Welcome back to Just a Phase! We’ve returned from our Summer holidays (AKA a studio build that took a long time) full of thoughts to share with you over the coming weeks.
Tidy Studio, Tidy Sound?
Someone did once tell me the origin of this ridiculous phrase but I’ve long since forgotten it, however there is a degree of truth in there for some. Plenty of audio professionals thrive in clear space, with little in the way to distract; perfectly straight cables and neat coils, a statement of intent for sonic excellence. I know one producer who moved into a home studio years ago but still regularly wears a suit to work for the same reason! But it’s not for everyone… Indeed, I can think of a number of leading film composers who seem to relish studio chaos. These would-be mad professors might be better aligned to Tidy Studio Blank Mind. However, most successful exponents of this way of working usually have some kind of hidden clarity at the studio core; a level of organisation (long since buried by synths/cables/tea cups) that keeps the basics running amidst the relative carnage.
So without further ado, we’ll offer up 3 tips for making a little more room and avoiding studio mess!
1. Mount your displays on arms
You’d be amazed how much space you can create by doing this. Lots of display arms facilitate some level of cable management too, clearing your surfaces of cables as well as display feet. The ability to move all the displays around without draping cables everywhere is invaluable to some. It’s also excellent from an acoustics point of view, allowing you to move or angle displays during a mix to create a clear path between the loudspeakers and ears. Desk-mount and wall-mount options are available depending on what makes sense in your space.
Similar things exist for laptops, with varying degrees of success, but we’ve found that these “Elevator” stands can be really useful for getting laptops to a good viewing height and being able to tuck hard drives and hubs neatly beneath.
2 . Power Distribution
Power cabling very rarely changes through the life of a recording studio, so there’s little need to have the cables or connectors readily accessible; they can be tucked away out of sight as neatly and as robustly as possible. This is where power distribution units come in. One or two rack-mount distribution units can replace a messy multitude of 4-way boards; all the cables can neatly go to one place, and the whole studio can be turned on and off with one switch.
We’ve found sequenced power distribution units to be really useful - automatically turning on the loudspeakers after other equipment but in turn turning them off first. Other potentially useful options to provide various levels of built in surge protection are available also.
For our UK readers, we recommend you go for IEC (“kettle”) connectors on your distribution as they take up so much less space compared to the 13A plug.
3. Use Rackmounts
This one may sound obvious to most here, but it’s worth considering rackmounting more than just outboard equipment if you're looking to gain some desk/floor space and tuck all the associated cabling out of sight.
There are methods of rackmounting most computers these days, rack shelves & rack drawers can stow a multitude of bits and bobs that aren’t 19 inches wide, and for things that you’re convinced should have been that width, like the tape machine remote below, these clamping rack shelves are fantastic.