ButtKicker has released three new products for 2022, including two new bass shakers and a control software. Here is my review of the Gamer PLUS transducer and HaptiConnect software.
The brand name synonymous with bass shakers and haptic transducers, ButtKicker, has replaced its popular Gamer 2 device with two new offerings, and released a new control software to complement them.
ButtKicker's two new devices are the Gamer PLUS and Gamer PRO, priced at $279.95 and $329.95 respectively. Each takes the proven formula the company has used to build high-quality and affordable units, and enhances some features to improve the quality of the rumble and simplify the use of the product.
The Gamer PLUS, which I will be reviewing here, is the most similar to the Gamer 2. It's transducer device, which can be clamped on to anything from a high-end sim racing cockpit to an office chair, uses a 6 oz moving mass to produce its shaker effects. To move the weight, a 90 Watt amplifier is connected via the included banana plug audio cable.
To complement this new unit, ButtKicker has also introduced the Gamer PRO, which uses a 1 pound moving mass and is powered by a 150 Watt amplifier, and is intended to be used for larger rigs. Both the PLUS and the PRO can be connected to PC or console by way of the included cables, which allows you to split virtually any audio signal into one path that leads to your normal speakers or headphones, and another path to your ButtKicker amplifier.
A new feature for this year's ButtKicker amps is a USB connection. This feature works with PC only, and allows you to connect the amplifier to the new HaptiConnect software. The software represents a new direction for how ButtKickers get their information, as the software can be used to take telemetry from popular racing sims and reproduces feelings like curb and road rumble. The software also allows you to use the ButtKicker as a second audio device, alongside your default PC audio output.
The new units have improved features versus the outgoing Gamer 2 like new and upgraded interconnects and cabling, a smaller arm for the transducer, amplifiers with digital display and wireless remote, an improved clamp, plus a hard-mounting option.
The Gamer PLUS is similar in specifications to the Gamer 2, but the previously mentioned features do give it an advantage over its predecessor. The changes aren't dramatic in terms of performance or the quality of the haptic effects produced, but the overall design is much cleaner and simpler. The smaller transducer has a cleaner look, and the reduced cabling thanks to the wireless remote and direct USB connection to the amp make this ButtKicker a nicer option in terms of overall aesthetics. Like we've come to expect from ButtKicker, the haptic effects are strong and clean, and deliver an instantly more immersive experience at a budget-friendly price.
The HaptiConnect software is an interesting concept, and well-executed for what it is, but the pricing may ultimately hold this offering back. The Base version of the software is included with the Gamer PLUS and Gamer PRO purchases, which allows you to use the ButtKicker as a PC audio output and route signal to the transducer simultaneous to your normal audio out. But, to use the telemetry mode, the games are treated as plugins and the Standard or Ultimate editions of the software need to be used. The Standard version comes with the units for a limited time, but past June of 2022 it will cost $29.95. Similarly, the Ultimate version is a $29.95 upgrade for a limited time, but past June it will carry a cost of $59.95. The former will include all game plugins up to March 1st of 2022, and then plugins can be purchased a la carte for between $3 and $10 each. The latter will include all present and future plugins free of charge. While the telemetry mode is nicely executed with the new ButtKicker amplifiers, having to pay to potentially unlock access to it for future games is an unfortunate reality. For this review I used the ButtKicker PLUS with both the audio and telemetry modes in HaptiConnect, as well as SimHub software. All three produced the effects with roughly equal quality.
The ButtKicker Gamer PLUS is available now for pre-order, with an expected ship date of early May. The PLUS delivers the high level of build quality and haptic effects we have come to know from the company in recent years, and the improvements versus the Gamer 2 seem to retain the best of the outgoing model while making noticeable improvements to the user experience. For the price, the level of enhanced immersion is tough to beat. This is a great purchase for sim racers looking to feel their driving experience instead of just watching it, and works equally well for those with a desk and chair setup as it does for those using a higher end cockpit. The HaptiConnect software works well, and the telemetry mode is a great new feature, but ultimately the price may lead many users to stick with the audio mode or use a third-party control software.
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Detailed and strong rumble effects
- Simplified cabling and cleaner installation versus Gamer 2
- Easy setup
- HaptiConnect software pricing
- Noisy during operation