Music producers can’t go without a studio desk. It holds all the necessary equipment for music production in one easy-to-access space. Without it, mixing, recording, and mastering takes a lot more effort than required.
Here’s the thing, though: studio desks are either too expensive or don’t perfectly match your requirements. So, why not build one yourself?
In this article, we’ll show you how to many your very own DIY studio desk. We’ll also give you an idea of how to properly set up and configure a studio desk.
Important Factors to Consider When Building a DIY Studio Desk
Before assembling your desk, you need to be aware of what you want to use your desk for. If you buy the materials and start cutting with only a vague idea of what you want your studio desk to look like, you might not be satisfied with the result.
Here are some factors to consider before building your very own DIY studio desk.
First thing’s first: measurements.
Most commercially-made studio desks have a height of 29-inches. Although advertised as one-size-fits-all, that couldn’t be farther than the truth—especially if you’re taller or shorter than average, or simply have a different height preference for your desk.
Regardless, 29 inches is a good starting point. All you’ll need to do is to adjust the height as required and list down your measurements for later use.
Aside from the height, the width and depth of the desk are also crucial.
Ideally, your desk should measure at least 40 to 50 inches in width. If you have more than two screens, it should measure at least 60 inches in width.
Your studio desk should accommodate all of your equipment with a bit of space to spare, in case you want to upgrade your speakers or monitors to a larger size. Take the measurements of your computer screen and your speakers and go from there.
As for the depth, make sure it’s at least 30 inches—more if you’re taller. If you’re planning to add several shelving units underneath the desk, increase the depth measurements even further.
Here are some free measurements for a diy studio desk:
Shelving is a great way to organize your studio equipment without them taking up too much space. They also give you a bit of extra space to store your equipment.
Shelving increases the height of the computer screens and mixing monitors. For taller people, the added height is ideal. If you’re happy with the height of your computer monitor, you can instead put the shelving units on either side of the PC screen.
The space beneath the shelving unit can be used to store rack-mounted equipment, such as MIDI controllers, equalizers, audio interfaces, and other items that require constant adjustment.
Slide-out compartments are optional but highly recommended, especially if you have a musical or MIDI keyboard. They’re usually located underneath the desk to give you quick and easy access to your keyboard.
When adding a slide-out compartment, it must support beyond the weight of the device itself. You’ll also need to add a bit of leg space underneath the table, which means you’ll need to increase the desk’s overall height.
Rack Rails and Cabinets
If you’re planning to build a wide desk, it’s worth installing several rack rails so you can add cabinets and drawers for more storage space. The drawers will act as vertical supports while bringing all of your equipment within reach. Plus, it’ll make your DIY desk more visually appealing and stylish.
Some studio desks feature angled rack spaces, which are immensely convenient for EQs and compressors. However, if you want to add a rack drawer to hold necessities such as cable ties, tape, music sheets, etc., angled racks may prevent you from opening drawers.
Cable Location and Power Management
Ideally, the cables of your equipment should be tucked behind or underneath the desk, out of sight.
If you have a ton of cables, you might want to route some of them straight through the desk instead of just bundling them up in one corner. The best way of doing this is by using hole saws or paddle bits.
The standard width of desk holes is 2 inches. If you stick to these standards, you can buy plastic grommets to not only cover the holes but also keep the cables tight together.
You can also install powerstrips beneath your desk or on the back of the desk’s leg. This will hide the cables out of sight and make the area look more neat and organized.
If you’re using a single electrical socket to power all of your equipment, follow the safety tips below to avoid electrical overload:
- Avoid leads that are rated at only 10A or less, especially if you’re planning to plug three or more of your equipment in the lead. Make sure your extension lead is rated at 13A at least.
- Don’t plug-in appliances that exceed the maximum current rating stated on the extension lead. Use an online overload calculator to check if you’re exceeding the maximum load.
- Never plug an extension lead into another extension lead. Use only one socket extension per lead.
- Instead of a block adaptor, use a multi-way bar extension lead as it puts a lot less strain on the wall socket.
- If you have a ton of electrical equipment that needs to be powered, consider having additional sockets professionally installed into the wall.
Types of Studio Desk Building Materials
Studio desks are made with a number of materials, from hardwood to plywood. If you’re planning to guide the studio desk from scratch, look at the material’s durability, ease of care, availability, and affordability.
Here are some of the most popular building materials for DIY desks:
Solid hardwood is ideal for studio desks because it’s versatile, durable, and easy to maintain.
If you have a bit of cash to spare, it’s worth using indigenous or imported wood for your table. This includes rosewood, solid oak, and satinwood.
Cherry and walnut wood are popular because of their aesthetically pleasing appearance.
MDF and OSB
Like plywood, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is made of leftover softwood and hardwood. Because it’s so cheap, it’s often the go-to material for DIY projects. It’s one of the best material choices for studio desks as it won’t warp from the heat that comes off of electronics.
High-quality MDF is sturdier than particleboard and plywood. It’s so dense that it can sometimes be difficult to cut with a non-professional table saw.
If you’re searching for less expensive material, plywood is a good choice.
Plywood is made with compressed strips of scraped wood. It’s not as durable as hardwood, but it still offers a decent amount of toughness. Furthermore, it’s much lighter than hardwood, which makes it easier to handle.
Since it’s artificially constructed, plywood is available in numerous degrees of thickness. You can also buy in large sheets, which saves the hassle of purchasing multiple ones.
To prevent flexing, you’ll want to go with a maximum thickness of 3/4 inches. You can also use a thickness of 5/8 inch, but it might not provide the desired stability for your studio equipment.
How to Build a DIY Studio Desk: DIY Design Ideas
\Since it’s often the centerpiece of your studio space, building the right type of studio desk is crucial for workflow optimization.
Here are a few DIY studio desk inspirations to consider:
Simple Beginner’s Studio Desk
When it comes to DIY projects, IKEA and Amazon have it all—including studio desk parts.
You’ll have to source several pieces from multiple sources, but once you have all the necessary parts, it’s only a matter of nailing the pieces together. It’s a good, low-cost option for beginner builders and individuals with tiny spaces.
Start the search with a simple base desk. Make sure it’s big enough to hold most of your equipment. If possible, choose a desk with a depth of at least 25 5/8 inches or 29 1/2 inches so you have enough space for a shelf.
Once you’ve chosen your base, pick a shelf. Make sure it isn’t larger than your base table. Choose something small and simple like the Honiway Floating Shelf. Raise the shelf with CAPITA legs or regular wooden legs to create a dual-tier home studio desk.
You can also purchase a pull-out drawer from IKEA or Amazon and attach it under the desk. You can then use this drawer for your keyboard.
Wall Mounted Studio Desk
Wall-mounted studio desks are ideal for rooms with small spaces.
As the name suggests, these desks are mounted directly onto the wall. They’re made of shelves of multiple sizes and have no legs.
Once you’ve acquired parts for the base shelf and the overhead shelf, drill two rails directly onto the wall and screw the consoles of your desktop in place.
To make the area look a bit more attractive, install LED strips above and underneath the floating desk. If you have enough space, add a pre-constructed multi-tier organizer on either side of the table.
Reclaimed Wood Studio Desk
Instead of throwing out your old wooden office desk, why not turn it into a brand new studio desk? It may take a bit of time to reconstruct (this DIYer took 40 plus hours of work to create his) but it’s better than spending $300+ for the materials you already have.
When making a reclaimed wood studio desk, make sure the wood is of decent quality. It should be free of mold and obvious damage.
If your old table isn’t up to par, visit reclaimed lumber dealers such as Vintage Timberworks, Plank & Mill, and Longleaf Lumber, or architectural salvage yards and stores. You can also try your local demolition sites and Craigslist, both of which sell reclaimed wood for cheap.
Since you’re buying old wood, you need to clean it up first before working on it. This means removing the nails and other metal objects that found their way into the wood. You’ll also have to sand the wood and make sure it’s 100% smooth and splinter-free to prevent injury. For a more modern look, paint the table with a semi-gloss finish.
Studio Desk With Multiple Racks
If you have a large music unit, build a desk with multiple rack sections.
True Sound Studios made a fantastic step-by-step guide on building a studio desk with five rack sections. This project is a bit more advanced since you’ll have to build the rack from scratch, but it’s nothing a seasoned DIYer can’t handle.
Unlike most DIY studio desks with flat surfaces, this DIY desk features five different compartments below the tabletop. This way, all your music gear is within reach.
DIY Keyboard Studio Desk
Keyboard studio desks are ideal for music creators that frequently work with MIDI keyboards.
For this project, you need a decently-sized tabletop, single mount pipe clamps, 90° elbow connectors, tee connectors, and a box of screws.
Measure and cut the pipes, assemble the fittings and tubes, and add the bottom sliding surface for the keyboard. Make sure the keyboard table slides in and out of the table without too much pull/push pressure.
How to Set-Up and Configure a Studio Desk
Now that we’ve shown you how to build a studio desk, here are some tips on maximizing the acoustics of your musical equipment.
The placement of your monitor is crucial in achieving great sounds in your studio.
Some professionals recommend that you place your monitor speakers on isolated stands rather atop the desktop.
If you don’t want to add isolated stands, though, you can instead place the speakers in an angled surface on the desk. This way, the sonic reflections will be directed away from the mix position instead of bouncing back up.
You can also integrate mounting options with acoustic isolation to lessen the amount of vibration your monitor transfers.
Rather than placing your equipment wherever the space allows, consider where your gear will be most productive.
You want to easily access compressors, EQs, and other tools you frequently use on your mixes.
You’ll rarely need instant access to sync/master clock generators and converters, so it’s safe to put them out of reach.
If you have a lot of equipment to fiddle with, it’s worth investing in a separate sidecar-style equipment rack. Place the rack away from your main studio workstation and put your less-used gear in it.
For a more balanced listening position, place your studio desk in the center of your room’s wall.
Your speakers should be positioned at the same distances from the sides of your room. For instance, if your left speaker is five feet from the wall to the left and three feet from the wall behind, your right speakers should be five feet to the wall to the right and three feet from the wall behind.
By doing so, your monitor system will provide a more reliable low-frequency intelligibility.
As much as possible, don’t create a corner with your mix position. The wall-to-speaker distance should be different from the sidewall distance. If your left speaker is five feet from the wall to its left, it should be five feet to the wall behind it.
When a monitor is placed in a corner or close to a wall, the low frequencies become much more pronounced. This effect is called boundary bass boost and must be avoided as much as possible.
If you can’t set up your listening position away from walls and corners, take advantage of your monitor’s built-in tools. Some monitors cut all frequencies below a specific frequency by a fixed amount, which prevents the sounds from becoming “muddy.”
Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up a Studio Desk
Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid when setting up a studio desk.
Improper Studio Monitor Placement
Even if you have the fanciest equipment around, it won’t sound good without the proper studio monitor placement. If you place your monitors without proper support, you’ll have a hard time producing audio output.
As much as possible, don’t place your speakers flush on a desk. The vibrations from the speaker will cause unwanted desk vibrations and noise.
To prevent the ripple effect caused by the speaker vibrations, place them on isolation pads.
For best results, put the speakers on a separate speaker stand rather than placing them on your desk. Two-tier studio desks work best for this kind of setup.
Lack of Acoustic Treatment
Since you’re building a specialized desk for your music, go all-out with the acoustic treatment of your room. Don’t just cover your studio walls and windows with blankets.
If you want to produce good recordings, line your recording space with acoustic panels (to absorb mid/high frequencies) bass traps (to absorb low frequencies), and diffusers (to scatter the remaining frequencies).
Wrong Studio Desk Placement
To produce optimal sound, your studio desk must be placed in the right location. If the desk is poorly-positioned, it’s near-impossible to craft a well-balanced mix due to huge peaks of frequency response in your room.
When sitting on your studio desk, your head should form an equilateral triangle with the studio monitors. The monitors should also point directly towards your head rather than away from it.
Also, make sure your studio desk is placed in a relatively quiet space, far from the regular hustle and bustle of your home.
Noise can easily ruin your recordings, so choose the quietest room in your house. You want a silent space where you can make as much noise as you want, so soundproofing may be required.
The point here is this: treat your studio desk as a workspace. Place the desk in a location where only you (and several selected people) can access.
When setting up your studio desk, store away your non-essential equipment and place your high-priority equipment within reach. Organize your space as much as possible.
Standard “bedroom” studios have the following items closeby:
- Studio monitors
- Microphones + microphone stands
- Pop filter
- Recording mixer
Everything else should be stored in drawers and storage units. Reduce your equipment down to the essentials. Create an environment for effective music recording.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I spend on my DIY studio desk?
It depends on how you want your studio desk to look.
Standard studio desks cost anywhere between $500 to $1000. High-quality desks cost over $2000.
Since you’re building the desk yourself, try not to spend more than $500 for the materials, work, and equipment.
Building your own should cost you anywhere between $100 to $300. If you’re spending more than $1000 on your project, it’s best to buy a brand-new studio desk from a dedicated retailer.
Are studio desks worth it?
If music creation is nothing but a hobby, you might not need a dedicated studio desk for your work. In most cases, a standard desk from your local depot is more than enough to produce a few beats or loops every other weekend.
If you’re an up-and-coming musician or producer hoping to make it big, studio desks are worth every penny. They not only increase your creativity but also your productivity, which helps you build your music career.
How do I turn my room into a recording studio?
To turn your room into a recording studio, you need to give it an acoustic treatment. Equip your room with bass traps (i.e., porous absorbers or resonant absorbers), acoustic panels, and diffusers.
Some manufacturers offer acoustic treatment packages with everything you need to turn your room into a recording studio. You can either buy them as one package or copy what they have and purchase the items separately.
There you have it; our in-depth guide on how to build your own DIY studio desk!
When building your own studio desk, think of the general layout you want it to have. Do you want it to be single-tier or double-tier? Do you want a keyboard desk underneath the table? How many drawers do you want it to have?
Ask yourself these questions before planning out your measurements.