- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 28 April 2009
ButtKicker has been making tactile transducers (shakers) for several years now. These are devices that make your chair, couch, or floor vibrate when low frequency material is playing. They were always very powerful, and in fact, more intense than many consumers wanted. You could always just turn down the volume, but then, you were paying for high power shaking that you were not using. So, ButtKicker decided to produce a shaker that is smaller, with less maximum shaking potential, and include a smaller amplifier. The BK-KIT-4 is the result. It has a 300 watt amplifier, and also has wireless communication with the subwoofer output on your receiver.
It is being sold only online. You can purchase the BK-KIT-4 on other websites for $399, and those websites take a commission on sales. You will be able to purchase that same kit for $299 here at Secrets (we make no commission on sales) by clicking on a link that will give you a special code to enter when you purchase the kit at ButtKicker's website. You save $100 because making commissions on sales of products we review would represent a huge conflict of interest, and that is not the way we do business at Secrets. The URL and code are on the last page of this review.
Update April 29: The price suddenly came down elsewhere in response to our review published on April 28.
Update April 30: ButtKicker now will offer free shipping just like Amazon does. You will need to enter two coupon codes, one for the price reduction and the other for the free shipping. The only restriction is that the free shipping is for the Continental United States only. So, the price of $297.95 is the lowest price and beats the price of any other website. Our apologies to those who have already ordered the kit before the offer for free shipping became available (Secrets readers sure move fast!)
The Design and Installation
The kit comes with the shaker, a mounting plate, a 300 watt power amplifier, a wireless transmitter and receiver, a remote control (varies the slope of the bass), rubber feet for the other legs of your chair or couch, and all the wiring.
You mount the shaker to the plate, put the plate under one leg of your couch, put the included rubber feet under the other three legs (to level the couch), and connect the speaker cable to the amplifier output and shaker binding posts.
Next, plug the USB receiver into the rear of the amplifier and plug the transmitter into the subwoofer output of your receiver. Although the receiver is powered by the ButtKicker amplifier, there is a wall wart to power the transmitter. With the ButtKicker amp and the transmitter powered on, you need to press a button on the receiver and transmitter to get them to recognize one another and start a wireless communication between them. LEDs on the transmitter and receiver will blink when communication is confirmed. The wireless setup will work from 30 feet away, so your equipment rack does not have to be close to the couch for it to work.
I found the overall build quality to be quite excellent, and truly amazing for its price (even at $399). The connectors for the shaker in particular, are very easy to use with the bare wire cable terminations that are supplied. The remote control is something quite useful for shakers as well. I think this is the first one to offer variable slopes selectable from a remote. The power amplifier is an upgrade from their previous designs.
I connected the transmitter to my Denon AVP-A1HDCI processor, set the volume conrtrol on the power amplifier to low, and put on some Blu-ray action movies. As scenes came on with deep bass, I adjusted the volume control until it was the intensity I wanted.
Of course, war movies make a good test for products like this, so I used Patton and The Longest Day to start with. Before, when I had the original ButtKicker shaker, I tended to turn it up too much because the power was there, so why not use it? Problem was, it was distracting to have my eyeballs vibrating. When friends would come over for a demo, they also would say it was too strong.
With the BK-KIT-4, this won't happen because the maximum amount of shaking is less than with their larger models, and it is frankly, just the right amount that we should have been using in the first place.
I also connected the shaker to a signal generator and found that at 5 Hz, I could get the shaker's magnetic cylinder inside to rattle. The rattling effect diminished as the frequency increased. Although most movies don't have frequencies at 5 Hz, there are a few that do, and you will need to turn down the volume in those cases.
The wireless feature worked flawlessly from one corner of the room to the other (20 feet).
Although the remote control lets you choose several modes, the differences are subtle. Certainly, the vibration sensors in our skin cannot detect differences in frequencies like our ears can. Nevertheless, I did sense that the bass from the shaker was very tight and fast (in time with the bass from my subwoofers).
ButtKicker has a winner on its hands with the BK-KIT-4 Kit. It has everything you need (I guess we call this a "Turn Key" product) to get you started in the world of tactile sensations with your action movies. To get the BK-KIT-4 for $299 instead of the $399 price on the ButtKicker website and on other websites that sell the kit, click HERE, then click "Add to Cart", and then in the box where it says "Coupon Code? Enter it Here:" type HIFI, click the "Apply" button, and your price will change to $299 (actually, $297.95) instead of the $399 you would normally pay. Then enter the coupon code for free shipping, which is HIFI59. These codes are special for Secrets readers only, as we have declined any commission on sales. (Let us know if you have any problems with getting the special price by using the Comments box at the bottom of this page.)