In addition to being produced naturally, tactile sound can be produced by a transducer in the same way that sound can be produced through a loudspeaker. Tactile sound has been used by the military for flight and tank simulators, for rides in amusement parks, medical research musical tactile massage, home cinema, computer games, car audio, dance floors, water beds, patio decks and for musical performance as tactile feedback for drummers and other musicians. It has even been used recently to promote weight loss, improve muscle tone and improve blood circulation by a resistance training company.
Various designs for tactile transducers have been presented since the 1960’s, most of which fall under the “shaker” category. Shakers create a vigorous vibration by moving a mass (usually a magnet) which is bolted to a final mass (like a chair or couch). A simple example of this is the vibration available on a common mobile phone. Another way of producing tactile sound uses “linear actuators”, which move furniture (usually up and down), rather than shaking it. The main advantage of linear actuators is that they deliver actual motion (ground excursion), not just vibration.
Recently, tactile sound transducers have evolved to include higher frequencies and produce higher fidelity. The human tactile frequency range is from 1 Hz, very low frequency such as earthquakes, up to 5 kHz in some hearing impaired individuals. For most individuals 2 to 3 kHz is the upper threshold for tactile reception.
These newer devices must have higher resolution than previous “shakers” to produce these frequencies. Most humans have tactile resolution to 2 Hz which is the smallest change in frequency that can be perceived. The primary use for this extended bandwidth is to reproduce the vibratory signature for musical instruments such as violins, guitars, the human voice or sound effects in movies (for example, the Speeders in Star Wars). Also higher frequencies may be used to augment hearing through bone conduction, a consideration for people who have compromised their hearing from exposure to loud music.
Tactile sound is often used to increase the realism of an artificial environment. For example, mounting a tactile sound transducer in a chair or couch in a home cinema setup can give more of a sense of “being there”. For such use, the transducer is often connected to the LFE channel of an A/V receiver. Tactile sound is often used in combination with a subwoofer so that low frequencies can be both felt and heard.
To facilitate broadband tactile sound, all channels are summed to provide a full range signal to the transducer amplifier. Graphic equalizers can also be used to further modify the effect.
For musical performance, drummers will often use a tactile sound transducer mounted on their drum stool so they can “feel” themselves playing, rather than using a more conventional stage monitor. Of course, other bass signals (e.g. bass guitar) can also be mixed in for extra effect. The size and power of a stage monitor required to adequately reproduce low frequency drum sounds would be expensive and hard to transport, while a tactile sound transducer can be rather small and require much less power to get the job done, not to mention the benefit to your long-term hearing by removing dangerously loud bass frequencies from travelling to your eardrums.
Firstly, it depends on the product used and its installation, then the construction of any party walls and flooring come into play. Solid walls and flooring made from concrete will be less likely to conduct any vibration than a thin plaster board wall and hollow flooring.
The volume setting is also a factor. There’s a fair chance that your neighbours will hear a set of conventional speakers if they’re on full blast, but less likely if you set them at a reasonable level and the same applies to any bass shaker, although there is no audible sound as such.
Using a tactile unit in conjunction with a conventional speaker system allows you to reduce the volume level of your sub and still feel all the bass (and more) you want. Rubber isolators should also be used to retain the effect within any seating and reduce the amount of tactile transfer into flooring.
Conventional speakers actually ‘move’ the air to transfer the sound which is unavoidable, so by using a ButtKicker, it can actually be more ‘neighbour friendly’.
Delivery and price
The USA is the “home market” and subsequently does not require a third-party distributor or agent to provide the product and customer support. This allows USA resellers to buy direct from the manufacturer.
The Dollar exchange rate has been volatile to say the least – this impacts a great deal on product prices.
Shipping charges have increased dramatically over the last year or two (mainly due to added fuel and security costs) and adds a significant amount to the final price.
When the products arrive in the UK, further charges are levied in the form of import duty, VAT, handling charges and delivery to destination. When all this is added up, the increase is substantial in relation to the initial cost of the goods (this is often the hidden cost that most people only find out about when the item arrives on their doorstep).
Apart from the reasons mentioned above, market forces tend to dictate the end price for any product and our prices are competitive with other European countries.
An important note regarding warranty:
ButtKicker products purchased from outside the UK will have no warranty support from the UK distributors. Should any product develop a fault, you would have to return it to the seller at your own cost.
Thankfully, there is now a small program called “Virtual Audio Cable” that can be downloaded to fix this problem – so you can use your USB headphones and ButtKicker at the same time!
Information including free trial download and full version download can be found here:
Alternatively, another free trial download is available here:
*It is recommended you change the overflow/underflow buffer setting to 100 (default is 500) to reduce any time lag.