I recently decided that one of the culprits responsible for my back problems was the cheap office chair in which I spent way too many hours. Considering how long I spent practicing and playing guitar, writing articles, watching videos and movies, recording, etc. it was apparent I needed a better chair. When I got an email about a chair Carl Tatz was marketing, it looked promising, not just for the audio engineering purposes for which it was designed, but for all of the above as well. I reached out to Carl and he had one sent me for review. Here is what I found.
Carl Tatz is an audio consultant and designer who creates high performance home screening rooms and designs recording studios. He also markets his PhantomFocus System (PFS), which utilizes an amalgam of techniques, proprietary protocols, hardware and software to optimize monitor systems. Tatz offers the PhantomFocus eChair as a companion and integral part of that system, but sells it independently as well.
Proffered as the world’s first chair designed and built specifically for the recording engineer, the PhantomFocus eChair uses research and development done by Steve Knight, a former Le Mans Grand Prix champion and Grand Am series racecar driver. The backrest moves with the user’s motion to massage the lumbar area of the spine, while the chair’s Active Tilt seat plate pivots forward and backward to promote proper spine alignment. You can customize the seat and backrest position with three lever adjustments. The seat and back are made of breathable mesh that prevents perspiration buildup.
The Phantom Focus eChair Experience
The chair arrived disassembled in a big box. I had visions of Ikea—allen wrenches, undecipherable directions, and much time spent on the floor. None of this materialized. The chair comes in six parts: seat, back, two arms, base, and adjustable height post. The wheels were already on the base, I just had to drop the post into the base, drop the seat onto the post, place the back into the slot on the seat, adjust the seat and back height to taste, and put the two arms into their respective slots. No directions, screwdrivers or wrenches necessary. The whole assembly took all of five minutes.
I sat down, used the control levers to adjust the height, seat and back tilt and was blown away. The chair was instantly more comfortable and obviously more supportive than my Office Max special. Best of all, after the usual uninterrupted hours of sitting in front of the computer and playing guitar, I was able to get up and not feel like I had been crippled.
At first I left the arms off, afraid they would get in the way if I picked up a guitar. After installing them I found that something about the design ensured they didn’t.
Almost every modern musician is a recording engineer. In any case, we all spend way too much time working seated. If you are like me, one thing keeping you from getting a better chair has been cost. Fancy office chairs hover around $1000. In addition to everything else, at $550 the eChair is a bargain. You will make up the cost in chiropractor bills alone. Only a week later, my back feels significantly better.
I am a design nut. I love design museums, and I love beautifully designed things as much as any works of fine art. Combining a minimalist, functional appearance with ease of assembly and adjustment, sitting comfort and great value at a great price, the eChair is a marvel of modern design.