What makes the Crowson TES 100 different from other transducers? Most transducers are "shakers" that move a spring suspended mass up and down in a housing that transfers the "shake" to the furniture or platform. The Crowson is a linear transducer, it goes under the furniture or platform and moves up and down in response to the input signal.
There are two kits available, one for a couch or platform, the other for a chair. The difference is that the couch kit includs two transducers while the chair kit only one. The furniture legs that do not have a transducer installed under them are fitted with round rubber feet to keep things level and isolated. The Crowson TES 100 is a breeze to install, just slide it under the leg or legs of your furniture, hook it up with some speaker wire to an amplifier rated at 50-500 watts rms. The transducer presents a 6 ohm load. Add a splitter to your LFE output from your receiver or surround processor to feed the transducer amplifier and you are ready to rumble.
For my evaluation I installed a chair kit (1 transducer and 3 rubber feet) on a futon style couch and on a recliner/rocker. I powered the transducer with one channel of a QSC RMX850 power amplifier which delivers ~300 watts to a 6 ohm load. The amplifier was fed the LFE signal direct from the LFE output of the receiver. The connection from amplifier to transducer was with a 20' length of 14 guage duplex speaker wire.
I used the transducers, primarily on the couch, for three weeks. Their performance was evaluated on "LOTR- Two Towers", "X2", "Pirates of the Carribean - Curse of the Black Pearl", "Pearl Harbor" and the bass classic "U-571".
I intially left the LFE level the same as I had been using with my Aura shakers, but eventually raised it by 4 dB (using the LFE gain adjustment on the receiver). This is where the LFE setting stayed for most of the evaluation.
The TES 100 did not produce appreciably more tactile effect when driven with the same signal level as the Aura 's (2 x 25W version), but the TES 100 did produce a much more well defined and deeper effect. As such, the tactile effect produced blended better with the sound produced by the subwoofers and the action on screen. This allowed me to increase the level of tactile effect (the 4dB boost above) without making it distracting. The couch I used for the evaluation has a stiff wooden frame, so the tactile effect was nearly uniform along the length of the couch. I think adding the second transducer included in the standard couch kit would have made the effect even more dramatic, and probably essential for a more thickly upholstered couch.
When I moved the trasducer to the thickly padded recliner/rocker I had to bump the level up by 2dB to get the same subjective level as the couch. I attribute this to the thicker padding and rocker mechanism on the chair and even more so to the thick padding under the carpet that is not present on the riser the couch is on. The lesson here is that for maximum effect with these transducers, you need a stiff, solid surface beneath them.
For a final test I turned down all the main speakers to a minimal level while leaving the gain up on the LFE. This enabled me to feed the TES 100 the full output of the power amplifier (~300W). The test material was the large battle scene from "Pearl Harbor". At these settings the "output clipping" light on the amplifier was just beginning to glow during bass peaks. With full power unleashed upon it the TES 100 caused several joints in the couch to rattle furiously, it also transferred a lot of energy to the platform the couch was on. At these levels the tactile effect was way to intense for my taste. A few minutes was all I could stand. When brought back to sane levels, the rattling and buzzing produced by the furniture stopped.
During this final test the TES 100 became extremely hot, too hot to touch in fact, the manufacturer mentions that it can get as hot at 180 degrees F. The TES 100 is protected from power and thermal overload. I was able to get it to shut down for about 7 seconds during the sinking of the USS Arizona scene in "Pearl Harbor".
-Great low, low frequency response
-Tactile effect is more realistic, effect has a sharper, crisper feel.
-Built in overload and thermal protection
-Higher cost (list price is $349 for the chair kit, $649 for the couch kit)
-Runs hot under load
-Can be hard to hide, depends on your furniture
The Crowson Technology TES 100 provides a very realistic tactile effect that blends well with the soundtrack and on-screen action.