In a Nutshell:

The Kahuna EM 8500 is a great chair offered by one of the best companies in the industry. It’s got a handful of powerful therapeutic features wrapped in a stellar design. It is recommended for anyone of light to medium build, not exceeding 250 pounds, who has plenty of discretionary income—this one isn’t cheap.

Overall Massage Quality
Customization options
Ease of Use
Value for the Money
Brand Reliability*

Overall Rating

* Brand Reliability is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.


  • Lots of massage customization
  • Three Zero-G seating options
  • Airbags for a full-body massage
  • Includes heating function
  • Outstanding calf/foot massage
  • Loaded with extras


  • Expensive
  • Low supported weight limit
Kahuna EM 8500 Massage Chair

Recommended For: Anyone of light to medium build, not exceeding 250 pounds, who has plenty of discretionary income—this one isn’t cheap.

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Do you suffer from chronic pain? Are you finding that every month, you’re spending more time than you care to on the phone with your chiropractor’s receptionist to schedule yet another appointment, then having to brave the elements to get there and back? And of course, we haven’t even gotten to the part about all the money that takes.

If you’re tired of hurting and even more tired of spending all that time and money on chiropractic visits, then you’re going to like what you read in this—our Kahuna EM 8500 review.

From a technical perspective, this is an absolutely amazing chair, though it does have some curious limitations you’ll want to keep very much in mind before you spend money to get one.

In the review that follows, we’ll step you through everything this chair has to offer, and we won’t be shy about calling the company out for the shortcomings that have been baked into this design. That way, you’ll have all the information you need to decide if this is the chair you’ve been looking for. Sound good? 

If so, read on, and let’s take a closer look!

An Overview Of The Kahuna EM 8500

Most massage chairs have a vaguely futuristic look to them, but the EM8500 really embraces that concept and runs with it. The design team didn’t take too many chances, but they did try something new, carrying the hard plastic seatback around and continuing that design over the tops of the chair arms.

Kahuna EM 8500 with black faux leather upholstery, glossy black hard shell exterior, and bronze highlights

It’s a subtle change, but it gives the chair a decidedly high-tech look. It would not be difficult to imagine this as being the captain’s chair on the bridge of a spaceship in some sci-fi movie or another.

That feeling is reinforced by the presence of convenience buttons running down the right arm of the chair that allows you to control basic functions and the impressively sized 7” flat-screen monitor mounted on the opposite chair arm that serves as the EM8500’s remote.

If you like the sci-fi aesthetic, you’re going to love the look. If you’re not a fan, you probably won’t be any more put off by this design than by the look of massage chairs in general, so it’s a big win for the design team.

While it’s true that most people don’t buy massage chairs with looks at the forefront of their minds, aesthetics do matter, and this model makes a great first impression.

It is, however, a big, burly piece of furniture, with a footprint of 58.27” L x 33.66” W x 45.67” H and weighing in at a hefty 286.6 pounds, so this isn’t a chair you’re going to be able to take delivery of and just pick it up and put it where you want it. 

You’ll definitely need an extra pair of hands to wrestle it into position in your home, and after, both you and your helper may need a massage!

Although it’s a sizeable chair, it is built with space-saving technology. So unlike recliners and massage chairs without this feature, the EM8500 only requires about three inches of clearance between the back of the chair and whatever wall you place it near. 

It still might prove challenging to find a permanent home for it in a smaller room, but the space-saving tech definitely helps in that regard.

Unfortunately,  as big and burly as the chair is, it doesn’t support nearly as much user weight as you may think. Most massage chairs support around 300 pounds, with many models supporting significantly more than that.

This chair’s weight limit is just 250 pounds and is designed for users ranging in height from 5’ to about 6’2”. This limitation is a genuine disappointment to us. It wouldn’t have taken much to ruggedize the frame, allowing the 8500 to support significantly more weight, which would have made it accessible to a broader swath of the market. Alas, the company opted not to do so.

The Kahuna EM8500 Packs All The Latest Tech Into Its Design

You would expect that a well-respected company like Kahuna would feature all the latest massage chair technology in their chair. And sure enough, that’s exactly what you’ll find in the 8500. 

Kahuna EM8500 with chocolate brown faux leather upholstery, glossy brown hard shell exterior, and bronze highlights

It sports a delightfully long SL massage track that allows the person sitting in the chair to get a massage that begins in the neck and shoulder area and extends down the full length of the back.

Then, the track turns and continues under the seat, allowing the rollers to render an excellent massage of the user’s glutes and the backs of their thighs. At the limits of the track, the leg massage ports take over, delivering a massage of the calves and the feet. That’s as close to a full-body massage as you’re likely to get from a chair, which is outstanding!

In addition to that, the chair features quad rollers to move along the track and is equipped with Kahuna’s body scanning technology. When you order a massage before it begins, the chair will quickly scan your back, adjusting the position of the rollers such that they hit all your pressure points.

In practice, the scan gets it right about 95% of the time, but on those rare occasions where something goes wrong and the rollers wind up being a little off-kilter, you’ll find manual controls on the control panel that will allow you to tweak the roller position until it’s just right.  

This combination ensures that every time you order a massage, you’ll get the best the chair is capable of delivering.

All that to say, Kahuna nailed the basics, which is exactly what we expect from a company of their caliber and standing in the marketplace.

4D Massage Rollers

An increasing number of companies are touting their chairs as being “4D” massagers.  Unfortunately, there’s no clear standard for what exactly that means.

Everybody knows what a 2D massage chair is. It’s a model that allows the rollers to move along the X- and Y-axis. These chairs tend to be older, less expensive models that struggle to deliver a true deep tissue massage.

Kahuna EM 8500 black variant and an illustration of the track system and massage rollers

Similarly, most people know that 3D massage chairs have a track design that allows the rollers to move along the Z-axis, which makes them capable of rendering a true, satisfying deep tissue massage with genuine therapeutic benefits. But the market is still grappling with what 4D chairs actually are and do.

For some companies, it’s little more than a marketing gimmick, but Kahuna does offer something unique in this design, and as such, there really is something to the 4D designation.

First, the roller array isn’t one set size. Two of the rollers are 1.25” in diameter, while the other two are 1.5”. This variation in size allows the rollers to more closely mimic the feel of human hands.

Second, Kahuna offers a special 4D massage mode that allows the rollers to vary their speed on the fly, depending on what part of your body they’re massaging. 

This special 4D mode offers five different intensity levels, and if you pair it with one of the Zero-G seating options—which we’ll talk about a little later in this review—you can get an absolutely out-of-this-world deep tissue massage.

That’s fantastic news for everyone, but it is of particular value to chronic pain sufferers who are looking for a chair capable of delivering a deep tissue massage with genuine therapeutic benefits. This one delivers, and we count it as the first of a few different therapeutic features we’ll be talking about where this model is concerned.

The EM8500 Offers Tons Of Massage Options, But…

Overall, this is a very strong component of our Kahuna EM 8500 review, but it does have one mystifying point of weakness. Let’s start by talking about the massage techniques the 8500 brings to the table. 

They are:

  • Kneading
  • Rolling
  • Tapping
  • Flap
  • Kneading + Tapping
  • Combination

Notice anything weird? 

There are no advanced massage techniques!

EM8500 black variant and an illustration of its foot rollers and airbags at the shoulders, arms, hips, calves, and feet

Almost every chair on the market today offers Shiatsu as an advanced technique, and some chairs offer many more than that.

We’re honestly mystified as to why no advanced techniques were included and definitely counted that as a strike against the model. Given the amount they’re charging for this chair, we were expecting at least one advanced technique. Here’s hoping it gets added via some future update to the model.

Even with the points deduction due to the lack of a missing advanced technique, this chair still scored quite solidly overall. And one of the reasons why is the fact that Kahuna did a masterful job at offering a wide range of pre-programmed massages and customization options.

There are 24 pre-programmed massages in all, broken into three categories, with each category containing eight different massages. These are:

Classic Routines

  • Renew
  • Refresh
  • Recovery
  • Stretch
  • Morning
  • Night
  • Anti-Stress
  • Energize

Then, there are 8 Specialty Routines that focus on different areas of the body, depending on what kind of work you do or how old you are. These are:

  • Salesman
  • Housewife
  • Office Clerk
  • Game Player
  • Driver
  • Sportsman
  • Server
  • Senior

Rounding out the collection are another set of 8 massage options that focus on specific areas of the body. These are:

  • Neck
  • Neck and Shoulder
  • Back Relief
  • Waist
  • Waist and Hip
  • Legs and Feet
  • Upper Body
  • Lower Body

While you may not wind up using all of these on a regular basis, all of them are worth trying out at least once. And taken together, these 24 massage options offer something for just about everyone.

In addition to that, you’ll find five levels of speed and intensity control, plus the 4D mode with its five levels of control, plus spot and partial massage modes, which allow you to focus and direct the rollers to the spots where the most attention is needed.

That, combined with the two dozen pre-programmed massage options, gives you a simply staggering number of customization options available. We love it, and we think you will too. In our view, this level of customization makes up for the absence of the advanced technique.

While all of the massage options are good, the big thing to talk about here is the body stretch.

In our view, nobody does body stretching quite like Kahuna. Their proprietary body stretch is simply the best in the industry, though it is quite aggressive and may be too much for some people. 

Still, if your favorite part of a chiropractic visit is the “chiropractic adjustment”, then this is likely to be your favorite aspect of the design and definitely counts as another strong therapeutic feature.

Three Zero-G Seating Options!

This is another very strong component of our Kahuna EM 8500 review.

Most high-end chairs offer at least one Zero-G seating option, but Kahuna really took things to the next level on this front by offering three different options.

Kahuna EM 8500 black variant in different zero gravity positions with the leg ports elevated

Inspired by NASA, Zero-G seating really does leave you feeling weightless, and by itself, it offers a raft of therapeutic benefits, including increased blood flow, improved circulation, and faster healing, especially for those who have just had surgery of one kind or another.

Even better, if you place the chair into one of the Zero-G seating positions then order a maximum intensity or 4D massage, you’ll get an even better deep tissue massage than you would have otherwise gotten.

Zero-G seating is, thus, a therapeutic feature in its own right (marking the third such feature in this design) and a feature that enhances other aspects of the chair.

Generous Heat Too

Almost everybody likes a good massage. They’re soothing and relaxing.

Kahuna EM8500 black variant and an illustration of its heating coils in the lumbar area, calves, and feet

One of the things that separates a good massage from a truly great one, though, is the addition of heat. 

Heat almost always makes a massage better, and massage chairs made by Kahuna offer excellent back heat.

Although the sales literature shows the heat in the lumbar region, in practice, it radiates well into the midback, and the heating elements warm quickly, so you won’t be stuck sitting around waiting to start feeling the effects.

Kudos to Kahuna for a job well done on this front and yet another excellent therapeutic feature (the chair’s fourth).

An Excellent Air Massage Is Included

This is yet another strong component of our Kahuna EM 8500 review because the 8500 is outfitted with an impressive 54 airbags and is capable of rendering an outstanding airbag-based massage you’re sure to love.  

As with the roller-based massage, you can modify the air massage via the control panel through five levels of intensity, and you can selectively activate airbags by the following body regions:

  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Waist-Hip
  • Legs
  • Feet

Most people aren’t going to pick this model over some other on the strength of its air massage alone, but it is an exceptional feature addition and beautifully implemented.

The Calf and Foot Massage Is Delightful

Kahuna knocks it out of the park again with their outstanding calf and foot massage. Most massage chairs approach this feature by using airbags to massage the calves and rollers to massage your feet.

Kahuna EM 8500's leg ports with black faux leather upholstery, glossy black hard shell exterior, and bronze highlights

Kahuna takes things a step further, offering a combination of airbags and rollers for your calves and more airbags and rollers for your feet. As with the other massage options on offer, you can select your choice of five different intensity levels, customizing your calf and foot massage to taste.

Best of all, this chair provides heat in the footwells too! This addition is probably our favorite and just makes the feature next-level good. You’ll be in absolute heaven, especially if you spend several hours of each day on your feet.

This is our favorite feature of the chair. It’s amazing.

Loaded With Extras Too!

In addition to being positively brimming with features, the EM 8500 doesn’t skimp where extras are concerned either.

Do you want ionized air? The 8500 has it. Bluetooth speakers? Yep, this model has those too.  LED backlights? Got ‘em. 

Kahuna EM 8500 with black faux leather upholstery, bronze highlights, and a 7-inch touchscreen monitor mounted to one arm

A massage timer? Yes, it’s even got one of those. In fact, you can set any massage you select to either 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes, allowing you to enjoy up to one full hour of your favorite massage—any time you like.

In fact, the 8500 even has memory slots, allowing you to create your perfect massage then save your preferred settings for one-touch recall later. The folks at Kahuna have thought of everything!

Pros & Cons of Kahuna EM 8500

As you can see, we like almost everything about the 8500. It is a chair with remarkably few weaknesses. As we see it, the only things that might give some potential users pause are the price (it really is expensive) and the chair’s disappointingly low supported weight limit.

We don’t even count the lack of an advanced massage feature as being a true negative because the 8500 offers so much in the way of massage customization that, to be honest, most people won’t miss it.

Kahuna EM 8500 Review Conclusion

We absolutely recommend this chair for anybody up to 6’2” tall and weighing no more than 250 pounds.

If you weigh more than this, no matter how much you may love this design, it’s just not going to work for you. It’s an expensive chair, but worth every penny.

Other Options To Consider

If you’ve read to this point and you’re not convinced the 8500 is a good fit for you, here are a couple of other options you may want to consider:

Kahuna SM-7300 Massage Chair

Recommended For: Anyone, especially big and tall users.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

This chair is significantly less expensive, so you won’t find as many features here, but it supports significantly more weight—up to 320 pounds. If the chair we just reviewed doesn’t support enough weight to be a good fit for you, this is an excellent option to consider.

Luraco i7 Massage Chair

Recommended For: Anyone who can afford it. Exceptional therapeutic chair, made in the USA, packed with high-value features.

Check Latest Price Read Detailed Review

This one has evenmore therapeutic featuresthan the chair we just reviewed. We regard it as the gold standard where therapeutic massage chairs are concerned. It’s well worth a look.

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