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View Full Version : Stereo/sub question...anyone tried a buttkicker?


RobertT
10-06-2006, 12:04 PM
I am finishing my home theater, and am putting a "Buttkicker" under each set of theater seats. If you have been to Disney, they use them all the time. Basically, its a small motor that you hook up with or in lieu of a sub to give low bass "feelings". I have sat in a chair with them, and for certain movies its amazing.

Anyway, while researching them I found that they are used a TON on high end convertibles, because (from what I have heard) its VERY hard to get good bass sounds from a sub in an open air environment.

Its my understanding that a sub moves the air, and not only do you hear it slightly you most importantly feel it. This unit replicates the feel, without the need to move the air and change the pressure which is almost impossible while driving at 32mph in a boat.

Anyway, I am toying with the idea of mounting one under the observers seat and trying it, and perhaps even replace my sub with two of these. You can find them on Ebay for twenty bucks, or the huge ones that take 400watts for about 50 each.

Just seeing if anyone of you have used them in a boat?

Ideas? Thoughts? If it works well, it would be a VERY cheap way to add the perception of deep thumping bass without spending tons on amps and subs. Certainly not for an audiophile, but for us hacks that want to feel the music while cruising around it might just be an option.

Maybe.


http://www.thebuttkicker.com/SSW_home.html

milkmania
10-06-2006, 01:26 PM
just found out about them last week....
they don't really appeal to mehttp://forum.mamboserver.com/images/extrasmilies/afraid.gif


I'd be mush before Smokey & The Bandit was overhttp://deephousepage.com/smilies/shudder.gif

http://www.4seating.com/accessory_bassshaker.htm

JimN
10-06-2006, 02:42 PM
I have installed Buttkickers and Auratone Bass Shakers and they're OK for special effects but for most applications, I don't think they're as natural as I would want in my theate mainly because they shake only your butt and when a jet flies over you (as in Top Gun), your whole body is involved. The room size, dimensions and surfaces completely dictate how things will sound, how much power you need, whether it sounds natural or not. The best way to get good bass is to use more than one sub, keep them in the same area as the other main speakers and make sure all of the speakers are time-aligned. This means getting someone in there with the necessary test equipment and knowledge to do the tests and setup for the whole system. Acoustics is the single most neglected aspect of home theaters that is ignored and bad acoustics will make you hate the system, or make you wonder why someone's "Home Theater In A Box" sounds better than your $20K system (usually it's luck that makes a Theater in a box sound good at all).

Subs make a big difference if they're set up properly, match the rest of the system and are of good quality. A system will sound great if the mid-bass (down to about 60 Hz) is great and the sub-sonic stuff won't really be missed. There's very little information below 40 Hz and it takes a tremendous amount of power to reproduce this bottom octave properly under the best circumstances and even more if you have other sound masking the bass.

Does it seem that $20 -$50 is a bit on the cheap side to be able to replace big woofers? It is! If you remove the woofers and use the Butt Kickers instead, you're gonna hate it. There will be a huge hole in the freuency response. They reproduce no mid-bass at all. Also, if you don't use their amp, your amp will puke because it's not made for this spplication, the Butt Kickers will puke and the warranty probably won't cover it. The link said that they're "virtually indestructible and maintenamce free"- They can be blown up, trust me. All it takes is improper use and/or setup. A classic case of improper use is by connecting them to an amp that isn't powerful enough, which distorts and cooks the driver.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade but you did ask for feedback. I think that you can get great sound by other means and use these to add some rumble. They won't replace a driver that reproduces mid-bass and even in the examples they gave for performers who use them, it's only for their live shows, where spectacular is what people want. For three hours. At home, it gets annoying. They use them because it's hard and expensive to make it possible for the people in the last rows to perceive an even frequency response without peeling the faces off of the people in the front row. Fortunately, new technologies (Cat 5 and fiber) are making it possible to send the signal to remotely placed amps and speakers without signal loss and noise issues.

RobertT
10-09-2006, 12:23 PM
Thanks Jim! No, you didn't rain on my parade, that's the info I needed.

I am putting in a fairly high end system in my theater room, and you are right the acoustics are a HUGE deal. We will have over 180sf of 2" thick acoustical panels in key locations. I have an expert that is setting it all up for me and programing the remote. I see it all the time, people go out and buy a new HD tv and a theater in a box system and put it in their home, and it never works. They cant figure out the correct settings and use of 5 remotes, so they just live with it.

Its soooooo worth it to me to have a pro set it up perfectly the first time.

I bought a few buttkickers as an afterthought, my installer things they are stupid, but a cool parlor trick for showing off the system and the kids love them for games.

I figured that since I had them handy, it wouldn't be that hard to plop one in my boat and give it a whirl but I wont bother. Saved me time and effort and maybe kept me from blowing something up.

JimN
10-09-2006, 02:11 PM
"I see it all the time, people go out and buy a new HD tv and a theater in a box system and put it in their home, and it never works. They cant figure out the correct settings and use of 5 remotes, so they just live with it."

You ought to try selling this stuff with the perception that a HTiB is just as good as a dedicated system, but it's just smaller.

Which remote are you using- Universal, RTI, Pronto?

RobertT
10-09-2006, 03:39 PM
RTI T3 remote, Infocus 7210 projector, 120" Draper screen, Denon receiver, sony 400 disk DVD player (waiting on the playstation for the hi def version), Vifa Studio front left/right/center speakers, Polk subs, and 7 more Descant 8" 2 way speakers for the mids and rears.

We are going to wire the system 5.1 vs 7.1. My guy thinks that for 90% of the stuff we will do running the middle/side speakers with the rear channel is best so that they actually get used most of the time.

Decent system from what I can tell. Certainly not top of the line, but best bang for the buck. The most important thing is that I am having it set up right the first time, so I can actually get the full use out of it.

Kind of off topic here, but we will use the room to watch Mastercraft stuff too:)

JimN
10-09-2006, 03:53 PM
Who is your dealer? A friend of mine is the regional sales mgr for Sonance and he probably knows them.

I'm still not sure when they'll decide on a standard for surround. They like to take their time on these things, that's for sure. At least they're wiring and installing for 7.1 so it can be reconfigured, if needed. I hate it- they should decide and move on to the next quagmire. Like the HD DVD std, HDMI specs and need (the studios want that so people won't be able to copy discs), etc. Personally, I'd like more displays that have no provision at all for audio. I'll never use it and neither will a lot of others who have a full system installed.

Which Denon receiver- 3806, 4306, 4306Ci?

I don't have any experience with RTI remotes but I have heard that they are about the best. I worked for a place that sold/installed Crestron and Control 4, with Universal MX-850 as the standard hand-held if the touch screen wasn't used. Used them on quite a few Crestron systems, too.

RobertT
10-11-2006, 10:20 AM
His name is Dave, name of the company is Home Theatre Designs. Good dude.

Yes, we are wiring for 7.1, but he seems to think that because so little movies are coded for 7.1 that the extra speakers will sit idle most of the time if you wire it that way. Tying the left middle and rear speakers together will let them get used more, according to him. He said that if we don't like it, we can always simply switch the wire on the back of the receiver.

I don't get the HDMI thing. Why, on earth, should we have sound signal coming to a projector? It stands to reason that anyone that has the equipment to use HDMI will have a stand alone sound system. Dave also thinks that the physical connection plugs on HDMI cables suck, and are prone to failure. Grrrr. Did I tell you I hate Sony? I think their products rock, but the way that they force anti-piracy hardware and software on us turns me off in a big way. At least for now they are still allowing 1080i signal to run through component video connections. I have heard that they will change that soon, and pull it down to 720 do force people to go to HDMI so that they can control how we back up our movies and other content. I don't blame them...but it pisses me off none the less.

We are running HDMI to the projector, but Dave also is going to "make" a high end component video cable out of 3 runs of RG6. He seems to think that running each connection with a large shielded cable with high end gold connections is even better than monster...and almost free. Thoughts?


We are going with the 687 receiver. We were going to go a lot higher end with several HDMI inputs, but he suggested that I go with a stand alone box that has 6 HDMI inputs and one output if and when I need it. Its about 400 bucks, but seems to have the least amount of signal loss compared to having it built into the receiver. At least for now. I don't know.

I liked the RTI T3 remote the best as far as pure function. It has the guide button for satellite, and can handle as many macros as I want.

Most importantly, the software is awesome! Its not available to end users, but I am going to happen to get a copy. Its drag and drop.

As an example, if I want to add a "page" for my daughter, I can have five or six animated buttons for Nemo or whatever other crap she likes. All she has to do it press it once, and it will put the lights where I set them, start the DVD player, get the Nemo DVD and start it up, etc. Hands off for me. I like that.

We will see if its all worth it. Going into winter was bumming me out, this makes it a little more tolerable.

JimN
10-11-2006, 03:49 PM
RE: the HDMI 1080p issue, I heard that it was Toshiba and their HD DVD that makes HDMI necessary along with all of the movie studios (because of the anti-piracy thing). 1080P will be the HD DVD standard via HDMI but as far as why they chose that cable, ya got me hanging. The only reason I can guess is that it makes wiring a system more simple for someone who isn't going to have someone do it for them. One cable from the DVD player to the receiver, one cable to the display and then the VCR, CD player, turntable (if there is one), cassette (ditto), etc are on their own. Personally, I think it's BS because it makes cable upgrades a lot more expensive. As I said before, I personally would like to see more displays with no provision for audio at all. Hitachi makes industrial plasma units with interchangeable input modules and it's a good way to go but it's hard for a dealer to guess how many of each they'll need.

Have them run RG59x5 or six runs of RG6Q with at least one Cat 5e. The Cat 5e can be used with an adaptor if you ever go to RS-232 control or if you change to a projector that is IP based or just uses an ethernet cable, you're set. If they ran 2" orange Smurf tube, it won't be so bad to change cable technologies.

Yeah, running the speaker cables to the head end makes life a lot easier if you need to reconfigure, that's for sure.

If the RTI can control the HDMI box, it should work OK but since you will probably never use more than 2 sources with HDMI or real HD inputs, I think I would have put the $400 into a higher end receiver. VCRs won't use HDMI and unless you play a lot of HD games, Cable AND Sat with HD along with multiple DVD players, you should be OK with 3 HDMI inputs. Just my opinion.

Personally, I think almost anything is better than Munster Cable. I like Liberty cable, they make RG6 Q, RG 6, RG 59, BNC, RCA ends for their cables (as well as others) and they're easy to install and very reliable. I hated Audio Quest more than Munster- a 24 ga center conductor is just too thin and isn't very visible in a lot of cases, which makes it easy to net see if it's bent ot shorting to the shield.

Also, for those who say the audio cables don't make a difference, I bought my DVD player and used the cheapos it came with and was completely disappointed in the sound. Then, I remembered that when I removed my CD player to fix it, I didn't re-use the cables (AAMP of America- 18 ga center conductor and shield). HUGE difference! I like the sound from my DVD player now. I didn't change to top-of-the-line cables but they are better than a lot of what I have seen. Now, I just need moe ends for my Liberty Serial Digital cable so I can make up a new set for the rest of the equipment, but I need to make a new cabinet first.


What are you using to control the lights- Lutron HomeWorks?

Don't be surprised if the system needs some tweaking at first. I don't know what you were viewing or listening through before but if you're going from a "room in the house" to a dedicated theater with acoustical treatments, "It sounds different" is often perceived as "This sucks!", at first. Give it time so you can get used to it.

If Dave is available and/or willing, listen to it for a week or so with a wide variety of music, videos, etc and make a list of what you watched and listened to with comments about what you liked, didn't like and hated and have him come over to answer questions and see for himself if you're able to point things out. If you have limited or no experience in "critical listening" or viewing, he can explain some things for you. He'll listen and watch for specific things that you may not, like "Does it image well?, does it have good depth?, is it transparent?, does it handle transients well?, is there any breakup on loud passages (might need more power)?", etc. You should have no buzzes, hiss, crackles or snapping when lights or other devices turn on/off. There should be no noise when the volume is all the way down unless you're within maybe 6" of the speakers- that would be the max noise in the system. Another thing that matters but isn't always done is for all of the AC power to come from one or more breakers that are on the same phase. If you see them adding ground loop isolators, it's likely that the power legs aren't on the same phase.

What's wrong with Nemo? I don't know how many times I watched that when I was setting up systems. The video quality is pretty good.

michael freeman
10-11-2006, 04:01 PM
RE: the HDMI 1080p issue, I heard that it was Toshiba and their HD DVD that makes HDMI necessary along with all of the movie studios (because of the anti-piracy thing). 1080P will be the HD DVD standard via HDMI but as far as why they chose that cable, ya got me hanging. The only reason I can guess is that it makes wiring a system more simple for someone who isn't going to have someone do it for them. One cable from the DVD player to the receiver, one cable to the display and then the VCR, CD player, turntable (if there is one), cassette (ditto), etc are on their own.

I hate how weakly the HDMI plugs in, but when you are hanging a TV on a wall, a single cable helps out. I haven't seen any peformance improvement from the HDMI to the Component/fiberoptic setup.)

JimN
10-11-2006, 04:35 PM
"I haven't seen any peformance improvement from the HDMI to the Component/fiberoptic setup.)"

No, and if high quality cable is used, you won't. Actually, with the price of copper going through the roof, don't be surprised to see video over fiber soon. It can do more and if the device used as the display is a long distance form the source, they can send a pulse to turn the power on. too. They would have a "media converter" at the display (at least for now) and the different cable types could be broken out at that end. Eventually, audio, video, control, power ON/OFF enable, etc will all go down one fiber cable. That will be the end of ground loops.

RobertT
10-11-2006, 04:55 PM
Nemo rocks!

Thats great info, thanks so much.

I figure that within two years I will have:

1. HD Satalite, HDMI
2. Playstation 3, HDMI
3. Xbox 360....dont think its HDMI but I do have the high def cable
4. HD DVD

At least 3 HDMI inputs are needed from what I can tell, and the only reasonably priced receiver that had 3 HDMI inputs was a top end Yamaha that was PRICEY!

Dave has me running 6 RG6 cables to the projector, one cat5E, one HDMI, and a pull string. I can get to the entire chase-way in under ten minutes though without cutting holes, so I don't know if its worth it. I think I need the cat5 cable for the flasher though.

He also is having me run 6 extra RG6 cables plus two cat5E cables from my rack out of the theater room to my data room that has all of my data/video racks. He said that I can push HD into or out of my theater room with that, plus he can run another HD signal through two cat5E cables with a few components.

I dont know about any of that crap, other than its a friggin TON of wire.

I think I will be happy with it, mostly because I have nothing to compare it to. My Ford truck with stock stereo is the best sounding system I have ever heard other than my ipod with good headphones. My neighbors 3k home theater looks and sounds awesome to me, so my standards are pretty low. I hope to keep them that way!

Ignorance is bliss.

michael freeman
10-11-2006, 05:53 PM
"I haven't seen any peformance improvement from the HDMI to the Component/fiberoptic setup.)"

No, and if high quality cable is used, you won't. Actually, with the price of copper going through the roof, don't be surprised to see video over fiber soon. It can do more and if the device used as the display is a long distance form the source, they can send a pulse to turn the power on. too. They would have a "media converter" at the display (at least for now) and the different cable types could be broken out at that end. Eventually, audio, video, control, power ON/OFF enable, etc will all go down one fiber cable. That will be the end of ground loops.

My big problem with the fiberoptic audio was that I couldn't find a switch box that would handle it. Component switch boxes all over the place but nothing for the fiberoptic. I'm sure they exist, but for the money, I have just been switching them out of the A/V when I want to use my X-box. Just bought a new TV so will probably just move the X-box onto that system.

I think fiberoptic everything would be great. I was getting some signal crossover(?) issues with my X-box. Had a constant noise issue until I switched to the fiberoptic hookups.

agua4fun
10-11-2006, 06:40 PM
HA! funny you say you watch nemo.... I design AV theater & conference rooms for a living and that is my standard test/demo dvd. other than being a little dark at the begining, its great. Crestron is great too, i was programming one as i read this, but have never heard of the RTI T3 - I'll have to look that up since it's getting such great reviews here.
Liberty RG6 is WAY better than monster IMO
Sounds like a great setup - putting it all together is half of the fun!

JimN
10-11-2006, 07:34 PM
Robert- go to www.denon.com and look at their lineup- they have one with 2/1 HDMI inputs/output for $300 more than yours (it's the AVR-887). If you think the Yamaha is pricey, look at the top of the line Denon.

Audio Control has a piece (two part) that sends/receives HD video over Cat 5e and it works. Great if you don't have a conduit that's big enough for 3 RG-6 (or 59), audio, Cat 5e for control, etc. Worse if you have speaker wires going through the same conduit (I know it shouldn't be done but it happens).

Michael- I think Parts Express has a three way optical switch. What kind of noise- buzzing or crackles? Are the cables all bundled together (including the power cables)? That will almost always give you noise. Another one is when the X-Box is connected to a TV on one side of the room/house and the rest of the equipment is on another wall or part of the house. Re-read my comment about all of the power being on the same phase. That's one big cause of weird noises and pops.

RE: the RTI controls- I haven't used any but I have read about them. I was using Harmony before and we used Universal Remote MX-850 for the hand-held remotes that weren't Crestron or Control 4. Control 4 has a way to go, IMO. Now, there are third-party programs and setup schemes for Crestron and will make it a lot easier for non-Crestron dealers to make program changes/additions.

RobertT
10-12-2006, 10:04 AM
Pertaining to phasing, wouldn't you simply need to find which breaker(s) are feeding the receptacles for the entire system and make sure that they are on the same bar in the main panel? I would assume that you could move one up or down one space and that would take care of it...am I wrong?

JimN
10-12-2006, 10:43 AM
You can move up/down one space but I thing some panel makers alternate (Cutler Hammer). Either way, it's just a matter of being on the same bus and making sure there isn't significant voltage drop on any one leg.

michael freeman
10-13-2006, 07:41 AM
Michael- I think Parts Express has a three way optical switch. What kind of noise- buzzing or crackles? Are the cables all bundled together (including the power cables)? That will almost always give you noise. Another one is when the X-Box is connected to a TV on one side of the room/house and the rest of the equipment is on another wall or part of the house. Re-read my comment about all of the power being on the same phase. That's one big cause of weird noises and pops.



I had a buzz that would not go away. I tried to seperate the cables but no luck. Had the same set up in another house with no problem, just couldn't get it to work in the new place. Moved to the optical cable and all is good again.

Thanks for the heads up on the switch. I will look into it.


QUESTION:
Verizon FIOS' remote does not like my Denion equipment. Which universal remote do you guys like? I was looking into the Logitech Harmony 880 or 890. Not looking to impress, just want a single remote to work from. Only issue I have heard with the 880 is that if you use the start everything feature, it can be slow and if you point the remote away during the process and it misses turning something on, the remote doesn't work for that unit anymore until you correct the mismatch problem (i.e., remote things it is on, but the unit didn't get the signal and is still off) Did they correct this in the 890 or is this a problem with all smart remotes?

JimN
10-13-2006, 08:48 AM
If the only way you could get rid of the buzz is by disconnecting the cable from the receiver or source, it was a ground loop. A ground loop isolator could get rid of it but those can really mess up the sound.

No remote that sends only IR can be pointed away from the equipment during the data burst. I have a customer, let's call him Gomer, who had a terrible time learning to use his Harmony 676 remotes. Constantly dropping his hand after pressing the acticity buttons and just couldn't remember to use the Help button. He finally learned but it(he) has a total PITA and I kind of figured out that he didn't really want to learn how to use them. I like the Harmony "Installation Wizard" style of programming but there are some other aspects that I'm not too fond of. I have a 676 and just changed to DirecTV. I did the original programming and they aparently didn't have that remote's codes in their database, which eans that unless someone added them recently, I need to teach it every command I want to use. Personally, I think THEY should add to the command database, not the customers.

From what I have heard, the RTI remote sends out a macro to its control box, which then sends the commands to the separate pieces of equipment, through assignable ports. This means that the control box has the Denon, Yamaha, Sony and other codes stored in it and since the data isn't sent from the remote, you don't need to hold the remote up for 15 seconds. It also means that the inter-device delays don't need to be changed and you don't need to press the function button more than once.

If the Verizon FIOS can be programmed to add repeats for specific devices or there is a troubleshooting menu, you may be able to delay specific commands. My guess is that you can't do this. IR repeater pickups need to be clear of flourescent light, plasma displays, sunlight (direct and reflected) and the IR repeater system needs to work at the right frequency in order to work properly.

michael freeman
10-13-2006, 09:05 AM
I will look into the RTI remote.

I think the Harmony 890 is RF, but I don't know if it comes with something to read the RF and send an IR or if it just supports both RF and IR equipment.

The fiber optic fixed all my buzz problems, just made my present switch box worthless. Probably just move the Xbox to the new plasma after I burn it in for the first 100 hrs. Then I can ditch the switch box on the older system and just use the A/V to support the DVD and FIOS without any problem.

JimN
10-13-2006, 09:14 AM
The Harmony sends IR and RF but since it's a one piece control, it still has the issues with line-of-sight. I like the idea of RF from the remote and IR from the control box close to the equipment. The only time this can be a problem is when there is a lot of stray RF around. The Universal MX-850 is aldo a really good controller. It works the way I just mentioned and is set up on a computer. I haven't programmed many but you can hide the functions you don't use or want on the visible screens, the range is good and it will control just about anything. Pronto and NEVO remotes can do this, too. Some even have a graphic display and touchscreens.

RobertT
10-13-2006, 09:59 AM
I don't know much if anything about all of the different brands, but here is what I was told by my dealer that is a rep/authorized installer of just about every brand.

The problem with any universal remote is that the remote itself sends component specific commands via RF to a receiver in the rack that in turn sends those same commands via IR to the components. Stray RF signals can compromise that, and at times things generally can get screwed up. The advantage to the T3 and T4 remotes is that the handheld remote sends RTI specific commands to a fairly large receiver box that actually holds the component specific commands. Because the remote itself does not need to be able to send component specific commands, it can operate on a completely different frequency and spread the commands out so that they have no chance of interfering with each other. The handheld remote can only talk to the RTI receiver in its own language.

End result, from what I was told, is that its one of the few remotes that has truly bombproof performance with every different type of component even when huge macros are being thrown out to multiple components at the same time.

this is too weird. One of the most interesting and informative "conversations" that I have had about my theater happened on a boat website.

Hmmmm.

JimN
10-13-2006, 10:19 AM
Right. RTI adds a tag to the original command and that's what makes it their own. Kind of like a checksum in data transmission over the 'net or other encrypted message. RF being what it is and the FCC making rules like they do (read the "FCC rule 15 subsection c..... requires that this and any other device that receives radio freqencies must not block those frequencies that could cause improper operation", anything that operates via RF can have problems but they take steps to keep stray energy from causing problems with their devices.

"this is too weird. One of the most interesting and informative "conversations" that I have had about my theater happened on a boat website."

You should see the speaker design conversation in the Taunton Press forum called "Breaktime".