Sometimes we review pretty mainstream stuff here at Popzara! We talk about video games, movies, books, even tech like monitors and speakers. Sometimes, though, we dip into slightly less common fare, like visual novels or strange monitor-suitcase chimera designed for gaming on an airplane. Today we’re looking at one of the latter – a slightly odd product that demands a certain sort of consumer. Here’s the SubPac S2 Seatback Tactile Bass System.
The SubPac S2 is, well…different. Imagine the back of your chair, the one you’re sitting in right now. Now imagine there’s a giant subwoofer hooked up to it. That’s what this does. It looks a bit like a set of body armor, and theoretically you could wear it that way, but the intended use for the S2 is to strap it to your chair and sit with your back touching it so you can feel the bass from music, games, movies and so on.
The device comes with a control box that’s intended to sit near you while you use the device, allowing you to adjust intensity. It runs on a rechargeable battery that will go for around five hours from a full charge; it also boasts a frequency response of 5hz-130hz, and as far as I can tell this means it’s really good at making you feel like your house is going to be shaken to pieces. You can input sound via a standard headphone jack or Bluetooth and can also run your own headphones through an output jack located on the control box.
Sounds weird, right? That’s because it is! It’s super weird. What’s more, setup is, at best, a giant pain in the bass-shaking butt. You have to connect quite a few wires to make this thing work, eventually resulting in a spiderweb of cables between you and your audio source. While the S2 does support Bluetooth, you’re still going to be futzing about with wires. I’m not the best at cable management so I wasn’t able to keep the S2 setup from looking unsightly, but maybe someone with a little more expertise would have better luck.
Once you’ve got all the wires set up, you’ll then need to strap the thing to your chair. This part, at least, isn’t too difficult thanks to the adjustable straps that the S2 ships with. I could see it being difficult to get the thing on some more oddly shaped chairs, but it fit nicely onto the one I use without much trouble. You’ll just need to figure out how to properly set things up so the cables don’t make a giant mess.
So once you manage to get all this set up, the payoff is shockwaves being sent directly into your back by a surprisingly powerful subwoofer. This is…actually kind of cool! If you’ve ever been to a live show with a lot of bass going on you can kind of imagine what this is like. The S2 essentially adds another level of tactile engagement with the sound; you’re meant to wear headphones while using it, suggesting that it’s a toy for audiophiles who want to block the world out and focus on music. This thing is no joke; it’s quite powerful and you’ll probably have to play with the controls a bit before finding a comfortable level of intensity.
The S2 really shines when you’re running it with bass-heavy music, of course. Trying it with club music or metal is a great time and really showcases the value of this sort of technology. Likewise, explosion-heavy games make the S2 sing, if you consider “THRUMM THRUMM BOOOOOM” singing. Still, this can become a little tiring after awhile, much like standing right in front of a speaker at a live show would. It’s certainly neat, though, and it’s been a popular thing to check out when people visit my place.
Other suggested uses include putting it to work as a tool to help musicians mix their audio and manage bass levels. As someone who is one of the furthest things from a professional musician there could possibly be, it’s difficult to comment on this. I would imagine it would better allow such a user to keep a track from degenerating into random thumping from overuse of bass, but again, it’s hard for me to say.
Much like some other niche products we’ve reviewed, like the GAEMS M-155 Gaming Monitor, the SubPac S2 is a product that really demands you have a use for it already in mind. Feeling your sound in such a direct fashion is certainly cool, but I can’t say it’s a must-have experience, especially given the awkward setup process.
The SubPac S2 Seatback Tactile Bass System does what it says on the box, and it’s super easy to imagine audiophiles and professional mixers getting a lot of use out of it. The cash layout you’ll need to pick one up only reinforces this; at nearly $400, it’s almost certainly an enthusiast’s device more than a toy you pick up on a whim. If this sounds like you and something like this is up your alley, and chances are it is, definitely check it out; otherwise, stick to more traditional audio options.