Take a look at Stressless recliners. I have one that is modern looking in red leather and it makes a great contribution to my system synergy. I got one that doesn't have too high of a back unless I slouch so the sound doesn't reflect right behind my ears and create a "hands behind your ears" amplification effect. Mine took about 10 weeks to arrive from Denmark or wherever they make them because I ordered it right before their month long vacation but the wait was totally worth it. Great WAF, too.
Lazyboy recliner. Cloth, so there's no reflections behind my ears.
Stressless leather recliners are wonderful, comfortable, well built and great looking, but fairly expensive. If you want something very affordable and comfortable, try one of the Poang chairs from the Ikea store at about 1/10th the price.
I have looked for several years for a swivel glider chair that was not an over stuffed chair for my 2 channel room and finally found this one.
Mine is the large one but the actual height measures just under 39 inches with the adjustable head rest all the way down. The head rest is a great feature in that it tilts forward and back as well goes as up and down. I was not looking for a recliner in my music room but this one has that feature, but I never use it. It is leather and most comfortable. Most chairs are overstuffed. This one is not. Expensive, but I have been looking for several years.
I use a Stressless leather chair; have 4 altogether.Bought them all used on ebay.
More modern chairs can be found at www.allmodern.com or www.cb2.com.
Look for Palour and Club Chairs as they have heights of 26" with a small footprint for the smaller listening room.
My 20 year old Stressless is more comfortable today than the day I bought it. Still rock solid. I use it daily, often for hours. Only signs of wear are some crinkling of the leather on the arms and chafing where my grubby neck rests. At 6'4"and 270, I am notorious for destroying furniture. We have a matching sofa from the parent company, Ekornes, that is used daily. Both pieces retain a contemporary, timeless look. Worth every cent. My 2 cents.
Stressless is the way to go. For years I had an Emaes/Knoll chair, in original rosewood. I sold it off for $7K and purchased a Stressless which is way more comfortable.
Your restriction of a 38" height might limit you in style and possible comfort, depending on seat back design and how tall you are. I'm a big fan of custom Ethan Allen upholstered pieces. They are well made, smartly designed, and fairly priced for the quality. I find fabric greatly preferable to leather as far as comfort goes. If you aren't possessed of too large a frame, the Ethan Allen "Linear" recliner is hard to beat for style and comfort (but it's 41" tall.) Their "Conner" recliner chair is also comfortable, is 38" tall, but much more traditional in basic design. However, with the hundreds of fabric choices available, you can choose a smart looking contemporary fabric that will play down the traditional look of the frame. I happen to prefer something wider than a chair for long listening sessions. A loveseat gives you more room to sprawl.
Stress less recliner. Great look, great comfort, and high WAF
I was looking at a leather listening chair but when I saw the pouty lips on the other half, I decided to go with a love seat. She likes ton curl up next to me while we listen.
Charles and Ray Eames lounge chair originally made for Billy Wilder.
We recently got leather Rocket Chairs from Restoration Hardware. These have great back support, are quite comfortable and cool looking. The height is quite low in the back so my ears are clear. Very nice indeed.
Le Corbusier's Petit Confort. It can be purchased in leather or fabric. It is 26" tall and, although designed 1929, is still a modern classic. The whole "series" includes ottomans, sofas, etc. There is a variation by Zanotta called Onda that is curved, but still less than 30" tall.
Thank you for any the great suggestions, I've got some sitting on my a** to do, meaning I got to get out to these stores and try some of your suggestions out.
I use Afra and Tobia Scarpa Coronado chair, by B&B Italia - fits your requirements.
Check out Lafer -I have a couple Kiri's and love 'em.
My chair fits your bill, a Harvey Probber wingback chair. Not lay-z-boy comfortable, but rides low and chicks love it.
Mark me down in the Ikea Poang category as well. Great little (cheap!) chair, can be customized to some extent with the textile cover offerings @ Ikea. I have a faux sheep's wool cover on mine; very comfy.
Did I mention that these chairs are very inexpensive?? ;-)
Tone audio did a nice article on chairs
Leather club chair & ottoman, from Design Within Reach (made by American Leather).
LeCorbusier Petit Tuxedo. Why? Because that guy in the Maxwell tape ad uses it. With Ellen Grey cocktail table. Just cant get my SET to play loudly enough.
Recliners are not for napping and being lazy, but not for serious active listening. You will lose the fight to stay alert and attentive in the reclining position. With a proper chair you will have improved perception of low level details, provided that your lower back is vertical and your head is in line with your back or even inclined a bit forward. I speak from experience- you should be comfortable but not too comfortable, with good posture. Otherwise the little hairs on the back of your neck will never stand up!
I switched from an ikea poang chair to a sofa
and so very glad I did!
I preferred a sofa for listening also when I was younger but it was for non audio reasons.
I have been using the Ikea Poang since 2004. Though I love it, the wife and kids want space in my room and I have been thinking of replacing it with either a love seat or small sofa. What advantages did you get with the sofa compared to the Poang chair?
whatever chair you buy, do an experiment.
listen in your chair, and then play the same lp or cd, this time, listening on the floor.
see if you hear a difference, especially in the high frequencies.
i have a basic folding chair. its height is 17 inches. add 27 inches and the total length 44 inches is the distance between my ears and the floor.
as for chair type. i prefer to keep it simple, using a bridge chair.
Milpai - the advantages for me are I can "cuddle" with the ones I love when listening to music, I can stretch out and have "stuff" around me while listening and I can play my guitar(s) more comfortably etc...
Mainly, me and my girl can sit close and both be in the sweet spot.
Try the Nordic recliner from IMG Norway. They sell them at Scan Interior. Mine is used from them for about $600. A lot cheaper than the Stressless and seems just as good.
My Ikea "Poang" has been comfy and reliable, you should try it too.
My years old Scan recliner is my favorite. IT looks something like This
I just got an inversion table. Can't wait to see how things sound hanging upside down... :^)
Well, one of the OPs main questions was: what is the better material to use in a chair?
Leather? or does it echo too much? especially around your ears
Fabric? (wool, cotton): less slap echo? better diffusion?
I'm also in the market for a listening chair. I love the Milo Baughman reproduction recliner I have (in black pleather), but I'm afraid the height of the chair (above ear level) provides some slap echo.