The Aussies at Next Level Racing are by no means the first to make a backrest designed to fit over your gaming seat (yes, cabbie ball style). These products are not only fillers but also have a series of motors inside to provide haptic response depending on the action of the game you are immersed in. Other solutions such as the G-Seat from Simexperience, the Force Feel from Realteus, the U-Shake6 from Sim Racing Studios or the Jetset from Gametrix have been available on the simulator market for several years now. However, what NLR has managed is to launch a product that is a bit better than the competition and, above all, a well-designed and fairly complete item at a reasonable price.

The idea is very simple. You place the backrest on your chair or armchair (or the seat of your simracing cabin), secure it with its adjustable straps, plug it in via USB or AUX audio cable (mainly for console players) then, via the Next Level Racing software or via other suites like Simhub, you configure it to send vibrations to the points you want and with the strength or “intensity” you want. The HF8 incorporates, as its name suggests (and unlike products like OWO’s Haptic Vest, which operates without vibration), eight individual electric motors that generate haptic feedback, and although they are naturally very small and flat to fit inside the pad, the truth is that they provide more than enough vibration to give the feeling, for example, that the car you’re driving is reaching its rev limit, or that the weapon that you shoot has a recoil of breaking your shoulder.

That said, we at Gamereactor were primarily interested in the application of the NLR HF8 pad as a feedback complement for our globally unique racing rig and it turns out that, by coincidence, we had recently changed our previous saddle Sparco Evo for a Sabelt GT Pad which has interchangeable foam parts inside. So we were able to completely remove the Sabelt foam, leaving the fiberglass body of the seat visible, and then place the HF8 as padding, avoiding the feeling of sitting on a double cushion, which happens if you put it on merely. a chair that already has a sewn-in cushion. In this sense, I think our solution is really optimal and the tuning of the HF8 has been excellent. It fits like a glove in our Sabelt and we also put Clas Ohlson velcro straps for the back, glued to our chair. A brilliant and fairly easy solution.

HF8 Next Level Racing


If you play on PC and to avoid possible signal delays, you must connect the NLR HF8 via USB. The truth is that at first we had quite a few problems with Next Level Racing’s software (which you also have to download and register). The main mess is that it tries to put stuff in the game config file, especially Dirt Rally 2.0, since the Codemasters classic only outputs a telemetry signal. For all this we decided to try to control the HF8 using the Simhub tool, a program well known to simracers which in many ways is the heart and brain of our simulation cabin and which manages components and peripherals such as the Racelogic Laptimer, the Simcore DS5 information panel, an iPad Pro, the three Sim 3D vibration motors for the pedals, the vibration motor mounted under the seat and the wind simulator. Using Simhub, you can dial in specific parameters for each of the HF8’s eight haptic motors, how they should operate, what they should simulate (RPM, edges, shifts, acceleration, crashes, etc.) and with what force . Truth is, it performed pretty well in our tests, so speaking of performance alone, I’d say this device is great.

HF8 Next Level Racing

This might sound silly coming from us who regularly test cutting-edge simulation gadgets, but the truth is that this cushion adds a lot to the immersion and realism, for example when the HF8 is tasked with conveying the feeling of loss of traction vibrating in the butt, or simulating engine speed by increasing the intensity of the motors in the spine as you reach breakneck speeds. Here, as with so many other aspects of sim racing, less is more, and small details like these make a big difference in Gamereactor’s 6DOF motion sim in terms of immersion. The HF8 works very well, it is really fast in its connection without appreciable lag and it is comfortable to put down and even to the touch, due to its manufacture with quality materials (imitation fabrics). After sitting and driving for over ten hours with the HF8 in our cockpit, it’s become something I don’t want to take away, and for those of you who drive in a static cockpit with no motion pads or traction, this product will be of even more benefits. .

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