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ButtKicker Review

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Here a real Butt Kickin review we hope you find informational.

 

by Ruggbutt:

 

In my quest for a more immersive gaming experience I'm constantly searching for new hardware. We spend money on larger monitors, better video cards and 7.1 sound cards and systems to put us "in" the game. There's always something missing though, tactile feedback. In FPS's (First Person Shooters) I want to feel my feet hitting the ground, the recoil of the rifle or the rounds striking the plate on my body armor. In flight sims I want to feel the thump as the landing gear seats itself firmly into the bays, feel the concussion of a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) as it explodes nearby or to feel the aircraft shudder as I pull G's to turn more tightly.

 

In the Buttkicker Wireless I've found all these things. The Buttkicker is a powered transducer that vibrates, replicating the low end frequencies that you would find in a powerful sound system with a dedicated subwoofer. The difference is that the Buttkicker gives you all of the movement of the sub without the sound. This is especially good for gamers that live in apartments or housing that is spaced closely together. You can still feel the "thump" without upsetting those that live around you. The Wireless and it's big brother Buttkicker LFE are intended for home theater use. Those of you who know me know that I like to do everything big. There is a unit intended for gamers exclusively, called the Buttkicker Gamer. I own one of these units as well. I fly combat flight sims and play tac-shooters and my Gamer served me well for several years. Until a new combat chopper sim came along and killed the gamer. Between the constant whop-whop of the blades and the age of the unit and the fact that I don't baby my equipment the Gamer gave up the ghost.

 

So I call the Guitammer company and go thru the proper pushbuttons to talk to customer service. I spoke to a gentlmen named Joe and gave him some background on what I intend to use the unit for. Initially I was going to buy the LFE kit. The high price tag of the kit was going to make this call an information gathering exercise. My intentions weren't to buy anything as of yet. Joe asked me several questions before he recommended the Wireless. It has a 300 watt power amp (whereas my Gamer had 100 watts) and the shaker unit was roughly 3x the size of the one for my Gamer. Joe expressed concern about my dead Gamer unit and I explained my call wasn't to ask for a warranty. I wanted to go bigger. I'd explained to Joe my previous experience with Guitammer was excellent. They'd warrantied a part on my Gamer for me even though my 1st unit was out of the warranty grace period. I told Joe this was why I was inquiring about another (albeit larger) unit. Customer service means a lot to me. It tells me that the company builds a product it believes in and will stand behind it. We chat a bit more and Joe tells me there's a special going on the Wireless and that he can give me a few bucks off a unit if I order. It looks like (for once) my timing is good! It's a great deal and I place my order with a credit card. No muss, no fuss. You can order online as well, but since I had Joe on the phone..................

 

My unit arrived 3 days later, via UPS.

 

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I cracked open the outer box to reveal the retail packaging.

 

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I unpacked the retail packaging and pulled out the Wireless' sub parts, the power amp, shaker unit, mounting kit and wiring.

 

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I unpacked each of those boxes to reveal the contents. All of the pieces were undamaged and in pristine condition. From left to right are the shaker unit, assorted wiring, remote control, power amp and stand (in back) and the IR transmitter and receiver. The toaster is standard equipment around my home.

 

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The shaker unit has to be mounted firmly to whatever chair (or couch) you want to "feel" the game, music or movie in. Since I bought this primarily for my flight sim cockpit I chose to screw it to the chair itself. I chose the position because it was 1) easy to get to 2) the rest of the chair is tied directly to the steel arm. I drilled two holes and mounted the shaker unit with bolts, screws and lock washers. You'll have to purchase these yourself as I'm using this unit for a purpose not initially intended for.

 

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It's quite simple to hook up the wiring. The instructions are succinct and clear, very easy to understand. Since I was using this for a computer I had to buy a mini jack to RCA adapter in order to use the wiring that came with the unit. This unit uses RCA jacks which you typically see with home stereo equipment. A quick trip to Radio Shack or computer store will net you the adapter you need. The Buttkicker plugs in to your speaker output on your sound card, the subwoofer jack in particular. I plug everything in and now I need to find a place to put the unit that has enough ventilation to keep the unit cool when it's operating. Buttkicker seems to have thought of almost everything with their power amp stand. It allows you to mount the power amp vertically if need be. With my home cockpit the stand was a godsend. I'm cramped for space and had to put the amp on top of a second computer I use to run touchscreens. It fit nicely.

 

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A long shot of my cockpit.

 

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Now it was time for the test! I fired up my favorite combat jet simulation and took the Buttkicker for a spin. I chose to fly the A-10 because it's a ground attack aircraft. Bombs exploding, rounds hitting the aircraft and the cannon should give the Buttkicker plenty of signal to make me feel like I'm really part of the action. I wasn't disappointed. I dove to drop cluster munitions on a convoy of moving vehicles. My chair shuddered slightly as the bombs left the wings. Moments later dozens of bomblets struck the ground and my chair shuddered with each impact, I could feel the blast wave of the bomblets exploding and separate them from the larger explosions of the vehicles themselves. Oh yeah, this thing rocks!

 

It's time to move on to the new combat helicopter sim. Let's see how this unit handles the constant rotor blade sound. I fire up the sim and adjust the intensity levels with the remote control. The power amp has three built in profiles (Movie/Music/Game). Think of these profiles like you would an EQ for your sound card. Movie is a flat EQ (no enhanced bass), Music is bass enhanced while Game has a bass roll off. After flying my chopper sim for a few minutes I knew that this unit would be able to handle the abuse put forth by the rotor blades. The vibration of the blades didn't stand out above everything else, they actually felt like what it feels like to ride in a helicopter. In the sim when I'd fire a guided missile the chopper jerks a bit to that side when the missile is launched. The Buttkicker gave me just enuf feedback to know that I'd fired a missile with a powerful motor. I waited for the best for last, firing the 30mm cannon. I wasn't disappointed. The aircraft shook as I fired and what I was feeling matched what I was seeing on my monitor. Buttkicker scores another happy customer! You will have to mess around with your sound card settings to get what you want out of this unit, but once you find the sweet spot you'll be pumped. Honestly, it doesn't get better than this.

 

I'm sure you're saying "hey Rugg, we like tac-shooters, what about us?" The Buttkicker Wireless is for you too. I play GRAW2 and ArmA so I ran the Wireless thru it's paces as well. I had to adjust the intensity down a bit but I was more than happy with what I was feeling. Running footsteps were perceptible. Not too little and not too much. Firing my rifle I could "feel" the recoil. Grenade explosions made me duck down in front of the monitor. You want immersive? You got it. The one thing that still gets my attention is when I'd get hit in the body armor with a round. I still jump after spending 10 hours in the last few days with the Buttkicker.

 

In closing I have to say that I think I made a great choice with this purchase. Yes, the unit isn't cheap. Neither is that video card you bought to get an extra few frames per second. Or that 5.1 sound system so you can hear the guy creeping up on you from your 5 O'clock. If you're one of those gamers that loves the immersion then you should look into this product. It's the next best step to taking a round without having to bleed out.

 

I would like to thank Joe and Trish for their help and for the excellent customer service that Guitammer is known for. My remote was DOA and a quick e-mail got me a replacement so quick I hardly noticed it was missing. I'd also like to point out that this isn't one of the typical reviews you see on other websites. I paid for this unit. Therefore you get the unvarnished truth. The only thing I'd like to see changed about the Wireless is that I'd like to see the controls on the remote mirrored on the power amp itself. This isn't a deal killer, it's just a "wish list" of sorts. I'd like to write more but I think it's time to crank up my fave flight sim and blow some stuff up. The best part is I get to feel it as well. Everyone should be so lucky.

Edited by Ruggbutt

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Rugg,

 

Thanks for the excellent review! Though it has a silly name, I've heard nothing but good things about these products. Interesting how it transmits even the subtle sounds/vibrations in proportion...it isn't a pure on/off type setup.

 

FC

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Interesting how it transmits even the subtle sounds/vibrations in proportion...it isn't a pure on/off type setup.

I've been messing around with my sound card eq and low end crossover freqs to get the most out of it. I've finally got my sound dialed in and it works like a champ. I fly primarily Lock On/Flaming Cliffs and Black Shark. It's awesome with the chopper cuz you can feel the engine and blades just a little bit. Kinda how I can feel the engine run on my big block Chevy. When you're taxiing it's pretty cool too cuz you can feel the bump strips. So many of the vibrations are subtle, for instance from a cold start the APU on the Ka-50. With one of these units it all about the tweaking. Those of you who have TrackIR know what I mean. It takes weeks sometimes till you get your profile set exactly the way you like it. I'm happy I bought this unit, even though it wasn't cheap. It's rugged and it seems like it will give me hours of use.

 

On a side note, some interesting stuff I didn't put in my review: My g/f loves to sit and watch me fly and listen to how our squad operates on Ventrilo. Last weekend she sat and watched for 2.5 hours. She asked me how I liked the new unit so I swapped chairs with her and flew the quick start mission in Black Shark. She thought it was so cool that she wants me to buy another shaker unit for her chair. :biggrin: I guess we can handle that.

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She thought it was so cool that she wants me to buy another shaker unit for her chair. :biggrin: I guess we can handle that.

 

I think she wants it for more than watching you playing games. ;)

 

I read buttkicker is cool when listening to music on headphones too. Can you confirm for me?

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