When I moved into my home office a few years ago, I had a lot of work that I needed to do to make it a comfortable space. I wanted to set it up for both video recording and podcasting but also make it a comfortable space where I enjoy spending long hours. It’s almost there, so I wanted to share some of the investments I made as well as why.
Here’s a breakdown of the upgrades I’ve made:
- Bandwidth – I cut the cord, upgraded to fiber and both increased my upload and download speeds while saving a ton of money by getting rid of cable. The fiber company installed the network directly to my office, so now I have 1Gb service both up and down directly to my laptop via a network router! For the rest of the home, I have an Eero Mesh wifi system that was installed with the fiber by Metronet.
- Camera – One issue that you’ll see in the original video (below) is that the webcam was terrible at dealing with glare from my monitors when I had large white windows on the screen. I upgraded the webcam to a Logitech BRIO, a higher-end 4K webcam with plenty of customization and recording options. It also comes with a fantastic desktop app, Logi Tune, that you can adjust the picture location, zoom level, and lighting. I was using Ecamm Live until Logitech came out with their app.
- Desk – Since I’m getting fit, I wanted to have the option of standing up and have a very wide work region to do it with. I opted for a Varidesk… which is built incredibly well, is absolutely stunning, and fits everything on it so I can easily go from sitting to standing. I already had a dual display bracket that installed easily on the desk.
- Desktop Mat – Forget a mousepad, grab yourself one of these monster desk mats… they’re water resistant, feel great, and provide a ton of real estate on your desktop! I noticed some of them are even heated out there!
- Displays – While I’d love an ultrawide monitor, I just can’t see spending the money on that right now. It sounds strange, but I actually like having a split between monitors to separate the windows and work that I’m doing. Dual 27″ LG Gaming monitors do the trick… great resolution and no issues with compatibility.
- Display Mount – I have a HumanScale dual monitor arm. It’s built well and my monitors don’t move at all. They were easy to install and mount as well.
- Docking Station – Instead of manually connecting ethernet, monitors, USB hub, mic, and speakers each time I sat at my desk, I opted for the j5Create USB-C docking station. It’s one connection and every device is plugged in… including power.
- Headphones – When I’m mixing audio, I wanted a premium set of closed, over-the-ear headphones so that I could hear the faintest background noise. I’m a fan of Shure so I purchased their Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones. They’re pricey, but well worth the investment if you’re an audiophile or work with mixing audio.
- Headphone Amp – You know how ridiculous it can be to maintain or troubleshoot audio outputs via software, so I opted for a PreSonus HP4 4-Channel Compact Headphone Amplifier instead where I have earbuds, studio headphones, and a surround sound system all connected. This means my output is always the same… I just turn up or down which headphones I’m using or mute the monitor output.
- Keyboard – My office has a laptop, a MacMini, and an AppleTV. Artech makes a multi-connection bluetooth keyboard that is really nice, comfortable, and quite inexpensive compared to an Apple Keyboard. And now I can simply switch between devices as I’m working on them without interruption.
- Laptop Stand – Putting a laptop up off the desk is essential… not just to protect it from spills, but to get it at a height in line with your displays and to keep it cool. I like this dark, low-profile stand from Twelve South. It’s nice and heavy so it stays put.
- Lighting – I installed an ALZO Drum Digital light overhead to reduce shadows and light up the room better. It’s quite a large unit and I had to block some of the downward light with a shade, but it really brings out the best in my videos – especially using the Logitech BRIO.
- Microphone – I know a lot of folks love Yeti, but I just couldn’t get the clarity out of my mic. It could have been my voice, I’m not sure. I opted for an Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR microphone and it sounds and looks great. The Microphone is XLR, so I have a Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD, 2-Channel audio interface to push it into the docking station.
- Microphone Arm – Low-profile microphone arms that look good on video can be quite expensive. I opted for the Podcast Pro and it looks fantastic. My only mistake on this is that the microphone is under the weight that the arm tension is designed for so I had to velcro a counterweight on the arm to keep it steady.
- Mouse – I like the Apple Magic Mouse but can’t stand that you have to charge them by turning them upside down. So, I’ve purchased two of them and have both of them connected. So, when one dies, I just turn on the other one and keep working.
- Network Switch – I have a plethora of devices around the home that are networked, from a MacMini I use for processing jobs, to my Ring security system, to garage door, to Eero repeaters, and televisions… so I installed a Netgear Gigabit Unmanaged Switch and had Ethernet drops installed throughout the home through a panel in my office.
- Speakers – I wanted a great set of speakers for the office that are wired up to the monitor output of the headphone amp, so I went with the Logitech Z623 400 Watt Home Speaker System, 2.1 Speaker System. One of the great features of these speakers is that it can take an audio input as well, so my television in my office is also jacked right into the system.
- Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) – Installed an APC 1500VA Gaming Pro UPS for when the power goes out. While I’m fairly safe working on a MacBook Pro, now I have all of my network equipment, external monitors, external drive, and other hardware powered in the event of a power outage. With everything (a lot) plugged in, I’m running it at about a 30% load and the UPS tells me I’ll have about 14 minutes of uninterrupted power. Because I’m on fiber… I can even keep my network up when the power goes out! Even better, MacOS detected the UPS and I have settings to autosave and shut down my system in the event I’m not home and power is lost for an extended period.
- USB Hub – There’s no shortage of items to charge or connect while I’m working so I purchased an angled 10-port USB hub for my desktop. It has some higher amperage usb ports for larger devices.
- Webcam – One of the issues I was running into that I speak about in the video was extreme glare with my old webcam… so I’ve upgraded to a Logitech BRIO which has a ton more options and deals with the glare much better – not to mention it has a 4K output.
I would like to also purchase a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device eventually, too. Currently, I have a 3Tb drive on a MacMini that I can connect to the desktop on. For some reason, my network doesn’t like seeing it out there even though it’s shared. Network storage would be much faster for me to backup and move files from and to. Buffalo has a 16Tb NAS that’s pretty affordable, I just need to justify the expense!
Video Walk-Through Of My Desktop
Here’s the original video walk-through but I’m continuing to upgrade elements and keeping this article up to date. I’ve also upgraded the lighting in the room to a large soft light overhead.
Webcam Upgrade: Logitech BRIO
Here’s a video with the upgrade to the Logitech BRIO.
Disclosure: I am using affiliate links throughout this post.
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