They say it's the small things that can make the biggest difference and I tend to subscribe to this philosophy, when it came to the final fittings in the studio this was where those small touches could make a big difference.
Although most home studios are not going to have a machine room these days, there is still a place for storing the modern day equivalent of drives and services like phone, internet and electrics. For this I decided to utilise some off the shelf solutions from IKEA in the form of their bespoke bedroom storage system PAX. We had already used this solution in our bedroom and knew that it offered a wide range of sizes as well as storage options. The size also fitted at the end of the studio in the spaces between the large window. You can see one of the two of them in the image below. One of them is used for machine room stuff and the other for storage of mics, cables and stands.
Hard Drives & Peripherals
My wife had a genius moment and suggested I put my drives in pull out wire drawers normally used for storage of jumpers. The added advantage is that the wire drawers offer all-around cooling and also mean I can pull them forward to access the rear of the drives should I need to. There are 4 in total in the unit. A month or two on and I can say it was a great idea and offers fantastic cooling. You can also see that we left the back off the unit where all the power sockets and consumer unit are installed. Below is an early shot when I was testing the concept.
Mics, Cables And Stands
For the microphones, cables and stands a second PAX unit was installed on the adjacent wall space. The nice thing about the units is they blend into the wall and are hardly noticed from within the studio. I'm not a huge fan of cupboards being seen so I wanted to make them as inconspicuous as possible.
The top part of the second unit has a shelf for storage of my mic collection, It's not Abbey Road or Blackbird so it doesn't take much space to store my collection of ribbon, tube and condenser mics from AKG, SE and Sontronics. I also store the various things like mic clips, thread adaptors etc. on this shelf too.
Below the shelf another IKEA hack is the use of slide out belt/tie rails for storage of cables. It's simple but saves the task of sifting through endless cables to find the one I need. A couple of months in and the system has proved a hit, it works like a dream.
There are two on the sides of the unit and a further one in the centre which is telescopic and stops me having to rummage around inside the cupboard to find the cable.
The space below is an excellent space for storage of stands and other studio paraphernalia.
I have put a lock in this cupboard to give any would-be scumbag their a little more trouble should they wish to try and steal my mic collection.
In the main studio desk there is a cupboard to the left. This houses a set of small plastic boxes which contain things like audio adaptors and spare hard drives. To the rear lives the Mac Pro 'Trash Can' with an open back so it has plenty of air circulating - some think keeping it in a cupboard is a travesty, but I'm not bothered. Attached to the Mac Pro is a powered 24 way USB3 hub that makes connectivity of most things in the studio a breeze, any Thunderbolt connectivity runs straight to the Mac, in fact I have a single optical Thunderbolt cable running from my Trashcan to the drive cupboard where everything else connects via my Sonnet chassis or daisy chains via Thunderbolt, it's that simple.
There's also other little touches in the studio like the USB outlets on some of the power sockets, a drawer full of adaptors for people to use when visiting. Another simple addition to the studio which Mike told me about was a brush cable outlet for my rack, see below. I hate cables being seen all over the desk so this is a handy way of getting cables to the desk without having them running across it.
As I said at the outset of this article, in some ways it's the little things that I find most helpful in the studio. They make the workflow so much less painful, keeping drives all in the same place, quiet and cool is great. Having mics locked away and cables easily to hand also makes the creative process that little bit less stressful.
In closing, this is the final part of this series on my home studio build. I've really enjoyed sharing the story with the community and I hope it's inspired and helped others thinking about embarking on this process. What I do want to say is the most important article in all of these is the first one - vision. Get a vision of what you want and need, not what everyone says you need and then go for it. Use the same creative intuition you would use when creating audio for your studio design and you'll end up with something you love working in - I did just that and I wouldn't change a thing... well almost.
In the next instalment Mike, Dan, James and Paul Drew all visit the studio and give their assessments of the space and the sound.