Up until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of the word bass shaker before. It was only when I found myself needing a bit more oomph from my sound system that I wondered if putting a subwoofer under the sofa would give me some rumble and that was how I stumbled across them. Bass shakers are generally used for movies, there aren’t too many people who seem to want them for gaming, which is a shame. Bass shakers for gaming is one of the best upgrades you can possibly get for your home gaming setup!
The good news when it comes to using bass shakers for gaming is that it is fairly cheap to get the equipment, but it does require quite a bit of wiring and a few different pieces of tech to make it all click together. I have put this guide together in the hopes that it can be a one-stop read for anyone wanting to get their gaming setup equipped with some sofa shaking bass shakers.
Do bass shakers work for gaming?
They absolutely do and they work incredibly well! Bass Shakers are not just for movies, they are well able to blow the socks off you during all kinds of video games.
The quality of the sound in the game will influence how well they work, as is the same for movies. Silent movies with very little noise don’t trigger the vibration. The same is true for games. High action games are insane with bass shakers so you are definitely doing yourself a favour investing in bass shakers for video games.
How to set up bass shakers for games consoles.
There really isn’t much to getting a bass shaker for a console. The majority of the work is in the wiring up of the bass shakers to the amplifier, which normally come with their own detailed instructions in the box. For anyone curious, I will include some links below for the specific setup per console, for anyone wanting to make 100% it works for your setup.
- PlayStation 5
- Xbox Series X
- Nintendo Switch
Will bass shakers work with every game?
The answer is yea, but with some terms and conditions. Bass shakers work based on subwoofer audio frequencies. So for example, if you are playing an 8-bit game, chances are the noises that come from this game are gonna be quite squeaky and high pitched. Subwoofers do not output high pitch audio, they only output the grumble and deep sounds. That’s not to say 8-bit games don’t have low frequencies, but it may not be optimal.
A game like Call of Duty or Battlefield is going to have a large number of explosions and loud noises. Cars blowing up, heavy weapons, buildings collapsing. All of which make lots of deep sounds. All of these sounds will come out through your bass shakers, giving you an incredible feeling if emersion. Think of your controller vibrating, except it’s your entire sofa doing this.
Do games need to support bass shakers?
This is sort of a derivative of the answer above. Games do not need to support bass shakers specifically. So long as the game outputs audio, which they all do (generally), the bass shakers will work.
The quality of how they work all depends on the audio production values of the game. Horizon: Forbidden West for example has some incredible audio quality. The sound engineers outdid themselves and the result is an immense bass shaker experience for gaming.
How intense will they vibrate for games?
This all depends on the games you are playing. They can range from subtle grumbles to extreme, almost giving you a heart attack, thumps. It all depends on the game. You can expect games with a lot of action to really blast you off your seat. The intensity is of course adjustable, but if you want to go full power, you can expect the bass shakers to really kick some ass during war games.
The intensity is dependent on the amplifier you buy and the number of shakers you have. The average setup is either 1, 2 or 4. 6 is possible but difficult and 8 should be easy to do, so long as you have an amp that can dish out a lot of power. I went with 4 and it was more than enough for a 3 person sofa. Hopefully, that’s a good estimate for you…but let’s be realistic, now that you know 8 is possible, you are probably going to google how expensive high powered subwoofers are to see if you can work it into the budget!
How Much Space Do You Need?
Bass shakers are not overly large, but they are bigger than I expected them to be anyway. The image below is probably the best way to give you a frame of reference. The comparison next to a Nintendo Switch should let you see the size quite clearly. This will help you figure out whether it is going to fit within the confines of your setup.
How many bass shakers do you need?
On from the last question, you may be wondering how many you are going to need. It’s a good question and a difficult one to give a specific answer for. I will have to give some guidelines here that might help you figure it out but it all comes down to budget. Amplifiers only output so much power. The more power they output, the more expensive they get. You have a budget to work with, then you gotta work with your seating arrangement.
For my gaming setup, I have a 3 seater day bed sofa. This has a wooden frame and a memory foam mattress to sit on. I mounted 4 bass shakers on the wood undernet the mattress and purchased a Dayton Audio SW 230 watt amplifier. I can confirm that I had to turn the intensity down as sudden explosions were making me flinch they were so intense. I probably could have gotten 2 and saved money, but it’s good to know the extra power is there. The best recommendation I got is that it’s easy to add 2 more shakers in the future if you buy an amp now that can handle 4. So If you are unsure whether 2 is enough, get a good amp and just buy 2 shakers for now. Get another 2 if you feel it’s not enough. Wiring 4 is very simple and I have guides on the site that explain how to wire up 4 bass shakers.
What is the best brand and type of bass shaker for gaming?
There are quite a few brands of bass shakers out there. Like anything electronic, there’s trusted brands and then some off-brands. Even some no-name brands in this situation. I would recommend you stick with a named brand here. They aren’t thst expensive with the cheapest being around $50-60. It shouldn’t break the bank and you are at least guaranteed some quality.
I’d go with the Dayton Audio BST-1 which are about $50 if you look around online. Good balance between affordability and quality. If you have some more money to play with, there are some better alternatives. That’s not to say the BST-1 isn’t gonna kick some ass!
There’s the AuraSound AST-2B-4 which is likely double the price. They are considered to be better than the Dayton Audio shakers but worth double the price, it’s hard to say.
Finally, there’s the butt-kicker mini for around 150. I’ve not heard of many people going with these as they are probably too expensive and high end for anyone’s home Cinema needs but people do use them and if you have the money, you are probably getting the best shaker for your needs with this.
What is the best wattage bass shaker to buy?
Another sort of tricky one to answer but for this, I am a little more confident that I can suggest 50watt and you can’t go wrong. They aren’t too expensive at this price and I know from experience that they can do the job very well.
You may see some for cheap on Amazon but these could be tiny little 15 watt motors that would just about shake an office chair, forget about it with a sofa.
I would suggest any of the three bass shakers listed above. They are all 50 watt and people have all recommended them for home Cinema setups. If you wanna go higher than this, it’s your budget. You can expect more power if you go for higher wattage but it is far from likely you will need them for a home gaming setup.
What amplifier should I get?
Good question, how many shakers do you want? For the answer to this one, I would suggest speaking with the support team on the website you are buying from or the store itself to be sure. I can give some general suggestions though that should do the job for anyone looking to set up 4 bass shakers for gaming.
The cheaper option is the APA150 from Dayton Audio. It is around 200-250 which is a good price. It’s 150w so you may not be able to push 4 shakers to the limit, but you wouldn’t want to do this anyway.
The more expensive option but a far superior option, especially for 4 shakers is the Dayton Audio SA230. This will have more than enough power to drive 4 shakers to the max, may even be able to support 8 but the overall intensity per shaker may decrease a little if you go this high.
Do you need a high-frequency pass/filter?
The amplifiers listed above are dedicated subwoofer amps and they all have high pass frequency filters built-in. If you have an AVR already, definitely won’t need it as the subwoofer output will already have a perfect audio feed. Simply use the LFE input on the amp and you are good to go. No need for frequency tuning or any messing around.
If you have decided to go with a more generic amplifier that is not dedicated to subwoofers and don’t have a subwoofer feed from the AVR, you may need to purchase a separate high pass filter to cut out those high-frequency sounds. You don’t want your bass shakers going mad when a man with a deep voice is speaking….or maybe you do, but I’ll keep my mind out of the gutter and say you don’t.
Do I need a subwoofer amp for bass shakers?
Technically no and if you have an AVR with subwoofer output, you should be fine with any amp that can accept an LFE. If not, you can. Use any amp and use an external high pass filter to make it work but this is a bit messy. I’d highly recommend a subwoofer amp. You wouldn’t try to power an actual subwoofer with a regular amp, don’t do the same with your bass shakers. They are pretty much subwoofers.
Are Bass Shakers and Butt Kickers the same?
Yes, essentially they are. I see a lot of people refer to bass shakers as “butt kickers”. Butt Kickers is a brand that makes bass shakers. They might have been the first in the market so people started referring to the haptic device in general as a butt-kicker.
The correct term to use is bass shaker, but they are generally interchangeable and mean the same thing. If you want to find good value, however, keep with the term bass shakers. Butt Kickers are a lot more expensive than other brands and may shoot you well over budget.
Related Help and Guides
I have put together quite a few guides and tutorials for people who have purchased bass shakers for gaming to help you get started. Hopefully, by this point, I have explained enough for you to be confident that they are an awesome investment. Whether these guides help you get set up or help figure out if it’s a task you want to undertake, here is everything that will be helpful for you. You can also find a full list of everything that is tagged with bass shaker on the site here.