Setting Up Your First Home Studio
How to Plan the Purchase of Studio Furniture, considering your current tech and wish list tech toys.
Most Important Note: Don’t go out and buy “studio furniture” for its category name. There are so many expensive options out there, and likely cheaper options that are more suitable to you. While learning how to compose music with a computer, I built the setup below. This article outlines considerations that helped me get to a very comfortable home studio environment.
Links in this article are unpaid. I simply want to help you get a good picture of what I mean.
Seek out your individual ergonomic and workflow needs
Here’s how in 2 steps:
Think about what you already own. A Computer with Mouse and Keyboard, Studio Monitors, a Piano or other MIDI Devices.
More importantly, think about how you interact with these items on a daily basis.
A daily exercise to help with Studio Layout before making more purchases.
Do the following regularly before committing to the setup.
Close your eyes and imagine:
- The width and height of your Piano or MIDI and how you want your desk to be situated around it.
- Creating music with current or ‘wish list’ equipment. Where would you like them to sit?
- Picture getting up regularly for snacks, bathroom breaks etc.
- Think about sitting for hours entranced in music making.
- Research ‘wish list’ equipment (For me it was the SSL UF8 and MonogramCC’s Traveller).
- Imagine where that equipment will live & how often you will use it.
- How will you use your computer, keyboard and mouse for other important tasks like marketing.
- Imagine playing the piano or MIDI instrument’s for fun.
You might have weeks or months before making any purchases Imagining the actual use of your equipment and the mundane functions you will constantly do. You might find that you dont want to constantly reach for certain equipment that you use regularly. This method will truly help your plan.
How to research Studio Layout
The best approach is Online Video Reconnaissance.
- Use the positive ideas to add to your list
- Use the negative ideas to narrow down what you want.
Watch multiple videos of composers creating, mixing and producing music. Watch how they physically move around and interact with their technology. Is it cumbersome to you?
Take good and bad ideas from each video and make your list.
For my setup, the Piano is what I use most, I wanted playing to feel as natural as on a baby grand. It had to be front and centre.
Here are a few good video’s that studied regarding studio layout:
Note: Don’t be bothered with video content as much as the example of how studio equipment can be laid out:
- The Secret to Orchestral Programming – YouTube (Christian’s setup, different camera angles throughout)
- Scoring with Spitfire Free Orchestra – YouTube (Good angles of Guy’s setup and use of equipment)
- Start Creating Music | What Cubase Can Do For You – YouTube (Very organized, but I learned that I didn’t want my piano to sit as low as his)
- Create A Song in 10min – YouTube (How setup integrates with Composing on other instruments i.e. guitar)
- Intro to Cubase 10: The Basics! – YouTube (Jeff set up his smaller keyboard in a different position)
Also, research artists from different genres of musician. On your quest to learn how to compose music with a computer, observing others is key.
Ergonomic Considerations for your Studio Layout
Studio Equipment ‘Wish List”
Not sure what you will need in the future? that’s ok, I wasn’t either. Just make sure you get a desk with suitable space for future equipment, whatever that could is. Keep the space flexible. Take a look at my counter space in this picture. I know I want the SSL UF8 (at the moment) and there is ample space for that or many other upgrades. The MonogramCC’s Traveller fits nicely for my left hand to play with.
A Place to Write
- Do you need to write, score, jot down ideas?
- What do you use for writing (large pads, notepads, binders etc. )
Whats the Tabletop made of?
Might sound irrelevant, but it’s not. Equipment like the SSL UF8, MonogramCC or even a simple keyboard should not slide around on the surface, yet, you need a surface that will still work with a mouse or as a writing table.
My table is a black matte engineered wood. I am really happy with it
The make is VIVO. It’s a black height adjustable ‘Stand Up Desk’. I found it on Amazon here
It’s hard to see, but the picture with a yellow arrow shows the underside of the desk where the stand goes through.
Where & How to Install Studio Monitors
Previously, I had purchased Studio Monitor stands before owning a desk. Here is an idea of what I owned Studio | Gator Frameworks
It was hard to believe. I had found a desk with two holes for speaker stands in the exact right position at the back.
These holes accommodate the speaker stands. The speaker still sits on the Stand Platform, but the stand itself goes right through a premade hole on the desk. I can now adjust the height of the speakers if need be.
Displaying Written Music
Composing music with a computer is great, but my daughters needs were equally important. Piano lessons.
My wife had an excellent find. It’s a small and cheap clip called the “3M Document Holder (DH140) [OB]” . It works really well for my girls piano music sheets.
They don’t sell this model anymore, but here is a link on Amazon for the “Currently Unavailable” item so you can see other related holders.
A Good Seat for Composing
I use a soft padded piano bench called the “Yorkville”. Purchased it at Long and McQuade, in Canada. It has bench space for storage and is very comfortable.
My back tends to stay upright when I sit on a Piano Bench, possibly due to teachers of past harping on my posture lol.
Think about what works for you. Will you want to lean back in a comfy chair? Do you have posture issues related to hours of sitting?
No matter what you buy but be aware of its arm dimensions. Chair arms might get in the way of the desk or piano when you inch forward.
Learning how to compose music with a computer can be ever more fun when you have a super comfortable environment to work in.
Hope this information helped you.
A Home Studio Beginners Guide
How to Compose Music with a Computer
List of Articles:
- How I began composing on a computer
- Learn what kind of equipment and software makes music?
- What speakers or headphones does a home studio need?
- What studio furniture makes sense?
- How to buy music composing tech in a world full of marketing?