studio ergonomics standing desk Asbjoern Andersen


Sitting at your desk for hours on end isn't exactly the healthiest way to spend your life - but for a lot of us in sound, it can seem like an unavoidable part of the job.

Nick Granville-Fall wants to help change that, so to make our studio lives healthier and improve ergonomics, he's spent a lot of time researching standing desks. Below, he's compiled a guide on how what to look out for, and how we can set things up optimally when it comes to standing desks for audio work usage:


Words and images by Nick Granville-Fall
Please share:

I n 2018, I looked into ways of breaking free of the computer mouse to help offset increasing wrist Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) pain, as my audio production business got busier. I’m not the first person to do this. Obviously, Wacom tablets have been around for a long time but there wasn’t a great deal of fresh and current information out there for audio professionals using them. That’s why I wrote this guide on How a Wacom Tablet can help reduce the risk of RSI.

SitStand_01

This article is an extension of that, a kind of part two in audio studio production ergonomics. The key focus this time is more around reducing lower back pain and fatigue from sitting down for too long, over the course of a working week. Of course, there remains a slew of techniques to help you keep moving during the day, including a good adjustable ergonomic chair and regularly walking about. However, most of these don’t allow a near-instant release from changing up your body posture whilst still focused on the current task.

During the end of the unforgettable 2020, I started to think about changing up my current studio desk and doing some general studio improvements. My desk wasn’t fancy, just a solid wood dining table with a black theatre cloth covering it. After looking at all the ‘professional’ audio studio desks, I wasn’t convinced until I came across the standing desk concept. I hope my experience will inform others who might get twitchy about the thought of too much chair time. You might have heard the expression ‘working on my studio tan’ but I’d had enough of working on my ‘studio posture.’ Time to switch it up!
 

RESEARCH

I probably spent a solid week researching a studio purchase that isn’t the most exciting item on the wishlist; it’s just furniture at the end of the day. Nevertheless, it’s furniture you’ll often be working on top of 8 hours or more, most weekdays. Reddit proved a great information source and lots of decisions were based on information in the standing desk subreddits. Even just doing a general search will give you plenty of inspiration. YouTube also has some great content to visually see most desks in action with further reviews and thoughts. All views are my own and I am not affiliated or paid by any desk manufacturer.

SitStand_02

SitStand_03

Enter the mysterious world of the motorized sit/standing desk. After an hour or two of working sat down, you change the height of the desk quickly to enable you to be able to stand. This provides a well-needed stretch from a sedentary position. Going to make a coffee, for example, does achieve a small part of this change but the standing desk allows that complete body change whilst still being focussed on the task, almost undisturbed. Being a freelancer often means balancing multiple jobs and clients so building in breaks is crucial but sometimes leaving the desk for them isn’t always possible all the time.

What are key factors when choosing a standing desk for an audio application?

• Weight limit the desk can lift (check if weight includes the desktop itself)
• Stabilisation features and desk design
• Memory function to automatically store height settings
• Frame only desk or complete unit with a desktop included?
• Warranty
• Cable management (underneath the desktop)
• Cable management (from your computer? you’ll need longer cables)
• Power management
• Does your space have enough room height for the desk at maximum height with your equipment sat on top?
• General customer reviews, delivery options and country availability

Based on my requirements, I was looking at the following manufacturers of desks being U.K based:

• Javis
• Friska
• Go Stand
• IKEA
• HADO (Height Adjustable Desks Online)
• Flomotion Studio
• Oako Denmark
• Uplift (U.S.A only unless to you want to pay large shipping fees)

 

FACTORS

The weight limit the desk can lift is a big consideration and possibly the most important if you plan on having a lot of equipment on top, including active monitor speakers, a large monitor screen and any hardware. I roughly worked out what I thought I needed and then added about 20% more just in case. Honestly, I’m not even sure what the current total weight is now but I’d say it is probably between 125-140kg with all cabling. My desk is rated to lift 150kg across 3 legs, however some desks are not as strong and you don’t want to be over or too close to the limit. I am tall at 6’ 4” so it’s worth checking maximum height too.

I decided to go with an L shaped desk in the end because these are more stable at height than a standard desk. As they have two desks attached at a 90-degree angle, this helps to minimize the potential for wobble on more than one axis of movement. The other advantage is just more space real estate which makes it more future proof for expansion. Leg braces can also offer more rigid support on desks that feature this, which are very few models. Even the design of the leg and whether the foot end is wider than at the desk attachment end, can supposedly make a small difference to stability. Go for a control system on your desk that can store heights as digital presets. Then you can return to the exact same sitting and standing position every time.

StiStand_04

You can buy a frame only desk and source your own wood for it if you like. I loved the idea of this but it is extra time to source. You’ll have to manually pre-drill all of the screw mounting holes into the frame which I wasn’t a fan of. I wanted something I know will fit the first time since just sorting all of the wiring and cable management out was going to be a big enough task.

The Jarvis L shaped desk I chose uses a natural Bamboo desktop. Jarvis is a certified B Corp meaning they are mindful and ensure responsible practices, something that is admirable in today’s environmentally conscious world. One of my favourite wood finishes is from Oako, their ‘Golden Crust’ solid oak top is stunning but they don’t offer L-shaped desks.

The larger and more powerful desks come with a larger price tag to reflect the features and build quality. It is worth checking the parts cover and guarantee, especially on the items that do the majority of the work like leg motors. The Jarvis L Shaped has a very good 10-year warranty on all desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:


Trending right now:

  • We freely confess: we love the idea of the magical sound of glitter. We love it when it sparkles, shines and shimmers. But no other sound libraries seem to get it right.

    So we made Glitter to offer a huge range of designed and source sparkling magic sound effects to your arsenal. Whether you need to complement particles effects, magical spells or any other fabulous wizardry, you can count on this minty fresh library to deliver dazzling audio, over and over again.

     

    The Glitter sound library is built in two distinct sections: Source and Designed. The Designed section offers rich and inspiring sounds ready to be dropped in your project. The source folder includes various recordings used to create this library, should you want to wander down the path of creating your own glittering adventures.

    Created with crackling passion by our fairy own sound designers, this masterful curated library will be sure to bring your project to a sparkling new level of awe-inspiring wonderment.

    34 %
    OFF
  • “European Birds 2” is a sound library containing many recordings of 56 different species of birds, with a focus on isolated recordings of individual birds. All sounds were recorded in England, and all recorded species can be found in continental Europe. Many recorded species can also be found in varying areas of Asia.

     

    Includes:

    • Pleasing sounds from songbirds such as Robins, Blackbirds, Finches and Wrens
    • Familiar sounds of Pigeons and Doves
    • A variety of water birds including Moorhens, Coots, and Geese
    • Raspy calls of Crows and other birds from the corvid family
    • Melodious birds of open farmland, such as Skylarks and Yellowhammers
    • Chaotic songs of summer migrant warblers
    • Forest birds such as a Tawny Owl, Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker
    • and more! (For a full list of species, see the contents summary)

     

    Features: 

    • 950+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality
    • WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided
    • UCS compliant file naming and metadata, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

  • Destruction & Impact Sounds Cataclysm Play Track 1482 sounds included $195

    Cataclysm is a vast collection of recorded, synthesized and designed sounds created to support important destructive moments and add a stronger sense of extreme consequence to any sound.

    The recorded section of library features elements such as flash powder explosions, propane cannon blasts and artillery cannons recorded in unique natural environments with violent transients and lush, long and varied tails. It also features falling trees, forge burners, large trebuchet wood groans, rock smashes as well as more ordinary items recorded and designed to feel like an over the top version of themselves such as vacuum cleaner suctions, metal vase holders, ground pounders and more.

    The synthesized section of the library features equally rich textures in the form of explosion sweeteners, other-worldly environmental reflections, scorching energy risers and more.

    Finally, recorded and synthesized content was employed to develop the designed section, where the hyperrealism of the recordings meets the clean yet aggressive textures of the synthesized section in catastrophic assets themed around the library’s title.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
  • Train Sound Effects Steam Trains Play Track 175 sounds included $40

    The Steam Trains library delivers 175 sound effects of three different types of steam train engines, and the clatter, rattle, and grinding of wagons.

    The collection includes riding, idling, pass-bys, departing and arriving trains, bells, whistles, steam blasts, platform atmospheres, and doors and windows.

    Engines are the heavy Santa Fe 2-10-2, the Bavarian BB 0-4-4-0 Heavy Mallet, and a 4 Wheel Switcher 0-4-0 light railway. Also included are door and window handling effects of passenger cars

    Each engine is well documented and listed in full Soundminer metadata.

    The Steam trains library also includes a “Specification Sheet” with detailed information about the trains and environments.

    Recorded with a Schoeps MK4/MK8 MS, paired with a Sound Devices 702 recorder. Some takes provide an alternative mix with recordings from an additional Sony PCM-D recorder.


Latest releases:

  • Animal Sound Effects The Animal Symphony – Watusi Play Track 183 sounds included, 10 mins total $12

    The Animal Symphony will be a series of animal recording libraries, created to offer a wide variety of authentic animal sounds. Over the next few months, each installment in this series will capture the essence of different animal species.

    General description:
    The Animal Symphony – Watusi” features a total of 52 audios, with 183 individual sounds of Watusis mooing, all recorded in exceptional quality. Using two high-end microphones, the Sennheiser MKH 8050 and an EM258 capsule microphone, we have managed to capture every detail and nuance of these natural sounds. Each recording was made at a 192 kHz, 24-bit, ensuring professional clarity and depth.

    Featured Features:
    – Variety of Watusi Sounds: Enjoy a wide range of Watusi sounds, from soft moos to powerful calls, perfect for adding realism and authenticity to your projects.
    – Diversity in Recordings: With multiple takes and variations, with long, short and group moos, so this library offers the necessary flexibility for any type of production that requires this type of animal.
    – Careful Editing: All recordings have been carefully edited to eliminate any external noise, such as birds, wind or people, ensuring pure, clean sounds.

    This collection is ideal for a variety of applications:
    – Video games: Add realism and depth to the natural environments of your games.
    – Cinema and Documentaries: African environment and scenes that require authenticity in fauna.
    – Educational Applications: Use these sounds in educational projects to teach about wildlife and animal behavior.
    – Multimedia Projects: Ideal for any project that seeks to enrich the user’s listening experience.

    Technical details:
    – Total Audios: 52
    – Total Sounds: 183
    – Format: 192kHz/24bit
    – Equipment Used: Sennheiser MKH 8050 Microphone and EM258 Capsule Microphone

    License:
    The sounds from “The Animal Symphony – Watusi” are available under a royalty-free license, allowing their use in multiple projects without additional costs or royalties. You can use these sound effects in your games, trailers, Kickstarter campaigns, and more, as many times as you like.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1717711199
  • This library covers the sounds of the Trabant 601, equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke Otto-type engine from the late 1980s.

    The driving section contains 48 tracks with a total length of about 36 minutes. These tracks include engine ramps and driving sequences at various constant RPMs, suitable for game implementation. Additionally, there are takes featuring more common driving and pass-bys, which are better suited for linear media usage. Interior and exterior mixes are also included.

    The foley section comprises 23 tracks with a total length of 8 minutes. It covers all basic sounds, such as opening and closing doors, hood and trunk, gearstick shifts, handbrake usage, and horn sounds. These sounds were primarily captured from a close perspective using a shotgun microphone.

    Microphone setup:

    • Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF) – Cabin
    • Neumann KMR81i – Cabin / Foley
    • Neumann KM184 – Exhaust
    • Shure SM11 – Engine bay
    • Shure VP88 (M/S) – Exterior
    • Tascam DR40 (XY) – Exterior
  • Sports Sound Effects Pool Play Track 351 sounds included $5.99

    This is a sound library containing the sounds of cue sports games such as pool or snooker. Includes a range of sounds such as ball interactions, potting, breaking, and more, with sounds from both a standard set of 2″ pool balls and a smaller set too.

     

    Features: 

    • 350+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided for most sounds
    • All files are metadata-tagged, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • UCS compliant file naming
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

    33 %
    OFF
  • 30 Alicante sound effects recordings of urban street life from a southern Spanish city.

  • Soar across the skies with Boeing 737 jet airliner interior clips from idling, taxiing, flying, landing, and others.

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:


 

ACCESSORIZE

Most desks can be ordered with additional accessories so I highly recommend a cable management kit. This helps to route cables under the back of a desk and have room to drop in 4 or 6 gang power sockets.

In an ideal world, you’d route signal and power cables on separated routes so they don’t cross and risk inference. However, I’d never suffered any noticeable noise issues from mixing both together on my system and power supply. I rack mounted a single 1u 19″ unit underneath holding a Furman power conditioner. This provides cleaner incoming AC power being filtered, stabilized, and surge-protected with 10x IEC power cable outputs. The main benefit is a reduction in trailing power cables from desk to floor. I rewired a 6-way power extension to use one of the IEC output sockets to provide more regular power sockets underneath.

SitStand_09

Two further accessories were an additional slide-out shelf, sitting underneath the main listening position, and an anti-fatigue standing mat. The shelf was created using runner brackets from Amazon and a suitable size of wood (designed for shelving) from my local DIY store. The standing mat is a Muvmat by Aeris, it is designed to be uneven and acts like a forest floor. The surface is oddly a lot more comfortable than standing on flat carpet for the same amount of time.

 

PREPARATION & BUILD

Many of the desks have reviews that range quite dramatically so sometimes it’s hard to work out whether customers are being a little unreasonable or whether they really have been badly let down by a company. I checked reviews for the desk I was interested in but I didn’t get too obsessed when I was reading about missing parts and other bad experiences. I just went for it and it was fine. Things go wrong sometimes, that’s just life.

Don’t forget that you’ll likely need longer versions of the cables you have coming out of the back of your computer if you plan on keeping the computer on the floor. For example, HDMI for monitor screen, USB cables, etc. If you have a smaller PC or Mac that can sit on the desktop or an iMac for example then this might not apply here. It is however something to consider since you don’t want to move your desk to standing height and pull and damage cables that don’t have enough spare slack. Use a cable management sleeve or wrap to create a ‘loom’ to keep these cables neat, as one bigger one.

SitStand_11

Once you’ve chosen your desk and it arrives, it’s a good idea to unpack and check everything is there and not damaged. I didn’t have the space to unpack everything straight away but I did check the wood desktop(s) for any damage in transit. Allow plenty of time for the build to avoid mistakes.

SitStand_12

You’ll build your desk upside down on the floor, in the same space as where you intend to use it. U shaped cable tacks can be hammered into the wood to act as anchor points to hold cable runs in place. Check any nails or screws won’t pass through the whole of the wood desktop however! Cable ties help with cable management and your desk might come with some but it’s good to have extra. Once built upside down and wired up as best you can, you might need a hand in walking up the desk from the floor. Then it’s time to set up everything and enjoy the freedom to stand up and continue working when you please.
 

CONCLUSION

A standing desk is not a substitute for exercise, and standing for more than half a day isn’t that good for you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll tire of standing up; it is a lot faster than you think. I normally use the standing function 2 to 3 times during the day. That might not seem a lot to justify the effort. After a few months of use for me, it is worth that peace of mind. Being able to stretch when I can feel and become aware that my body is craving a posture change but I want to stay on task.

Keep in mind the accuracy of your monitor speakers will change when the desk is at height. I don’t do any critical mixing while standing up since my speakers are calibrated with Sonarworks that are only effective in the sit position. I could calibrate a speaker profile for a standing position but I’m happy to do ‘non-critical’ mix work in this way. If you use huge amounts of hardware racks or a massive analogue desk then a standing desk probably won’t be suitable. For the modern audio freelancer or small scale studio I think they work well.

 

A big thanks to Nick Granville-Fall for sharing further insights to improved audio studio production ergonomics! Be sure to check out his guide on how to reduce RSI, and find out more about him here

 

Please share this:


 



 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:

  • Dinosaurs Vol. 2 is the second edition of our popular Dinosaurs sound effects series.

    This library contains a wealth of pre-historic sound effects, covering a range of different dinosaur types. Inside we have carnivores, herbivores, scavengers, flyers and even baby dinosaurs, allowing you to craft your own custom Jurassic soundscape.

    To create this collection, our audio craftsmen unleashed their inner Dinosaur, recording a diverse array of sounds that includes roars, growls, sniffs, breathing, eating, and eggs hatching.

    This library is perfect for use in monster movie projects such as Godzilla, King Kong, Jurassic Park, and is also well suited to covering video game creatures and enemies.

    All files are supplied in 24Bit 96kHz allowing for further sonic manipulation and have been tagged with extensive UCS compliant metadata for ease of use.

    20 %
    OFF
  • Creature Sound Effects Dinosaurs Play Track 32 sounds included $16.80

    Witness the terrible and wondrous sounds of the long gone rulers of Earth, with our new library, Dinosaurs, containing audio brought back from 65 million years in the past.

    Our Audio Craftsmen have captured the roars, rumbles and groans of a variety of Dinosaurs, from Triceratops to the King himself, T-Rex!

    All sounds were recorded in our acoustically treated Foley suite in 24Bit 96kHz allowing further sonic manipulation. We then meticulously edited and tagged the files with extensive UCS compliant metadata for ease of use.

    20 %
    OFF
  • Vielklang Instant Harmony 2 is an instrument for easy generation of harmonies from an audio or MIDI melody. The utilization of voice leading and harmony progression models allows vielklang to create harmony parts in a more musical way than traditional harmony processors and makes it a versatile and creative tool for musicians, songwriters and producers.

    vielklang utilizes zplane´s widely-used élastique SOLOIST engine for high quality pitch shifting and time stretching.


    The new version introduces the following features:

    • advanced pitch editing with direct tool access
    • new sleek interface
    • vibrato and tremolo generator
    • hybrid view for score-like harmony visualization
    • MIDI harmonization
    • multiple file harmonization
    • Instant Harmony V2.0 & Advanced Pitch Editing
    • Harmonize your melody with one single click – loading a single-voiced audio file – and create natural-sounding background choirs and brass arrangements.


    vielklang Instant Harmony generates harmonies with 2-4 voices. It is packed with musical intelligence and music theory: it detects the best fitting harmonies for each individual input melody, and automatically synthesizes up to four voices with the voices not merely running in parallel but with their voicings selected to sound most natural (voice leading).

    The advanced pitch editing controls (full version only!) give you fast and easy access to pitch, timing, vibrato control, formant shift, and to many more editing options.

    DOWNLOAD THE DEMO HERE
    WIN | MAC

Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Animal Sound Effects The Animal Symphony – Watusi Play Track 183 sounds included, 10 mins total $12

    The Animal Symphony will be a series of animal recording libraries, created to offer a wide variety of authentic animal sounds. Over the next few months, each installment in this series will capture the essence of different animal species.

    General description:
    The Animal Symphony – Watusi” features a total of 52 audios, with 183 individual sounds of Watusis mooing, all recorded in exceptional quality. Using two high-end microphones, the Sennheiser MKH 8050 and an EM258 capsule microphone, we have managed to capture every detail and nuance of these natural sounds. Each recording was made at a 192 kHz, 24-bit, ensuring professional clarity and depth.

    Featured Features:
    – Variety of Watusi Sounds: Enjoy a wide range of Watusi sounds, from soft moos to powerful calls, perfect for adding realism and authenticity to your projects.
    – Diversity in Recordings: With multiple takes and variations, with long, short and group moos, so this library offers the necessary flexibility for any type of production that requires this type of animal.
    – Careful Editing: All recordings have been carefully edited to eliminate any external noise, such as birds, wind or people, ensuring pure, clean sounds.

    This collection is ideal for a variety of applications:
    – Video games: Add realism and depth to the natural environments of your games.
    – Cinema and Documentaries: African environment and scenes that require authenticity in fauna.
    – Educational Applications: Use these sounds in educational projects to teach about wildlife and animal behavior.
    – Multimedia Projects: Ideal for any project that seeks to enrich the user’s listening experience.

    Technical details:
    – Total Audios: 52
    – Total Sounds: 183
    – Format: 192kHz/24bit
    – Equipment Used: Sennheiser MKH 8050 Microphone and EM258 Capsule Microphone

    License:
    The sounds from “The Animal Symphony – Watusi” are available under a royalty-free license, allowing their use in multiple projects without additional costs or royalties. You can use these sound effects in your games, trailers, Kickstarter campaigns, and more, as many times as you like.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1717711199
  • This library covers the sounds of the Trabant 601, equipped with a two-cylinder, two-stroke Otto-type engine from the late 1980s.

    The driving section contains 48 tracks with a total length of about 36 minutes. These tracks include engine ramps and driving sequences at various constant RPMs, suitable for game implementation. Additionally, there are takes featuring more common driving and pass-bys, which are better suited for linear media usage. Interior and exterior mixes are also included.

    The foley section comprises 23 tracks with a total length of 8 minutes. It covers all basic sounds, such as opening and closing doors, hood and trunk, gearstick shifts, handbrake usage, and horn sounds. These sounds were primarily captured from a close perspective using a shotgun microphone.

    Microphone setup:

    • Sennheiser MKH8040 (ORTF) – Cabin
    • Neumann KMR81i – Cabin / Foley
    • Neumann KM184 – Exhaust
    • Shure SM11 – Engine bay
    • Shure VP88 (M/S) – Exterior
    • Tascam DR40 (XY) – Exterior
  • Sports Sound Effects Pool Play Track 351 sounds included $5.99

    This is a sound library containing the sounds of cue sports games such as pool or snooker. Includes a range of sounds such as ball interactions, potting, breaking, and more, with sounds from both a standard set of 2″ pool balls and a smaller set too.

     

    Features: 

    • 350+ audio files in 24 bit 96kHz quality WAV format
    • “Multi” and “One Shot” files provided for most sounds
    • All files are metadata-tagged, allowing for easy searching in sound library management tools
    • UCS compliant file naming
    • Available for commercial or personal use without attribution

     

    View a summary of included sounds here

    View a full list of included files here

    33 %
    OFF
  • 30 Alicante sound effects recordings of urban street life from a southern Spanish city.

  • Soar across the skies with Boeing 737 jet airliner interior clips from idling, taxiing, flying, landing, and others.


   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.