What Is The Best Desk To Use For A Home Recording Studio?
You already did extensive researched and made sure you get the best possible equipment for your home recording studio. You also made sure that the right acoustic treatment has been applied to you studio to take care of any reverberation. Have you given enough thought to the desktop surface you will place your equipment on though?
We all fall into this trap. We focus so much on the right equipment and acoustic treatment for our home recording studio, that we neglect to realize the importance of the surface all our equipment will be placed on and where we will be doing the vast majority of our work.
Even after all our equipment is purchased, we still avoid looking at more suitable options for a suitable surface. Instead we rather try and find ways and means of using our existing desks to accommodate everything, sometimes resulting an a very uncomfortable and unproductive working environment. In turn, this uncomfortable working space can negativity influence our productivity and whole working experience.
(I have to admit I am guilty of exactly what I just mentioned. Only after taking the time to purchase the appropriate desks to correctly & practically place my equipment on, while creating enough space to do some actual work at the same time, did I realize its importance.)
Choosing the right working surface will not only help you ensure you have enough space to place your equipment while still leaving enough space for you to do some work on. It will also greatly improve your whole working experience and productivity as a result.
But which desk will be the best one for you? This will largely be determined by the maximum amount of space you need, as well the size of your studio. We take a closer look.
To be able to assist you in the best way possible, I am going to look at the most appropriate desk according the size you will be needing. (I will be looking into a few other factors as well that may be important considerations for you when in comes to a desk appropriate for a recording studio.)
The desks will be divided into 3 categories according to size:
- The Compact Desk
- The Right Desk For More Space
- The Desktop Solution For Maximum Space
The Compact Desk
As I already mentioned in another article, you can use a very small room and still turn it into an effective studio environment. (You can read more about it in this article.) With it come some restrictions though.
One of these restrictions is the size of the desk you can fit into such a small space. This need not be too big a problem if you do some planning.
If you think about it, you only really need space for a computer screen or two and an audio interface. The best place to put your speakers/studio monitors will be on sturdy pair of stands, not on a desk up against a wall. (More on the reason why in this article.)
The computer desktop can be placed next or under the desk. This will not only free up space on the desk, but also remove potential noise from the computer fans away from a sensitive condenser microphone.
The microphone can be placed on a microphone boom clamped to the side of the desk. There is no need to place it on the desk. In fact, placing a microphone on the desk make it more prone to picking up vibrations from bumps and shocks against the desk, as well as picking up noise from the keyboard and other noises emitting from the desktop.
With that said, I had a look at 2 compact desks that will be ideal for the smaller home recording studio:
1) Z-Line Claremont Desk
If you are looking for a compact desk, you may as well do it with some style. The compact Z-Line Claremont desk gives you both. From the accompanying image alone you can see that some care and effort went into designing this simple but elegant desk.
Yes, it is compact, but it still has more than enough space for all the essential gear a home studio needs. (It can easily accommodate a computer workstation with 2 screens and keyboard, as well as your audio interface.)
Your studio monitors/speakers are not meant to be placed on your desk anyway, and can easily be accommodated using a pair of quality speaker stands. (You can read more about speaker placement in this article.)
Your microphone should also not be placed on the desk for practical and acoustic reasons. Rather use a microphone boom bolted to the side of your desk to free up space and allow easy moving of the microphone into the right position.
So it provides enough space and looks great. But what about probably the most important requirement: Build quality and sturdiness. Don't let you eyes deceive you. This desk has a very solid build quality and is just as sturdy. Just by touching the surfaces you really get the impression of quality, which is reinforced when trying to move the desk around, just to find out how sturdy this solidly made desk actually is.
If you are worried about the glass top, don't be. It's made from heavy duty tempered glass and able to safely carry a surprising amount of weight. All your equipment can safely be placed on this surface.
You can use a simple solid wooden desk that will do just as good a job, but the Z-Line Claremont comes in at a surprisingly affordable price. I can really recommend this compact stylish desk and will be more than happy to pay a little extra for the joy of working on such an inviting surface. You can decide for yourself.
Get more information and pricing on the Z-Line Claremont Desk here.
2) Argosy Halo.G Workstation
I was a bit hesitant including this desk in this article, but I feel its new modern design and fresh approach to recording desks should be recognized and worth letting you know about.
The Halo.G is the entry level desk in Argosy's line of recording desks. This not an inexpensive desk and you can find a number of more affordable desks that will do just as good a job.
If you have big enough budget, the Halo.G desk is very modern and ergonomically designed desk with a number of features that make it stand out from the rest.
The grey unit has an exceptional build quality and the signature grey look makes it stand out immediately from other desks. The attention to detail and overall finish is very evident from the moment you first see it and everything feels high-end to the touch.
More specific details and highlights includes angled shapes on each side of the desk, making it very ideal for multiple computer screen use. (The desk gives the impression of conveniently wrapping around you, putting you at the center of the workstation.)
Another future is the padded arm rest that runs the full length of the desk along the front edge. This provides a very welcome support for resting your arms during extended hours of work. It's strong aluminium chassis and powder-coated steel legs reinforce the premium look and feel.
It can also be accessorized with many extras. I will not go into more detail, as I know this is a premium product that is out of reach for most us home users. But the whole point of including the Halo.G desk in this post, is to give you a taste of what is available if you have the financial means and desire. And this model is just the entry level model in the Argosy range of desks!
Get more information and pricing on the Argosy Halo.G Workstation here.
The Right Desk For More Space
With a larger studio, you can afford to start thinking about a desk with a slightly bigger footprint. You will probably still not have unlimited space to add any size desk, but there are plenty of options available in this category to provide you with more usable desk space in a variety of ways.
Very large flat horizontal surface can cause reverberation and not be very beneficial for your studio's acoustics as a result. Unnecessary large flat desks will therefore potentially cause more problems than it will solve.
I found the following 2 desks to address the issue of space in a variety of different ways:
1) Calico Designs 55123 Study Corner Desk
Although being called a corner desk, the Calico will happily stand against any surface. I would really recommend placing it in the the center between the corners of a wall for sound symmetry & monitoring. (The sides of the desk do not form a 90 degree angle anyway, so I see no reason why it must be placed in a corner.)
The Calico is a solidly designed desk with laminated dark wood surfaces and a powder-coated steel frame. The sturdy construction ensures stability and minimizes vibrations and disturbances to the microphone.
At 46 inches wide, the desk provides enough space for working while still remaining compact enough to comfortably fit in a moderate size room. With 2 additional full-length shelves, you have ample room for all your equipment and leave you some space to work on as well.
The bottom shelf near your feet will be ideal to place your computer desktop on, freeing up work space and moving the noise from the computer fans away from the microphone. The top shelf can easily accommodate a pair of compact studio monitors and your audio interface. (I would recommend rather placing the studio monitors/speakers on separate pair of stands for accurate sound monitoring though.)
Both the top and bottom shelves' edges are angled to conveniently "wrap" around you, very much like the Argosy Halo.G desk. The middle shelf has a full width and depth however, providing you with the maximum amount of workable space.
I also feel its worth mentioning that the Calico has 4 floor levelers that provides the desk with exceptional overall stability. This is one desk you are going to battle to knock over or move when bumped into.
In summary, I can really recommend this desk as a solid and attractive step up if you need the extra space and have a slightly bigger room that will accommodate it comfortably. It still remains fairly compact and will look good in any studio.
Get more information and pricing on the Calico Designs 55123 Study Corner Desk here.
2) Z-Line Cyrus Workstation
For all intents and purposes this desk can be seen as the big brother of the Z-Line Claremont Desk. Sitting slightly higher up in Z-Line's range of desks, the biggest advantage of the Cyrus Workstation over its smaller sibling is a substantial increase in the amount of usable space.
The design and construction of the Cyprus Workstation is based on the same style as the Claremont Desk, providing the same quality materials and solid design. The cherry colored finish with black accents comes in a contemporary style, with the main shelf consisting of a strong tempered glass able to safely handle substantial weights.
Apart from the 48 inch desk width (compared to the Claremont's slightly smaller 47 inches), the real difference comes in the form of 2 additional shelves. Both are full-length with the top shelf at about head height and the bottom shelf just above the feet of the desk.
The top shelf has a smaller depth than the others, but will still be able to accommodate an audio interface and compact pair of studio studio monitors (which you already know by know I don't like to recommend). As with other desks in this category, the bottom shelf is ideal for placing your computer desktop on for the same reasons.
The only negative feedback that I got (although not personally experienced), is that the keyboard slide-out started causing some problems for a few users, so care should be taken when handling this mechanism. I am not sure whether this is a general problem or isolated to a few individual cases, but it seems to be the exception and not the rule.
All in all, another solid and attractive desk with plenty of usable space form the Z-Line range of desks. From personal experience I can recommend this desk, and being a best seller on many online stores confirms this conclusion. (Just be aware of the potential reliability issue of the keyboard slide-out reported by a few users.)
Get more information and pricing on the Z-Line Cyrus Workstation here.
The Desktop Solution For Maximum Space
If you are lucky enough to have a large studio at your disposal, you are really spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing your desk. Just remember, simply because you have big enough room to accommodate a big desk does not mean you have to go for the biggest solution possible.
There are still quite a few reasons why keeping your desk's dimensions fairly compact can be beneficial. I already mentioned the effect large flat horizontal surfaces can have on your room's acoustics. Not having your speakers on your desk also have very clear benefits. (You can read more about speaker placement in this article.)
1) Studio RTA Producer Station
If you are looking for big workstation desk with enough space to fit almost any possible piece of equipment and accessory you can think of, look no further than the Studio RTA Producer Station. This is a complete recording desktop solution in almost possible every way.
To be honest, you almost feel intimidated by the amount of space and features presented to you when standing in front of this unit.
Just to give you an indication, the main work space measures a massive 77 inches in width, providing you with enough room to fit a full-size 88 key digital piano or synthesizer with space to spare. Adding to that a total of 48 rack-spaces to use, you start to get the picture.
Extra features include 8-space CD/DVD holders, two slide-out keyboard shelves and casters to assist with mobility.
A solid steel construction with maple-colored solid desk surfaces makes up a very solid and sturdy unit. Weighing in at 140 pounds, this unit will not be easily pushed or moved around, making it very resilient to unwelcome knocks and bumps.
Further note has to be taken that this unit is mobile and has 4 casters to assist with mobility. In general I am not a fan of recording desks with "wheels", as it normally makes the desk less stable and sturdy. In the case of the Studio RTA Producer Station however, the sheer weight of the desk, combined with the fact that the casters can be locked, render this concern basically completely irrelevant.
In conclusion, I really find very little to criticize this big and versatile workstation, apart from the fact that you will require a fairly big studio to comfortably fit a "desk" of this size without taking up most of the room.
A great addition to any mid to large studio with ample room to fit almost anything you will need space to fit on a desk.
Get more information and pricing on the Studio RTA Producer Station here.
2) HOMCOM 64" L-Shaped Office Workstation
Sometimes you do need a fair amount of horizontal desk space. You may be allocating some space for your digital piano, do some writing or making notes, and still need some additional space for the occasional odd job. (And don't forget doing some actual work on your computer keyboard.) The size and space the Homcom l-shaped desk provide, may just be what you are looking for.
First things first. Yes, this is a corner desk, which obviously means you normally will put it in the corner. As you probably already know the corner of a studio is probably the worst place for monitoring your sound.
Your studio monitors are probably positioned to produce the best listening position somewhere near the middle of the room. However, you can easily get around this problem by placing a pair of smaller desktop speakers/studio monitors on the desk at the right distance and height while monitoring your sound while doing your mixing. You can read all about correct speaker placement in this article.)
Now for the big shocker. There is NO rule that tells you NOT to place your L-shaped desk in the middle of the room. In this bigger studio setup this will be the perfect solution. (And please don't be concerned about looks. It may look out of place in the beginning, but the beautiful design of the Homcom will quickly fit in with the rest of the room in no time at all.)
As a result you can put the desk in the middle of the room or anywhere where you will be able to best monitor your sound while still getting all the advantages of this L-shaped desk.
The pleasing combination of steel, MDF and dark steel top is very inviting and a pleasure to work on. The glass is tempered and extremely strong, so you don't have to worry about placing heavy objects on it.
Two last advantages I would like to highlight:
- The L-shape: If you need a big horizontal working space, using the Homcom's L-shape configuration is much easier and practical for you, as it allows you to reach more space by just turning your chair. On a long straight desk you would have had to constantly move around to reach everything. The more compact dimension of this shape desk is also a lot more acoustically friendly than a long flat desk that will cause a lot more sound reverberation.
- A small but very handy feature of the desk, is the portable computer cart, enabling you to put your computer desktop out of the way and place it in any convenient spot. This not only allows you to free up more desk space, but more importantly remove the noise from the computer's desktop fans away from your condenser microphone (which picks up EVERYTHING).
As you can see, I am clearly very excited about this desk. To be honest, if I ever get access to a bigger studio, this will probably be one of my first investments.
But all bias aside, the solid design, amount of usable space, and the beautiful contemporary design of the Homcom 64 is really hard to fault. Yes, it's definitely not your typical big recording desk, but provides you with everything you need while doing it in a style.
I can therefore give this desk a big thumbs up and can really strongly recommend it.
Get more information and pricing on the Homcom 64" L-Shaped Desk here.
You now have at 2 desk options for each of a small, medium and large studio size. I also made sure to highlight each desk's pros and cons to help you understand what is important in a desk and what to look for when choosing one.
Off course there are dozens of more desks to choose from that will do just as good a job. Using these desks in this article as a guideline however, will help make the decision making process easier for you when it comes to deciding on the best desk for your studio size.
As always, feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions you may have, and I will respond and try and get to them as soon as I can.
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Catch you in the next article and happy recording!