isolators under your couch.
Don't worry: the ButtKicker is not about motion: it's about vibration. Your chair won't move like a ride at Disneyland, but it will vibrate in a way that recreates the way we humans 'feel' lower sounds. When installed correctly, your ButtKicker will usually not have any impact on other rooms in the house. In fact, it's a great way to keep sound contained, without disturbing the neighbours, partner or baby. You can wear headphones, and enjoy a movie as if your subwoofer is cranked to 11. That said, if you live on a second story, the walls may transmit some shake down to the lower level. Again, rubber isolators can help here.
Newer films, like Cloverfield, experiment with subsonic sounds. Read my mate Betty's review.
Compared to other brands like the Aura Bass Shaker, the ButtKicker can hear very low sounds - much lower than human hearing. While the Aura can only hear down to 20Hz, the ButtKicker boasts a range down to 5Hz. Until recently, most films and games don't go any lower than 20Hz (the edge of human hearing). HOWEVER that is starting to change. Movies like Cloverfield have started experimenting with lower sounds, dabbling in bass as low as 5Hz. So if you want to know what real bass feels like, the ButtKicker is for you!
The ButtKicker LFE is world-famous, and a cult favorite among bass-heads everywhere. And there's good reason behind the ButtKicker's reputation: the ButtKicker LFE's large guage wire coils take an eon to heat up, and the heat is carried heat away from the coils by the meticulously engineered shell. You can throw a lot of power at this little tiger before she'll bite back.
This is what happens if you turn your ButtKicker up TOO HIGH! :)
The excellent ButtKicker BKA1000-N Power Amplifier
The ButtKicker BK-LFE Kit comes with rubber isolators that stop vibrations going into the floor.
It's important to note that bass shakers are NOT powered. ALL bass shakers must be powered by an amp. So which amp works best with the ButtKicker LFE?
The ButtKicker people have made one of the best amps on the market, which works great with Clark Synthesis shakers as well. It's called the ButtKicker BKA1000-N Power Amplifier (pictured left). This amp will power two ButtKicker LFE units. (Word to the wise: the "1000-N" model is the latest model - before you buy, just make sure to check it's an "N" and not "A".)
The ButtKicker is a little difficult to install, and people have complained that the ButtKicker bottoms out at low frequencies. However, if you install the ButtKicker correctly, you're going to avoid this trap.
The quality of the amp comes into play. You need to connect it to a good subwoofer amp so it doesn't bottom out at high frequencies. You just don't want high frequencies going into the ButtKicker at all. The ButtKicker has a great low usuable frequency range, but it doesn't love high sounds.
You also need to invest in some rubber isolators to make sure that your chair or couch is up of the floor, especially if your couch is on tiles or cement. However, even if you have a wooden or carpet floor, I'd recommend getting the isolators anyway: it simply improves the experience immensely. The ButtKicker people recommend the Kinetics isolators, in particular the R1-K28. If you buy the ButtKicker LFE Kit, the isolators are included (read a review of the ButtKicker LFE kit).
If you're getting a buzz from your speakers, you may have developed "ground loop". The ButtKicker website tells you how to solve this problem quickly and easily. You can also get some great installation tips here.