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 TV—I for one am not complaining—this 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.

Jeff Ostgler's picture

There are two items that handle the bass 1- a heavily damped 8" sub woofer, and 2- a tactile transducer. While it is true that we turned off the tactile transducer we did not turn off the sub woofer that activates at about 120 hz. This is because you can control this also by a volume knob but it is only active and lets you feel and hear those frequencies down that low. So, you not only hear the music but you can feel it --- it's a matter of personal taste but I actually like to feel my bass like I do when it is live. Sit next to a Cello and you will feel it as well as hear it. It can be a distraction to some but like I say - (leave it out or adjust it to your liking). The chair is more like Burger King's "Have it Your Way" when it comes to both the sub woofer and the tactile transducer. The transducer is only active at about 50 hz on down, so it is right where the bass is mainly felt and not heard anyway.Thanks to Jason for taking time and listening to our fabulous i-Fi Chair.