The process of choosing furniture for our recording studios isn’t too dissimilar to how we choose furniture for our homes. If we consider buying a new desk or sideboard for our house we generally want our furniture to look good in the room it will be placed in as well as being a functional item for recreation, work or storage. Studio furniture also needs to meet those domestic requirements but we have to factor in extra considerations in regards to our studio gear layout and ergonomics before settling on which furniture to buy.
There are many pro audio brands who specifically produce a variety of studio furniture ranging from studio desks and rack units. In this buying guide we cover the studio furniture and outboard rack units that we on the team have owned, currently use or have used in the past.
If you are currently in the market for any studio furniture then check out our thoughts on the products featured in article.
Studio Work Desks With Built-in Racks
ZAOR - Miza 61 Oak
Zaor offers a wide range of studio furniture from monitor stands and outboard racks to studiocentric desks. This particular desk has a high end fit & finish and is available in several different colour options. There are 33 options in Zaor’s desk range from small personal worktops to large monster sized units which should make it easy for you to choose at least one desk that could suit your needs if you were in the market for a new central desk for your studio.
Dan Cooper purchased a Zaor Miza 61 finished in Oak Grey for his wife’s studio last year. Here’s what Dan thinks about this product:
“The Miza 61 caught my eye for two reasons. At £500, including free delivery, this looked to be great value for money compared to other studio desks of this type. I also chose this unit because it has ample space for mounting outboard gear. There’s room for two banks of 4u outboard as well as an included slide out tray for 61 key MIDI keyboards (hence the name Miza 61). From the colour options, I opted for the Oak Grey finish as this colour scheme matched the decoration of the room it was going to be set up in. The Oak top is a veneer, which must help to keep the cost down. That said it’s so well finished I thought the top was a solid piece of oak.
Assembly was a doddle as most of the components, such as the rack strips and keyboard tray mounts, were already secured in place on the appropriate panels. This didn’t feel like a flatpack piece of furniture in the traditional sense in which every nut, bolt and fixture needed attention. This was way simpler, in fact I didn’t even need to look at the assembly guide. In total this particular desk took me around 30 minutes to put together.
This desk gives me the impression that a lot of thought went into the design as cable management is integrated beautifully into the rear of the desk. There are also plenty of holes for feeding cables through. Cable management sounds a bit boring selling point, but it isn’t. Cable management saves us having a messy sea of cables running down the wall to the floor under the desk.”
QuickLok’s Z600 has been around for many years. It provides a large main worktop, plenty of room for up to 8U worth of outboard gear and has a large top platform for studio displays and monitors. Dan Cooper has owned one of these as well. Here’s what he thinks of the QuikLok Z600:
“I owned one of these for just over five years. It’s a strong platform that remains rigid even when fully loaded with the weight of two pairs of large studio monitors, a large control surface as well as every rack space being occupied with outboard gear.
Assembly isn’t too challenging, though there are many different types of screws to get in place which can be fiddly. The Z600 wooden work surface is only available in a cherry red finish that I still to this day like the look of. This colour wouldn’t look out of place in any style of studio.
Overall I consider this desk to be function over form. The computer keyboard tray that you see in the image above isn’t included as standard, nor is there an option for a large pull out MIDI keyboard tray but don’t let that put you off, you won’t be short of space with this desk as it’s massive. If you need extra rack space for your ever growing collection of outboard gear you can buy matching 12U rack units that can flank either side that makes this desk look mighty impressive.
The height of the main work surface is height adjustable, though I found when I had mine set in its lowest position the worktop was still too high, which proved to be uncomfortable for me in long studio sessions.. The top platform isn’t height adjustable. This particular area of the desk is its Achilles heel. I’m 6ft tall, I felt my display and studio monitors that were on this platform were way too high. I ended up constantly looking up at my display which over the years gave me a neck problem.”
In short, this is a great desk as it’s large, affordable, easy to set up, has lots of space but it’s design may not suit everybody.
Eli Krantzberg uses Output’s Platform in his studio as he feel it was designed exactly for the needs of the DAW user. Here’s what Eli thinks of Plaform:
“I had looked at some other brands. They were all very nice, but expensive. I couldn't quite justify the outlay in cash. Platform from Output, hit the sweet spot dead on in terms of features, aesthetics, and price. This was it, time to take the long delayed plunge!
I ordered the desk, with the optional pull-out keyboard tray. It was delivered from California to me in Montreal (Canada) in two big boxes, with absolutely no problems at customs - which can often be a big issue for Canadians ordering from the US.
Setup was fairly straight forward, except for the keyboard tray. The included pictogram was barely comprehensible. But a friend and I had it figured out without pulling out too much of our remaining hair. I am loving the desk, but truth be told, it has entailed somewhat of an adjustment. Check out the video below to get a sense of the steps my friend and I went through getting it set up:”
If you are interested in learning more, then you can read Eli’s full review of Output’s Platform.
Custom Made Studio Desks
Russ decided to buy bespoke furniture, here’s why:
“I searched for quite some time and couldn’t find furniture from the ‘usual suspects’ that met my needs. Of course much of this is about taste as it is function, but I did not like the pimped keyboard stands or much of the conventional furniture designs. I wanted something that felt a lot more like a piece of furniture so I went to a company called Kernow Carpentry who have an eBay store in the UK. They have various ideas shown but then you can ask them to create a bespoke design to fit your needs, for example I only needed one 19” rack and wanted one side as a cupboard, I also wanted a shelf for speakers and video monitors and also some additional easy to reach rack space.
The unit is made from Ash and came in two parts, one being the desk and the other the shelves, it took me about ten minutes to build and is built like a tank, it also looks really stylish. It cost about £600.
I’ve included an image of the bare CGI desk design and it in situ as I don’t think the design image does it justice. I have had it since 2015 and love it, in terms of quality it looks as good today as the day I bought It apart from some water marks when I forgot to use a coaster. Highly recommended.”
Many of the desks we’ve featured so far in this article have been designed specifically for recording studios therefore these options generally demand higher prices compared to more domestic flatpack desks. If you are on a budget what cost effective options do you have available?
IKEA’s range of office desk is a good place to start your search for budget friendly desks that you can use in your studio. There are lots of different designs, colours and worktop finishes available as well. If the only requirement you have is a flat large worktop then there’s no reason to not seriously consider an IKEA option.
Freestanding Studio Outboard Racks
Thon Studio Rack
If you are quite literary looking for a box to house outboard gear then look no further. These basic flatpack racks from Thomann are as simple as you can get. These are available in a variety of sizes, you also have three different colour finishes (black, white or beach), easy to screw together and cost a reasonable £129 for the 14U option. These units all come standard with stepless rack rails which is a useful feature to have in a rack if you need to have airflow gaps between tube gear. If you need space between outboard units in racks that have fixed holes in the rails then you lose 1U each time, stepless rails save you space.
Dan purchased two of these for his new recording studio. After a few months he realised that he could change the layout of one of them to enable him to mount some of his most used outboard gear in a different layout that faced up towards his listening position. This was a quick and affordable DIY job. Watch how you can achieve this for yourself:
Quiklok Z-612 EU
Earlier in the article we highlighted the QuikLok Z600 desk and briefly mentioned the 12U rack that is sold separately. The wood top matches the colour and curve of the main Z600 desk which looks stunning when the rack is positioned along side the desk. The only draw back to this particular unit is that it will force you to set the height of the main Z600 main surface to match the height of the sidecar rack as the Z-612 isn’t height adjustable.
Custom Reclaimed Wood Rack
James’ centre piece in his studio is his Audient ASP8024HD Console. One of the main features with regard to the look of the console is the sizeable chunk of timber along the front in place of a more traditional padded arm rest. James wanted to follow this theme through the other pieces of studio furniture but real hardwood furniture is both expensive and not what you might call echo friendly as hardwood forests are not what you might call quick to regrow.
Here’s what James chose as his studio rack furniture:
“With a bit of digging I found a company in the South West of the UK called Chunky Studio Furniture. Guy and his small team creates bespoke furniture for your studios by hand from chunky timber reclaimed in the South-West of England and Wales. All items made to your specifications so when I asked for a 2x 16U rack with a table top to sit above the height of the console it was not a problem. I love the look of the reclaimed wood, it gives the studio a kind of cool vibe. Reclaimed wood is a nice contrast next to up to date gear. It also has the added bonus of not being 100% perfect so the odd bump or knock is hard to spot.
I did not initially go out to play the green card but I do have a little glow inside knowing that no more tree were cut down to create my 2x16U main rack. 2x 6U rack pods on top of the main rack and the very rarely seen 2 8U racks under the console which house the console PSU, Trinnov and other such never touched toys.“
What Studio Furniture Do You Own?
Let us know in the comments section below what studio furniture you have or have owned and how you have got on with them.