Folks sometimes ask me about how I’ve set up my home studio. Well, here you go.
The Desk Setup
I bought this years ago. Since then, the company has rebranded to “XDesk”, and I have no idea where they stand in the market since so many new sit/stand desk vendors have shown up in the meantime. Ikea even sells one, which I’ve checked out and was not impressed by.
For me this desk is not a novelty. I work with it sitting and standing every day. I would never go back to a conventional desk at this point.
THE IMAC PRO
This iMac Pro is the most expensive computer I have bought in my lifetime. It’s also my favorite computer that I’ve ever owned in my lifetime. Last year when upgrading my original 5K iMac, I realized I wanted more power and started clicking the appropriate boxes until my build-to-order iMac was dangerously close to the entry-level price of the iMac Pro. I then started talking to iMac Pro-owning friends (a dangerous endeavor) who all universally loved their iMac Pros. What pushed me over the edge was a few factors:
Multiple-Core Processing: I render a lot of video these days. The iMac Pro runs circles around any computer I have ever used before. What used to take 45 minutes to render now takes 15.
Thermal Profile: While it looks a lot like a traditional iMac from the outside, the inside of the iMac Pro is an entirely different beast. It stays cool and quiet, which makes recording podcasts and doing video production a lot easier.
More Pro Goodness: The T2 chip. The better camera. The faster memory and disk access. All of that adds up to something I was willing to pay for.
Processor: 3.2 Ghz Intel Xeon W
RAM: 32 GB
SSD: 2 Terabyte
The place I went crazy was increasing the SSD to 2TB. I don't regret it. Just last week I was working on four separate screencast projects and a video with plenty of room to spare. I plan on keeping this machine a long time and don't want to make juggling internal storage a daily burden.
KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD
While I've been flirting with the Keychron keyboard, I am primarily using the stock Apple keyboard and trackpad. I'm not very fiddly when it comes to these things and using the Magic Trackpad along with Better Touch Tool, I can make this iMac dance. I initially thought I would replace the full-size keyboard with one sans number pad; however, I've found so many uses for the number pad in Keyboard Maestro that I now don't mind the extra stretch from the keyboard to the trackpad.
The iMac Pro is the central hub of my video business, podcasts, and legal practice. I work at this machine for hours every day.
THE REFERENCE MONITORs
I’ve already written plenty about this, but I do continue to appreciate the additional screenspace. I’m still using it exactly as originally intended: reference materials only, with the real work done on the iMac screen. Generally, I always have Calendar and OmniFocus on the top and bottom on the right and other random reference apps on the left.
I use all of the ports!
I have purchased so many lousy USB hubs over the years. This is not one of those. I bought it in 2015, and it’s been rock solid.
I’ve been down the road with NAS drives and other fancy solutions, but these days, I've simplified to these Seagate 5TB drives. I have one exclusively for Time Machine and another that acts as an Archive drive. I have a few more in a drawer that backs up the Archive. They are light, reliable, bus powered, and easily velcro to the underside of my desk.
Fujitsu sponsored the Mac Power Users for years, but before that, I was just a customer. I still use my ScanSnap all the time.
When I left my fancy lawyer job and set up my solo practice, my first purchase was this printer. It has worked fine as printers go. It always works with iOS devices but sometimes gets fiddly with my Mac.
Nothing special here, but now I have three of them, and they can even hold up the heavy iMac Pro.
A simple little thing from Amazon, this Desktop Digital Clock comes in more handy than you’d think.
Under the Desk
Here is an image of all of the madness going on under my desk.
A few things that stand out here are ElevationLab products, specifically the ElevationShelf, where I run additional charging cables and occasionally keep some bits of paper, and the Anchor Pro, a useful hook where I hang my podcasting headphones and cable when not in use. The headphones are a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which I rage bought at an airport once between flights. They are comfortable enough that I also use them as podcasting cans, and they are tight enough on the ears so that there is no audio bleed-through when I’m recording.
Most everything else is described above. Obviously, I love gaff tape. Also, note the way I ran the headphone extension so I can plug the headphones in on the left before starting podcasting.
I started with very simple podcast gear. My first mic was a Blue Snowball. Over the years, I’ve upgraded my equipment. I wouldn’t recommend the equipment below for starting out, but it sure is nice if you have the means.
Microphone - Neuman 105
My Precious. I recently upgraded my microphone to this beauty. I'm thrilled with it. It does a great job with my voice and a decent job with my saxophone.
It took me years to get one of these. I got mine used, and it works great. It is an outstanding pre-amp.
I rage bought these in an airport once after sitting for hours surrounded by too much noise. These are some great noise-cancelling headphones, but they are also pretty comfortable. I keep these mounted to the bottom of my desk with the ElevationLab Anchor. For podcast recording, I use the wired connection.
I bought (and returned) several lousy mic mutes before I found this one. If you get it, buy longer cables so you can run it to the floor and activate it with your foot.
K&M Microphone Desk Stand
My old boom arm started creaking and popping. This one is much more stable (and quiet).
One of the best values in my podcasting rig.
THE IPAD PRO
I love my iPads Pro. I love the design, and I love how wicked fast they are. I have the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 512 GB of storage (which in hindsight was probably overkill on storage). I also got an 11-inch iPad Pro used. The big one is for around the house, and the little one is for out of the house.
Love the portability and the way it doubles as a protector when the iPad is in my bag.
Superior to the first iteration in every way.
I like this so much, I made a video about it.
IPHONE - APPLE IPHONE XS MAX (WHITE)
I'm not alone in thinking of these as some of the best things Apple has made in recent years.
I've been buying Anker batteries because I trust the company. I'm not sure they are any better than the other reputable companies.
I don't use these all the time, but on family outings, they fit in the pocket of my jeans and significantly increase the photography options with the iPhone. I’d particularly recommend the wide and superfish Moment lenses.
While wandering the aisles of the local home improvement store, I stumbled upon this Husky workbench. I can use it while shooting video as a desk surface, and it is great for storing gear, particularly when combined with Kaizen Foam. The panels on the wall are sound absorbing. The studio is only 10 square feet so it can get boomy without a little help. The Star Wars figures are from Sideshow. Every year or two, I’ll buy something there. The collection grows. Also, you’ll see an Apple HomePod.
The Writing Desk
One of the nice things about setting up my own space was the ability to use this writing desk that has been in my family for generations. It was rarely actually used as a writing desk, but it is now.
I’ve been using more analog tools the last few years. I’ve left a trail of attempted notebooks and pens behind me, but I like, at least right now, the Levenger Circa system for paper and notebooks. I prefer the Rhodia paper, but the Circa system is so flexible and the ability move pages or punch and insert my own gives it the advantage.
The studio is a converted bedroom. I removed the closet doors and installed some storage for additional bits. There is a lot of video, camera, and music gear in here. Also, if you didn’t know already, I have a bag problem.