The tiny studio corner thread (article for horizontalpitch)

I’m posting this here as well after having posted in on

I want to get back writing articles for (already working on some interviews) and my wife just gave me a very good idea for a fun thing to post: tiny studio corners!

Many people (me included right now) have very little space for their instruments/music equipment, often one has to come up with very clever ideas about how to organize things so that they are usable, accessible, ergonomic, and space-efficent at the same time.

So the thing is: do you have such a small studio corner and want to share your photos and thoughts/experiences/stories to share on this topic? Please post them here!
Right now my idea is to feature a photo, a short text and an audio track of something made with what is shown on the photo (so make sure to also add a track)

The big question that floats in the air is: does the fact that one has to cram all the stuff into a very limited space have an influence on the music that is made? Maybe we’ll find out more about it and I’d love to discuss that here.


I don’t post here much these days, but I do check in every few days. At any rate, I love this, especially since I’ve been relegated to a small corner of my house. I do find myself jamming on the couch with gear that is agreeable to that, but generally have to return to the corner studio to record. I’ll try to get some photos and sounds and report back. I’m looking forward to seeing others’ creative solutions. My biggest need is time!

Nice thread! I’m really curious to what you ll find. I rent a sepetare space for my music stuff so I’m not that space constraint. But I tend to dream of having a really small portable ‘gig’ setup or something to use at home. For now I have the volca sample at home as one box solution for simple tracks and jamming. It’s fun to try to get the maximum from just a very simple (one box) setup.

Nice idea,

I have the corner of our living room as wife has the ‘spare’ room as her painting studio. I am locked in a dumb and endless fight with ergonomics and while I strongly believe that there MUST be some arrangement that will let me use all of the things I want, within sensible patch cable distances, dismantling, moving it around and putting it all back every 3 or 4 weeks only reveals that I keep getting stuck putting it all in the exact same place as it’s the only logical way to do it.

My current thought is to try to make some sort of shelves to sit on the right hand side of the desks, although it looks like there’s a bunch of dead space, it’s currently where all the plugs/extensions and my occasionally used soundcard and more often used zoom h4 recorder tend to live.

I’d love some suggestions if anyone sees a nice line that I haven’t thought about. It;s currently impossible to use the beatstep and the PP skiff at the same time, the skiff often ends up being unplugged and balaned on top the top p6.

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we had a baby and our studio became his bedroom. as we adjusted to Life With Child I eventually settled on a table over which hung our bikes, working with my main synth and a few of my smaller instruments/devices, a small mixer, and headphones. PLEASE remind me to get a photo of this to you before we sell our bikes bc it’s comical.

I’ve always had a smaller, stripped down working space but to say it’s even a “studio” right now is really pumping it up. this has been helped by how I purchase new gear -> if I can’t take it to a gig, I’m not going to buy it. small, effective instruments and devices have been my thing for a long time, which is how I got into MI in the first place (as you know Hannes!). when I get a photo together I’ll make a more “on topic/publishable” post.

You should definitely get with this guy:


Yes that is also my main problem all the time. Either stuff is in weird places or it does not fit.
But your corner looks pretty good so far, great solution with the mixer standing upright like that! If I had the space I’d probably try an L shape table, so that there is more room for the “playable” stuff like the BSP the PPs and the keyboards. You could probably also move the mixer to the right and put the two cases on next to each other (though I’m sure you have tried that already). Anyway thanks for sharing!

Ah yeah… reminds me of something! :slight_smile: though in our case I could also say: we had a flat, then it became his playground :smiley:

I think that’s a great way to stay focused!

Looking forward to it!

Yeah, I need to post on MW as well. But thanks for the heads up, I think I say this some time ago already, brilliant solution!

I don’t even have a “corner setup” anymore due to space comstraints. I now take my laptop out of my bag and a Maschine Mk3 out of a cupboard and put them on the living room table when I want to make music.

Going to follow this topic. I recently, as of beginning of Feb. left my old shared studio space, with lot’s of room, and now have to fit in to my not very spacious apartment. I started by taking it as an opportunity to clear out some gear, and sold my Rhythm, hoping to build up a new percussion section on the modular. I’ve never been much of a recorder, and is more interested on the jamming part. At the old place, I had a big Midas F24, which was amazing to work on, now i have a smaller sound craft, but maybe should go completely in the rack with the new Hexmix. But it’s also about getting the right “feel” when you sit down in front of your instruments.

I hear that! Once baby was on the way, the space had to compress quite a bit. I actually don’t mind too much. Sometimes having imposed constraints helps me focus. I recently sold most of my eurorack and picked up a couple more portable synths (digitakt, 0-coast, microbrute) and pedals (another black hole!). That way, I can throw a few things in a bag and jam whereever!

I’m with you on the jamming more than recording. I’m sure, one day, I’ll get around to recording some stuff. For now, I’m content with just getting to make some noise for me to enjoy.

two images, the first from when I settled on this arrangement last february or march. the other I took last night.


I’ve had more than a few arrangements in my 12 years in Brooklyn. If there is interest I’ll see how well I’ve documented them in pictures. We have a three room apartment and every room except the kitchen/living room has been “the studio” at some point.

I’ve never had the resources to have a Wow That’s Shiny Studio, but in general I’ve had a comfortable working space. the past year or so has been my first run without using monitors (Alesis Monitor One mk2 from 2002!). Having an output module has been helpful. we didn’t know what to do with the bikes (no storage in the building), but were reluctant to get rid of them, so they got mounted on the wall, above the space available for me to put a desk. I haven’t hurt myself. We are moving in two weeks so catch up with me in February for an all-new literally West Coast cramped corner setup.

In 2009 Anne & Richard & myself did a quick jaunt from Vancouver -> LA as Delicate Sen, and this exposed to me the hazards of a laptop-centric setup. Laptop/Virus/Keyboard was really good for me creatively for a long time, but I always found it awkward to gig with (usb! firewire! midi!), many points of failure that were difficult to compensate for in the moment. I spent 3-4 years finding ways to slim that setup down, remove structural weaknesses, and keep on track creatively.

This is how I got a first run MI Shruti kit, then the MFB Microzwerg and a Standuino (now Bastl) Microgranny mk1. I got a new bass guitar in 2012 and that was a good choice. Anne & I did a short tour as Fraufraulein where I just packed the bass (with a grip of preparation materials), MFB, Microgranny, and Strymon El Cap. super simple to setup and check, few points of failure, easy to “play.” There’s a fantasy gig I’ve never played where I just pack the MFB, Microgranny, El Cap and mixer.

As someone who has never had a driver’s license, much less a car, having gear that I cannot easily get in a taxi, subway, or overhead compartment is pointless. Expanding my eurorack beyond what I can take to a gig or a session doesn’t make sense to me. I see my synthesizer as an instrument I practice, I work through ideas, see where they lead, loop around on themselves or splinter off in another direction. While there are many differences between the synth and my guitar, I approach them the same way. It’s also much easier to just switch this system on and get going than it ever was to boot up Max, then Reaktor, make sure MIDI and audio interfaces are set up right, and get going. I don’t even use an audio interface, just recording from my mixer into my sony pcm-m10. (we have a sound devices USBPre that I should bother with but eh).

the most recent recording I’ve made available on the web is this:

this is from the beginning of October (2017) incorporating some field recordings I made in the large, empty house we were being put up in while Anne played a recorder in a kayak in a flooded quarry upstate. this was recorded in more or less the configuration pictured, iPhone playback of recordings instead of microgranny, and a configuration of eurorack that isn’t quite either of what is in the pictures. There will likely be a few releases featuring recordings from this setup under the bikes.

I edit on my bed now.

I’m unsure how to address “how does the space affect the music” - I’m certain it does, but I can’t really articulate it, I’ve been working in less-than-ideal “studios” my whole life. The more direct my access to my creative practice is, the better.


That seems to be a common thing with many people, and seems to work great. The advantage of it is probably that it forces to choose, and to focus on the most essential things. It’s the “tiny music corner” concept taken to the extreme I guess.

Yes I think that is very essential. Both the “feel” and the ergonomics (which in turn affect the feel)

@billygomberg thanks a lot for sharing those! They are quite fun indeed! And thanks for sharing your story, your approach has always been very inspiring to me, even if I did fail often at being as focused and reductionst, but then… I guess my profession does not make it easy. :slight_smile:

It’s easy to overestimate the influence that gear has on the music one makes. The essential element is one’s vision, the musical ideas one pursues. Still… the same idea will lead to different results depending on the chosen instruments. It will be the same idea, but the sonic result might be slightly different (though please notice I’m using “might”, because things are of course more complex than that I guess).
Having to work with limited space likely leads to less and more compact instruments and gear, which leads to music which will likely be influenced by this in some ways.

Here’s a photo of mine shortly after we rearranged our “office”/studio room:


A less wide shot but more recent:

Today the Mantis is basically full, though I have plans for shuffling things around to free up enough space for the Field Kit FX coming in March.

I like this layout since everything is in reach. (I have a wire shelf with a patch cable hanger to the left of the rack.) It’s a relatively compact space and serves as a natural barrier to expanding my modular indefinitely :laughing:

This same bedroom has my spouse’s desk and computer, a big aquarium stand, recliner and makeshift table… but it’s also in chaos right now while we replace old carpet with vinyl plank flooring, and build some bookshelves to organize a little better. But we basically live in here with our creative pursuits when we’re not at work or sleeping. :slight_smile:


I think I need to get one of those L-shaped desks as well (when I move to the next flat).
For now I’m stuck with the desk below (which btw. really sucks. If you ever get tempted to buy something made by Millennium from Thomann, just don’t. That’s what I have here and it’s utterly rubbish!)
Anyway, here’s a (not so great) photo of my current solution. I just moved stuff around so there’s a lot of cables missing.
I am not super happy with where the modular is, it it weren’t for the fact that on the left I have a big window door leading to the balcony I’d love to have it there and maybe use the space between the monitors for a bigger screen or move the laptop there to have more free space on the desk. I find that to be creative I need a lot of free space on the desk (which is currently missing a bit)… space to write down notes, to arrange sound making objects, etc. Some of the setup will always be fixed (laptop, mixer, modular) some changes all the time (contact microphoned objects, little noisemakers etc.)

“Zoom in”

“Rotate 5 degrees”

“Now, enhance!”

Hehe, you won’t discover anything though, because I have pasted a random Doepfer module onto the photo before blurring :smiley:

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That’s a great marketing idea actually - a few months before the release of a module, give away a blind panel with a blurry image of the module to be released.


Is that procedure described in the Mutable Instruments non-disclosure agreement?

I bet that could be a paid product. Gives that certain mystique to any modular gear shot or YouTube noodle!