Product Review (September 2011)
Palliser - Pepper Home Theater Seating
from Home Expressions

By Kevin Nakano

Choosing the right home theater seating can be challenging, especially with the myriad of options available. One company that sparked our interest was Palliser, a well known provider of home theater furniture. Palliser Furniture Upholstery Ltd. is a leading North American furniture company with local manufacturing facilities in Canada and Mexico. These centrally and strategically located manufacturing plants allow Palliser to provide prompt, cost efficient service and delivery to their customer. One of the latest Palliser models being offered in the HTS (Home Theater Series) is the Pepper. This model is a step up from their popular Pacifico model.

Pepper Design
Like many of the Palliser designs, the Pepper offers 23-inch wide seats with chaise styling for maximum comfort. The frame joints are pinned and glued for uniformity and strength and utilize hardwood, softwood and engineered wood products. The seat has 8 gauge sinuous wire springs for superior ride and comfort. The back is filled with blown fibre and features 11 or 12 gauge sinuous springs, which are engineered to provide lasting comfort and strength. Each seat with an arm rest has a nice sized storage compartment and includes a removable tray tables. In our case, the 5E and 6E seats each came with one tray table from the factory. Cupholders are available in stainless or antique metal.

Palliser also offers LED cupholders or ground-lighting options. Seat covering material is probably the biggest option and potential increase in the baseline price of the seating. Palliser offers standard leather/match material, but also has various grades of leather. To help us make some of the decisions on the Pepper seating, we turned to a local Palliser dealer.

Home ExpressionsAuthorized Dealers
Palliser furniture is sold exclusively through authorized dealers. When we inquired with Palliser about reviewing their new Pepper Home Theater Seating, they directed us to a local dealer called Home Expressions in Fountain Valley, CA. As it turns out, Home Expressions is a family owned business that started decades ago and is currently owned and operated by John Pham. Mr. Pham spent a good deal of time working out the details of the seating configuration for our home theater room. We were pleased with our buying experience at Home Expressions and would fully recommend them to anyone in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

While many online companies sell the Palliser Pepper at competitive prices, the options are usually very limited. Spending thousands of dollars on furniture without being able to choose specific materials (especially the leather grade and color) does not make a whole lot of sense. We like being able to ask questions and see the swatch colors and leather quality before we spend a great deal of money on home theater furniture.

Seating ConfigurationConfiguration
Palliser offers many choices when it comes to the configuration of the seat and can accommodate virtually any theater seating. We wanted a total of total five seats with the two outer seats angled inwardly toward the screen. We chose the 5E-4E-8E-6E configuration as shown in the diagram. It should be noted that there are a total of eight different seat designs available in the series. The total area required for the four seats in our configuration was 159 inches wide by 52 inches deep. The additional depth in our configuration is due to the end chairs being angled. Each seat has an actual depth of only 42-inches. The four segments that make up the seating arrangement do not attach to one another, but instead just sit side by side. At first I thought this might be an issue, but once the seats were set up, we could not tell that there were multiple pieces.

Several grades of leather are offered on the Pepper seats. Palliser has a swatch of different colors based on leather grades (1000/1500/2000/2500/3000/5000). We upgraded to an all leather premium (2000) grade material and chose Chestnut (dark brown). The premium leather upgrade significantly raises the cost of the seating as does the power recline option, both of which we added to our seating configuration.

Power Recline
The decision to go with power or manual recline is an individual choice. Expect to pay an additional $150-$200 per seat for the power option. In addition to the obvious benefits of having power recline seats, the powered seat can stop anywhere in the travel, allowing for virtually any seating position. The manual recline seats have a couple of fixed positions, which may or may not suit you. We opted for power recline on all five seats, so the additional cost was significant. However, in the long run we felt this was a worthwhile option since we plan to keep these theater seats for a long time.

The two end seats (4E and 5E models) have the power recline controls built into the right inside of the arm. They lay flush with the side of the arm so they will not get in the way. The button towards the back recline the seat while the front facing button returns the seat back to the upright position.

Wired Remote
The middle seats (4E and 8E models) have wired remote units that exit between the back and seat. There is plenty of cable length to allow the remote to exit from either side of the seat, so if you happen to be left-handed there is no problem. The two buttons on the wired remote have a nice blue backlight. However, in a typical home theater such as ours where low light levels are required for optimal screen viewing, the blue lighting can be a distraction. There is not option to turn off the backlighting on these remotes. Flipping them over helps, but really defeats the purpose for having the backlight. However, there is another way that we are looking into, but it will take some engineering on my part. My plan is to dim down the illumination so it is still visible in the dark, but not distracting.

Safety Check
One issue that we ran into during the installation was a problem with the wiring (routing) for the remote on the single 8E seat. It turned out that the cable was not properly tied down to the base of the seat, resulting in the connector getting caught in the recline mechanism. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way when the controls stopped working after using it a few times. The root cause of the problem turned out to be a failure in the 3-pin DIN connector that links the wired remote to the motor assembly. The connector was wedged into the mechanism causing the interface to demate. It all turned out well in the end with a properly functioning seat once I re-routed the wiring. However, I would recommend that installers and end-users inspect the cables near the recline mechanism to make sure nothing is in the way. On that topic, let's take a look at Palliser's warranty.

Palliser Warranty
Palliser offers a lifetime warranty on the frame and sinuous wire seat springs. Seat cushions have a five year pro-rated warranty and the reclining mechanism has a limited lifetime warranty. Electronic components have a 2-year warranty. Labor is covered for 1-year from the date of delivery. This is subject to change, so it is best to check the Palliser website for the latest on warranty information.

Palliser Packing
Our Palliser Pepper seating came in four large and heavy boxes. A floor dolly assisted us in moving the seating into the theater room. To make packing easier, Palliser places the back of each seat on top of the main seat to create a nice rectangular shipping box. Each seat is wrapped in plastic, but is still vulnerable to sharp objects penetrating the outer part of the enclosure, so no box cutters should ever be used to open these. It is important to make sure that any significant box damage does not affect the material of the seat. We had no issues with our shipment. The next step is to unpack each box and put the seats together. We strategically started with the first seat in the corner and worked our way across the back wall.

Some Assembly
The Pepper seats come fully assembled with the exception of the detached seat back. The installer/user is required to lock the seat back into place using the built-in locking mechanism. Users simply slide the back onto the rails and the seat back locks. It is very easy to do and is designed to be removed if needed by simply pulling on the locking tabs on both sides simultaneously. The protruding metal bars used for this interface come covered with a cardboard box to prevent them from damaging the leather during shipping. Everything was packed very nicely and well protected.

Power Module
Each seat comes equipped with an AC adapter to drive the powered recline motor. The universal power adapter accepts 100-240VAC, 50/60Hz and outputs 29V at 2 amps. Palliser recommends not placing this adapter under the seat even though little heat is generated from the unit. This is likely due to liability concerns that a power supply failure could possible cause a fire if it malfunctions. The mating cable attached to the back of the seat is several feet long. The dual seat (8E model) comes with a single power module, but an extension cable is provided for additional length.

We were surprised to see a slot for two 9-volt batteries in the AC power adapter and scratched our heads wondering what this was for. As it turns out, Palliser has the option to use these batteries to return the seat to the non-recline position in the event of a power failure. While the intent is good, I had to ask myself if this was really necessary, especially since the battery undergoes a very high drain rate and only works a couple of times according to the manual. If reliable power is that important, connect the seats to a UPS for backup power rather than rely on batteries which may not have enough energy to do the job it was intended for when the time comes. Nonetheless, I installed a couple of 9-volt batteries to try out the option. Sure enough it worked, but the recline motor ran considerably slower and weaker than when the power adapter was plugged in.

Palliser Pepper Photos

The Palliser
Pepper Home Theater Seating is a wonderful design that our whole family has been enjoying while watching movies. The features, build quality and available options make it a great choice for demanding customers. The upgraded (all leather grade 2000) seating material is excellent and the power recline option is well worth it. Having the love seats in the middle lets people get cozy and adjust to any comfortable position. The large seat design gives customers ample room and the adjustability maximizes comfort. We are looking forward to lots of enjoyment for many years to come. Prices can vary widely depending on the options, so it is best to visit your Palliser dealer. Home Expressions offers this configuration for $4998, even though it retails for $6899.

- Kevin Nakano

Special "Thanks" to John Pham at Home Expressions for helping us choose a fantastic seating configuration for our home theater.

OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Review System

Projector: Anthem LTX-500v (aka JVC DLA-HD950) 1080p LCoS Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra2 7x150W Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Thermal Management: Active Thermal Management Cool-it II Equipment Cooler
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Blu-ray Player: OPPO BDP-95 Universal Audiophile Blu-ray Player
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP922 SlingLoaded HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver
Remote Control: Remote Technologies Inc. T4 Controller
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter, Accell 45-meter UltraRun HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
Audio Analyzer : Sencore SP295C SoundPro Contractor Version
Video Generator : Sencore VP403 Multimedia Video Generator

Review at a glance

Palliser - Pepper Home Theater Seating

Pepper HTS Spec Sheet

Leather Swatch Selection

Palliser Warranty Information

Local Palliser Furniture Dealer
Home Expressions
18093 Newhope St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 549-2222
Mon-Fri: 10am to 7pm
Sat: 10am to 6pm
Sun: 12am to 6pm

Model Number: 41942 Palliser Pepper HTS (5E-4E-8E-6E)
Source: Local authorized dealer
MSRP: $6899.00 (Home Expressions Price: $4998) as tested


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