The word ‘studio’ means different things to different people. From large, open plan spaces used by orchestras and big-name producers, through to small spaces in your spare room, wherever you work, a studio is where the magic happens. If you're looking to better organise your recording gear, you should consider setting up one of the best studio desks at the centre of the space you’re working in.
You may have a battered old computer workstation overflowing with gear, or you may have something far more palatial. Either way, a studio desk is a crucial part of almost any recording equation, and somewhere you can neatly lay out your studio monitors, a laptop (or a monitor if you’re using a PC), plus your audio interface, MIDI keyboard and any other hardware you use.
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In fact, we often underestimate how much impact a new studio desk can have: not only do they add extra real estate for your stuff, they can also reignite your creative fire by putting all of your kit within arms reach and inspiring you to work in new ways. This round-up of the best studio desks demonstrates how many options there are – for all budgets – for getting your studio organised.
With Black Friday incoming, it could be worth holding off on picking up a new studio desk until the Black Friday music deals start emerging. We'll be reporting on the best offers right through to Black Friday itself.
Best studio desks: The MusicRadar choice
Finding the best studio desk for your needs is quite a personal affair. The desk itself has to be discreet enough so as to not become the main attraction of the space, yet needs to complement your existing workflow. Or, even better still, to make the studio a more efficient and comfortable place to carry out your work.
Of all the studio desks we've listed below, we were most impressed with the Studio RTA Producer Station. As a definite studio desk, it contains a number of features designed to make the life of a producer far easier, and we also couldn’t fault the price for what you get.
At the higher end, the Slate Media Raven MTi Core Station is exceptionally well-built, and we could see that happily being at the centre of our studio for years to come. You'll need a sizable budget to install that one though...
Choosing the best studio desk for you
When it comes to picking a desk for your studio, there are certain factors you’ll need to consider before you pull the trigger. These include size and functionality, as well as construction and adaptability. Size is pretty fundamental, as any new studio desk is going to have to fit into the space you have available to you.
Functionality differences come in the studio-specific fittings of the desk. Basically, any flat surface can function as a studio desk, but musician-specific desks have extra details to make working easier. These could come in the form of space dedicated for monitor speakers, a recess for your keyboard, or as fixtures to house rack-mounted gear.
At the entry-level end of the best studio desks market you’ll find compact models with minimal extra functionality. It’s not unreasonable to expect certain space-saving features here either. For example, a sliding drawer to keep synthesizers tucked away, or a dual layer design to keep your monitor screen elevated and free up space for MIDI pad controllers or the like.
Higher up the price ladder you’ll discover studio desks with superior construction quality, ergonomic design and space for bespoke equipment that can be installed directly into the unit.
When a desk is in its ‘right’ place, it won’t usually be moved, so it’s important to make sure your chosen studio desk is the right size and contains everything you need. Keep in mind future expansion too – your playing may require new equipment down the line, which may, in turn, require more space. Therefore it’s advisable to buy the biggest studio desk you can afford or find space for – it's not something you want to be replacing all that regularly.
Keep user comfort in mind when choosing among the best studio desks, too. If you spend a significant amount of time in your studio, it’s important to make it a comfortable, pleasant environment with everything you – or anyone else you're working with – need within easy reach. A great desk will help hugely, so let's take a look at some great options...
The best studio desks to buy now
The Studio RTA Producer Station is still one of the best studio desks around for the non-pro market. Packing in a series of useful appointments like rack-spacing, slide out shelving and a raised section for monitors, this generously sized studio desk will fit the bill for a lot of people.
As one of the bigger names in studio furniture, Studio RTA has naturally thought of the small details here too. We particularly like the sheer amount of space on offer, which is particularly useful if you have a dual screen setup. It’s priced well too, considering what you get.
Less a studio desk and more the control panel of a spaceship, the Slate Media Raven MTi Core Station is a glorious sight to behold. The main attraction here is the two optional embedded 27-inch touchscreens, which house your favourite DAW and make everything controllable using multi-touch gestures.
Clearly, this studio desk won’t be suitable for everyone, but the Raven MTi Core Station provides a tantalising glimpse at what high-end desks feel like. Give it time and we can reasonably expect units like this to be more common (and hopefully cheaper) in the not too distant future.
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Height adjustable desks (aka standing desks) are growing in popularity as they give users a chance to find a height that suits them. In a studio environment, where lots of work is done sat down, the chance to stretch your back and work standing up is beneficial to your overall health.
The BK Media height adjustable desk is a superb option for anyone with an existing studio desk they’re happy with, but who wouldn’t mind the opportunity to get out of their chair from time to time. It raises up from a 4-inch to 19inch high, and there’s two tiers so you can have your monitor and keyboard separated.
If your studio revolves around a single keyboard, synth or arranger workstation then you probably don’t need masses of space for rack gear or computer towers. You’re still going to want something well-built and long-lasting though, and we’re happy to recommend the Zaor Miza M for that.
This well-proportioned workspace features a space-saving drawer that can house a 55-inch-wide keyboard and keep it tucked away when not in use.
There’s a practice in the field of manufacturing called ‘lean’, which essentially involves cutting out all unnecessary effort that impacts you carrying out your role. Efficiency is the name of the game.
The Ultimate Support Nucleus 2 fits in with this ethos, by providing a huge work space to operate from, but with two extension units that bring the sides of this studio desk around you. This should cut out plenty of chair-spinning and leaning, thus making for an improved workflow.
The number of man-hours this will save you over the course of your production career is debatable, but it sure is nice having a huge space but with everything you need within easy reach.
Many of you may be working away in your bedroom or spare room, and music production gear is squeezed in along with other bedroom furniture, this can make for a pretty cramped studio space. The Quik-Lok Z250 makes an ideal desk for anyone in this situation. Why? Because it's a superb music-specific desk with features designed for the typical home studio.
There’s a raised shelf for screens and nearfield monitors, a large main desk for controllers and keyboards, and a pull-out shelf for computer keyboards. Basically, everything you need and nothing you don’t, and all for a very reasonable price.
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Lots of producers will have a studio setup within a band’s rehearsal space for capturing demos on the fly. The Studio RTA Creation Station is an ideal desk for this as it packs in space for rack-mounted gear, along with a raised tier for monitors and speakers. It’s not enormous, so won’t dominate a smaller space, but it does contain enough space for controller keyboards and studio mixers.
We also found the Creation Station ideal for anyone for whom recording isn’t the sole use of the desk. With room underneath for printers and computer towers, it’s a great all-round desk for anyone looking to step up from a more basic ‘flat surface’ type arrangement.