With everything connected and the amplifier powered up I first decided to test out the audio playback with some movies. The nice thing about the ButtKicker is it requires no software installation; it is just a piece of hardware and it interprets what the sound card is sending and does its thing without any hassle. You can use it for music, movies, gaming, or I suppose if you were as creative as Howard Stern in “Private Parts” you could find some other uses for low-frequency vibrations (Marisa didn’t go for it… sorry fellas). I started off with an audio blockbuster, “Saving Private Ryan” and was immediately impressed by the additional feeling of “being there” when the explosions started occurring. You can adjust the power of the amplifier by using the controls including “volume” which controls the violence of the shaking, to a frequency cut-off which sets the low-frequency cut-off threshold so that you can tailor the vibration to your particular tastes or the type of activity (gaming, movies, or music). There are additional buttons on the front of the amplifier panel for cutting off lower or higher frequencies and the manual has recommended settings for those buttons during various types of playback associated with different activities. After sampling some “Private Ryan” I put in “The Matrix” (the original, I refuse to believe that any past the first episode were made) and that was just plain cool.
I selected a range of music files from some bass laden rap to rock. The Blue Man Group (awesome percussion tracks) music was simply awesome with the chair thumping in time with the subwoofer firing, a really cool way to “feel” the music. The manual warns, and I could hear, that if you have any unsecured bits of plastic housing on your chair (covers and “cheapy” plastic fixtures) your chair will end up rattling as the motor runs. I found that sitting back in my chair caused all of those rattles to go away, but the manual recommends stuffing some foam in cracks or weighting the chair controls with a small bean bag (tilt and up/down) since they are most often the cause of extraneous rattle sounds. Obviously the tighter made the chair and the higher quality the less likely your chair is to rattle. Fiddling around with the volume and frequency controls on the amplifier I was able to make things on my desk rattle at the extreme end to no vibration at the other end. Somewhere in the middle you will find frequency nirvana and you forget that a device is making that vibration and you just sort of believe it is part of the music or movie.
Nothing is more startling though, than getting a kick in the butt when the Windows Critical Stop sound plays loudly and gets amplified by the ButtKicker. You feel as though you just got kicked in the… well… it just adds insult to injury.