Killer Mac Studio station sees (and hears) major AV upgrades [Setups] | Cult of Mac

Killer Mac Studio station sees (and hears) major AV upgrades [Setups]

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This setup has been massively upgraded for better video calls and overall sound quality.
This setup has been massively upgraded for better video calls and overall sound quality.
Photo: Santego

Cybersecurity expert Santego shared his computer setup with Cult of Mac recently, unveiling major audio-visual upgrades in the Mac Studio and ultra-wide display rig. He wanted to improve the quality of his overall sound and his video calls.

And those additions came on top of a beautifully put together setup with great connectivity, power management and backup, as well as specialized lighting and terrific input devices.

A follower of our Setups coverage, he said “You encouraged me to upgrade the space I spend 10 hours a day in working from home.”

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Mac Studio setup sees and hears big video-call and audio upgrades from Elgato, KEF

Santego, who preferred not to use his real name, runs an M1 Max Mac Studio with 32GB of unified memory and a 1TB solid state drive, to which he transferred his M1 Mac mini backup.

He uses the Mac Studio with an epic, 40-inch LG UltraWide curved IPS display with 5120 x 2160 pixel resolution and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity.

A CalDigit Element USB-C hub assists with connections, while an APC UPS provides backup and surge protection. A G-Drive external hard drive offers a whopping 4TB of additional storage.

“My days are spent on conference calls, while working in spreadsheets, project plans and Visio,” he told Cult of Mac. “Working from home gives you more flexibility to multitask with music or personal interests, so I tried to create an environment that is comfortable doing whatever I decide to do.”

One of the things he decides to do, besides work, is gaming. He prefers mobile MMO games — massively multiplayer online games, to the uninitiated — like Call of Magic and Kingdom Guard.

Huge AV upgrades

Santego told us his first new upgrade concerned upping the quality of his video calls. To do that, he added an Elgato: Wave3 USB condenser microphone, standing just in front of the display to the left, and a FaceCam full HD webcam, perched on top of the monitor.

Then he added the Elgato Stream Deck he often sees in Cult of Mac Setups. You can see it, dead center just in front of the monitor, with its 15 LED buttons. People often use the control panel to automate streaming tasks.

“The Stream Deck makes changing input/output settings and smart lighting a breeze,” he said. “The Hue Light bars add enough reflective light for the video calls to not be shadowed.”

Next up, Santego decided to pump up his sound. The display’s pair of 10W speakers weren’t going to cut it. In fact, he already had older premium external speakers that he figured he’d replace with something even better.

Superior sound

“I went from an aging set of Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers to the KEF LSK II with the KC-62 subwoofer,” he said. “Night and day difference. I switch between the speakers and Sennheiser HD 660s headphones via the Stream Deck.”

If you know anything about high-fidelity audio, you know this guy is not kidding around. But the new high-end speakers, compatible with AirPlay 2, weren’t perfect at first, either.

“The KEF LSX II speakers sound amazing, but weren’t handling bass from artists like Post Malone, which drove me to the subwoofer,” he said. The KEF sub packs 1,000W of power through dual 6.5-inch drivers.

And he also had to overcome a challenge with his DragonFly Cobalt digital-to-analog converter (DAC) needing USB-C to work.

“That was frustrating to sort out,” he said. “It seems most DACs with the old USB cables have issues.”

Software recommendation for managing audio

He also mentioned that SoundSource (by Rogue Amoeba) “does an amazing job with per-application settings and a headphone-model-specific EQ. You can customize settings per application, such as have Webex always use a specific configuration with audio enhancements/filters.”

Overall, he said, he managed to “create a much more enjoyable space to work and play.” And as far as upcoming new gear to put in play, there may or may not be one change in the near term.

“Only item I still debate on is a mechanical keyboard, but don’t want to give up the fingerprint reader,” he said, referring to his Magic Keyboard, which he uses in concert with a Magic Trackpad and the ever-popular Logitech MX Master 3S wireless mouse.

And the whole thing is back-lit by Philips Hue Play light bars.

The KEF speakers with subwoofer are new, as is a raft of Elgato gear for video calls.
The KEF speakers with subwoofer are new, as is a raft of Elgato gear for video calls.
Photo: Bill Daugherty

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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.