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Ultimate Home Theatre Seating Guide in Australia

A comprehensive How-to guide on picking the best home cinema seating for your room.
16 April 2024 by
Ultimate Home Theatre Seating Guide in Australia
BMC Audio Visual, Jairoop Basavaiah

Choosing the right home theatre seating can be a daunting task, especially with the myriad of options available in today's market. Whether you're setting up a new home cinema from scratch or upgrading an existing space, selecting the perfect seats is crucial to enhancing your cinema experience.

With the vast array of options available, how do you choose the best home theatre seating? This guide aims to simplify the decision-making process by exploring the key factors to consider when selecting home theatre seating. From understanding different types of seats and their features to considerations about space layout and material choices, we'll help you navigate the complexities of creating a comfortable, stylish, and functional cinema environment in your home. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the essentials of picking the right theatre seating that meets all your cinematic needs.

1. What is Home Theatre Seating?

1.1. Defining Home Theatre Seating

Home theatre seating is designed specifically for use in private cinema spaces at home, providing optimal comfort and functionality for watching films, TV shows, and other multimedia content. Unlike regular living room furniture, home theatre chairs are engineered to enhance the viewing experience through superior ergonomic support, viewing angles, and features tailored to media consumption such as reclining capabilities and integrated audio systems to facilitate content consumption for longer hours.

1.2. Types of Home Theatre Seating

There are several types of home theatre seating, including single seats, Lounge chairs, loveseats, and sofas, all of which can come in various styles such as recliners, fixed seats, or sectional setups. High-end options often include motorised reclining theatre seats, leather theatre seats, and customizable features that cater to the specific design and comfort needs of the user.

Types of theatre seating

2. Creating and Planning the Ideal Layout for your Home Theatre Seating

2.1. Designing the Cinema Room from the Scratch

For those starting a new home theatre project, you have the freedom to design a space that perfectly fits your vision. This is an exciting opportunity to tailor every aspect, from speaker placement to seating arrangements, ensuring that every seat is in the 'sweet spot' for both audio and visual enjoyment. While planning do measure room size and the available space to check how many seats can be comfortably installed in the room. The seats need to be appropriately placed away from the front screen wall, side wall and back wall. The distance calculation between the front screen wall and recliners can be found below. We recommend not to put the seats right up against the back wall, as it can drastically impact the surround sound experience. Ideally you would want to have at least a metre of space between the back wall and the last row of seats. You would also want to ensure there is at least half a metre of space between the side walls and the recliners. If you are unsure about the cinema room layout and seating, do consult a professional home cinema designer and have your room designed based on your preferences.

2.2. Enhancing an Existing Cinema Room Setup

If you're upgrading your existing home theatre, consider the current limitations and strengths of your space. Are the seats comfortable enough for long movie marathons? Do they have the features like reclining capabilities, cup holders, or built-in technology that enhance your movie-watching experience? Upgrading your seating can transform your enjoyment of your home theatre, making every movie night a special event.

2.3. Screen Size vs Viewing Distance

When setting up a home theatre, one of the crucial aspects to consider alongside the seating is the relationship between screen size and viewing distance. This balance is key to ensuring an optimal viewing experience, where the screen fills just the right amount of your visual field without causing strain or discomfort. THX recommends a 40 degree viewing angle for an optimal immersive movie watching experience. An easy way to calculate the ideal seating distance(mm) away from the screen is to multiply the display diagonal screen size (in Inches) by 30.47.

Formula for a 40 Degree viewing angle - Optimal Viewing Distance

Optimal Viewing Distance(mm) =  Screen Size(Diagonal, in Inches) X 30.47

Formula for a 30 Degree viewing angle - Maximum Viewing Distance

Maximum Viewing Distance(mm) = Screen Size(Diagonal, in Inches) X 41.38

Example 1: If you are planning for a 120" Projector screen;

To calculate the optimal seating distance, multiply 120 by 30.47, this equates to 3,656.4(mm) or 3.66metres.

The maximum seating distance for a 120" screen, would be 4,965.6mm or 4.97Metres.

Example 2: If you are planning for an 85" 4K TV;

To calculate the optimal seating distance. Multiply 85" by 30.47, this equates to 2,589.95(mm) or 2.59Metres.

The maximum seating distance for a 85" screen, would be 3,517.3mm or 3.52 Metres.

2.4. Single Seats vs. Rows

Depending on your space and needs, you might choose individual seats, rows of seats, or a combination of both. Some prefer the flexibility of mixing and matching single seats, chairs with a chaise and loveseats, while others might opt for uniform rows to maximise seating capacity.

Instead of placing all seats directly facing the screen, you could try angling them slightly or opting for a gentle curve. This arrangement can enhance sightlines and sound distribution, making the most of your spatial constraints. In some cases, the recliner manufacturers offer a curved seat configuration of the chairs to facilitate ergonomic viewing for the people sitting at the end of the row to minimise neck strain and fatigue.

2.5. Multi-row Seating Considerations

If your planning to build a larger cinema room including multiple rows of seating, you’ll need to adjust both the screen size and the layout of the seats to maintain an ideal viewing distance for each row. The back rows will naturally be further from the screen, which may necessitate a larger screen or enhanced screen resolution to accommodate the increased distance.

When planning for a multi-tiered cinema-style seating, it is recommended to place the seats on a riser platform to ensure an unobstructed view for all seats, do make note of the chairs length at its fully reclined position and ensure there is at least 40cm of space between the footrest and the headrest of the next seat, this will allow people to freely move around even when the seats are reclined.

2.6. Home Theatre Seats For Smaller Spaces

Instead of large sofas or multi-tiered seating, consider a single row of recliners or loveseats to utilise the space effectively. Trying to fit as many seats as you can in the cinema room may not always be desirable, as it can make the room look cluttered and cause inconvenience for the people to freely move around while others are seated during longer viewing sessions. It may also impact speaker placements and the surround sound audio experience. 

Additionally, look for wall-hugging recliners, these recliners are designed to sit closer to the wall and still recline fully, saving valuable floor space. Another way to save space is to look for seats with less bulky cushioning and slimmer armrests, this can make the area feel more open while still providing the necessary support for extended viewing.

3. Key Features to Consider in Home Theatre Seating

3.1 Prioritise Ergonomic Design

3.1.1. Home Theatre Seating Comfort and Size

First and foremost, comfort is king in home theatre seating. Chairs fitted with high-density memory foam offer the best in comfort and support. This material conforms to the shape of your body, providing a personalised comfort experience that also helps evenly distributing your body weight, reducing pressure points. High-density foam found on premium home theatre chairs will retain its shape and resilience over a long period of time. If you intend to spend several hours on these chairs routinely, you need to ensure they provide excellent support and comfort. Also ensure the recliners have sufficient padding on the armrests, back and headrest for added comfort. 

Using high-density foam for the entire seats can be quite expensive, hence the affordable range of recliners tends to use pocket springs combined with low-density foam or polyester fibre filling. Pocket spring recliners feel bouncy while taking a seat, compared to high-density foam seating where the cushions absorb your weight and the foam moulds to your body. 

Low-cost recliners and sofas tend to use Polyester fibre filling or open-cell foam, seats may feel plush and comfortable at first but will lose its shape over time and are more prone to sagging. Additionally, lower-quality foams degrade more quickly, losing elasticity and becoming brittle. This deterioration can lead to the seats bottoming out and coming into contact with the underlying metal or timber framing, resulting in discomfort after a relatively short period of use.

Preference towards firmness of seating will wildly vary from person to person, some prefer firmer seats and some may like softer seats, but there is no right answer. High-density foam is available in varied levels of firmness, high-end cinema recliners may use a mixture of different density foam in different areas to reach a desired level of comfort.

It is always recommended to try the chairs in a home theatre store before making a purchase decision. Ideally, a place where the chairs are placed in a home theatre room so you can experience them in their ideal environment. 

Additionally, consider the size of the seating. Home theatre chairs that recline will need space behind them, and the size of your room can influence the number of seats you can fit comfortably.

3.1.2. Ergonomic Features

Select home theatre seats that are designed with ergonomics in mind. Look for seats that feature ergonomic designs to support the back and neck during long movie sessions. Modern recliners include motorised adjustment of headrest, lumbar and recline functionality. A reclining seat is essential for ultimate comfort in a home theatre setting. Motorised reclining theatre seats offer convenience and ease of use, with the push of a button to adjust your seating position. These elements are crucial for maintaining proper posture and comfort during long viewing sessions, helping to prevent strain and fatigue.

3.2. Choose the Right Upholstery

3.2.1. Materials Matter

Leather theatre seats are popular due to their durability and ease of cleaning. Leather can range from genuine top-grain leather to more affordable faux leather options. Each has its own benefits, so your budget and personal preference will guide your choice. Fabric, on the other hand, offers a warmer and softer feel, which might be more comfortable in colder climates and provides a variety of textures and colours.

Leather Swatch

3.2.2. Breathable Materials

As we all know how warm some parts of Australia can be during summers, type of upholstery materials used for the seats can make a big difference during those long-running movie marathons. If you opt for leather, consider perforated leather options which offer better breathability.  Sitting on a non-perforated leather chair in summers for longer hours, can be a bit sweaty and uncomfortable experience. As for fabrics, choose materials that are soft yet breathable to ensure comfort even during warmer conditions. 

Perforated Leather and Fabric

3.2.3. Style and Aesthetics

The style of your home theatre seating should complement the overall décor of your room. Whether you prefer a modern look with sharp lines or a cosy, traditional feel with plush fabrics, your seating can enhance the room's aesthetic. Many manufacturers offer customisable options, allowing you to select from different styles, colours, and finishes to match your home's décor.

3.2.4. Stitching

The quality of stitching in a recliner is an often-overlooked aspect that can greatly influence both its durability and aesthetic appeal. Double stitching or reinforced seams are used to ensure that the upholstery holds well under the stress of repeated use. Contrast colour stitching can enhance the Luxury appeal of the chairs.

3.3. Core Components of Recliner Construction

The construction of recliner chairs is a pivotal aspect of their function and comfort, particularly in a home theatre setting. Knowing about the construction helps in selecting the most durable and comfortable option, tailored for extensive use during long movie sessions. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key components and materials used in the construction of high-quality recliner chairs.

3.3.1. Frame Construction

The frame is the backbone of any recliner chair and typically consists of hardwood/ plywood or a combination of hardwood and metal. Hardwood frames are favoured for their strength and durability, ensuring the recliner can handle repeated use and last for many years. Some manufacturers might use steel frames in sections of the chair that require more support, particularly in the mechanism for reclining.

3.3.2. Seating Support

High-quality recliners use sinuous springs or webbing to provide a sturdy but comfortable seat base. These materials are chosen for their ability to distribute weight evenly, reducing pressure points and enhancing the overall comfort of the seat.

3.3.3. Padding and Cushioning

Recliner chairs are well-padded, often using multiple layers of padding to create an optimal blend of comfort and support. High-resilience foam is commonly used because it retains its shape and firmness over time. Memory foam might be added for extra comfort, conforming to the body’s shape and providing an additional layer of luxury.

3.3.4 Recline Mechanism

The reclining mechanism is critical for functionality and ease of use. It can be manual or motorised, with motorised versions offering a seamless transition from upright to reclined positions. These mechanisms are typically made from robust metal to withstand the wear and tear of frequent use.

3.4. Opting for Added Luxuries

3.4.1. Built-in Amenities

For an ultimate luxury experience, consider seats with built-in features such as heating and cooling options, cup holders, tray tables, and even personal lighting. Some seats also come with USB ports and power outlets, allowing you to charge devices without missing a moment of your movie.

3.4.2. Sound Integration

Some cinema chair models allow for the installation of bass shakers under the seats that can connect to the home theatre AV Processor. Another option would be to place the motion actuators below the recliner feet to add infrasonic bass to your movie-watching experience.


Bass Shaker & Motion Actuator

3.4.3. Enhanced 4D Experience with D-Box

D-BOX chairs utilise motion technology to create realistic, immersive experiences that are perfectly synchronised with the on-screen action. The chairs move and vibrate in sync with specific scenes in movies, offering a unique dimension to the viewing experience that mirrors the feeling of being 'in' the movie.

The incorporation of D-BOX technology in home theatre seating allows viewers to feel every turn, bump, and impact. Whether it's the subtle vibrations of a car driving on a gravel road or the intense movements during an action-packed chase scene, D-BOX chairs make these sensations palpable, enhancing the emotional and physical engagement with the film.   

3.4.4. Storage and Accessories

Practical features like cup holders, storage compartments for remotes and other devices, and tray tables can significantly enhance your home theatre experience. These features help keep your space clean and organized while making everything you might need during a film accessible.

3.4.5. Personalised Style and Comfort

Customisation is a key feature for those looking to elevate their home theatre experience to the highest level of personalisation and comfort. Many home theatre seating companies offer extensive options for customising home theatre chairs, ensuring that each aspect of the seating can be tailored to meet individual preferences and specific room requirements. Ask your home theatre seating store if they would be willing to customise the chairs. Being able to choose from a variety of materials, colours, and styles means your theatre seats can seamlessly integrate into your existing home décor.

4. Maintenance and Care

4.1. Leather Care

If you choose leather seating, regular maintenance will keep your chairs looking great for years. Clean spills immediately, avoid direct sunlight, and use appropriate leather cleaning products to handle stains and condition the material.

4.2. Fabric Care

For fabric seats, vacuum regularly to remove dust and allergens. Treat stains promptly using fabric cleaners designed for upholstery. Avoid placing fabric seats in direct sunlight to prevent fading.

4.3. Avoid Overloading

Ensure that the recliner is used within its weight capacity to avoid overstressing and potentially damaging the mechanism. Overloading a recliner can lead to premature wear and might cause it to malfunction.

4.4. Adjustment for Smooth Operation

Make sure the recliner is positioned on a stable, level surface to ensure smooth operation of the mechanism. An uneven floor can put additional strain on certain parts of the mechanism, leading to quicker wear.  

5. Budget considerations

When setting up or upgrading a home theatre, seating is one of the key components that can significantly impact both the comfort and overall experience of the space. However, the cost of home theatre seating can vary widely based on several factors including materials, features, and brand. 

5.1. Entry-Level Home Theatre Seating

Budget-friendly options are available for those just starting or needing economical solutions. These seats typically feature basic manual recline functions, are upholstered in lower-cost materials like bonded leather or fabrics, polyester fibre or coir fill, and offer limited customisation. Prices for entry-level home theatre seating can range from $400 to $900 per seat.

5.2. Mid-Range Home Theatre Seating

For a balance of quality and cost, mid-range seats provide more features such as motorised reclining, better quality materials like top-grain leather, memory foam, high-density foam seating and additional customisation options. These chairs may also include upgraded padding and ergonomic support. Mid-range seating costs generally fall between $1000 and $2,500 per seat.

5.3. High-End Home Theatre Seating

At the top of the price spectrum are the luxury seats which offer superior quality materials like Nappa leather or leather from European origin similar to what you see in high-end luxury cars, advanced technological features like D-BOX motion systems, motorised lumbar support, massage, heating and cooling options, and high levels of customization. High-end home theatre seating can cost anywhere from $2,500 to over $20,000 per seat, depending on the level of customisation and features.

Careful planning and understanding of the different price points and what they offer can help you find the right home theatre seating that fits both your budget and your needs. While it’s tempting to go for cheaper options, remember that comfort, durability, and the overall viewing experience are important factors that might justify a higher initial investment. Keep in mind that the cost of addressing back problems caused by improper seating can often exceed the price of quality recliners, not to mention the discomfort and pain experienced throughout the day.

6. Conclusion

Selecting the perfect home theatre seating involves a lot of considerations for your personal needs, the physical space of your theatre, and the features that will enhance your viewing experience. Whether you prioritise comfort, technology, or aesthetics, the right home theatre seating can significantly enhance your enjoyment of your favourite films and shows.

Often times choosing the perfect seating can be quite overwhelming and cumbersome. By incorporating these considerations and tips into your decision-making process, you can ensure that your home theatre will be a comfortable, functional, and stylish space that you and your guests will enjoy for many years. For tailored advice and a diverse selection of home theatre seating options, consider visiting specialised retailers like BMC Audio Visual. As a premium home theatre seating showroom in Melbourne, we are professionals equipped to help you choose the perfect seating for your home cinema. 

Our showroom features a diverse range of chairs set up in state-of-the-art home cinema rooms, providing you with the opportunity to experience the seating in a true cinematic environment before making a decision. This hands-on approach ensures that you select seating that not only meets your aesthetic and comfort needs but also complements the advanced technology of your home theatre system. Don't miss out on creating your ideal home cinema space—visit BMC Audio Visual today and let their experts guide you to the perfect home theatre seating solution.

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