Mini-Review: GamuT Lobster Chair

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The GamuT Lobster Chair (chair $4,995, optional matching footstool $2,590) is a billed as “the world’s first audiophile chair.” I will respectfully defer — “firsts” don’t really matter to me as much as “awesomeness”, and this chair is awesome.

Michael Vamos tells me that the Lobster is a joint-venture with GamuT investor, the furniture maker Kvist (you can check out the original Lund & Paarman at various retailers), and modifies their “standard” offer with a special audiophile upgrade — a non-reflective headrest.

The first high-end listening chair created to minimize reflections from the surroundings. Instead of having acoustic sound treatments on the wall behind and next to your listening position, the GamuT Lobster Chair effectively dampens these. The effect is dramatic – The soundstage becomes more precise and natural and the music springs to life in your living room.

The GamuT Lobster chair is based upon a Danish Design classic: The Lobster Chair, designed and manufactured by GamuT’s main share holder – Kvist Industries. Normally you can’t have a neck rest while listening to music, because you get a reflection from the material behind your ears, distorting the sound. But GamuT has created a unique acoustical damping material, resulting in an extremely effective sound treatment, while maintaining the Lobster Chair’s breathtaking beautiful design and comfort. Furthermore the shape of the wide headrest also prevents reflections from behind wall behind the listener to affect the soundstage, which eliminates the need for sound treatment behind the listener.

The Lobster replaced a low-slung POÄNG chair from IKEA, and immediately, I appreciated the “lift”. Seriously, the POÄNG is a fantastically comfortable sitter, but it does bring my ears down a full 6″ or so from “optimal” for most loudspeakers — enough to be problematic, especially for beaming tweeters.

Not so for the swiveling Lobster — this thing puts my ears on perfectly for every speaker that’s come through chez moi.

The ottoman matches the chair in all the expected parameters — comfy, svelte, and massive as hell. That base on the chair/ottoman? I’m pretty sure it’s iron. Well, steel, but the point is, the damn chair weighs 90lbs and the ottoman comes in about half of that. It’s heavy — don’t think a gentle shove is gonna move it around your listening space.So — this is a site dedicated to sonic joys, so I hear you muttering, “sure, but how does it sound?” Heh — the chair doesn’t “sound”. But the music, enjoyed from the hot seat? Well, let me offer that the sound stage of my current system is the best that I’ve yet heard. Mission Design? Accomplished.

The leather is textured, the padding firm and tightly stuffed into bands mirroring the banded wood finish of the shell; the wood for each element of the contoured frame fits to the next with a slim band join, making the entire thing an articulated affair, very reminiscent of the delicious crustaceans for whom the chair is named. It really does have this svelte, sculpted look that seems to be stereotypically upscale Scandinavian, with a luxurious matte-finish that feels delicious under the hand. The whole chair comes off as almost minimal but so purposeful and so damn sexy I can barely stand it. Taken as a whole, the entire structure looks like a Fabergé egg that’s slightly unpeeled or unhinged, the two elements (chair and foot stool) one very definitely connected whole. The organic nature of the construction is really hard to deny — this is very clearly the nicest, most elegant, piece of furniture in my entire home. Looking at it, it’s damn near impossible to not touch it, and then touching it, to not want to sit in it. Winner, winner.

About the fit. The chair is full-sized, but not adjustable — you either fit or you don’t. At 5′ 11″, I fit pretty much to a “T”. John DeVore, visiting with his brand new Gibbon X loudspeakers, stands at 17′ tall (or maybe closer to 6′ 5″, but seriously, at those lofty heights it’s hard to tell the difference), and his ears easily clear the chair back. You can shift around a little bit, scoot up or down, in order to make the fit a bit more appropriate — I’ve had plenty of luck that way — but there is no way to raise or lower the chair. Also note that this is most definitely not a recliner (or an Eames or even a POÄNG), and no one is going to mistake it for a second bed. The curvature to the seat is unsurprising, given the shape, but it does mean that the fit may be a bit challenging; don’t expect to be “carried off to sleep Nirvana”. About this, however, my 9-year-old daughter might disagree — this is her preferred perch for her weekly Minecraft tour. Don’t ask. Again, I find a that with a bit of a shift-and-snuggle that me and my bigness can get all settled in and ready to roll … tape, vinyl or whatever. Comfortable, but not too much so, if that makes sense.

The long and the short of it, this chair isn’t leaving — I bought it. A wild extravagance? Yes, most assuredly so. But unlike the rest of my audio gear, I have every reason to believe that this iconic chair will outlast everything else. An investment? Maybe. But like the rest of the “functional art” that I’ve acquired over the years, the pleasure is in the using. But the long and the short of it is this — I can’t imagine my listening room without it.

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