Comfort OR better sound; can you have both? Howard Popeck ponders on this

In the mid 1980s, just when I thought it was safe to relax in our demonstration rooms at Subjective Audio and enjoy the music ... Linn made the public and the industry aware of the damage an extra pair of speakers in that room might be inflicting on the music. The era of the single-speaker demo room came, and then went. Now isn’t the time to debate the pros and the cons of that situation. However, there is a big however.

On and off through the intervening years I have wondered if and to what extent there are other influences on the sound in a demo room and the end-user’s listening room. All the obvious aspects have been discussed ad-infenitum; wall surface treatments, bass-traps, rugs and so on; but what about the chair? Yes, the chair.

Simply put; one of the items of furniture in the room you should be careful with is the chair and its back. If you’re using a low back chair as your main listening seat, then that’s fine – from the sonic perspective. In contrast if you’re using a high back chair, a couch or anything much larger then it’s changing the sound.

Having started with very comfortable sofas that were highly absorbent and looked good I then moved over to bean bags, and we all got such back-ache that sonics were the last things on our mind. Back came the sofas.

The sound improved but primarily because our ears were in line (horizontal to the floor) with most tweeters. So then we changed all the chairs to ones with a simple wooden frame and cushion. As best we could judge they were and remain as acoustically transparent as we can find; Swedish (from you know who) and cheapish. Yes, pretty comfortable too. Interestingly enough they have high backs but are shaped such that the back doesn’t interfere with the sound if you remove the head rest it comes with.

Thank you for your attention

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