Aura bass shakers are a fun addition to any home theater. The purpose of bass shakers, also called tactile transducers, is to augment the bass in music or movies by shaking the floor or the furniture that you attach them to. So when you are watching Jurassic Park and the T-rex stomps on the ground you not only hear it but you feel it too. They are a lot of fun, and the look on your guests faces when they experience them for the first time is priceless, especially if they have no idea that they are installed.
I will admit that when I first heard about tactile transducers I thought they sounded pretty silly. But I kept reading all these really great things about them and then one day I came across some really cheap generic tactile transducers so I figured it was worth trying them out so I ordered a pair. When they first arrived my first reaction was disappointment. They were pretty small, four inches in diameter and about 2 inches deep, there was also no documentation or instructions provided. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me from giving them a chance. So I screwed them into my couch and hooked them up to an old Marantz 2220B receiver that I had lying around collecting dust. With the installation done I fired up the projector and put in Jurassic Park and went straight to the T-rex scene. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I guess this is one of those instances where size and first impressions don’t matter so much. My butt was shaking with each step of the T-rex, in fact it was shaking too much, so turned down the volume on the bass shakers to a more reasonable level and was very pleased with the results. I decided maybe the whole tactile transducers thing isn’t silly, I was really enjoying them.
After installing them and playing some heavy bass demo stuff I took a break and went to go eat some dinner. I came back a couple hours later and I watched Hearts In Atlantis which has almost zero subwoofer activity, so little in fact that I pretty much forgot about the bass shakers. Near the end of the movie there is a scene where a train is coming and there is definitely some bass, surprised my butt a little. It also really added to the movie, it felt like a train was passing by outside.
I lived with the generic tactile transducers for about six months and then Parts Express had a good sale going on the Aura bass shakers so I decided to upgrade. I have a total of four Aura bass shakers installed. In my home theater room I have a sectional couch. There are two end pieces, one small straight section, and a large corner piece. I have one bass shaker installed in the small straight section (which happens to be my main viewing spot), one in one of the end pieces and two installed on the large corner piece. The Aura bass shakers were definitely an improvement over the little generic ones I had, they have a lot more punch and rumble much better.
Installing the Aura bass shakers is really easy. You just screw them into the bottom of your couch or chair, you can even screw them directly to your floor. Since the Aura bass shakers have an impedance of 4 ohms I have each pair wired in series so that my Marantz receiver is seeing an 8 ohm load. They only require 25 watts of power so it is very easy to power them, in fact my old Marantz 2220B is only 20 watts per channel and I find it to be more than adequate. To get the signal from my Outlaw 950 to the Marantz I split the subwoofer out from the Outlaw with a Y splitter from Radio Shack and then ran a single RCA cable over to my old Marantz receiver and then into another Y splitter so I could use both channels of the auxiliary input. I then just run speaker wire out from the Marantz to the Aura bass shakers. The nice thing about the signal from the subwoofer out on my Outlaw 950 is that it is already crossed over. The bass shakers can only handle a signal up to 100 hz and if you feed them higher signals they will quickly grow tiring because they will be buzzing all the time. I have my subwoofer crossed over at 80 hz so that is what my bass shakers see as well. Below is the wiring diagram showing how they are wired up. This diagram only shows one channel which drives two bass shakers, I have both channels active each driving two bass shakers
To set the level properly I have found that you can use a SPL meter. In order to set them with your SPL meter; first of all turn off your sub so that it doesn’t effect your readings. Than just run some test tones and adjust the bass shakers just like a normal speaker. I placed the SPL meter directly on the couch and adjusted the volume on the receiver driving the bass shakers until the shakers were -3db to the rest of my speakers. I find this to be a very good level, they weren’t overly buzzy but they were still powerful enough to be felt quite strongly.
There are also super powerful versions of these tactile transducers. The one that I hear the most about is the Buttkicker. The Buttkicker runs about $250 and the amp that goes along with it is $400; you could, of course, use your own amp, but these guys need a lot more power than the Aura bass shakers, the Buttkicker amp is rated at 1100-watts! I have never experienced the Buttkicker but I would definitely like to.
Aura Bass Shakers Specs
Power handling: 25 watts RMS/35 watts max
Impedance: 4 ohms
Usable Frequency response: 20 to 100 Hz
Fs: 42 Hz
Force Nominal: 10 lbs. per ft.
Dimensions: 4-3/4″ diameter. x 2-3/8″ H
Net weight: 7lbs per pair