Sound designer’s setup powers a home office and AV wonderland [Setups]

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Widescreen monitor
When you have more gear than you use, it's time to break it down to basic needs.
Photo: Gareth Owen

Gareth Owen is a London-based professional sound designer whose job involves extensive CAD and acoustic modeling, but he also does sound effects work and multitrack mixing.

So he built a setup that functions as both his home office and a basic home studio.

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A wider shot shows Owen's Avid S6L mixing console at right.'s Avid S
A wider shot shows Owen’s Avid S6L mixing console at right.
Photo: Gareth Owen

Challenges: underused gear, fan noise

Widescreen monitor
At the heart of Garth Owen’s setup is a Samsung 59-inch Curved Monitor.
Photo: Gareth Owen

Owen’s computer is a 15-inch MacBook Pro. As part of his broader setup, he has the Avid HD Native editing tool and Avid Omni Audio Interface, which he was surprised to find he uses less often than he expected.

“These two bits of kit are really geared towards recording audio, but I don’t actually do much of that at home,” Owen told Cult of Mac. “I don’t even use an external microphone for Zoom — the mic on the Logitech Brio is good enough for most of my needs.”

He also uses an Avid S6L mixing console, which primarily serves as a way of beta testing console software that his company, Gareth Owen Sound Ltd., helps develop.

Owen’s setup incorporates a Synology NAS DiskStation with 8 TB of data storage and an APC battery backup and surge protector.

Copious amounts of data are stored and protected by an 8 TB Synology NAS DiskStation and an APC UPS battery backup and surge protector.
An 8 TB Synology NAS DiskStation and an APC UPS battery backup store and protect huge amounts of data.
Photo: Gareth Owen

As far as other challenges of building his setup — “Besides paying for it?” Owen quipped — he found it tricky to manage heat from the devices without having to suffer excessive fan noise.

“I’ve ended up adding temperature sensors and fan controllers as well as swapping the standard fans fitted in the racks for quieter ones,” he said.

Avid HD Native and the Avid Omni Audio Interface are great for recording and editing audio, though Owen uses them less than he thought he would.
Avid HD Native and an Avid Omni Audio Interface are great for recording and editing audio. Owen uses them less than he thought he would, however.
Photo: Gareth Owen

Simplify by focusing on basic needs

For a professional sound designer, an Avid S6L mixing console can be key.
For a professional sound designer, an Avid S6L mixing console can be key.
Photo: Gareth Owen

Owen’s current setup is the fruit of a lot of decluttering.

“I used to have a really complicated office with every gadget going — a dozen different types of HID [human interface devices], surround speakers, tablets, mixers, microphones, you name it,” Owen said. “One day I realized that I never used most of it and the bits that I did use were far more complicated than they needed to be and never worked when I wanted them to anyway.”

Owen yearned to simplify his setup, so he put nearly every piece of technology on eBay and sold it. He concentrated on just having on what he really needed. He made having a good monitor and a pair of world-class speakers his goal (see also recent Setups contributor Ed Yoon, who is an audiophile)

Room for improvement?

Other than that, Owen is satisfied with the setup and loves its simplicity. He said he wishes the equipment racks were a little more elegant and a little less industrial, so they would fit in better with the all-white, custom-fitted work surfaces.

As for further improvements, it’s still an open question as to whether Owen will add a second wide-screen monitor above the first one.

“I don’t know if I really need it or I just think it will look cool,” he said.

Shop these items now:

MacBook Pro 15-inch

Samsung 59-inch Curved Monitor (link is similar product)

Logitech Brio 4K Webcam

Kii Three Speakers with Kii Control

CalDigit TS3 docking stations

Logitech Master Mouse 2

Razer Mouse Pad

Avid HD Native and HD Omni Soundcard

Synology NAS with 8TB WD Red (link is similar product)

Avid S6L mixing console

APC UPS battery backup and surge protector

HP Color LaserJet Pro

Herman Miller Chair

Custom desk with Ikea Cabinets

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.