Lots of things go into the formula for putting together a great home theater experience. You’ve obviously got to nail the sound and picture. Another factor we feel gets overlooked can be the actual room itself and how it does from an acoustic standpoint, but what I want to talk about today is the component that holds you up for a few hours: the home theater seating!
One big reason to have your own personal theater is to avoid the sticky floors and uncomfortable seats of a commercial Cineplex. The good news is, the choices are wide when it comes to home theater seating.
I am 100% convinced you’ll have the best chance of escaping real life and enjoying the movie if you can prop your feet up. To me, this is key. One option chosen by many is a comfortable couch with a padded ottoman. This will let you put your feet up and get into a semi-reclined position. A couch may suit you just fine if you are ok with moving around to reposition yourself as you slouch down. You see, the problem with a couch and ottoman is while it lets you get your feet up, the rest of the couch does not move so you tend to slip down as time passes during the movie.
Many furniture companies have introduced what they call “motion furniture”. This will typically be a couch with a footrest that pops up and a reclining seat back. You’ll find this taken one step further with many options for theater seating from the major furniture manufactures.
In the early 60’s when Lazy Boy first introduced their recliner-rocker, it was all about coming home from a hard day at work, reclining and taking a nap. To make this comfortable, the back of the chair needed to tip back pretty far. Many have a manual recline that gives you two positions: footrest up, or the napping position. You’ll also find motorized recline on many, but the issue I have with many of these is they start tipping you back before your feet get all the way up. From what I’ve seen, most furniture (and a lot of home theater seating companies) have continued with this design. Well, what happens when your head is pointed at the ceiling? You can’t see that great 130” widescreen without getting a stiff neck! When checking out theater seating made by a company whose primary business is furniture, make sure you test the tilt back vs feet coming up to confirm you don't get tipped much at all before the footrest comes all the way up.
For me, getting my feet all the way up with a little bit of recline puts me in the idea position to enjoy a movie. At Audio Advice we’ve searched far and wide for theater seating that puts you in this ideal position. What we have found is you need two things: a motorized mechanism that lets you keep the seat in any position, and things need to be designed to take your feet all the way up and the footrest all the way out, before the seat starts to recline backwards. When you have this combination, it’s really easy to get comfortable. One more option I really like is an articulating headrest. More on that in a minute.
Our search led us to two seating vendors with a few different options. These are Salamander and CinemaTech.
Salamander just introduced a new seat we really like for the money. They are fully motorized, have a large seat and are around $1350/seat. They are available in several configurations to fit just about any requirement. To keep costs low, they are only available in black. The T3 as they call it is just a great seat for the money. They have most of the characteristics we like with a very competitive cost.
Our favorite seating vendor is CinemaTech. There is no question they make the best seating on the planet. They recently introduced a new model, the M3, to bring many of the great CinemaTech features to a lower price. Almost all of the CinemaTech chairs have an articulating headrest. This lets you move the headrest forward to push your head back up. What this does is allow you to tip the chair back more to get fully relaxed, yet it gives great support to your head to keep you looking at the screen. These new seats are fully motorized with the type of mechanism we plus the articulating headrest feature. Like the Salamander T3, they are only available in black, but are $1995/seat. I know if you sit in this chair, you’ll feel like we all do here at Audio Advice, it is a great value.
CinemaTech also makes some of the most luxurious seats in the world. They have a wide range of models where each has a slightly different feel. When you’re spending $4000-$6000 per seat, most people like to try it out first. We’ve got a few examples in our store, but not all of them. So, CinemaTech has a great program. You can fly into their Dallas facility, try out all the seats, and if you buy 4 of them, they will reimburse you up to $1000 for the cost of your flight! We’ve had a few clients do this and strangely enough, they all wound up buying the same model from CinemaTech, the Le Grande. This got my curiosity up, so when the next client wanted to fly out, I went with him. I got to try out all of the seats and came to the same conclusion. The LeGrande is simply the most comfortable theater chair out there. The client who flew out wound up ordering LeGrande as well.
The owner of CinemaTech knew I really liked these and called me up to let me know they had two seats that had traveled all over the world to trade shows in a discontinued leather color they needed to move out. I decided to take him up and purchased these for myself.
The Le Grande hugs your body like a high performance automobile seat. When you sit in it with no recline, it actually feels too stiff and rigid. But boy oh boy, does it ever change when you recline it! I’ve sat in these seats through 2 movies and four hours, gotten up and felt great. The combination of the firm seating with great support, perfect recline mechanism, and the articulating headrest just cannot be beaten! Another great feature of the CinemaTech seats is their glass table insert. This is a rotating small round glass table you can drop into the cup-holder. A couple of these are on my wish list.
We invite you to stop by our stores and check out our great new line up of home theater seating. I think we have just a great selection that makes movie viewing really comfortable!