Equipment Review No. 3    December 2002

CLARK SYNTHESIS Silver TST229F Tactile Sound Transducer

Selected Specs:
M.S.R.P.: $199.99
Power Handling: 100-Watts RMS Continuous
Frequency Range: 15Hz - 800Hz; Tactile; 35Hz - 17KHz Audible
Overload Protection
Dimensions: 8” diameter x 2.25” high
Magnet: 20-oz. ceramic
Transduction Force: 1.6 lb.-ft. per watt
Tactile Force Peak: 216 l.ft.1.6 lb.-ft. per watt
http://www.clarksynthesis.com/

Introduction.
Clark Synthesis offers three models of transducers in its home theater line; the Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Previously, I had an opportunity to audition the intermediate-level Gold (TST329F) model and was quite enamored with its performance. I was recently sent Clark Synthesis’ entry-level model, the Silver (TST229F), for review. This particular model has piqued my interest because if it is able to perform anywhere near as well as its Gold counterpart, the Silver has an incredible upside to it. The upside I am referring to is the Silver’s MSRP of less than $200, as it would truly make high performance tactile audio affordable for the consumer masses.

What Is Tactile Sound?
For those who are unfamiliar with tactile sound, it is the sound you feel. Most humans feel frequencies from about 15Hz to 800Hz. As defined by Clark Synthesis, tactile sound is “the exhilarating rumble of F-16 afterburners and the gentle pluck of a guitar string. [It is] another dimension to sound, the sense of living and feeling each event.”
Installation. Just like the Gold (TST329F), the Silver (TST229F) transducer is a saucer-shaped, 8” disc that can be mounted on the bottom of furniture or under floors and decks. I chose to audition this transducer by fastening it under a two-person loveseat in our home theater room. Upon locating a wooden center brace on the loveseat’s underside, I drilled a hole into this brace with a 1/4” bit. I then inserted one end of a mounting screw into this hole (hardware is included with transducer) and attached the other end of the screw to the transducer. The installation was complete after attaching 16-gauge speaker cable to the transducer’s wire leads. In general, installation is not complicated and consumers should be able to do it themselves.

Connections.
While it is not a loudspeaker, the Silver (TST229F) tactile sound transducer operates similarly in principle. As such, a modest amplifier is all that is necessary to power the transducer. The Silver can handle a continuous 100-watts RMS, so an amplifier with 75 or more watts per channel is ideal. While a dedicated amplifier is best suited for use with the Silver, I was able to use an old Sony receiver (75-watts per channel) to power the transducer. Since the majority of home theater enthusiasts are more apt to have an old receiver lying around the house than a spare dedicated amp, I thought this would be a great test. Utilizing old equipment, if possible, makes the Silver even that much more affordable. Upon selecting a source of amplification, the Clark Synthesis Silver transducer can be connected to a home theater receiver in two different ways: (1) through the Main L-R Channel Pre-Out jacks, or (2) through the LFE/subwoofer out jack.

Main L-R Channel Pre-Out.
Because the Clark Synthesis Silver (TST229F) transducer is full-range, this connection is the preferred method because it enables the transducer to function at its full capacity (frequency ranges: 15Hz to 800Hz tactile/35Hz to 17KHz audible). If one desires to tailor the frequency range over which the transducer operates, then the main L-R channel pre-out signal may first be passed through a graphic equalizer to customize the effect to individual preference.

LFE/Subwoofer Out.
Unlike the main L-R channel pre-out connection, the LFE/subwoofer out connection severely limits the frequency range fed to the transducer (typically 100Hz and below). The individual receiver dictates the exact frequency cut-off figure. This connection is an appropriate choice if: (a) the receiver does not possess amplifier pre-out jacks for the left and right main channel speakers, or (b) one wishes to experience only those effects associated with the very lowest frequencies (i.e. explosions, thunder, etc.).

Test Results.
I hooked up the Clark Synthesis Silver transducer via the left and right main channel pre-out jacks on our reference Sherwood Newcastle R-963T receiver. The bass management feature was utilized under the following settings: mains [large]; center and rears [small]; and subwoofer [yes]. I chose two test DVDs that I felt had excellent sonic effects and overall dynamic soundtracks – “The Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” With “The Lord of the Rings,” the opening action sequence delivers reference-quality audio filled with the sounds of epic battle. With the addition of the Clark Synthesis Silver transducer, the sequence came alive. The sound from each and every warrior’s footsteps and clash of their swords reverberated throughout my body. The effect was so intense that I thought I was in the battle myself. Watching “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” with the transducer engaged provided an equally satisfying experience. Of particular fun was the “Pod Race” sequence from the film. The engines in this sequence produce a very low humming effect and the Clark Synthesis Silver really allows you to feel it. After experiencing this scene, I would swear that I just got off of a ride at a theme park. Even beyond the explosive action sequences of both DVDs though, the Clark Synthesis Silver enabled me to be more involved in the films than ever before. Being able to feel subtle things like the tingling in my fingertips from the musical score made me feel like a participant in the movie rather than merely an observer.

Conclusion.
The Clark Synthesis Silver (TST229F) tactile sound transducer adds an increased level of realism to the world of home theater. It accomplishes this feat even at low volume levels, thereby eliminating problems typically associated with powered subwoofers including room resonance, standing waves and noise in adjacent rooms. As more and more people are introduced to how this product (and its more powerful siblings in the Clark Synthesis line) creates better depth and more enjoyment in home theater, I believe tactile sound transducers will eventually become as standard of equipment as are powered subwoofers and surround sound speakers. The Clark Synthesis Silver is notable for affordable pricing, simple installation, and solid performance.

- Calvin Harding Jr.

For more information about the Silver (TST229F) Tactile Sound Transducer or other Clark Synthesis products, please contact Clark Synthesis at:

Clark Synthesis, Inc.
8122 Southpark Lane, Suite 110
Littleton, CO 80120
1-800-898-1945

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