Laws of Motion
Crowson Technology’s Tactile Motion System can shake your chair, but is it enough to move a skeptical reviewer?
“An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force.” That’s Newton’s First Law of Motion, of course. But it also describes my attitude to many of the latest trends in audio. I may cozy up to the latest video games and high-definition video formats quicker than many reviewers do, but when it comes to audio gadgetry, I tend to remain at rest.
So when John Yi of Crowson Technology contacts me about reviewing his company’s Tactile Motion System, I’m skeptical. My first thoughts run to the “shakers” I’ve experienced in the past, which typically add a monotonous rumble. John bristles at the merest mention of the word shaker, though; if I were to quote him, I would have to use an exclamation point. Rather than attaching to the frame of a seat, the floor, or a platform, as most shaker systems do, Crowson’s TES-100 actuators rest under the back legs of a couch or chair, transferring motion energy to the entire seat—not just its hard bits—for a more natural experience. He assures me that the system will work well even with the quasi-gold, quasi-green, 8-foot antique behemoth I call a sofa.
The A300 includes many improvements over the company’s previous amp, the A200 (reviewed in “Strange Creatures from the Deep”), including twice as much power and a variable low-pass filter, which gives you more control over the range of frequencies translated into tactile motion—because let’s face it, most of us love feeling the impact of a Death Star exploding, but not all of us want to sense James Earl Jones’ every utterance in the seat of our pants.
Impressed by the simplicity of the setup but a bit weary from lifting my sofa, I settle down to test out the Tactile Motion System with one of my favorite bass demos: the climactic scenes from Contact. To my surprise, I don’t feel as if my couch is being jostled. Instead, it feels as if I’ve turned my subwoofer up several notches, but it doesn’t sound like I turned it up. In sheer defiance of Newton’s Second Law, despite the amount of mass the system has to move and the relatively little electromotive force delivered by the A300, there’s a substantial amount of acceleration. I feel like I’m right with Jodie Foster as her pod travels through the wormhole. During quieter passages, I simply feel embraced by the symphonic score, not molested by the kettle drums as I would have been with other tactile systems I’ve experienced.
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