Everyone has one, but no one particularly loves their setup. Many of us compromise on the “whatever we can find” option over spending a large chunk of cash on furniture. But in reality, the desk is the centerpiece of your studio & essential to maximizing your workflow, securing your precious gear, and comfortably setting the stage for your best work.
Any time the conversation of studio desks arises with the team at Output, a frenzy ensues. We did some research and handpicked our favorites for your studio with a full spectrum of Ikea cheap to handmade luxurious.
UPDATE: After our research for this blog post we realized there was a need for a great studio desk for musicians. So we built one ourselves. See Platform below…
Platform by Output – Starting at $549
We help you make music and try to do so in every way possible. Since we started this series, you’ve sent us countless clever DIY tricks. Ultimately, it seemed like there was a shortfall of stylish, functional, and affordable designs crafted with your studio needs in mind. So, we built Platform, a studio desk for musicians, and we’re pretty damn proud of it!
Platform is a labor of love designed with the same grounds up approach we use when making software. We obsessed over every detail and its function, having our entire team test drive prototypes for the final piece. Constructed from 100% real wood from renewable sources and manufactured in the USA, each desk boasts 9U of rack space, a bridge for your monitors & display, sleek cable management, adjustable height options with a pull-out keyboard tray and comes in two colors – Natural or Kodiak Brown. Now you don’t have to choose between style or function – you can have it all.
The Ikea Hack – $100
We all love to hate it, but the truth is Ikea makes some great stuff for the price. But since there isn’t an off-the-shelf Ikea desk made perfectly for us music folks, we need to create a hack.
The focus of this hack is to create a shelf for both your studio monitors and a computer monitor. To do that first pick a base desk like the LINNMON. Other than color, the main feature to consider is the depth. Most are 23 5/8” deep, which may be too shallow once you add a shelf. So we recommend going with something that’s either 25 5/8” or 29 1/2”.
Now it’s time for the shelf. Currently the shelf is called EKBY (they change all the time), and the shelf legs are called CAPITA. Screw the legs on and now you have a free standing shelf to sit on top of your desk! And as an alternative, instead of having 1 long shelf you could cut the EKBY into small squares, screw 4 legs on to each, and now you have 2 small shelves for your studio monitors. The computer monitor will sit on the desk and the studio monitors will be elevated on either side.
The Target Threshold Writing Desk – $110
The disadvantage here is the shallow depth (20”), but the advantage is the built-in-power(!!), cheap price and cool look. It’s not for those with a lot of gear, but can be awesome for someone with a minimal setup.
Now to make this desk a bit more functional for studio purposes we recommend adding a retractable keyboard tray underneath, using studio monitor stands behind the desk, and you could modify the drawer space to be rack space for outboard gear.
You could make these modifications to any desk really. Going for “Writing Desks” works best since they tend to be basic and ready for customization, while “Computer desks” tend to include unneeded shelves. Here are a few more options that bring the style to any studio…
Saints Desk – $350
Tons of work space!
Carsten Desk – $617
This thing looks sturdy!
StudioDesk – $825
Slick cable management!
Studio Trends – $350
There truly aren’t many off-the-shelf studio desk options between $200 and $1000 unfortunately. But Guitar Center created this desk for that exact reason. It’s sturdy, functional and most importantly under $400. They have 46” and 30” width options, but we recommend the 46” option to accommodate a 61 key keyboard. A solid option all around.
Evodesk – Standing Desk – $600
This thing is cool! An electric adjustable standing desk with a scratch resistant top, cable management, and a slew of available customizations. Now the obvious challenge with an adjustable height desk is the acoustic treatment of your room. You will need to make sure any acoustical panels to the left and right of the desk cover the entire height span of your desk. Plus things may sound slightly different as you get closer to the ceiling. It all depends on your room and setup. However, there are a ton of health advantages with standing up and changing your position throughout the day.
Now to make this a great studio desk it all comes down to great cable management. You need a single power cable with lots of slack to feed the desk, and then all power cables to the gear and computer connect to a power strip attached to the underside of the desk. This way you’re not having slack issues when the desk moves up and down. And speaking of that, you will also need to have your studio monitors on the desk, not on a stand behind. Just make sure they’re stable.
Alternative Standing Desk Options
There are multiple standing desk options out on the market so if you’re interested in the concept, definitely do your research. Autonomous makes the SmartDesk for $300 which looks very cool and Output friend Ron Eigen built his own using an Uplift Desk base and a custom top from It’s Not Trash Designs (pictured). Since it’s not a typical studio solution you may have to get creative like Ron.
Studio Desk – $1600
Once you get above $1000, the options come pouring in. The variations tend to center around material, rack space number and placement, and room for a keyboard so it’s important to keep your workflow in mind. Studio Desk is a relatively new company out of Slovenia (ships worldwide!) who offers radical desks with creative functionality. Their Beat desk is the smallest of their kind — with capabilities to pull out the keyboard tray as well as push the main surface inward to uncover the top middle section to slide back and access the keyboard below (rather than the keyboard telescoping out). Pretty clever. Plus it’s cool that you can expand to the keyboard stand and rack unit as your studio grows.
Sound Construction DS-KS MP – $2500
We met these guys at a recent event and were very impressed. This particular desk is perfect for the studio centered around a keyboard, and we love the way the keyboard can be stowed away. Add a few rack spaces for your outboard gear, shelves for studio monitors, area for a computer monitor and this setup has everything. Not to mention it’s handmade in Nashville, which is definitely reflected in the price (Yowza!). If you have a serious studio that you’re not moving out of any time soon, we highly recommend this piece.
Monkwood Studio – $2750+
Similar to the Sound Construction Supply desk but with a gorgeous custom edge are the desks by Monkwood Studio. Pricey at +$2750, but we just can’t resist the charm! Here is the desk in action with our set up with Analog Strings.
Beijer Workstations – Custom
For those of you who crave the VIP treatment, check out Beijer Workstations. Every desk is custom, built-to-order and these things are beautiful! Not surprisingly, they can be found in the studios of many of the world’s leading composers. And even though it looks like the majority of pieces are built for composers with the embedded keyboard, they can also build desks for producers too.