Pros and Cons of Media Chairs
Do you even need a media chair? If you already have a home theater system with surround sound and a subwoofer, the answer is probably no. In most cases, a properly installed home theater system with decent components will offer superior performance to all but the most expensive media chairs. Also, a home theater provides surround sound for everyone in the room, not just one person.
If you're thinking of installing a home theater system and wondering if a media chair would be a better way to go, it depends on the room and how many people will be using it. You can daisy chain some media chair models, but that's probably not the best idea if you want your family to enjoy a home theater system. If you're the only one who will be watching movies or playing games, then a media chair offers a nice compact system. Only higher-end chairs will give you surround sound.
What do media chairs have going for them? Any kind of audio installation has a "sweet spot" in the room where all the channels are balanced properly. A media chair focuses the sweet spot right where you're sitting. In addition, media chairs provide tactile feedback, either because the user is sitting on a subwoofer or because the chair actually shakes and vibrates. Few home theater systems come with "rumble sofas."
Lower-end media chairs can be ideal for smaller rooms, such as dorm rooms or children's rooms. They provide a compact listening space for one person without a bunch of stereo equipment. Another advantage of low-cost media chairs that only provide stereo sound: If you have a system that allows you to set up which audio feeds run to different speakers, you can make the chair's speakers the "rear" set, with the "front" sound coming from the TV or another set of speakers. This gives you a low-budget version of surround sound.
In the next section, we'll compare some of the media chairs on the market to help you decide which one is right for you.