Audio Device Promises New Highs in Lows
You can never have too much bass, some people believe. Guitammer Company, a Westerville, Ohio startup, is taking low-frequency reinforcement to the next level: the seat of your pants. Its new product, the ButtKicker, promises to deliver intense, visceral bass where it counts. About the size of a one-horsepower electric motor, the device is a low-frequency electromagnetic transducer that is said to deliver the bottom-end impact of much larger speaker systems by mechanically coupling the bass vibes directly to your floor and/or seating arrangement. Users can feel the beat as much as they hear it, according to company executives.
Designed by music-industry producer and songwriter Ken McCaw and engineer Marvin Clamme, the ButtKicker can translate a line-level signal from a CD player, preamp, or amplifier in "perfect sync" with the bass coming from your main system. The device "shakes and vibrates to the point that 'feeling' becomes as important to the home-theater experience as seeing and hearing," according to a report by the Columbus/Franklin County News Bureau—at considerable savings in equipment weight and volume.
The ButtKicker is claimed to be almost indestructible and to have an extremely smooth frequency response of 5-200Hz. The professional model is manufactured by the Eminence Loudspeaker Company in Kentucky, and began shipping last fall for $799 retail. A consumer version is planned with a target price of $299.
Ultra-low-frequency "motors" have been introduced into the audio market before, with varying degrees of success—such as Pioneer's under-seat subwoofer, hyped primarily for car-audio applications. In the late 1970s there was a device called the Bone Phone, marketed as a "personal subwoofer." A yoke worn around a listener's shoulders, the device transmitted low-frequency impulses directly to the user's clavicles. The Bone Phone was not a commercial hit. An attempt was made in the early 1960s to sell low-frequency transducers to fruit farmers as tools to knock ripe fruit from their trees—also without success. And weapons researchers have experimented with the military potential of high-intensity low bass. We hope the ButtKicker will be devoted to peaceful pursuits.