Shakers or tactile transducers are awesome if you want to bring the feeling of low bass into your body. A properly installed shaker should extend your subwoofer and not feel like a shaker is running at all. Instead, it should feel like the subwoofer has extended to be positioned directly behind your chair. Shakers are powered by a normal amplifier and to the amplifier appear to be nothing more than a speaker.
I think the best shaker’s are the Earthquakes. Read on for details.
I have experimented with shakers for years starting with the Aura Shaker. This is a great shaker for small chairs or video games. We used these in the seats of our converted arcade racers, for example.
For serious home theater, the shakers you want to look into are ones that can handle a decent amount of power. For this, I have used the buttkickers and the earthquakes.
The buttkickers are very powerful and heavy shakers. For buttkickers, we are considering the concert or the LFE none of the mini-toy versions. The concert and LFE are sold for different uses, but are actually the exact same device other than impedance (concert=2ohm, LFE=4ohm). These are serious shakers and can even be bolted to the floor joist underneath the flooring and will do a decent job shaking anything in the room.
The buttkickers are very aggressive when it comes to shaking during bass sequences in movies or games. When it comes to music, they do an ok job bringing very low subwoofer sounds to the music. They are a little “slow” feeling for bass drums but are fantastic for low bass rumbles. One of the downsides of the buttkickers is that when they bottom out, they make a horrible pounding sound that is very distracting. While this doesn’t damage the buttkickers, it’s very unpleasant and you will want to avoid it. The buttkickers are around $250 a piece.
The earthquakes are similar to the buttkickers. The q10b is the more powerful earthquake shaker. The q10b also does a good job during movie sequences and games. The buttkicker is a little more powerful. But the earthquake provides plenty of shake. The earthquake is much faster and does a better job during music. It is much better than the buttkicker on say bass drums while still achieving the same bass rumble. Where the buttkicker felt more like shaking, the earthquake feels much more like the subwoofer is just in your chair. It really blends in. These handle up to 1000 watts each. The earthquakes are definitely more expensive at around $550 a piece.
The earthquake MBQ-1 mini shakers are actually very good for sofa or recliner mounted shakers. These only run $300 and are much more sensitive than the QB10’s. However, if mounted on their L bracket and attached to your couch, these things do a fantastic job. The benefit of these is they are extremely quiet – silent even. On the larger QB10’s, they were not as loud as the buttkickers, but if I got near them when the music was playing quietly, I could hear them. This actually became distracting on music that was playing lower than say 65db. The MQB-1’s are absolutely silent. This makes playing music at extremely low volume (under 55db) very satisfying and tactile.
My recommendations are to grab MQB-1’s for $300 each and put one in each chair you care about.
For an amplifier, you’ll want an amplifier than can run down to 5hz or so. The buttkickers claim a frequency response of 5-200hz. The earthquakes 15-100. I still use the buttkicker bka-1000n amps, but these seem to be discontinued. Good thing I horded a couple I bought off craigs list. I imagine a behringer ep2000 or such would do the job well enough. You can run 4 earthquake qb10’s or buttkickers off one BKA-1000 amp. You can run 8 MBQ-1’s. (I only run 2 MBQ-1s).