The New Studio Desk
For awhile now I’ve been thinking about building a new desk for my studio, one that would be custom-designed for my own personal needs. In the past I’ve maintained two separate set ups in all of my studios, the main work area where I do all of my critical mastering work and most of my writing, and a separate set up for DJing and working on my live sets. I’ve never been able to really get into the mindset of performing while sitting down, so this second set up has always been based around a taller table I could stand up at. You can see the last set up I did like this here:
What I really wanted was a way to combine those two set ups into one area though, as well as giving me a way to take my OCD with hiding any cables to new heights (err… pun intended, as you’ll see). Last year I saw a really cool height-adjustable desk that Argosy was making, but it was way bigger than I needed for my studio, and super expensive as well. But it gave me the idea that perhaps an adjustable desk was the way forward, I just needed to figure out how to build.
The biggest hold up was trying to find actuators that would strong and stable enough to support not only the desk and my gear, but also the Event Opals I use for monitoring too. No easy task considering the Opals are something like 80 lbs each! After a lot of thought and research, I decided it just wasn’t practical, so I shelved the idea temporarily.
As luck would have it, I ran into a solution that I felt would work perfectly while out shopping for furniture with the wife. One store had a sit/stand workstation designed by Jesper that caught my eye:
I had seen other desks like this before, but most were still pretty cheap feeling for my needs, they just didn’t look like they would last long. This one however had a weight rating that met my needs (rated at 300 lbs), and more importantly it was incredible solid. It lacked some of the functionality I had originally wanted, but I knew I could build what I needed later on.
Of course, it still didn’t solve the issue of how to raise and lower my Opals, but at this point I don’t think there IS a good solution for that yet. In the end I decided to just move my HR824’s so that they could still be used for monitoring while working on my live material. I had to redesign their stands a little to fit closer to the Opals, but it was the best solution for the issue. Just use two sets of monitors, duh.
After that it was time to get rid of the old Ikea desk, and then build the new one. Briefly thought about mastering with no desk, just via iPad control on my chair, but it felt too weird:
Time to get building! Overall I felt desk was really well designed and easy to put together. Heavy S.O.B. though, especially the legs with the electric actuators.
Because I was trying to minimize my studio downtime (work has been steady for awhile now), I just hooked everything back up asap when I was done so I could get back to work. For awhile I lived with things like this, cables everywhere, still using the racks on the floor. For the most part I just thought of it as having completed Phase 1 of the project, which gave me time to figure out how I wanted to tackle Phase 2.
I really wanted to get everything off the floor and have it attached to the underside of the desk. That way when I raised or lowered the desk, I didn’t need to worry about cables being too short, or just the cluttered way it looked. That meant building a rack for the power supplies (Monster Pro2500, and I bought a new Monster Pro3500), compartments for my hard drives, and shelving to allow me to hide all the cabling. I also wanted to keep the same sort of aesthetic of the current desk, so I factored that into my plans as well.
You can see the separate shelf I built here, after one coat of paint:
I attached it to the underside of the original desk top with L-brackets and lots of screws. The black box to the left is the brains of the electric actuators for the legs:
Here it is attached and ready to flip over. The tape on the floor is just to mark where the desk was before, I had worked with it in that spot long enough that I knew I didn’t want to change things:
And here’s the final pictures, first with the desk down for mastering, and second when it’s raised up for my performance-based work (or just when I want to stand and check email, etc). The switch to raise or lower the desk is just a pair of buttons under the left front section of the tabletop. The range is huge, it goes low enough I can sit on the floor and work, or almost over my head. The cables running off the back of the desk are the power cords for the Monster power supplies. They go into an APC1500 UPS module that’s under a custom sound barrier I made for it in the lower right.
I’m really happy with the way things turned out, it’s a really versatile desk for both my professional and personal studio needs. Ended up looking better than I expected too, I’m always a little nervous tackling important woodworking projects like this. It pays to go slow I’ve learned 🙂
Anyway, I know some people were curious about the desk I was building, so there’s all the details. If you have any questions about the desk or build process, just ask in the comments and I’ll get right to it.