Another surround channel?

May 20, 2004

bass-shakerIf you’re familiar with Aura Bass Shakers, Guitammer Buttkickers or Tactile Sound Transducers by Clarke Synthesis, Or a Similar product by Crowson Technology the TES 100. Then you’re already aware of the idea “feeling the sound”.

No this isn’t some weird take off on smell-o-vision but a growing trend among some home theater enthusiasts. Basically you add a low frequency effect transducer under your theater recliner or couch. Or for a more pronounced effect in a dedicated home theater with platform risers, you can add several transducers with isolators below the platform, allowing shaking of the entire platform in time with explosions car crashes etc. The later gives the biggest bang for the buck but maybe not the most practical application.

These units add that felt not heard level of sensory involvement that (arguably) no subwoofer can. The goal of bass shaker type products is the suspension of disbelief. Many home theater owners that gravitate toward effect transducers crave that last step of “involvement”. However the signal to drive these devices is typically derived from a subwoofer channel and isn’t discrete to the transducer.

Bass shakers Buttkickers or Sound Transducers, what ever you want to call them use a separate amplifier. There’s no real need to use your cleanest sounding amp, rather use a more powerful workhorse type of amplifier. ButtKicker suggests a minimum of 400 watts, Bass Shaker suggests a minimum of 50 watts and Clarke Synthesis also suggests 50 watts minimum but a more realistic number of 100 watts.

There is growing support for a discrete tactile channel, to be added in the soundtrack, and decoded along with the Dolby information. This raises some interesting scenarios, who decides where when and how much shaker information to add? The obvious answer would be the same studio techs who mix the Dolby digital track. But is this likely? Probably not. The market saturation and desire for this type of additional signal information is relatively small. For the time being at least the transducer information will have to be derived from the low frequency portion of the soundtrack.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Surround Sound