A race car is only as good as the tires that grip the road. Too slick and 1000 horsepower of genius engineering can be destroyed in seconds, with potentially deadly ramifications. Ever play golf? Don’t start, take it from me that it is a nasty habit like chewing tobacco but with more ugly, often emotional, side effects. The only way your whole body connects with your very expensive and often cursed golf clubs is through your hands/grips. Try playing excellent golf in the rain with worn grips. You quickly learn that you can’t control your shots without a little grip. Home theater seating reminds me of these out-of-industry issues. How much you love your audio and video has a lot to do with how comfortable you are when chilling out in your man (or woman, for that matter) cave. Comfort should be the highest consideration when designing and/or improving your AV listening room. Sadly, there are a lot of goofy rules and outdated concepts surrounding home theater seating. Allow me to clear matters up a bit here.
Myth No. 1: All Home Theater Seating Is Cheap or Crappy
Nope. That’s not true. I have a four-seat sofa/chaise-lounge configuration from the uber-high-end home theater seating company, Elite HTS, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Some argue that these guys are the “Mercedes of home theater seating” but to me they are more analogous with Bentley or Maybach. The frames in their seating are made of aluminum. The internal seat motors needed for smooth reclining of larger people like me – are powerful yet silent. The “silk leather” used is not just supple but somewhat ageless as it doesn’t easily show the same wear I have in my AMG SUV’s front seats. Beyond being able to pick custom fabrics and wood finishes for your hand-built seating, you also get physically measured as if your chairs were a custom Brioni suit. They measure your torso height. They measure your legs. Then they build a seat for you. Yes, you. That makes the seating simply amazing and you can do this for everybody in your family too . Is Elite HTS expensive? Generally speaking, the cost of a luxury product this fantastic is pretty spendy. A basic, single chair costs roughly $7,000. I know an AV industry reviewer who has one that is pushing 20 years old and it looks brand new and performs like a champ. I couldn’t love my Elite HTS seating system more. Here’s a review of my Elite HTS F9 seating system from an audiophile angle.
Myth No. 2: You Have To Have Cup Holders and Can Only Get Styles That Art Art Deco Inspired
Wrong again. Thirty years ago, when Dolby Pro Logic surround sound and VHS machines brought the concept of watching movies to the small screen from the silver screen, many clichés developed. People saw what Theo Kalomirakis was designing and robbed his 1920s art déco style shamelessly. If you asked Theo today, I think he would tell you that red velvet theater seating has been done to death and he now has many more updated designs up his sleeve. Trends come and go in interior design as much as they do with home theater seating. To me, cup holders can look silly or overly detailed, but by no means does your home theater have to follow the ways of the past. Good seating options can look modern, rustic, sleek or shabby chic. Every color and design are available to you even if you don’t have a big furniture budget. You don’t want to buy a cheaply made sofa, but you don’t have to live with a design cliché either.
Myth No. 3: You Have To Buy Home Theater Seating From Your AV Store
By all means, you can design and order very premium home theater seating from your audiophile dealer or home theater salon, but you don’t have to. Two houses ago, I purchased simply fantastic home theater seating from the Minnesota-based, American-made furniture company, Room and Board. Their Metro Sofa is a true classic and nearly infinitely configurable for only a few thousand dollars. It isn’t IKEA priced, but it isn’t IKEA level of quality and comfort either. The seating in my screening room was so comfortable that it became an issue for me. Considering that paired with the light and sound controlled room and awesome HVAC, my screening room could have me fall asleep watching a movie in about 10 to 15 minutes. That wasn’t my goal, but it was an unexpected result. Other locations for more design-centric, upmarket seating solutions, including places like Design Within Reach, which focus a bit more on the concept of furniture-as-art. These two are national options, but everybody has good regional furniture options. Just like white speakers sell better on the coasts and wood-finished speakers sell better in the middle of the country – you will find locally relevant seating options if you take a Saturday to go explore.
Myth No. 4: Audiophile Rooms Are For One Person Only And Are Supposed To Be Messy Looking
The concept of having a messy-looking AV room is so a-generation-ago. Today’s home theater enthusiast and audiophile is expected to not just have their AV investment always ready for action and displayed neatly. It is also expected that you design your room to have more than one “hotspot” seating position so that all of your family (and/or guests) can enjoy the latest screening on any given movie night. Media rooms should be a focal point of a house. They should be where people congregate. Media rooms should have as much interior design and overall thought as any other high traffic room in your house.
Home theater seating is often overlooked as an important category in the hobby, but that is a mistake. The best big Hollywood theaters now spend big bucks on seating. You should invest appropriately too. Making your home theater room the go-to room in your house for family or personal entertainment is a very reasonable goal and one that should be embraced. You don’t have to spend the kid’s college fund to get there either. You just have to be aware of the importance of design and comfort when it comes to you and your fellow theater fans who watch (and listen) in your room. With that in mind, you simply can’t fail.