ButtKicker Gamer PLUS Haptic Transducer and HaptiConnect Software Review


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.

ButtKicker Gamer PLUS Review 01.jpg


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.

ButtKicker Gamer PLUS Review 02.jpg


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.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly pricing
  • Detailed and strong rumble effects
  • Simplified cabling and cleaner installation versus Gamer 2
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • HaptiConnect software pricing
  • Noisy during operation
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

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Comments

I fell out of love with the BKG2 pretty quickly due to all the cables, including the remote whose connector broke within a week. Eventually I just shelved the whole thing. It's almost as though the Plus addresses every detail that annoyed me about the original.

-The wireless remote sold me
-USB means I can run it through my hub or run something else through my hub
-digi display and braided cables are QOL
-can bolt directly to the rig and not to that little impact socket I wound up installing.
-I personally loved the way Shaun from Simpit went over the software and the simplified interface compared to Simhub, so I don't mind paying for it, but that's just me.
 
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-The wireless remote sold me
Not me since you can map keys/buttons/dials in SimHub to tweak the volume. Other than the remote my button-box can't hide:thumbsup:

Otherwise there are cheaper ways to add tactile feedback to the rig. An amplifier like that can even power four Buttkicker LFE and similar powerful shakers (to the Mini/PLUS) like the Sinustec ST-BS 250 are still cheap, even I was paying 10€ less than that few years ago.
 
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Premium
Interested in haptic feedback stuff to use with VR. Which games did you use with it? Any thoughts on which ones worked well/not quite so well?
 
How do these new buttkickers compare to the mini LFE. I found a deal on 4 of them. are the still considered good? Im new to the tactile feedback world.
 
How do these new buttkickers compare to the mini LFE. I found a deal on 4 of them. are the still considered good? Im new to the tactile feedback world.
The PLUS look absolutely identical to my Minis apart from the plug and I think the Minis will not be produced anymore, so take the deal. I just saw them for 169€ per piece while I bought them in the same shop for 122€ in very late 2020. For aluminium-profiles you need M6-bolts and nuts or smaller or drill a wider slot. The cable is very short and you need to extend it with a speaker-cable and both my amps need also Speakon-connectors.

PS: The most challenging part will likely start after the installation, because shakers drone through floors, walls and ceilings even if you can barely hear them, especially engine-vibrations. To decouple the vibrations to the rig isn't easy and I've tried all solutions because Mc Obvious like rubber-feets and even 20 mm thick washing machine mats are not working well enough:thumbsdown:.

The rig needs to be shaking vertical for a sufficient decoupling and I've build my own suspension for that reason and because shakers+springs=:thumbsup:. Another solution is thick foam and I have used layers of (too soft) acoustic foam with good results, but the foam of gymnastic mats seems perfect. They also come with the perfect size already, but don't expect results from just one. Rather three or four and than there needs to be a plank on top to even out the weight. At least the efford will also amplify the effect a lot while keeping peace with the neighbours/household-members;).
 
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The PLUS look absolutely identical to my Minis apart from the plug and I think the Minis will not be produced anymore, so take the deal. I just saw them for 169€ per piece while I bought them in the same shop for 122€ in very late 2020. For aluminium-profiles you need M6-bolts and nuts or smaller or drill a wider slot. The cable is very short and you need to extend it with a speaker-cable and both my amps need also Speakon-connectors.

PS: The most challenging part will likely start after the installation, because shakers drone through floors, walls and ceilings even if you can barely hear them, especially engine-vibrations. To decouple the vibrations to the rig isn't easy and I've tried all solutions because Mc Obvious like rubber-feets and even 20 mm thick washing machine mats are not working well enough:thumbsdown:.

The rig needs to be shaking vertical for a sufficient decoupling and I've build my own suspension for that reason and because shakers+springs=:thumbsup:. Another solution is thick foam and I have used layers of (too soft) acoustic foam with good results, but the foam of gymnastic mats seems perfect. They also come with the perfect size already, but don't expect results from just one. Rather three or four and than there needs to be a plank on top to even out the weight. At least the efford will also amplify the effect a lot while keeping peace with the neighbours/household-members;).
Thanks for the reply. I ended up getting a set of 4 for 300. Figured that was a decent deal. Now I just need a good Amp. But i dont want to get into that here for the sake of keeping it on topic. Ill ask on the Tacticle post.
 
Thanks for the reply. I ended up getting a set of 4 for 300. Figured that was a decent deal. Now I just need a good Amp. But i dont want to get into that here for the sake of keeping it on topic. Ill ask on the Tacticle post.
I've posted the link to the amp I would buy today already here and similar amps are probably elsewhere available. I was paying less for my amp, but it can't do 4x520 watts, so easily enough for four big LFEs and these are true monsters. But either get a similar decent suspension as well or live outside the civilization to power them up. The Minis are the better compromise especially because the software isn't optimized to take advantage of the LFE-power. Only in theory the LFEs could kind of replace actuators, but in practise they just vibrate a bit more like the Minis while causing 'greater' bass emissions.
 
Premium
I pre-ordered a pro last week. The cost difference between the plus and pro seems relatively small. Why would a person get a plus over the pro?

I have a gamer 2 now and like it very much. I guess I will mount the gamer 2 at the front and the new pro in the back.
 
The USB functionality and remote control has me considering grabbing 1 or 2 for my 80/20 rig, as I've been back and forth about adding shakers/transducers. This and the Sim3D pedal motors are at the top of my list.

I would like to know more about the spatial configuration part of HaptiConnect. My thoughts were to get 2 and mount them Front and Rear...my question is, in a front/rear config, does it add a bit of delay between the two so that it gives the illusion of forward motion?

For example: If I drive over a rumble strip, will the front buttkicker react slightly before the rear one?
 
The USB functionality and remote control has me considering grabbing 1 or 2 for my 80/20 rig, as I've been back and forth about adding shakers/transducers. This and the Sim3D pedal motors are at the top of my list.

I would like to know more about the spatial configuration part of HaptiConnect. My thoughts were to get 2 and mount them Front and Rear...my question is, in a front/rear config, does it add a bit of delay between the two so that it gives the illusion of forward motion?

For example: If I drive over a rumble strip, will the front buttkicker react slightly before the rear one?
Front and rear works great. You can have some (extra) vibration when you lock up the fronts.
Some vibes when you loose the backend.
When going over a bump, you can feel the bump coming in from the front, than hitting the back.
Delay is minimal, not like (full) motion rigs, that always tend to be delayed.
 
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Thanks Richard. What I would really like to know (@Mike Smith not sure if you can answer this) are the dimensions for the gamer PRO. I want to clamp one under my seat but there's a limited amount of front-to-back space there.

Also, I've heard in the past attaching buttkickers sideways is not the best way...is it because the vibrations don't transfer as well, or does it wear down the motor faster, or both?

Finally, if I secured it to the spot shown in this pic (my rig is of similar design), will I feel it more on that side or will it feel fairly even in the seat? My rig is taller and is on risers, so ground clearance isn't an issue.

2022-03-23 09_29_21-Window.png
 
Premium
I don't have ButtKickers, but I put a 2 AuraSound AS-2B4 under my seat and 2 Dayton BST-1 under my pedal deck. I powered them with 2 Fosi TB10A amps which are small but put out plenty of power running them in 4ohm configuration. For me this adds to the emersion tremendously. The rig feels dead if they are not on. Just some thoughts, I used 4 in stereo. I don't think this is necessary after using them because being close together you don't get a lot of right/left feel but you do get some. I don't run the amps much past 1 or 2 o'clock on the volume. I use simhub to control the shakers. To me this was a great addition to my sim rig.
 
Is anyone using hapticonnect software with dirt rally 2.0?
The latest version of hapticonnect just won't work for me. I had to install the previous version.
Does anyone have similar problems?
 
Does anyone know whether the hapticonnect software works with the original buttkicker 2 - and if it does, does anyone know if it will it work with AMS1, rfactor 1 or GTR2?
 
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Does anyone know whether the hapticonnect software works with the original buttkicker 2 - and if it does, does anyone know if it will it work with AMS1, rfactor 1 or GTR2?
Hey man, sorry to dig up an old topic, but did you ever find out if the hapticonnect software works with the original buttkicker gamer 2? I have one of those and I'm considering the Gamer Pro, but only if the hapticonnect will work for both of them.
 
No, I emailed the buttkicker company but had no reply but if you find out please let me/us know - in recent times I forgot about it tbh but I'll do some googling now.
 
Premium
No, I emailed the buttkicker company but had no reply but if you find out please let me/us know - in recent times I forgot about it tbh but I'll do some googling now.
You can also call them. They have great phone support and will spend as much time as you need on the phone.
 

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