i-Fis’ Heaven-Sent Chair
Do you wish you could stroll through a field of poppies, and drift into oblivion while listening to your favorite music? You needn't fly to the land of Oz or pastoral Afghanistan. Instead, try the almost all-in-one i-Fi Home Theater in a Chair ($4000). Though it currently lacks a TVI for one am not complainingthis Kimber Kable-wired, motorized, Italian leather recliner comes complete with two satellite speakers, a tactile transducer (I'll explain), and hidden-in-the-back class-D amplifier and subwoofer. The baby even has a Bryston iPod DAC, built-in demo library for the true wherever-you-lead-I-will-follow(s) amongst us, and a wireless transmitter.
Recline just a bit, and you'll experience an unearthly soundstage that is particularly mesmerizing on vocals. Listening to both bossa nova mistress Rosa Passos and classical baritone Matthias Goerne, the midrange was surprisingly full and beautiful.
Lean farther back, and the soundstage becomes more realistic, at least by audiophile standards, but you risk following yours truly into sleep. For many, that will not prove an occupational hazard. (Thank God JA didn't see me momentarily doze off on the job).
There is some weirdness. The tactile transducer intentionally makes the chair vibrate with the bass. In the on position, I found it as distracting as the subwoofer-under-every-seat that we members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society experienced during our visit to the custom-built theater inside Dolby Labs' San Francisco HQ. Even when we turned the tactile transducer in my i-Fi chair all the way down, the seat continued to vibrate a bit every time the cello played a strong note in Schubert's "Trout" Quintet. I can only imagine what the poor fish felt.
Minor grumbles aside, Jeff Ostler and Jamie Beers' i-Fi Chair is pretty fabulous. The men want to get people listening to music again without interruption. Except for those irrepressible zzzzs, I think they've found the way. While a higher-end chair is in the development stage, the current model, which premiered in final form at Axpona, is quite the deal. If it doesn't sell like hotcakes, it's back to pan-fried fish filet.