By Dan Moren
March 11, 2022 11:45 AM PT
What’s in my office, 2022 edition
Late in 2021, my wife and I moved to a new house, which meant packing up everything in my office of more than a decade and then setting it up all over again in my new (but somewhat smaller) office.
In some ways this was a good opportunity to revisit my setup, try to simplify some aspects of it—perhaps discovering some items I could do without, or maybe enhancing my current setup with new devices to help me do different types of things.
I’ll let you guess which one of those impulses largely won out.
Six months later, there are still some parts of my office that remain in disarray (some pesky piles of old papers that I can never quite seem to get rid of), but my work setup has at least been pretty stable for my most common tasks: writing, recording and editing podcasts, and the occasional bit of video streaming.
With that said, here’s what I’ve got powering my home office these days.
Ergotron Workfit-D: I’ve had this sit-stand desk for almost a decade now: I actually got it free for being a speaker at Macworld Expo. (Yes, that’s how long ago it was.) At the very beginning of the pandemic, I was starting to deal with some potential repetitive stress symptoms from all the time I now spent at my desk, so I bought the associated keyboard tray for my Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, and I haven’t looked back!
27-inch iMac 5k: Yes, all the cool kids are talking about the Mac Studio now, but for the moment I’m still using my Intel iMac from 2017. It’s a really solid machine, with a 4.2GHz Core i7 processor and 32GB of RAM, even if it doesn’t have an Apple silicon chip inside of it. My plan is to replace it with a new machine whenever Apple gets around to figuring out what its mid-range Mac desktop is. It currently sits on an older model Twelve South HiRise because the normal height is too low for me and the iMac doesn’t have a fancy-schmancy adjustable stand like the new Apple Studio Display.
EVO 4: As I’ve discussed elsewhere, I’ve switched over to using Audient’s EVO 4 audio interface for my podcast-recording needs, so as to add support for a second microphone when I need it. It’s currently connected to the iMac via USB-C and to my mic (see below) via XLR.
Pyle PDMIC58: Also mentioned in my EVO 4 piece, I’m using the low-cost Pyle PDMIC58 as my primary mic, attached to an inexpensive shock mount, with a windscreen. For the $25 or so it cost, it’s pretty solid. I’m still tempted to swap it out for something more versatile, like a Shure MV7, but for the moment, it suits my purpose.
Heil PL-2T: My Heil boom arm is one of the best purchases I’ve made in the past decade. Getting my mic up and off my desk, and letting me easily swing it out of the way when I don’t need it is simply huge.
Sony MDR-7506: It’s hard to argue with these headphones when it comes to podcasting. They may not be top of the line, but they’re affordable (usually under $100), sound good, and fit comfortably. A couple years back I replaced the cushions, which had begun to wear, with some Wicked Cushions replacement pads, and they’ve held up very well. They also hang on Elevation Lab’s adhesive hook, The Anchor—though the version I bought is no longer available, there’s a newer model that’s about the same cost.
PreSonus Eric E3.5: Yes, I still have wired speakers on my desk. Until last year, they were a venerable Altec Lansing 2.1 set that was really great, but had started getting increasingly static-laden. It also took up way too much space, with two speakers, a control module, and a big subwoofer. So following The Wirecutter’s advice, I replaced them with a pair of these PreSonus studio monitors. What I like about them: they’re simple, cheap, and sound good. However, they’re still kind of bulky, and honestly, sound probably a lot better than what I usually need them for, which is editing podcasts when I don’t want to use my headphones. I’m intrigued to hear how good the Apple Studio Display speakers are and whether I might be able to get by with just them at some point in the future.
Elgato Stream Deck Mini: Yes, we’ve all succumbed to the lures of the Stream Deck. I’m still on the small version, because I’m still figuring out all the ways to get the most out of it before moving to a more expensive model. Of course, our much storied Podcast Note shortcut is at the top of my list of use cases, but I also like it for something as simple as switching between speaker and headphone output.
Logitech Litra: Much as I try to stick to audio, streaming video (especially for our D&D games over at Total Party Kill) keeps creeping its way in. And an important part of video is good lighting. I picked up the affordable Logitech Litra light a few months ago, and I do think it’s pretty solid, offering adjustable brightness levels, variable color temperature, and a pretty simple interface. Unfortunately, it only works with Logitech’s own software right now which is…not great. But for $60, it’s a pretty solid improvement over the $15 book light I previously used.
HomePod: I actually have two full-size HomePods in the room—one to the right of my desk, stereo paired with one over by my printer. They continue to be solid as speakers, and kind of meh when it comes to most of the other features. I’d use them for speaker output for my Mac, but the latency makes it impossible for audio editing. Still, they’re good for listening to music or podcasts.
Apple Pencil (first-generation): When I use it, it’s indispensable. When I don’t, it’s probably because I forgot to charge it. I like the Apple Pencil a lot, and will probably pick up a second-generation model to replace it eventually, but for now, it usually stays magneted to my iMac stand.
ScanSnap ix1600: I wrote up this document scanner in my favorite hardware of 2021, and it continues to pay dividends—especially around tax time. It’s incredibly fast and produces great quality results.
Google Nest Hub: When I bought one, to give the whole “smart speaker with a screen” thing the chance, it was still called the Google Home Hub. These days, I keep the microphone switch permanently off, so it’s little more than digital picture frame. But I sure would be interested to see what an Apple device in this category would look like.
Synology DS718+: Offloading data from my Macs to a home server has helped me feel a lot better about my storage options, and true to what everyone told me, Synology’s networked attached storage devices are second to none. My DS718+ not only serves as a centralized location for important data, but also works as a media server, runs Homebridge, and backs itself up to cloud storage. More importantly, it gives me peace of mind—and you can’t put a price tag on that.