Picture of my desk setupcredits

My Home Office & Recording Setup

7 Oct 2020
9 Oct 2020
7 minutes

Disclaimer : I invested a lot of money in my physical setup. Keep in mind that online conferences and video recording, even if fun, are part of my job. I’m also working remotely for the last ten years. I’m privileged enough to be able to afford the tools I wanted to get a high-quality job done.

Every time I share a picture of my evolving setup, I get myriad of questions about it. I’m a huge fan of saving keystrokes, so this article was long overdue.

Editor + Terminal

Every time I release a video where I have demos in the terminal, people ask me what I use. First, like many people out there, my editor is now Visual Studio Code. I use iTerm2 as my terminal application with Oh My Zsh. I think you don’t have the choice anymore with macOS, you need to use Zsh. I use the default theme, robbyrussell and in iTerm2, I use seti as my color scheme. The bit that people usually want to know is the prompt I use, which is Spaceship.

Apps + Configurations

The full list of applications I use and configurations I have are on my Mac setup script.

Recording

For many, this will be the most interesting part. Keep in mind that you do not need a setup like that to record videos or to stream. As long as you have a microphone (could be the one from your headphones/earphones) and a good webcam, you are good to go.

I use Camtasia to record and edit my videos. Now that I’m launching a new video podcast with guests and the possibility of livestreaming, I’m playing with OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS.

My microphone is a Blue Yeti Blackout Edition (it doesn’t matter, it’s only the color). Many people use XLR microphones with a recording audio interface, but I didn’t see the need for what I do. I would be more than happy for someone to educate me about my choice and the possibilities out there. The mic is on a RODE PSA1 Arm with a Blue RADIUS II Shock Mount (made for Yeti & Yeti Pro only) and the Moukey Pop Filter. I had the usual round pop filter, but I found it annoying as hell. Also, I previously bought the Blue Compass Boom Arm, because, you know, I have a Blue mic, but don’t buy it. It doesn’t move as well as the one I have now and have too much tension for more lightweight microphones.

For the visual part, I use a DSLR camera. I found that the Sony Alpha a6400 was a good price point for a camera doing 4K with no recording limit. Quite often they will have a recording limit to prevent the camera for overheating. To ensure that I have enough power, I use something called a dummy battery. I like that with my camera, there is a small opening for the wire. Lastly, to be able to have my camera as a video source, I plugged the HDMI cable from the camera to the Elgato Cam Link 4K.

I usually don’t use headphones when I have meetings. My microphone is on cardioid mode and low gain, so it doesn’t pick up the sounds coming out from my speakers. When I record a podcast with a guest, I prefer to use headphones to ensure that I catch everything the other person said. I use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: the audio quality is top-notch, and I don’t mind the cable for my home office. When I’m on the road, I use my Apple AirPods Pro which I love so much.

The last piece of equipment I needed for a great image is the light, in my case, lights. Most people work perfectly with one light source, or two, or even a light ring. Since I shave my head, having a primary light source wasn’t enough. Either it was too much, giving the impression my head was super shiny or it wasn’t enough making the rest of my face living in the dark. So, I went all in: I have three Elgato Key Lights. I also have the Elgato Green Screen MT, but giving my office configuration, I may switch to a collapsible one.

In addition to the rest, I decided to invest in an Elgato Stream Deck, the 15-key version (medium one). You can easily customize the keys for everything within OBS and many other things. I use it to control my lightning, my scenes in OBS and even monitoring my CPU usage.

Desk Setup

My standing desk is from a Canadian company, Ergonofis. I highly suggest people who can afford it to take a standing desk: I use it maybe an hour or more per day, which is a hour or more I’m not sitting. I don’t recommend this brand though: the buttons are on the desk, not under (not sure why I didn’t see that) and the black surface keep prints and shit…

My only computer is a MacBook Pro 13-inch 2019: I hope to upgrade to the new one when I land my next role. I love a clean desk, so I use a docking station, the Henge Vertical Dock. I use the Apple Magic Keyboard, but I’m looking into a mechanical one right now. Yes, all those customized keyboards got to me! My mouse is a Logitech MX Master 3, which I like very much.

My monitor is a curved Dell U3419w Ultrasharp 34-Inch. There is an integrated small USB hub, and I’m really into ultrawide monitors now. Still, I’m missing having what I call a “documentation monitor“. As I told you, I like a clean desk, so I used monitor arms with vesa mount since forever. I had the AmazonBasics Single Monitor Stand, but it wasn’t high enough for a healthier sitting posture. I now have the VIVO Quad Desk Mount, so I could have my screen at the best height. I used both extra arms to fix my left and right light by removing the vesa mount (still need to adjust them a bit better). I fixed my DSLR and my center light with clamps with ball head. VIVO have other arm versions, like for one monitor only.

For my day-to-day meetings, I use the Logitech BRIO 4K Ultra HD Webcam, which is probably the best webcam out there. It would be more than enough to record most videos. Speaker-wise, I wanted something not too big, so I opted for the Bose Companion 2 Series III. I’m a Bose fan and the sound is perfect for listening to music while I work, and obviously for meetings.

To connect everything together, I bought the CalDigit TS3 Plus which is a “docking station”. I needed more USB ports, so I also got to the Anker 10 Port 60W Data Hub. I almost forgot the “pièce de résistance”, my chair: a Herman Miller Embody. I never thought I would ever pay a chair that price in my life, but I did. You know what? Best investment I ever made! I have it for five years now, and it’s still like new. I expect to keep it for a lot longer. I used to have back pain for sitting too long at my desk, not anymore. Lastly, I tended to slide down in a really bad position before, which isn’t something I do anymore. Not sure why, but it is what it is (see what I did there). Again, totally worth every penny.

That’s it! I’ll try to keep that article up to date when (if) I change my equipment. I’m always open to suggestions about my setup since it’s always a work-in-progress. Also, feel free to ask any questions I may not have answered here or let me know if I missed something.

P.S.: Want to see what other people are using, check the Uses Tech website.