Breaking the Home Theater Surround Sound Barrier
Once upon a time, in the good old days when I was a boy, you would head off to the cinema in the weekend with your siblings in tow, allowing your parents a few hours of relief from the highly stressful realities of parenting in the seventies. Or something like that. To be honest, I don’t think my parents knew how good they had it back then. We lived at the edge of the world, or as close as you can get to it before falling off the map–in the trouble-free little city of Auckland, New Zealand. Either way, off to the cinema we would go, every weekend. Like dutiful clockwork children of the corn fields, sunshine or rain, good movie or total stinker. Actually, it’s a wonder my force-feed diet of Tarzan, Clint Eastwood, and Bruce Lee did me no lasting harm. Somehow I survived to adulthood, retaining my childlike indulgence for suspended disbelief in a darkened viewing room, minus the mandatory box of chocolate-centered Jaffas, which I have neither seen nor tasted now for perhaps thirty years.
Now, there’s a reason people go to movie theaters, and it’s one that likely factors into why I remember that part of my childhood so well. Watching movies in a cinema is nothing like the experience at home. At least, it was not back then. The big screen was essential to “losing yourself” in the fabricated reality of a big studio production. But, contributing just as much to the success of this movie magic was the concept of surround sound–having the aural component of the experience assault you from multiple directions at once. If I was an engineer I’d probably tell you that, by combining the sound from a number of separated speakers in a coordinated way, it is possible to create a spatial imaging component to the movie-going experience that your television just cannot reproduce. In layman’s terms: surround sound just pulls you into the screen.
Today, wireless surround sound systems exist to do exactly this in your home theater, helping to reduce the difference between the movie house and “in house” movie viewing. More exciting, however, has been the recent development of an audio technology much simpler than any wireless surround sound system. I’m talking about tactile transducers, or Bass Shakers, as they are more commonly known. Instead of depending on a wireless surround sound system to deliver the sensation of “being there”, tactile transducers generate very low frequency vibrational energy that can literally be felt throughout your body. Bass shakers allow you to experience every thump, thrust and shaking motion that the characters in your movies are feeling. By attaching a transducer to a solid surface, like the hardwood backing of a home theater lounger, these vibrations pack an emotional wallop when the storyline action steps up.
When that *thing* jumps out of the closet on screen, you’ll be jumping out of your chair! When those naval guns start pounding in “Sink the Bismarck”, or that T-Rex bellows in “Jurassic Park”, you’ll feel it in your bones. Once you have experienced a Bass Shaker at play, that plain old home theater surround sound system simply will no longer be enough for you.
If you are really adventurous, handy with tools, and have lots of time on your hands, you can buy tactile transducers separately and install them any place where you might also hook up ordinary speakers, including inside your car, if you like. But for the rest of us there is an easier option. Wireless Bass Shakers are built into many models of home theater loungers, including the Metro, Garrick, Este, and Rodeo models found on HomeTheaterSeatingGuide.com. No wires, no installation, no fuss. In fact, there’s no need even to send your kids off to the movie theater by themselves anymore. Not when your family can share together all the thrills, and now spills, of modern day movie viewing in the comfort of your own home theater.