TACTILE TRANSDUCERS GIVE GOOD VIBES
Zou je graag de Clark Synthesis Tactiel Sound Transducer bestellen. Geeft dit dan aan in het aanvraagformulier en wij gaan in overleg met de fabrikant over de mogelijkheden voor import naar Nederland. Geef svp ook aan om welke aantallen het gaat en welk type. Oproep van: 30 juni 2005
By: Daniel Gene Maichel
The next and most important building block to the ultimate home theater is here and it feels good!
No matter how large the room, wide the screen, high the definition, big
the speakers or powerful the subwoofers one thing can make it all better,
much better. The one component that has been illusive until now, the sense
of touch is available, affordable and relatively easy to install.
Tactile transducers, or shakers as they are commonly called, allow a theater to recreate the most important sense, the sense of touch, to make the viewing experience as close to real as possible.
Imagine feeling Schwarzenegger kick-starting the Harley in Terminator and feeling like you are there with the exhaust pipes snorting right at you, or rattling your teeth along with Clint Eastwood and the rest of the crew as they attempt to land the shuttle battling re-entry in Space Cowboys. Even a classic like Psycho seems more thrilling than ever before no matter how many times it has been watched. While the shrill shrieks of strings from the eerie soundtrack run up your spine, you are in the shower as the curtain is ripped away and the silhouette of the knife falls. On the more relaxing side; watching the U2 Live in Boston DVD concert you feel like you’re in the front row. Your seat is pounding to the beat and Bono’s voice resonates in the concert hall. It’s better than being there because it’s all the good without the beer being spilled on your back and smoke blown in your face. It feels live! This makes the realism in home theaters practical and fun! The sense of touch is the last component to be delivered for home theater. Now a relatively small investment can make any home theater better than a commercial one!
There are some very important benefits to this tactile component such as the ability to turn down the audio sound level in the home theater reducing room resonance, noise, and prevent ear attenuation. You still get the feeling that the environment is very loud without hurting the ears of children and others in the family who are more sensitive to sound. This makes it easy for
The whole family to enjoy a film without complaints of “turn
Subwoofer placement is no longer a problem when used in-conjunction with a transducer that offers high fidelity. The transducer eradicates this problem by eliminating the perceived null points via bone conduction. This makes any subwoofer sound better. Lastly, the fun factor is the best feature! Anything from cartoons to the ten o’clock news is much more enjoyable.
Try watching a movie by turning the video off and just listening to the
sound or turn the sound all the way down and just watch the images on the
screen. It won’t be long until you turn it back on. You miss so much.
After getting used to feeling the action on screen it almost makes it difficult
to go to a commercial theater or a friend’s house that doesn’t
There are differences in the various manufacturers’ designs and the way they accomplish the sense of feeling. So choosing the right one is important. Size, fidelity, power handling, and efficiency are good shopping criteria.
The two leading manufacturers are Clark Synthesis Tactile Sound and Guitammer Corp. who manufacture the ButtKicker. A third manufacture, AuraSound, also makes shakers for the home.
Connecting Tactile Transducers to existing audio systems and home theaters is pretty straightforward. Conceptually it is similar to connecting an external amplifier and additional speakers.
Selecting an Amplifier
An external amplifier is needed to power all transducers and choosing the right one is important. Since all these devices are 4 ohms an amplifier that is built to power a 4-ohm load is necessary. An amplifier that has gain controls to calibrate the system is crucial to making the system fully integrated. Auto turn-on is a nice feature. Just like most powered subs, they turn on when needed and off when not in use. It is also important to follow the recommended power requirements of the manufacture. The Clark
Synthesis Tactile Sound transducers recommend power requirements from 150 to 250 watts while the ButtKicker requires 400 to 1000 watts.
Connecting A/V receivers and pre-amplifiers to the Tactile Amplifier
Sourcing a signal • Using the front left and right channels of the processor/receiver or the subwoofer output are the two most common way to acquire the signal. The choice is somewhat a personal decision or may be based on product limitations,
Subwoofer outputs • If the device is a strict shaker the subwoofer output is sufficient. Upper frequencies cannot be created if the receiver/processor does not have multiple subwoofer outputs, but a simple y-cable will allow both the existing subwoofer and the tactile amplifier to be connected.
Full frequency • A tactile transducer that has a wide frequency response capable of recreating the full bandwidth should be hooked up to use the left and right front speakers only if the receiver/processor can be set to the large speaker setting in the set up of the receiver/processor. This will give the best and most constant signal so that the effect is seamless and consistent with all DVDs, satellite, and broadcast programming. Gunshots, explosions, and other special effects actually have the most content between 100 and 600 Hz.
The front left and right preamp outputs are easily connected to the tactile amplifier. In the absence of RCA connections a line level adapter (Mobile Authority HSHL-2A or the equivalent) connected to the front left and right speaker terminals along with the standard front speakers will accomplish the same thing. This allows the tactile amplifier to be connected with no noticeable distortion and at little cost.
Wiring and Cables • The use of a large speaker cable between the amplifier and the transducer is important, particularly if long cable runs are required. For shorter runs, 16-gauge wire would be minimum and 12-gauge is recommended. For lengths over 25 feet, 10-gauge wire is recommended.
Mounting the Shaker or Tactile Transducer
The physical mounting of shakers is either done one of two ways. In the first method, a flange on the base of the unit (as in the case of the Aura or ButtKicker) is used requiring a footprint that will accommodate the width of the flange. This
requires a fairly flat surface. The other way is the single attachment point method that Clark Synthesis Tactile Sound Transducers employ. This allows for easy quick and easy mounting even on uneven surfaces and it uses a very small footprint. No matter what device is used, care should be given to make sure the tactile device is tight. If the mounting hardware vibrates loose it will not perform well and it will sound like it is defective. It can create quite a mess if let loose with a signal sent to it. Tactile transducers are not designed to be powered without proper mounting first. Remember; never power a transducer without mounting it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. An unsecured powered transducer can be dangerous.
Clearance is another concern in mounting. The dimensions of the device must be recognized when considering placement; in seating, clearance is important. Some shakers can get quite warm and others need clearance to move. It is a good practice to make sure that the device has at least one inch around it to dissipate heat and move with an aggressive signal. When a shaker is too tall for a particular seat or other location other mounting methods can be used such as feet that will add height to the seat. Both ButtKicker and Clark Synthesis sell isolation feet that can raise seating and can also isolate the seat. Isolation reduces vibrations that can be transmitted to the floor and disturb neighbors below or that can make rattling sounds on wood or tile flooring. Prices for isolation feet range from around $15.00 to almost $50.00 each. The more expensive ones offer the best isolation.
Attaching and mounting locations are flexible as most can be installed in either seating, risers or in sub-flooring, allowing every home theater to be retrofitted. The height of some shakers will require more work, such as a wood platform to place the chair on. A unit that offers low profile might make some installations easier.Seating • The easiest and most common way to install seating with a transducer (and in most cases the least expensive) is on a concrete floor. Many fine theater seat manufacturers like Acoustic Innovations, Irwin, TDA, Cinema Starline, etc., offer their seating with mounting hardware installed for some tactile transducers to simplify the installation. The mounting points are carefully chosen cooperatively with the manufacture to assure the best performance.
The one drawback from this method is the need to lift the feet off the ground with a reclining mechanism. With a recliner the tactile feel is felt throughout the whole body sitting in a chair; having feet on the floor will diffuse the effect.
Risers • Risers are a great way to efficiently activate many seats, even traditional theater seats, such as found through the Irwin Seating of Canada. Manufacturer recommendations must be followed in making risers to maximize the effect. Another method is to install these seats on concrete floors. The benefit here is cost savings and a more theater-like look; also the effect can be felt through feet. The only drawback is the added expense of the riser.
Sub floors • Installing transducers under floors can cover a large area. The benefit is that even when sitting on the floor the effect can be felt and everything is activated…chairs, tables, etc. The floor will not transmit as efficiently as a seat or riser, but will cover a larger area. The drawback is more transducers may be needed and the accessibility may be limited to unfinished lower rooms and crawl spaces. With this installation access to the under floor joists is needed.
Installation Finished…Now It’s Time
The installation is done; now the fun begins. What will the first movie be? Every movie will be a new experience! The new releases will seem even harder to wait for as you wonder what they will be like to experience with this new theater technology.
If a game machine is used in your theater it will make the experience like owning your own virtual reality ride at an amusement park!
Clark Synthesis’ website offers DVD and gaming reviews (written by Cal Harding, an independent product reviewer) with a tactile section to help you choose a rental or purchase.
Friends and neighbors will be in awe of how much better the theater experience is. As tactile home theater owners have commonly claimed it was the “best bang for the buck spent on my home theater”.
What about Imaging?
A common question and possible objection to tactile technology is the effect of other transducers in the listening environment. Many A/V enthusiasts spend a considerable amount of time choosing the type and brand of audio equipment they use. Often they expend a similar amount of energy finding the best location for this equipment for optimum imaging and sound quality. Mention to an audiophile that you want to drive the whole floor with sound energy and you are bound to get a strong response. Maybe even a panic-stricken one.
Fortunately the situation is clear-cut. Tactile transducers DO NOT interfere with other transducers when they are calibrated properly. And we have a German Scientist by the name of Helmut Haas to thank for that.
The Haas Precedence Effect identifies the phenomena by which the human auditory system combines sounds reaching our ears within brief intervals. For example, in an auditorium situation, our ears and brain gather together all reflections arriving within 30 to 50 msec after the direct sound and integrate them into the same sound perception. The exception occurs when the sounds during this time interval are greatly different in amplitude. Haas measured this amplitude difference and discovered that the number necessary to de-correlate the fusing of sounds was approximately 10 db. Sounds that are more than that in amplitude are perceived as separate sounds, sounds less than that are not.
Conclusion: By calibrating the tactile transducer volume to 10 db (or more) lower than the primary speakers you will eliminate interference. Imaging will remain intact, yet the valuable tactile energy will reach the audience.
Musicians Feel the Music
One of the earliest groups to embrace the use of tactile transducers were musicians. In order to understand why this is so requires a look at the physical mechanism at work in a live music performance. Let’s take a violinist, for example.
When you listen to the recording of that violinist you attempt to recreate the exact perceptions that one feels during a live performance. It may surprise you to realize that what you feel and what the violinist feels are two different things. Here is why:
When a violinist performs, he/she is drawing a slightly abrasive set of strings (the bow) across a set of finely tuned steel wires. This excites the wires to resonate and we hear these vibrations through our ears. However, consider our performer. He/she also feels these sounds. This feeling is direct in the fullest sense of the word, right up from the chin piece into the violinists body. The three main sensation mechanisms for a musician then are: 1) Through the ears via air-transmission, 2) Through their skin via tactile sound reception 3) Through their Cochlea via bone conduction. Inshore, musicians during a live performance experience music quite differently than we do as passive listeners.
You can thus guess at what it is like when a musician hears tactile sound for the first time. They are usually ecstatic.
Just What is Sound?
Many people conceptualize sound as the perception our brain produces as a result of auditory energy traveling through air and stimulating our ears. This is further reinforced by the audio/video industry because loudspeakers, the industry’s standard sound reproduction device, do just that. They are designed to push the air molecules closest to the drivers thereby creating longitudinal waves that eventually reach our ears. The result, of course, is sound.
However, this is a one-dimensional way to look at the human perception of sound because the phenomenon of sound involves many more facets. In fact, there are several other pathways that acoustic energy travels to us. These other “pathways” reinforce our perception of sound, even though sounds do not enter our ears the standard way, that is, through our ear canals.
In the following section you will see that there are five ways that pulsations in the auditory frequency range can be perceived when applied to the human body. Each of these sensory pathways has a different mechanism but all of them can reinforce the sounds that come in through our ears. The general term that seems to have been adopted for these four additional pathways is tactile sound.
The range of tactile sound is from just a few Hz to a few hundred Hz. Note that the higher end of this range is a bit higher than the frequencies that subwoofers deliver and even extends into the lower registers of the human vocal frequency ranges.
Tactile sound reproduction can be utilized for many purposes. Of primary interest is the addition of tactile frequencies to the reproduction of recorded music and movie sound tracks. The effects in both of these areas can be quite dramatic. Participants often refer to the experience as being thoroughly engaging, and describe a feeling that encompasses a sixth sense. That sixth sense is the increased realism obtained when tactile cues are added to conventional air-transmitted sounds.
In addition to standard entertainment events, tactile sounds and transducers find their way into other venues. These devices are one of the only ways that the profoundly deaf can experience external sounds. Tactile transducers have been used under Wenger floors at concerts for the hearing impaired. Many participants have described the results as a miracle.