Unlike many of its competitors, the ErgoLab Stealth series of chairs is designed specifically for use in the studio.
Recording and mixing often means remaining seated for extended periods, so being supported in a good chair is essential, both for short‑term comfort and longer‑term back care. Ergonomic chair design is a complex matter, but obvious key factors include the way the, er, buttocks are supported, (not a phrase that crops up in many of my reviews!), how well the backrest supports the lower spine, and whether the seat base maintains comfortable and at safe angles for the legs, pelvis and spine.
Many manufacturers offer ‘ergonomic’ chairs and one of the best known and most popular in our particular industry is undoubtedly Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. It seems almost ubiquitous in studios and production suites wherever I go — as well as in my own studio! However, there are valid alternatives. Based in Colorado, USA, ErgoLab have been manufacturing ergonomic seating for around 35 years, and their patented Stealth Pro chair design is a convincing alternative to Herman Miller’s ever‑popular models, intended specifically for studio applications and offering more for less!
The Stealth Pro ships in a single large (and heavy) box, measuring roughly two feet on each side. The chair requires simple self‑assembly without tools: the pedestal base, wheels, column piston, seat and backrest just slot together, while the adjustable arms are attached (if required) with large hand‑screws underneath the seat base.
Two sets of wheels are provided: a quintet of standard office‑style castors featuring dual 60mm hard plastic wheels, and five chunky 100mm rubber flightcase‑style wheels — the latter being better suited to more industrial applications. I’m impressed that both types are included as standard, allowing the user to fit the most appropriate type for their own floor surface and application. The selected wheels are pressed into the pedestal base sockets and lock into place.
Also included in the box are two column pistons, with the short unit providing seat nominal heights of 495 to 635 mm, intended for sitting at standard office‑style desks and studio consoles. The longer piston covers heights of 571 to 762 mm, which is ideal for working at raised mixing consoles in live‑sound applications, or at work benches.
With the long piston fitted, an included foot ring can also be slipping over the column piston before the seat is attached, which is very useful for elevated seat positions. A simple rotating clutch mechanism allows the ring height to be adjusted as required.
By far the heaviest element of the chair is the seat base itself, which has a substantial steel frame and a flexible plastic mesh for the seat and backrest to provide good ventilation/breathability and naturally contoured support.
The seat base is available in two sizes, and there are also two styles of backrest: a Standard (short) version, and a high‑backed Executive version (pictured above). Both element sizes must be specified at time of order. For this review I was supplied with the Stealth Pro model, which comes as standard with a large seat base and Standard (short) backrest. However, I was also subsequently supplied with the alternative Executive (high) backrest, which is apparently intended for “executives who recline for much of the day”!
ErgoLab suggest that users over 1.82m tall and/or weighing more than 90kg should opt for the larger seat, while smaller and lighter folk are recommended the smaller version, but as an experiment I asked Mrs R (who is unquestionably under both size thresholds) to try the large seat and she reported it perfectly comfortable and supportive.
Assembling the chair takes only a few minutes and is obvious, although clear instructions are provided, of course. The chair’s controls are simple and familiar, too. Height is adjusted with a lever on the right‑hand side in the standard way, the tilting action of the chair’s seat base can be locked with a second lever, and a large hand screw at the side fixes the height of the backrest. As a complete chair, the Stealth Pro with a large seat and standard backrest weighs 30kg, while the Executive model with the high backrest is 2kg heavier.
By default, the backrest is spring‑loaded to ‘float’, supporting and ‘massaging’ the user’s back as they lean forward and back. However, another lever on the left‑hand side locks the backrest in position, if preferred. A button under each armrest allows its height to be altered, and the padded rests can be rotated in or out by 30 degrees from the default straight‑ahead position. The width between arm rests can be adjusted with the securing hand screws underneath the chair base.
ErgoLab say that the Stealth Pro is made “with superior components which will last much longer than typical office chairs”, and I don’t doubt the robustness of this design — it is considerably sturdier than most conventional office chairs, and heavier than the Aeron it stood in for in my studio. Longevity is obviously not something I can assess over the couple of weeks that the chair was in my studio, but it looks and feels capable of enduring a long life.
It is considerably sturdier than most conventional office chairs, and heavier than the Aeron it stood in for in my studio.
The manufacturer’s ergonomic claims for the chair mostly revolve around the way the seat base (and backrest) move to minimise pressure points, which can lead to discomfort and fatigue. Even more importantly, the tilting seat base maintains good lumbar support as leaning forward pivots the entire body instead of forcing it to bend at the lower back, apparently reducing pressure on the lumbar spine by as much as eight times compared to a fixed chair! The mesh seat and backrest stretch to provide natural and individual support, which is claimed to be better ergonomically than simple fixed foam and cloth upholsteries.
After some experimentation I settled on the standard office wheels (I have a laminated wooden floor) with the long piston. Later I also replaced the standard backrest with the higher version. The standard backrest was very comfortable when working at the computer (and when playing my bass guitar or keyboards), but I found the high backrest better for occasional moments spent in ‘executive recline’. Unusually, the Stealth Pro’s backrests are much narrower (especially at the top of the high version) than most alternatives, and that means they don’t get in the way when playing instruments, while also making the chair less dominating in the room. I also found that the armrests can be lowered sufficiently to not get in the way when playing guitars and keyboards, too, and then brought back up at the touch of a button when working at the desk.
The sprung backrest means that you have to kind of push your way back into the seat, but once there — and with the backrest set at exactly the right height for the user’s back — the Stealth chair is extremely comfortable throughout long working days. If you’re in the market for a rugged, hard‑wearing and versatile studio chair, the ErgoLab Stealth Pro/Executive has much in its favour. The extensive list of included accessories and the fact that the chair goes considerably higher than most alternatives are big pluses, and the tilting seat base and pivoting backrest ensure outstanding comfort over long periods. Highly recommended.
- ErgoLab Stealth (standard seat, standard backrest) £795$599
- ErgoLab Stealth Pro (large seat, standard backrest) £859$699
- ErgoLab Stealth Executive (standard seat, high backrest) £795$699
- ErgoLab Stealth Pro Executive (large seat, high backrest): £1039$799
All versions ship with both short and long pistons, regular and heavy‑duty castors, and a foot ring. Prices include VAT.
- Customisable through two supplied column piston sizes, two wheel sets, and a foot ring.
- Two seat and two backrest sizes available.
- Ergonomically tilting seat base and pivoting backrest provide lasting comfort.
- Mesh seat and back ensure good support and ventilation.
- Design doesn’t impede playing instruments while seated.
- Attractive pricing.
- It is heavier than typical alternatives.
A very robust and versatile studio chair which also goes higher than most and allows guitar playing without getting in the way!
See pricing box.
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