Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Importance of Seating in Home Theater Design

I recently got the recliners pictured below delivered for my mancave project. I ordered them from the Theater Seat Store. I can't say buying furniture without trying it out first is the smartest thing I've ever done but they looked just perfect in the photos on the vendor's website and sure enough, they are! All seating surfaces are leather and the padding has the ideal firmness. They recline quite far back as you can see and can still be set pretty close to the wall. The chairs are made by Vanguard HTS and are called Charlize.

One warning about Theater Seat Store. They are a good company and their prices are very reasonable. Their shipping method however was not clearly spelled out. They advertise free shipping and it was indeed free. The problem arose when Fedex Freight called to schedule the delivery. They informed me that it was curbside only. The driver would be alone and he would not bring the 2 immense boxes weighing about 150 pounds into my house. I had to arrange for a friend to come over and help me. They do offer a "white glove service" which costs 10% of the purchase price. For that fee, they will bring the furniture in and unpack it for you. If you buy from Theater Seat Store, just be sure to have some strong help available when your seats arrive.

Once the seats were in place, I spent some quality time sitting in them and envisioning the display area at the front of the room. I had planned to build a flexi-rack to accomodate all the electronics with the center channel speaker and plasma panel on top. I say "had" because after staring at the wall for awhile, I had a revelation: why not a projector? I had considered a projector a few months ago and dismissed the idea based on cost and thinking "do I really want to sit 10 feet from a 92-inch screen?" I found a white sheet and folded it so it would match the dimensions of a 92-inch, 16:9 screen (80" x 45"). I taped it up on the wall and had my wife join me for a look. After about 1 minute, she said "why can't we get a projector?" Honest, this really happened. This is a milestone in WAF (wife acceptance factor) history.

I do plan more detailed reports on the projection setup in the near future but for now, here is the updated gear list:

Panasonic AE2000U LCD projector
Carada 92" Brilliant White screen (1.4 gain)
Panasonic BD30 Blu-ray player (just arrived today in fact)
Oppo 980 DVD player
Lumagen Vision HDP video processor
Onkyo TX-SR805 surround receiver
Axiom Epic 60 surround speaker system

As you can see, the seating makes a real difference in how you perceive a viewing environment. Because of my experience, I recommend making chairs among the first purchases. I originally designed this room around a purpose: ultimate sound and light control to allow me to choose any display I wished. The seating really changed my vision from a viewing room into a screening room. Oh yes, the cost, I did mention that earlier. It seems that the sub-$3000 portion of the projector market is white-hot right now. Epson, Panasonic, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and Optoma all have superb units boasting full 1080p and excellent image quality. Thanks to the information at Projector, I chose the Panasonic. My choice of the Carada screen was based on quality for the money. The reviews on it were all exemplary and the value is the best in the business. You can read more about there products here.

I'd better end this article before I get too far off topic. My advice: choose your seating and get it in your theater before you commit to any display. You may find the chairs will tell you how the rest of the room should be done. Thanks for reading and enjoy the view!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. We are considering the same unit. I think we are sold!

Ayla said...

Well written article.

Theater Seat Specialist said...

Hi Chris....I work for the TheaterSeatStore and love the pictures of the seats....would you mind if we used them in a new section we are adding to the site which is essentially a gallery of our customer's home theaters. It is one of the best pics that I have seen for the Charlize. My email is and my name is Bruce Tucker. Or i can be reached at 888-602-7328 ext 0 and just ask for me. All information in the gallery would be anonymous...just great pictures like this.

Home Theater Furniture said...

Locate display height for ideal viewing from as many seats as possible but with particular attention to the main seating. It is most desirable to look straight into the center of the display while seated. In a true theatre seating arrangement it is more desirable to step up rear seating by 6” than to raise the screen.