Rethinking My Studio Layout, Part 4: Correcting Some Issues With My Desk

In the previous part of this series, I showed my finished studio desk, and talked about some things I would have done differently in hindsight.

After using the desk for some time, I’ve decided to rebuild the entire top half, which consists of the main surface and the rack bays. After thinking about it for a long time, I’ve realized that if I were to move the rack bays backwards by three inches, it would solve the biggest problems without introducing any new ones.

First, moving the bays back by three inches would increase the usable space on the unusually-small main surface by a significant amount. Second, it would also let me push the display three inches further away from my face, which would be good since it currently feels too close and claustrophobic. On the top surface, there is a lot of unused space behind the display; this change would basically transfer some of that space down onto the main surface, where it can be better utilized. The rack bays are much deeper than they need to be, so shortening their depth by three inches in the process will be no problem.

Best of all, with these changes the great acoustics of this desk would not be diminished. The speaker position would not need to change, nor would the front of the desk need to extend outward any further. This is important to me because the number-one priority I had when designing this desk was that the acoustics had to be optimal. In other words, the desk needs to reflect as little sound as possible from the speakers into my ears, as these desk reflections had previously been a huge hindrance to the quality of my mixing process.

Other minor improvements will include refinishing the new top half with a better wood finish that won’t flake away, and also, putting in a thicker keyboard tray while I’m at it. The current keyboard tray is too thin, and it wobbles when I play anything harder than pianissimo. I think I’ll also add a brace underneath the back of the tray to further improve its stability.

The major downside to this decision is the cost of new materials and the cost of my own time and labor to build it. Unfortunately it won’t be possible to reuse any of the existing wood, because there is no elegant way to cut off the parts that I would need to cut without destroying the cleanliness of the build. But, I think the workflow improvements will be worth the investment.

Oh, and in somewhat related news, I’m going to add a new rug to the room and eventually build new frames and fabric covers for my acoustic panels. That might be the subject of a future article. Very gradually but surely, I am improving the effectiveness of my work area.