ButtKicker LFE Installation and Conclusion
Installation, connection, and termination of the ButtKicker LFE Kit could not be simpler! The kit contains everything you need to accomplish the installation; however, the interconnect and the "Y" splitter are lower quality (obviously an attempt by the manufacturer to ensure low pricing of the overall kit.) I recommend the use of better shielded cables for the installation like the ones shown here from Impact Acoustics.
For the purposes of this evaluation, I wanted to try the new ButtKicker-Link RF wireless system. This is an optional wireless kit available from Guitammer for a very reasonable $99 MSRP.
The significance of this kit is that it allows you to install the amplifier in any location of your home theater room. This is very handy if you have tile floors and have no way to install wire. Installing the BK-Link kit is very easy. The ButtKicker-Link transmitter installs and terminates to the pre-amp or receiver using a "Y" splitter at the LFE output. The BK Link receiver is then terminated to the ButtKicker amplifier. The transmitter and receiver both require power for their A/C adapters. A variable gain control on the transmitter is used to adjust the signal strength to the ButtKicker-Link receiver. The BK Link Kit states that it may be used with subwoofers. Just for kicks I tried the kit with one of my own subwoofers. The kit did work but there was some audible noise from the subwoofer at all times while the transmitter was powered on, so I would not necessarily advise the use of this kit with subwoofers.
The ButtKicker motion actuator bolts to a plate that has a rubber platform. This platform is then installed under the leg of your chair or sofa. It can also be bolted to a riser platform.
Rubber shims are provided to place under the remaining legs of your chair if necessary to keep the chair level, They also suspend the furniture to provide isolation from the floor.
The whole installation process took me less than ten minutes to perform. Now that the install was completed, all that was left to do was perform level calibration.
Using my subwoofer test disk, I began to play a 60Hz-80Hz tone through my RX-V1500. I turned up the volume on the receiver to an SPL level used for action type movies. Sitting down in my chair, I began adjusting the level on the BK Amplifier until I felt the vibration. I wanted just enough sensation for the right effect but not enough to be distracting. The LFE Shakers can be adjusted to any level; in fact at one point I had them literally shaking the whole chair. A high level such as this took away from the experience. I found a lower intensity level more satisfying. The next adjustment I made was to the variable crossover on the ButtKicker Amp. The Yamaha RX-V1500 was crossed over at 80Hz for my speakers but I found that level too high for the actuators. I found the 60Hz-70Hz setting on the variable crossover to be the best for my installation.
For the evaluation, I used the DVD U-571 specifically the depth charge scene. As the depth charges began to explode around the submarine's hull, my chair shook to each and every concussion. This sensation coupled with my subwoofer made the scene more realistic and really drew me into the scene. I was very surprised that this kit performed just as well as the actuators that I had installed in the chair frames. The really cool thing is that this kit can be used with just about all reclining chairs. This is a near impossibility with some chair mechanisms.
I enjoyed using Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace , the Pod Race scene because of the intense pans and the very quick LFE present throughout. Again, the ButtKicker LFE Kit added a sense of realism! It drew me into the scene. I found myself holding onto my armchairs as the pods rushed by blowing up along the course. The BK-Link wireless system performed very well, transferring every bit of information that was present in the LFE track to the amplifier. I did, however, notice signal present every once in a while when there was no signal from the LFE. It was subtle and very infrequent; but it was there representing itself as a slight tap or bump in the chair.
After the evaluation, I placed my hand on the top cover to find it was barely warm to the touch. One small quibble I have with the system is it has no IR/RF control. This means you must turn the amplifier off manually to halt the operation of the LFE shakers. I found this a little annoying because I prefer to not have the LFE shakers vibrating when I listen to music. Some may call this lazy, but I like to have the option to turn them on and off from my seat.
I can say without hesitation that if you are looking for a way to add impact, fun, and excitement to your home theater, you should definitely check these out. If you live in an apartment or condo that shares walls then this is the perfect solution to augment the low level at which you must run your subwoofer for greater effect without disturbing your neighbors. This kit is very easy to install and will integrate into any room or system. The build quality of the system is exemplary. The price performance ratio of this kit is astounding and I highly recommend it because it really... Kicks Butt!
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
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- — Fair
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|Ease of Setup|