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This ain't your grandma's rocking chair. The S2000 Sound Rocker from Pyramat is a chair with flair, featuring built-in top-mounted speakers, subwoofer installed at the base of your spine and control knobs on the side to adjust volume and tinker with the audio.
After spending a few hours -- okay, days -- being fixated on the Sound Rocker's novelty value ("It's a chair! With a built-in subwoofer! And you can plug your iPod straight into it!"), practical considerations took over, and we set about testing whether the thing was comfortable after an extended session of gaming. With long hours spent hunched over a control pad and staring at a screen, gamers are prone to develop slump-shouldered posture, and we were interested in whether the S2000 would offer solid lumbar support.
While the curvy design is fine to sit in at first, there are a few issues that might hinder longer-term comfort. The main problem with the S2000 is that it's too close to the floor. The most comfortable position to sit in is with the chair tilted back a little, and feet flat on the ground. However, this makes rocking back and forth pretty awkward. It also puts strain on the neck, as the back of the chair is too low to be able to rest your head on.
The seat measures 44cm across, so those carrying a bit of junk in the trunk may find the Sound Rocker not overly accommodating of their proportions.
Placement of the audio control knobs, inputs and the elastic band that holds an MP3 player was good. Everything is within easy reach, meaning your eyes need not stray from the action on-screen when you want to crank up the subwoofer.
Why sit on a Jason recliner or boring old sofa to play Saints Row on the Xbox 360, when you could be experiencing the Stilwater ghetto via audio response technology in your subwoofer-equipped Sound Rocker? Yep, the S2000 has a vibration function that responds to the action on-screen. It's not a powerful tremor -- don't expect a massage -- but it's enough to immerse you in the game just that little bit more.
The ability to link up to eight chairs means gamers can congregate to experience the audio thrills from the two top-mounted three-inch speakers and 5.5-inch 30-watt subwoofer. The games arcade is officially obsolete.
Although the Sound Rocker seems built for gamers, it also holds appeal for music lovers and home theatre hobbyists who want to feel sound as well as hear it. For those not into assuming a virtual identity and shooting stuff all day, the S2000 also functions as a piece of multimedia-enabled furniture, allowing you to plug in any audio device, TV, VCR, DVD or MP3 player directly into the chair.
We found it took a while to adjust to the idea of sound coming from directly behind our heads. That said, the twin speakers delivered pleasing audio quality, although the overall sound became very muffled when the subwoofer dial was spun to full throttle.
Overall, listening to music and playing games in the chair was not quite the "total visceral experience" touted in the S2000's press release, but the bass does resonate pretty heavily through both body and floor. You might want to warn the neighbours before having a Sound Rocker gaming night.
One of our practical considerations was whether the Sound Rocker could be cleaned easily. Unfortunately, the fabric covering is not removable, and the manual carries a warning against getting the chair wet -- electric shock being a possible downside of contact with water. This was a bit of a disappointment -- after a month of being sat in, slept on and perhaps with a variety of snack foods and drinks being spilt on the upholstery, the S2000 might look and smell a bit worse for wear.
The Sound Rocker is not an essential buy, nor even a practical one, but sometimes it's fun to be a bit frivolous. If you've got a spare AU$250, and like the idea of having a piece of furniture dedicated to hedonistic silliness, the S2000 will make you happy -- at least until it gets its first junk-food spillage.