What is a bass shaker?

Find out more about the BEST home theater gadget


What is a bass shaker?

Some sounds are too low to hear: instead, we humans feel the sounds through our body. Have you ever been at a rock concert and felt the deep, low sound through your body? The low "boom, boom, boom" bass sounds send an awesome vibration through your very bones. A bass shaker is designed to bring that effect into your home theater. You pop a bass shaker under your chair, and it turns low sounds into vibrations you can feel.

For example, there's a great movie called U-571 (below). If you watch this movie with bass shakers under your chair, you are in for a treat. Each depth charge blast becomes a physical experience: the deep, low rumble of the explosions propels you into the action. It's as if you are a character in the movie, feeling what the characters are feeling.

What is a ButtKicker

The ButtKicker, one of the most popular brands of bass shaker.

How much do they shake?

Different bass shakers have different power: some kind shake you a lot, some a little. However, don't expect a bass shaker to turn your chair into a ride at Disneyland: it won't move your chair up and down, side to side etc. Instead, it sends deep, low vibrations through your chair so you can feel those great low sounds in your body. Bass shakers add a physical dimension to your home theatre experience. The shaker isn't very big (see the comparison page for stats), so you can attach the shaker under your lounge chair (or to the floor of your car), then connect them to your sound system. And BOOM! the shakers convert bass sounds into vibrations that move through the chair into your body.


Are bass shakers worth it?

Bass shakers are totally worth it if the following describes you:

  • I am an "aural" person - I have a strong emotional reaction to sound
  • My idea of a good night in is immersing myself in movies and games
  • I like to do DIY upgrades to my home theater.

If that's you, you and your bass shaker are destined for a happy long-term relationship. Bass shakers make movies, games and music come alive. You are sucked physically into the action or emotion. It's one thing playing an off-road sim racing game, it's another to feel the vibrations from each bump in the dirt, each rev of the engine. And when you're watching big-budget action movies with pounding sound-tracks, and each explosion, beat and rumble is pulsating through your bones, you'll wonder why you waited.


How much are bass shakers? And where can I buy them?

Bass shakers range in price from $60 to $600. You can grab your bass shakers online at places like Parts Express and Amazon. You can compare prices, power and performance of different bass shakers on the comparison page or check out different bass shakers on the review page.


Bass shakers versus Tactile transducers: are they the same thing?

More or less. Lots of people (and sites like Wikipedia) use the words interchangeably. A bass shaker and a tactile transducer both do the same thing of converting sound into "shake". However, bass shakers (like the Aura or the ButtKicker) convert only low sound, while SOME tactile transducers (like the exy but sexy Clark Synthesis), convert a wide range of sound, from the very high to the very low.


Where should I attach my bass shakers?

You can attach your bass shakers to your gaming chairs, couches, car seats - or your waterbed, futon or loveseat! Whatever you want. It will enhance your experience of movies, games, music and so on.

Most people attach them to their chairs, but you can also put them on the floor under your chair if you like (hit the floor lightly with a rubber hammer to find the place that vibrates the most). If your chair is open underneath, and has a wooden frame, you're golden: you can attach the shaker to the wooden frame, as close to the center as you can. If you're not so lucky, you're going to have to do a bit of MacGyver-ing to attach the shaker. For example, you can attach the shaker to a board, then attach the board to your chair. It's important to screw the shaker in as tight as you possibly can, so every ounce of rumble goes into the chair. If your shaker is loose at all, it can create an ugly chattering sound.


How do I install my bass shaker?

There are many inventive ways to install bass shakers. For a simple guide, read How to install bass shakers.


What bass shaker is the best?

It totally depends on what you want to acheive. If you simply want to augment your sound system with a cheap but reliable bass shaker, consider the Aura Pro. If you want your chair to really shake with some enviable power, you can't beat the popular ButtKicker. If you have a lot of money in your pocket, the Clark Synthesis Platinum has some incredible extras. For more information, you can check out the reviews.


When I buy a bass shaker, does it come with everything I need?

The MOST important thing to take away from this article is that your bass shaker needs an amp. Bass shakers are NOT powered. You need to connect them to an amp. Most people use a sub-woofer amp. For a full shopping list of everything you need, check out How to install bass shakers.