Last year we had the pleasure of testing a pillow with a built-in speaker – I ask you – and now it’s the turn of a similarly-spec’ed chair. Neither will encourage a good night’s sleep, but this expensive and bulky gaming chair is as much about health as hi-fi.
Inside its 29 kilos is a subwoofer, stereo speakers, an amplifier and even a wireless receiver. Impressive, though it takes some work to get it all set up.
A clear 35 minutes passed before we’d screwed on the base unit, attached the base and pinned-on the armrests; that might be the kind of thing you expect when spending £50 down IKEA, but on a £250 luxury item like this?
The 105x90x68cm X-Dream Rocker has a control panel on the right-hand side that’s easily reachable while sitting; audio is attached either through stereo analogue inputs, or a single minijack, and there’s also a headphones slot down there for added convenience.
You won’t need it – the volume control, a dial that reminds us of an Xbox360 controller’s central commands, is sensitive enough to go to very low volumes, while the positioning of the stereo speakers beside the user’s ear means you’ll always hear … something.
Loud and proud
It’s at loud volumes that the X-Dream Rocker really excels. It’s perhaps not quite as loud as we’d expected, but it’s more than enough while sitting – this is all about how it sounds to the gamer, not the rest of the room.
Stand away from the chair and audio can sound treble heavy, and a touch thin. Sit down and get gaming (we tried Pro Evolution Soccer and Call of Duty) and the effect is astonishing.
Surround sound it ain’t, but the stereo separation is as impressive as from a high-end pair of headphones – and it beats a home cinema. It really adds something to games with meaty soundtracks, and the subwoofer’s output is just taught enough to keep the overall soundstage well balanced.
And then there’s the rumble. Some games do benefit hugely from the vibrations emanating, others don’t; sports games, for instance, are just confused by the occasional meaningless fart of vibration, while platform first-person shoot ‘em ups are lent an extra dimension. The vibration dial is best turned off if you’re just listening to music.
So to the wireless-ness – or lack of. Obviously, the X-Dream Rocker needs to be plugged in to the mains, so we’re not convinced of the usefulness of the wireless audio arrangement is.
You basically have a choice between routing audio – in this case directly from an Xbox360, but it can be from anything with some kind of analogue audio output – either into the chair itself, or into a wireless box about the size of a phone.
If you go for the latter, there are three channels to choose from for the broadcasting of sound signals – and a corresponding switch on the chair itself to match.
Two AAA batteries are required for the wireless box, though none are supplied with the X-Dream Rocker. Having attached our iPhone to an Xbox360 using the AirMusic app, we also used the X-Dream Rocker as a chill-out chair. Music sounds particularly good and, again, it’s the superlative stereo that’s just so personal that we loved best.
Do bear in mind that this chair appears to have been designed (not surprisingly) for reasonably big blokes. As such there’s a curve to the cushion that props-up your legs and keeps your lower half alive during long gaming session.
That curve helps make this a really comfortable chair, but will irritate those whose legs don’t touch the floor.
- Stereo separation, sonic detail, comfort.
- DIY construction, mass-produced feel.
Despite the presence of some exciting features, at its core the X-Dream Rocker is a hugely comfortable chair for gaming.
The novelty of pin-sharp stereo without headphones is tempting enough to make you sit back and relax to keep your head in the right place, while the sturdy ribbed padding on the chair is shaped to comfortably support your legs.
It doesn't lose its shape either, so if nothing else, you'll be gaming for longer.