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HT Seating - backs to high? (1 Viewer)


Oct 17, 2004
My wife and I are building a new house next spring and plan on having a dedicated home theater room. I always thought that the best way to design one of these rooms is to start with the seats. Once I have the seats picked out, their dimensions will help me size the rest of the room. When I browse the web it is not hard to find dozens of sites selling everything from traditional fold up theater seats to high end, all leather recliners with cup holders.

I have read in quite a few spots (particularly Russ Herschelman's SGHT articles) that you should not have a seat with a real high back in a home theater. With a real high back you will not get the full effect of the surrounds on the side walls and will not hear the surrounds on the back wall very much at all.

I am tall at 6'3". The couch I am sitting in right now in my family room has a back that is 36" tall. When I sit in this couch, my ears are clearly above the back of the couch. If this couch were placed in a home theater it would work well acoustically. Almost all of the home theater seating I am finding has backs that range from 38" up to 44". With a 44" back on a chair, the back of the chair is certainly above my ear level. This can be compensated for a little if the chair reclines which leans the head back, exposing the ears more to the back of the theater. I have dipole speakers for surrounds so some of the sound from the surrounds on the side walls is directed at the back wall of the theater and then bounces back towards the listener. With direct firing surrounds this may be less of an issue for the surrounds on the side walls but still could be a problem for the surrounds on the back wall.

For my wife who is 5’ 8” inches or my children who are even shorter, a chair with a high back easily comes up way behind their heads.

My question is this, do these high back home theater seats compromise good surround sound? I certainly want to be comfortable but I worry that I am sacrificing good sound for comfort.


Jay Mitchosky

Senior HTF Member
Sep 6, 1998

Amen. I agree completely, going so far as taking a number of very specific measurements of my chosen chair at the store. Good way to get odd stares.

"Too high" would be such that the back of the seat covers your ears. This inhibits surround sound but also absorbs reflected sound from the front. Ideally you want the chair back to be below ear level.

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