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Product Review
 

ButtKicker Gamer

October, 2005

Adrian Wittenberg

 

Specifications:

● MFR: 10 Hz - 250 Hz
● Gamer Weight: 2.8 Pounds
● Impedance: 2 Ohms
● Gamer Amplifier: 100 Watts
● Gamer Amplifier Weight: 10.2 Pounds
● MSRP: $149.99 for Gamer and Amplifier

Guitammer, Inc.

www.guitammer.com

Introduction

Do you remember the scene in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again (1983) where Bond sits down with his adversary Largo and plays a video game that delivers electric shocks to the losing player?

Force feedback is not a new concept to video games, and many video game developers design their games to work with vibration-enabled game pads and steering wheels. This adds additional stimuli to the video game experience and makes the game more realistic, immersive and a whole lot more fun.

Guitammer, makers of the ButtKicker line of products, have recently introduced the ButtKicker Gamer which puts the player in the game by making him or her feel all the lower frequencies that are part of the gameís environment. This includes effects like engine throttles, explosions, and impacts. The ButtKicker Gamer package includes the kicker, the amplifier, and all hookups needed for installation. It retails for just $149.99 US.

The Buttkicker Gamer is a tactile transducer device (shaker) like its big brother the ButtKicker LFE. The device attaches to a standard office chair, and the included 100 watt amplifier causes it to shake the chair in unison with the low frequency material that is sent to it. The amplifier also features high and low cutoff switches that help fine tune the experience and bypass shaking from unwanted sources (the human voice for example). Frequency response is from 10 Hz Ė 250 Hz, and the shaker has an impedance of 2 Ohms.

Installation

Guitammer did a great job in making this device simple to install. There are no bags of bolts, brackets, or holes to drill. Simply clamp the Gamer to the chair post and connect the wiring to the output of your audio card and the amplifier. Thereís a quick start guide included that displays how to hook it up to either a game console or a PC Computer. All the wiring for either connection is included. It couldnít get any easier.

Part of the response you will receive from the Gamer will depend on the office chair you use it with, and if there are any parts on it that may be subject to vibration. I had to wedge a piece of Styrofoam underneath my chairís hydraulic lift lever and tighten down all the bolts to prevent any unwanted rattling. Once I did that, the response was note for note accurate.

Game Time!

I test drove the Gamer using titles from the Xbox, and PC Computer. One of the keys to getting this device to perform well was balancing the shaker level with the volume coming from the speakers or the headphones. I found that I never needed to increase the output of the Gamer past a third of total output. It puts out that much vibration.

I began with the Xbox game Halo 2. This game features excellent environmental effects and great music. The ButtKicker Gamer did a great job in putting me right in the middle of the action. I could feel the vibrations coming from the space stationís engines and the firing of the futuristic weapons. I literally began playing the game at the edge of my seat and felt like I was part of the games environment!

Another solid performer was the driving game Flatout. When I drove over a wooden bridge, the effect from the Gamer felt almost lifelike. On the other hand, games that didnít have a lot of quality or diversity in the sound design or where the background music was too overpowering didnít perform as well. One such game was Capcomís Fighting Evolution in which the guitar lines existed in a frequency range that made the device constantly shake to the point that I had to reduce the background music.

Overall, if your favorite game has great sound effects and a good musical score, the ButtKicker Gamer is going to enhance that experience. I had the most fun with driving games and first person adventures.

The Gamer can also be used with music and movies as a shaker device for a single chair. Action movies benefit the most from the device, where the effect is similar to having a large subwoofer. Music that is very bass rich will benefit from the Gamer, and bass lovers will find it to be a great way to crank up their favorite tune. Itís like having your own personal disco chair to get your groove on.

Conclusions

If you like video games, you will like them even more when using the ButtKicker Gamer. It delivers the low frequency response that hefty subwoofers provide and at a fraction of the cost. And, how many subwoofers at $150 will give you a decent response down to 10 Hz?  This device is loads of fun and is a great way to bring the adrenaline level up with your favorite games and entertainment media.


- Adrian Wittenberg -
 

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