The first version of this article was written in 2019. I've upgraded my setup since and decided to include the new hardware list below. Enjoy!
Those of you who've been following my recent activity on Twitter already know that I am currently working from Home (for the last 6 years to be precise).
Working from home meant that I had to invest in a proper office environment. And since we just moved to our new apartment, this is something that I had to do anyway, and I had to literally start from nothing and buy everything.
DISCLAIMER: Apart from my work laptop, every item described in this guide is a personal purchase!
As some of you had requested a few months back, in this post I'd like to share with you my journey into building my desk for my remote office with all the links to my equipment and some tip and tricks for the cable management part.
- The desktop frame: FlexiSpot E2B
- The desktop top: Raw Beech panel
- The office chair: Herman Miller Embody
- The monitor: LG 38UC99-W
- The monitor arm: Hx Desk Monitor Arm
- Video Webcam: Logitech BRIO 4K webcam
- Microphone: Rode Procaster + Rode PSA1 + Rode PSM1
- Speakers: Yamaha HS 5 + Millenium BS-500 WH
- Sound Interface: Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen)
- Cable management
- Keyboards: The Keychron K1 (104 keys)
- Other accessories
- Video: Sony A6600
- Video: Sigma 16mm
- Video: Elgato Cam Link 4K
- Video: Elgato Multi Mount
- Video: Elgato Key Light
- Audio: Motu M2
- Audio: DBX 286s
- Audio: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Keyboards: IQUNIX F96 Peach & Coral Sea
- Mouse: Corsair Scimitar RGB Elite
- Accessories: Elgato Stream Deck
- Accessories: GoXLR
- Accessories: Nanoleaf Canvas
The desktop frame: FlexiSpot E2B
For the desktop panel, I had decided to buy a standing desk as I wanted to reduce my low back pain and give me the flexibility to work either sitting or standing. I chose the FlexiSpot E2B Height Adjustable Electric Standing Desk Frame.
If you are curious to know how I managed to hack and control this desktop using my voice, you can read about my DIY project here:
Next, for the desktop wood, I choose a nice all solid 170x70x4 cm raw Beech panel, which I ordered online. As a side note, the wood panel weighs more than 45Kg!
The office chair: Herman Miller Embody
When it comes to the chair, and even if I had a standing desk, that didn't mean that I will not be sitting! I chose a custom made black and white Herman Miller Embody which a friend of mine had recommended me. I really don't regret it! The chair offers so many configurable parts and the seat and back surfaces automatically conform to your body's micro-movements.
"More than 20 physicians and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics contributed their expertise to help guide the development of this chair."
The monitor: LG 38UC99-W
Choosing a new monitor is always a tough choice. Thankfully, I knew exactly what I needed based on my daily use: Coding, Music production and photo editing. So, naturally, I choose the LG 38UC99-W curved widescreen. This beast is a 38" IPS panel with enough real estate to show up to 3 apps side by side, even though I'm always using 2 apps side by side most of the time. One of the remarkable things that this monitor offers is a USB-C port! We'll come back to this later...
See how curved is that monitor!
The monitor arm: Hx Desk Monitor Arm
The LG 38UC99-W is a great monitor, but it has one downside: it weighs 8Kg, which means that most monitor arms that you will find online won't support that weight. I have tried 2 of them and I had to return them! But just recently, I came across a brand called Ergotron. These guys make serious monitor arms. And I was super happy to finally find an arm that supports my LG monitor size and weight. I choose the Hx Desk Monitor Arm in white to match the color of the back of the monitor.
Working remotely means that I had to have a decent webcam for my meetings, or recordings. The built-in MBP camera wasn't an option for me (see why below). I did a quick bench of the currently available webcams in the market and simply chose the Logitech BRIO 4K webcam.
After using the BRIO 4K for a year, I started noticing some limitations. The BRIO was really bad in low light situations and I wasn't sure the BRIO was really delivering 4K on MacOS!
Also, time had come for me to upgrade my D90 Nikon DSLR, and after a lot of researches, I decided to choose the Sony Alpha 6400 (with the kit lens 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6).
I also decided to use the Sony Alpha 6400 as my main webcam setup (when I am not shooting outside).
One thing to note though, in order to use the Sony DSLR as a webcam, I also had to get the Elgato CamLink 4K to connect the camera to my computer.
I love bokeh! And I wanted to get that aesthetic effect when using the Sony Alpha 6400 during my talks and calls. In order to accomplish this, the Sigma 16mm f1.4 len is one of the best options out there for Sony Alpha series. Also, since I am also using the camera as a webcam, having a super bright prime lens is mandatory!
For a great video experience, you need light. The Elgato Key Light is one of the best on the market. For a best result, having to light sources (a "fill" and a "key") is recommended.
In order to mount the camera behind my monitor, I got an Elgato Multi Mount. I also got an extra Elgato Multi Mount that I am using for other purposes, whenever I need to mount something somewhere. Pretty handy!
Microphone: Rode Procaster + Rode PSA1 + Rode PSM1
The built-in MBP mic wasn't an option for me neither (see why below). The BRIO mic was OK-ish. And I was looking for a more professional setup. So I tried 2 microphones, the Blue Yeti (USB), the Samson SAC01 C01, before deciding to choose the infamous Rode Procaster dynamic mic which in my opinion offers better performances and aesthetics. The mic is attached to the Rode PSA1 arm and the Rode PSM1 suspension shock mount.
Speakers: Yamaha HS 5 + Millenium BS-500 WH
The built-in MBP speakers weren't an option for me (see why below). As a music amateur, I needed decent office speakers. After doing some benchmarks and watched many youtube videos, I decided to choose the Yamaha HS 5 (two of them) in white with the Millenium BS-500 WH speaker stands. And I am happy with them.
As a side note, these speakers are not Stereo Speakers but Powered Studio Monitors. I choose these types of speakers because I am also starting learning about music production and they were perfect for the job, but that's maybe a topic for another article.
2021 Adition: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
I am still pretty happy with the Yamaha HS 5 studio monitors. However, I decided to add proper headphones to my setup, and based on my needs, my obvious choice was the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones!
The built-in MBP sound interface wasn't an option for me, for 2 reasons:
- My MBP is placed under my desk, so it's not convenient to use the audio output; and even impossible to use the camera or mic.
- The MBP doesn't offer the right inputs to host the Rode Procaster XLR input connectivity, neither the Yamaha HS 5 TRS output jack.
After watching a couple of product tests on Youtube, I choose the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) which was enough for my needs.
2021 Upgrade: Motu M2
Here are reasons why I had to upgrade my audio interface:
- The Motu M2 delivers ultra-low 2.5 ms Round Trip Latency.
- The M2 is the only audio interface (in this price range) with a full color LCD for detailed level meters for all inputs and outputs.
- The M2 driver provides loopback channels to my computer, so I can easily route computer output back to the computer, when streaming and podcasting.
Side note: DBX 286s
I got the DBX 286s mic pre-amp processor, but unfortunately it stopped working after 2 months of use. It was a very disappointing experience!
All right! Now comes the hot topic. Unbelievably, I have spent months trying A LOT of mechanical keyboards (5 to be precise) until I found the perfect one for me.
I am not going to do a full review of these keyboards in this post. However, you can easily find many reviews on YouTube, for each keyboard. So, I have tried (from top to bottom):
- Rymek Retro Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard
- Hexgears X-1
- Tyrfing V2 87/88-Key RGB Tenkeyless
- Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
- My favorite: The Keychron K1 (104 keys) (get 10% off using this link)
I had a chance to try out few new keyboards since I first wrote this article in 2019. My new favorite keyboard brand is IQUNIX.
When it comes to cable management, this was my number 1 top priority. Instead of explaining how I did it, A picture is worth ten thousand words:
Yes! That's my MacBook Pro 2019 (the most expensive piece of this setup!) hanging out under my desk. But trust me, it's well tightened to the desk panel using 3 small hooks. To be clear, the MBP is really just hanging out under the desk, it's not mounted and I can easily slide it out and take it at any time when I need to go out!
The MB Pro is powered by this single USB C Thunderbolt 3 cable (connected to the back of the LG 38UC99-W monitor). This means that I am using only ONE cable to connect both the external display and power the MB Pro.
All the other external peripherals are connected to the back of the monitor through the Anker USB 3.0 hub:
If you are wondering what's that skin, I am using for my MB pro.
The other cables are also managed and go through a dedicated rail. See for instance the audio interface:
If you are an avid streamer (I am not!), then the Elgato Stream Deck is a great gadget to have in your toolkits!
I thought it was a good idea to get the GoXLR, which is a broadcaster platform with 4-Channel mixer, motorized faders, sound board and vocal effects. I unfortunately had to return the product right away because I found out that TC Helicon had no intention to support MacOS!
I also had to upgrade my mouse setup, and got the Corsair Scimitar RGB Elite mouse that features 12 side buttons for custom macros and buttons remaps. Not only super handy for gaming, but also for developers' productivity!
Here you can find my Amazon (France) list I created with every single item I bought for my desk (office), including cables, lights, decorations, adapters... even the footrest!
That's all for me. See you in 2020 for another desk setup tour 😂