Normally on MusicRadar we recommend upgrades, tools and toys that make your musical creation journey more productive. From synths to guitars, and from mixers to mics, we try to bring you as much in the way of new and interesting musical tech and equipment as we can to help inform your buying decisions and make the best music you can. It occurred to us, however, that having the perfect environment to play, perform and produce means looking beyond the instruments and equipment you’re using.
To help upgrade your home studio, we’ve compiled a list of non-musical essentials that will elevate your space above and beyond the norm, making it a place you’re happy to spend hour after hour fine-tuning a snare drum crack or tweaking a troublesome reverb tail. A space you look forward to using day after day.
Whether it’s for comfort, productivity or vibe, from mice to desks, via climiate control and smart lighting, there are plenty of ways you can add some non-musical studio upgrades into your life. Best of all, they don’t have to cost the earth, but can make a real impact on the way you work.
Inexpensive but highly-rated
A good chair makes a world of difference in the studio, not least in the fact it can help banish the lower back and neck pain that can blight any desk-based worker, musical or not. We liked the AmazonBasics Movian chair because it has solid armrests, and a high enough back and neck cushion to mitigate poor posture. It also looks quite unassuming, unlike a typical gaming chair for example.
Interesting design and accessible price-point
You can always rely on Swedish furniture dons Ikea to deliver neat, well-designed furniture that doesn’t cost the earth, which makes the Ikea Jarvfjallet a great choice for a home studio. Coming in a couple of different colour options, the Jarvfjallet range has optional armrests too, although they aren’t the folding type so if you're a guitar player this might not be the best option.
The best chair for customisation
This is not an inexpensive chair, but as an investment, particularly for someone who uses the chair more than 5-6 hours a day, it's an easy recommendation. It has more customisation than we’ve seen on similarly-priced models, and we liked the mesh fabric as it ensured we didn’t overheat on those hot summer afternoons. The tuck-away extendable leg rest makes it perfect for kicking back and listening to the fruits of your musical labours.
- Explore more of the best studio chairs
Low-cost standing desk for home studios
Electric standing desks enjoyed a real boom during Covid when many of us transitioned to working from home. You can see the attraction. Rather than being forced to sit in often unsuitable chairs, these desks allowed us to stretch our legs a bit. We’ve used one in a home studio environment for a couple of years, and think they're superb. The Fezibo Standing Desk comes in a range of sizes and is a great way to try one without busting the bank.
Studio desk with a homely design
If it’s a musician’s desk you’re looking for, that doesn’t look like it’ll fall apart if you look at it the wrong way, then the Gator Frameworks Elite is a solid option. Combining some nice design flourishes with space for your 19” rack equipment, the Gator desk also looks like it would fit nicely into a home studio environment without totally dominating the space.
Superb desk for home studios
The Zaor desk range is well-made, looks great and delivers a dedicated space for musicians to work. Proper Zaor desks can, however, be quite expensive, which is why we were overjoyed when we found this collaboration between them and Thomann, giving more people the ability to make a Zaor desk the centrepiece of their studio. They combine the look and build quality of a proper Zaor, with the affordable appeal of a big name like Thomann.
- Explore more of the best studio desks
Inexpensive entry to the Hue ecosystem
RGB lighting can be divisive; done sparingly, it can introduce a dash of much-needed colour to a space, improving the ambience and creating something visually interesting. Done too much, it can make it feel like you’re living inside a dystopian Cyberpunk future. The Philips Hue Go desk lamp sits in the former camp, and being wireless means it can sit on its base unit to charge, or you can grab it and place it wherever the mood suits.
RGB strip lighting for desks
One of our first forays into smart lighting involved putting an app-controlled strip light across the back edge of our main studio desk. Immediately, this bathed the back wall in a sea of light, giving a subtle yet very aesthetically pleasing effect. The Govee RGBIC will help you achieve this effect simply and won’t cost the earth. If you only choose one RGB light, this is the one we’d recommend.
A wash of colour for your room
If strip lights and smart bulbs don’t float your boat, but you do need to introduce a bit of luminance to your space, the Logitech Litra Beam LX is a great option. We liked the way it both provided light for our faces from the front, so our streams and vlogs looked great, but then the dynamic backlighting projected a huge burst of colour onto the wall too. And, if all that gets a bit much, you can change it easily using the dedicated computer app.
Pricey gaming mouse is a joy in the hand
Gamers are spoilt for choice when it comes to peripherals, but the result has been a boom in great gear which suits gamers and non-gamers alike. The Logitech G502 X Plus is a brilliant option if your studio space doubles up as a gaming hub, but is comfortable and ergonomic enough to recommend even if it doesn’t. Wireless operations mean you’re not tied to the desk either.
Great option for longer studio sessions
It’s unfortunately fairly common for people to suffer mouse-related stresses and strain on their wrists, caused by holding your hand in a sedentary position for long periods. The Anker AB UKA ergonomic mouse might look a little odd, but its offset hand position will help keep repetitive strain injuries at bay, without sacrificing precision or comfort.
The best mouse for home studios
This is, in our opinion, the best wireless mouse for home studios. It has a long battery life, is comfortable in the hand and has a few neat tricks up its sleeve like sideways scrolling, two levels of vertical scroll precision and a couple of mappable, customisable buttons. Having used the previous iteration for years, we also loved the move to near-silent clicks more than we thought we would.
- The best mouse for music production: our top pcks
Superb colours and impressive screen
Upgrading your monitor, either to something larger or with a better quality screen, can bring with it significant benefits. We view our entire studio productions through one of these, so it makes sense to choose a decent one. The BenQ PD2705Q provides a large space to view your work, with impressive colour production from the 27” QHD screen, and a neat one-cable USB-C connection point. There are cheaper monitors, for sure, but as an overall package, the BenQ is a solid choice that will last you for years to come.
Mid-tier ultrawide perfect for DAWs
If you’re an Ableton Live, Logic Pro or other DAW user, then an ultrawide monitor is an easy recommendation to make. With the extra horizontal screen space, you can easily see more of your DAW’s timeline view at a glance, making edits and arrangements much quicker to execute. The Samsung Viewfinity S5 is a superb mid-range ultrawide, with the 34” screen delivering excellent visibility and a large enough surface area to fit entire projects in one space.
Huge screen with equally huge price tag
If you’re sold on the idea of an ultrawide and want to shop straight from the top shelf, then the Samsung Odyssey G9 is your guy. It’s not cheap, but if the goal is to fill as much of your desk with usable screen space as possible, then the Odyssey is hard to beat. It won’t be for everyone, as a monitor this size will dominate all but the largest of spaces, but for the right environment, this is a breathtaking display that will elicit as much attention as any vintage guitar or synth.
- More of the best computer monitors for music production
Low-cost desktop heater
If your home studio space isn’t the biggest, then adding extra radiators or fan heaters might be a bit overkill. Not to mention the cost of the energy required to power those things. Something more discreet, like the Keplin Ceramic Desk Heater might just be the perfect solution. It’ll sit next to your monitor, gently providing warmth to your hands and face, and will store away nicely in the hotter months without taking up too much space.
Connected heater that saves energy
While occasionally you’ll see products with voice-control or smart features built in that make no sense at all, there are some where the smart functionality genuinely adds something useful. The GoveeLife Electric Heater range has the now-ubiquitous complementary app, where you can set schedules and change settings, while there’s something inherently fun about politely asking your heater to warm you up on colder days.
The best device for heating and cooling
Dyson products are not cheap, but there’s usually a reason for this. Even without the clean, minimal design, the Dyson AM09 demonstrates itself as a high quality device for both heating and cooling your space quickly and efficiently. In the summer months, it provides a noticeable cooling effect while in winter, it can be relied on to quickly take the edge off a chilly space. The fact it looks pretty cool is a nice bonus, too.
Other upgrade options
Alongside the products we’ve listed above, there are some other small additions you can make to your home studio that will quickly improve your quality of life. Often it’s the seemingly boring products that can have the biggest impact too. Things like cable management are sometimes overlooked, but having all your wires and cables organised and ready to swap in and out quickly can be life-changing. I’ve been using an under-desk tray for years now, which keeps a multiplug outlet - with surge protection, naturally - organised and means you’re not relying on the nearest wall socket for connectivity. Just to complete the effect, I also installed some small rubber grommets to keep the cable connectors from falling behind the desk. Simple upgrades to make life run that bit smoother.
Elsewhere, things like artwork and decorations can help avoid a home studio feeling too much like an office. We love Displate's metal posters in particular. They require no drilling or wall damage to install, there’s a big range of designs available and they’re different from the usual framed prints.
However you choose to upgrade your home studio, you’ll find a huge number of the things that can have the biggest and most positive impact on your experience aren’t actually musical or studio specific at all. Basic items like monitors, mice, desks and chairs are the fundamental backbone of your setup, so it pays to give them the respect they deserve. Put simply, while it might not excite you like a new pedal or synth, you’ll never regret buying a comfier chair, larger screen or more elaborate under-desk cable management system.