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How To Choose Suitable Home Theater Seating
Do not be surprised when you head over to your friend’s newly decked out home theater to discover that he has literally substituted lawn chairs (yes, the squeaking fold-out aluminum kind) for those plush leather home theater loungers you had been expecting.
When it comes to setting up a home theater, last on the list of required accessories is usually the seating. Let’s face it, chairs are just too passive for their own good. High definition televisions, movie screens, the hi-fi surround sound setup that has been pain-stakingly wired and tested–these are the things that will deliver that highly-prized, streamed source of entertainment. They command great attention from prospective home theater owners. Only when the proud home theater builder discovers that those rows of custom seating won’t actually be delivered for a couple of months does it occur to him that something might have been overlooked in his zeal to put together the perfect movie or sports viewing room.
Do not make the same mistake. Like every other facet of home theater design, your seating requirements will need to be carefully thought out beforehand, so that you can order the right loungers or movie seats well ahead of time. Actually, it will prove well worth the effort to give this element of your home theater some serious consideration. The reason for this is that, unlike the visual and auditory aspects of movie viewing, which benefit from the sheer scale of your local movie house, your home theater seating can easily exceed the quality of movie house seating, as well as provide, though Bass Shaker technology, sensory experiences that you just cannot get otherwise. Without a doubt, making the right choice in home theater seating has the potential to improve your movie viewing experience tremendously.
So what are your choices? The least expensive option is to go with movie seats. These are like the ones found in the movie house. They bolt to the floor, and have the advantage that the seat can be folded vertically when you are no longer using them. Generally these chairs consist of solid metal frames, and have leather or microfiber upholstery. If you are planning on building a home theater with more than a dozen seats, simple economics suggests you furnish with movie seats. They also take up less space than a bulky lounger would.
For smaller home theaters, which might seat a family-sized audience of, say, 5 or 6, the home theater lounger is the preferred choice. This is where you can pull out all the stops and really create something that impresses the hell out of your friends. Loungers are built for comfort. They are big, have thickly-padded cushioning, and usually have either a manually activated footrest and reclining action, or these features come at the push of a button in the motorized models. Like the movie seats, the loungers will have cup holders in the armrests, so that you can stash popcorn or drinks close at hand. Some reclining models are known as wall huggers, meaning that they can be placed just a couple of inches in front of a wall and still allow reclining without a problem (which they manage by stretching forward rather than back). This is particularly useful if you intend to build your home theater in a room where space is limited.
One significant advantage the home theater lounger has over the movie seat is that they can easily accommodate a tactile transducer, or Bass Shaker as they are more commonly known. When a Bass Shaker is attached to a lounger, the shaker pumps vibrational energy into the chair at just those moments in the movie that significant action is taking place. This result is that you “feel” the scene much same the way the characters in the movie would. The effect can add dramatically to the viewing experience. One reviewer of the technology remarked that when the Cyberdyne headquarters was blown up in Terminator 3, he thought his couch was about to explode. Clearly this is an aspect of the viewing experience that plain old home theater surround sound cannot provide. Many lounger models offer the option of a built-in Wireless Bass Shaker, which is attached internally to the wooden backboard and driven by an RF signal from your audio amplifier. If you cannot afford Bass Shakers for all your chairs, consider getting one or two. Your family members can rotate between movies. But be warned, they will be the most fought over seats in the house!
When you go shopping for a lounger, look for quality. The high end models will be constructed of hardwood frames, such as oak, maple, or alder, that have been kiln-dried. What this means is that the wood has been heat-treated to extract excess sap and moisture. This process also keeps the wood from absorbing more moisture in the future, so as to ensure that the frame will not warp with age. Quality loungers will also be padded with high-density foam. Look for a chair description mentions cushioning featuring 2 lb foam padding and hand-tied springs. If you cannot quite determine which is the right seating choice for you, try looking for customer reviews of home theater loungers and movie seats. If you think, for instance, that you might be interested in a Rodeo home theater lounger, try typing “review of rodeo home theater lounger” into your favorite search engine (and when you have purchased chairs, consider writing a review of your selected seating for the benefit of others–you can find a place to do this below).
An important point to consider before placing any order for home theater seating is whether you can get the chairs into your home. Get out the tape measure and start measuring doorway and hallway widths. Make sure you can receive your furnishings! It would be a good idea to allow at least 6 inches clearance, and preferably more, when planning the delivery route into your home. When you order a section of seating, with 3-5 chairs, say, you will have the option of getting a straight sectional, or you can join the chairs with a slightly wedged armrest, imparting a gentle curve the sectional. If you have not designed your home theater with curved sections in mind, you may be forced to go with straight joins.
Last but not least, keep an eye out for models of seating that offer fun designs. For example, if you are building a home theater so that you can watch your favorite sporting events with friends, look for chairs that have the logo of your favorite NCAA team embroidered into the backrests. It all adds to the excitement when the time comes to switch off the light and kick back for a couple of hours of sheer home theater enjoyment.