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ButtKicker LFE Kit for Home Theater Review
If you like to feel the bass and you love movies, then a ButtKicker is the best home theater add-on you can buy for just under $600. With a name like ButtKicker, it better do something cool, and it does!
What is it?
The ButtKicker, in simplest terms, is a bass shaker, but it can’t accurately be described in words. It has to be felt to be believed. It literally rocks your couch at just the right times during explosions, crashes, jet fights, or battle scenes in movies.
The ButtKicker consists of two main parts — the ButtKicker LFE (shaker) and the ButtKicker BKA1000-4 (1100-watt amplifier). The complete system, called the ButtKicker LFE Kit gives you everything you need to literally “get shaking” in one package.
Does it work?
I was initially skeptical the ButtKicker would shake at the wrong times or be distracting. But the ButtKicker intelligently shuts itself off when no bass signal is present, which prevents unrelated vibrations and also saves energy. The ButtKicker remained off during most regular TV shows or news programs, which contain little or no bass. When it’s movie time, you will be pleasantly surprised how the ButtKicker jumps into action as soon as you pop in a DVD.
Shake it up
Since the ButtKicker is only called to perform when it is sent really low bass, it really can’t mess up. You can set it to your desired level of shakability, by turning two dials up or down on the amp that controls gain and crossover points. The great part is that there is no right or wrong setting. Crank it up if you wish, because it is pure home theater fun.
The ButtKicker will also work when listening to CDs. Although, I wasn’t as overwhelmed about its use just for music. On the other hand, you may like the added feel it can give to your favorite songs. The ButtKicker is really meant to be a home theater enhancement, which is where it shines. Additionally, the ButtKicker can provide added realism to video game playing.
The only issue with the ButtKicker occurred after I plugged it in. Immediately a noticeable hum played through my entire audio system. Luckily, the problem was easily corrected with a $7.99 RCA ground loop isolator adapter from Amazon.com. The isolator connects in-line between the receiver and ButtKicker amp and instantly removes the hum.
The manufacturer seems to be aware of this issue, because it’s included as the first question in their FAQ. Even though the problem may not be common, including that simple inexpensive accessory would have saved me a few headaches. But the more I think about it, any A/V manufacturer could also just as easily include that part.
Wired or almost wireless
Otherwise, installing the ButtKicker was very straightforward. The traditional method connects a RCA cable from receiver to amp and speaker cable from amp to LFE (shaker). The ButtKicker-Link is an optional accessory, which provides a wireless option to get the bass signals to your LFE/couch, without having to run a long cable from your receiver to your couch. Using this option makes it easier hide all wiring.
Slip it under the couch
The ButtKicker LFE sits under the frame or leg of any couch or chair, whether it is made of metal or wood. Rubber risers (included) are to be placed under the other legs to make the couch level again. Ideally, the LFE could be completely hidden or even mounted inside your furniture. Otherwise, the small metal LFE, which resembles a tiny generator may protrude out the back of a couch.
You’ll feel it work
The ButtKicker amp provides 1100-watts @ 4-ohms of power to the LFE, which causes it to vibrate in much the same way a speaker’s cone pulsates. Instead of creating sound, a metal plate sitting under your couch vibrates, which transfers vibrations into your seat. Don’t worry if my description doesn’t make sense. The ButtKicker really seems to work magically.
Need more shake?
The ButtKicker amp is powerful enough to drive one or two LFEs (shakers). Dual LFE/shakers can be connected in a parallel speaker wire configuration. A second LFE could be used to shake another sofa/chair or be doubled up on the same couch (under a different leg) to further maximize the shaking effect. Keep in mind, one LFE is more than adequate to shake a sofa (three seats).
Watching movies is where the fun begins. While watching the scene from Terminator 2 in which Cyberdyne blows up, I thought my couch was going to explode. During Saving Private Ryan, I could feel the tanks rumble into battle. The ButtKicker is so convincing during movies, you will be checking yourself for shrapnel after every grenade explosion.
A must have
Without a doubt the ButtKicker is highly recommended for movie lovers of action, adventure, or sci-fi flicks. It heightens the home theater illusion by putting you into key scenes of a movie. With the ButtKicker, you not only watch a movie, you experience it.
ButtKicker LFE Kit (the complete package): MSRP – $599 (check prices)
ButtKicker LFE Shaker only: MSRP – $279 (check prices)
ButtKicker-Link Wireless Accessory: MSRP – $99 (check prices)
Remember I am just one man with one opinion. If you own this product, or have a comment or question feel free to add your thoughts below.
Founder & CEO