I can't wait to tell you about this
thing, because finally, finally, there is a very flexible amplifier to go
along with it.
What I am talking about is a "Shaker".
This is an audio accessory that works
like a subwoofer, but it is attached to your floor, chair, or couch.
When the low frequencies come along -
and I am talking about frequencies down to just a few Hz - you feel them
instead of hearing them.
A shaker works similar to a speaker,
except that a heavy metal cylinder acts as the "cone". There is a voice
coil, so to speak, which creates an electromagnetic field, and this causes
the metal cylinder to move back and forth in the field.
Unlike a speaker cone, the cylinder is
heavy, so that its inertia will transfer to the floor, chair, or couch, and
cause it to shake in time with the frequency.
The Quake is Earthquake's entry into
the shaker arena.
It has been a long time in
development. You would be surprised how difficult it is to design such a
product. One reason is that it takes a lot of amplifier power to move a
heavy cylinder, and the voice coil gets very hot. Earthquake melted more
than a few coils in the Quake's R&D.
Secondly, just like a speaker, you
don't want anything to rattle, and keeping a heavy cylinder that is shaking
like crazy from making any noise of its own is no easy task.
But, the Quake is here, and boy does
For the review, Earthquake supplied
not only the shaker, but a platform to attach it to. The platform is several
feet wide and deep, with the shaker bolted at one end. I put my reclining
chair on the platform. The bottom of the platform has rubber isolation feet,
so that a maximum amount of energy is transferred to the chair.
Notice that there are mounting holes on the bottom
and the top of the shaker. Those are for if you want to mount one end to the
sub-flooring between the joists, and the other end to the bottom of your
floor. That's right. You could vibrate the entire floor of your home theater
with this unit.
Earthquake's new switching power amplifier is called
the XJ-600R. It outputs 600 watts RMS into 2 or 4 ohms.
Click on the photo above to
see a larger version.
This amplifier can be used for the shaker, but it is
also designed for use with passive subwoofers. So, it has a Subsonic Filter
(yeah, like I'm going to limit the really low stuff with this thing),
Phase Delay, three bands of EQ, and Room Compensation. The phase delay is
used when you sense the shake is occurring out of alignment with the sounds
coming from your subwoofer.
The rear panel has two channels of input that can be
individually controlled with volume settings.
Click on the photo above to see a larger
XLR, RCA, and speaker-level inputs are
provided. There is one pair of speaker binding posts for the output, which
go to the shaker via a standard pair of speaker cables. The shaker
connectors are for bare wire, locked down with a hex nut.
You can set the amplifier to Auto-On,
so that it powers up when it senses an incoming signal.
You might consider using one of the RF
connections that are out there, to connect the XJ-600R to your SSP or
receiver. This eliminates having a long cable under the rug, but also
eliminates ground loop hum potential.
I tested the Quake with a Toshiba
HD-A1 HD DVD player, Theta Casablanca III SSP, Classι CA-5200 amplifier,
Final Sound ESL speakers, and (4) 18" Velodyne subwoofers. Cables were Nordost. A
Panasonic PT-DW5000U projector and 72" (wide) Stewart Grayhawk screen
delivered the images.
Well, I have to say that I am used to
trying out shakers, but this one is something else.
Initially, I wanted to see how much it
could shake, and I am glad my dental fillings were firmly attached.
After I did that for awhile, I turned
the volume down so that it was no longer vibrating my eyeballs, and I could
watch some movies.
Now, obviously, this thing is not for
romantic comedies. It's a guy thing, and it's for action films.
So, on went the latest HD DVD releases
that I could get my hands on, including one that I just got - Van Helsing.
I have seen this movie several times
in SD, but with the HD DVD release, I plan to use it for testing shadow
detail in projector reviews. One of the opening scenes is in black & white,
with lightning illuminating people in a forest. There are lots of various
shades of gray for testing. Anyway, it is also a good disc for testing
subwoofers, and shakers.
So, "It's alive! It's alive!", and
associated activities, are accompanied by plenty
of deep bass. The shaking adds a huge extra dose of sensation, namely
You will undoubtedly try, as I did, to
experience the shaking at a maximum. That wears thin quickly, and you will,
as I did, turn it down to a comfortable rumble against your backside.
The Quake seemed to match the timing
of the sound coming from the subwoofers, so I didn't need to adjust the
Another HD DVD release that just
arrived is Lethal Weapon 2. If you are familiar with that series, you know
that it is full of action . . . heavy duty action. The kind that requires an
explosives expert on the movie set.
Sure enough, I almost flew out of my
Be prepared to actually be frightened
by the experience. And that is a movie's intention. To produce emotional
responses. Being physically startled is now on the list.
This is an expensive package, more
than other shakers with their accompanying amplifier. However, it is the
most powerful one I have ever experienced. And the amplifier is the most
flexible. I can see this system going into custom installs big time. You can
mute it with the remote control, and the mute stays in effect until you
un-mute it. Think of the fun you can have turning the unit under the couch
on at just the right moment when your friends are over for a good action
Earthquake continues their tradition of tempting the
San Andreas fault with their release of the Quake and its amplifier, the
XJ-600R. The combination offers extraordinary power and control for tactile
stimulation in action films.
This sort of sensation in the movie experience is
not for everyone, but you may surprise yourself and find that it is an
accessory worth having. In fact, never being without again.
- John E. Johnson, Jr. -