Elite HTS F9 Home Theater Seating System
Historically, home cinema hasn’t really appealed to me despite my enthusiasm for the hobby. Home theater seat manufacturers are numerous in areas like North Carolina, which are flush with companies that make furniture in various configurations and styles. They sell their often cheap looking cupholders-laden couches on any no-name catalog website they think they can make a sale from. Sometimes these companies or people who resell this home theater furniture exhibit at trade shows like CEDIA Expo in hopes of attracting the CI crowd to buy their products. The simple fact is: most home theater seating is downright chintzy but can be moderately expensive, although it doesn’t really compete with non-home theater furniture brands sold at retailers like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Room and Board as well as one growing list of others who offer stylish, moderately affordable, and very beautiful furniture.
When it comes to Elite HTS (Home Theater Seating) you literally dismiss everything I just said. This Vancouver-based manufacturer of fine furniture is the Bugatti for specially built AV seating. The term “handmade” seems like an understatement, so I can rely on more cocky terms like “bespoke”. Get this: When you order furniture from Elite HTS, you are actually measured for your seating. If only luxury and exotic cars had such high standards for dimensioning. When you order an Elite HTS system, you actually measure your leg and torso height so that when you first sit in your built-in chair / sofa / whatever-you-you practically merge with the seat. The effect is intoxicating, similar to putting on the jacket of a new, well-cut Brioni suit.
And for the record, the price of a single Elite HTS seat isn’t far from that of a Brioni suit. It starts at $ 4,490 and goes up to $ 7,000 or more, depending on options and features. But as the price suggests, there is nothing “cheap” about this product.
Your configuration options are varied. They have sofas, custom chairs, love seats, chaise longues, and would probably build anything you damn well wanted, provided you (or your dealer) could, like Nigel Tufnell, come up with a Stonehenge-like drawing for your design (just) spots Make sure you are using the correct notation for inches versus feet, unlike Nigel. They can and will provide you with drawings for placement in your space. This can be very useful when working with an acoustician, AV dealer, and / or interior designer. Ultimately, I went for a configuration called the F9, which has two more traditional reclining seats on the outside and a double chaise longue in the middle that also reclines.
Fabric options and other finish options are not in abundance. Friends of mine who also own Elite HTS seating, like our own Dennis Burger, literally rave about the company’s silk leather, not only for its sleek appearance, but also for its easy maintenance and the ability to look new a decade later. You can cover Elite HTS with pretty much any fabric you like based on the decor of your media room and your designer’s inspiration if you go this route, but Elite HTS has so many options it’s hard to imagine needing more .
Wooden surfaces are also abundant. Elite HTS provided me with a lot of options overnight based on my design goals, and we chose from there. Our goal was to capture a beachy yet contemporary look. That’s why we opted for brushed aluminum-metal parts and a Canadian oak for wood accents. We chose the silk leather mentioned above in a sandy, slightly cream-colored color called French vanilla. About 75 days later my seat was ready to ship, including delivery of white gloves (at a reasonable additional cost). Of course, this process is facilitated in most cases by the retailer selling the seat, but the customer service I received from Vancouver was just top notch.
A major problem I’ve always had with home theater seats is that I really don’t like the look of cup holders and I’ve asked Elite to leave them out. They took care of me for their take on the concept and the fact that they have wooden covers for their cup holders that look many times smoother and more finished than other home theater seating options. In accepting it, I have to say that you were right. While I’m not yet forced to put a drink in the cup holders, they make a good place to stash my Crestron remote control.
The first thing I noticed after the seating was installed by the white glove delivery service was how comfortable the seats were. They fit like a glove. The loungers with aluminum frames have very subtle, quiet yet smooth motors that you can use to control the inclination using a small round lever inside the seat. The pressure washes away in your back while you are well supported in a reclined position.
- Elite HTS seating is one of the most design-friendly AV accessories you can have in your audiophile room or home theater system. It’s fun to design your seating as a team and get involved by your significant other. Just make sure you have enough seating for everyone or you could be locked out of a good seat on family movie night.
- I’ve never experienced the idea of your furniture being tailored to your own unique dimensions, but it’s an absolutely great idea. However, this level of adjustment does not seem to affect universal comfort. Literally zero people sitting in our theater seating were anything but exuberant about the comfort of the seating.
- While my seating is pretty new, I spoke to a friend who has an Elite HTS chair that is wrapped in silk leather and is over 15 years old and he says the silk leather looks pretty new all these years later. Friends of Elite HTS dealers report the same excellent durability. The internal build quality of the seating is of the highest order, but the outer pieces that wear out seem to hold up very well over time too, and I can’t say that about any of the sofas I’ve bought in the past few decades.
- I know it’s a dull concept, but the idea of being significantly more comfortable listening to music, movies, and television really adds to the overall enjoyment of your system.
- Since Elite HTS seating systems are often customer specific, your order should wait many weeks, if not a few months. If you want an off-the-shelf suit, a department store can cut and tweak it in hours. If you want a truly bespoke suit, designed for you in every way, you’ll have to wait a little longer for the job to be done. Elite HTS is more similar to the latter.
- The logistics of getting the product to you can be tricky, but the good news is that Elite HTS has a “White Glove” service in many locations where people unpack your seating and install it for you while they do it carefully wrapped in blankets and perfectly wiped. We did this in a COVID-19 lockdown and the white gloved folks were great. They wore n95 masks, gloves and ankle boots, and despite the large size of my F9 chaise longue / sofa configuration, they were moved in and out in less than an hour.
- While almost every detail of our $ 32,000 Elite HTS F9 seating configuration has been wonderfully redesigned, the recline button I have to select is nits. That plastic button, installed in each of the four seating positions, simply does not meet Rolls-Royce standards for the rest of the seats (the company offers and can even offer more expensive button recline options for recording Match the color to the upholstery if you wish..
Comparison and competition
As mentioned earlier, there are tons of entry-level home theater brands out there that sell for a fraction of the price. There are even solutions from IKEA, but it probably wouldn’t make it in a really high performing theater.
However, brands like Fortress make well-designed and traditionally configured home theater seating solutions that are much lower in price and are a clear upgrade from the low-end, mass-produced, lower-end product sold in catalogs and online AV websites. Other high-end brands like CinemaTech and CINEAK offer special home theater seating products that add more to the high-end prices.
For me, the biggest competition for Elite HTS was from medium-sized furniture companies like Room and Board, Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel. These guys (Room and Board especially) have really improved their game over the past few years. My last theater room from my Brentwood house had room and board furniture, and the suede seats looked great and were very comfortable. I fell asleep in this room for more than my fair share of content. Don’t compare a $ 3,000 sofa to the Elite HTS though, as you get an entirely different level of quality, design, service, and luxury with Elite HTS.
It’s hard to know how many audiophiles will read such a review, but hopefully they will. The hobby of audiophilia is reaching the Nth level of performance, and the idea of just having a really great, bespoke seat right in the sweet spot of the room is worth every penny of the roughly $ 7,000 it costs could. For the advanced audiophile, sitting so much more comfortable for a sitting listening session is probably more comfortable than swapping out a $ 10,000 valve preamp for a $ 17,000 preamp. Much like acoustics is paramount to the sound in your room, being amazingly comfortable and engaging thanks to your seating is also more valuable than most audiophiles know.
I’m excited about my Elite HTS F9 seating system and I’m proud to have finally switched to the concept of high-end home theater seating. We’re not quite finished installing my theater space, but we’re making progress. A new paint job and possibly a fabric wall to cope with some echo effects in the room are planned at short notice. I borrow a couple of older but pretty cool ones. MartinLogan ESL speakers It won’t take long, but luckily here we are at COVID-19 in my house. At some point, I’ll be buying some newer, more modern speakers in a fiddly finish, like my old, loved one Focus up. No. 2s. But even with the sound coming from my 85-inch 4K Sony UHD TV’s internal speakers, they somehow sound a lot better when I put my bum in some elite HTS seats.
• Visit the Elite Home Theater Seating website More product information.
• Visit our Category Shelves & Furniture page Read reviews of similar products.