In these days of “in the box” mixing and recording, it’s important that a studio still has a main focus point - something that at least looks like a recording console (if not for any practical reasons, then for the aesthetics!). There’s also an element of “hands on” control that’s missing with a keyboard and mouse.
We’ve had a Digidesign C24 Pro Tools control surface for a while now which meets most of these needs, but simply placing it on a desk doesn’t have the functionality and ergonomics of a large format console. We'd looked at getting custom furniture built, and had been stuck with a horrendous combination of Quiklok stand and office desk for a year. Eventually something had to be done about it....
The 90-NC24-RR model is designed with the C24 in mind, so suited our purposes nicely. It arrived in a variety of confusingly numbered boxes, but once we’d found the one with the instructions in, we were ready to get assembling.
Putting together an Argosy desk is a familiar experience to anyone who’s ever bought IKEA flat-packed furniture. The step-by-step instructions make perfect sense once you go through them carefully, but as typical men, we blundered ahead regardless (we had to redo a few stages, but no damage was done - I’d advise you spend a bit more time reading than we did!)
After the best part of a day, we’d cleared out the studio and the Argosy frame was finished. Days 2 and 3 were spent re-wiring and testing the studio (most installs wouldn’t take this long, but we have a dual console studio, which takes a surprising amount of time to wire up fully and neatly).
First impressions of the Agosy? It looks awesome! We went for the mahogany hardwood end panels, which along with the padded armrests give a classy finishing touch. Put the C24 into Vegas mode, and the studio is all set to impress.
The rack rails are direct screw in American style, and the Argosy comes with more than enough screws to fill the rack. Once you get over your fear of cross-threading (and let’s face it, when have you ever cross threaded a rack nut?), you’ll start to appreciate these over the European nut-and-bolt standard. I never want to have to force rack nuts into slightly too small rack slots ever again! There’s also a couple of logo’d blanking panels to be found somewhere among the boxes.
The C24 comes with a full set of D-sub multicores, each around 6 meters long. Given that the patchbay lives under a meter away, this tends to leave a lot of slack. Keeping this amount of cabling all tidy was always a difficulty before, but the Argosy has a large space underneath where you can coil any excess neatly out of the way. There was even enough room left to tuck in the C24 power supply.
Once the wiring’s all in place, you can still get to the back of the desk via three hinged lids and with a latched rear panel, so it’s simple enough to mod your setup (we added alt speaker connections and the listen mic patch point about a week after the initial install with no difficulties).
There’s more than enough space for a mousepad and keyboard on both sides of the mixer, but you’ll probably end up balancing the keyboard on the arm rest and leaving the mouse to one side. You could change to a trackpad or trackball, but I’ve never been a fan of either of these. I’ve yet to see an ideal solution to this on any desk furniture though.
My biggest gripe about the Argosy? I’m starting to despise slanted patchbays! It’s all too easy for the rear patches to fall out, and almost impossible to see where they came from. Admittedly, a permanent soldered patchbay would solve this, but we need a fair amount of versatility and adaptability to our setup. As it stands, I’ve spent so much time beneath the desk recently, that I’m starting to consider buying an under-car mechanic’s trolley!
If you’re looking for studio furniture, I’d rate Argosy over the AKA design and Quick-Lok desks I’ve put together. It’s solid and built to last, though (much like IKEA furniture) I’m not sure how easy it would be to take apart and re-assemble. It’s a lot of money to outlay (especially when you add shipping to the UK from the States), but it will give any studio that professional look that a laptop and audio interface just will never have.
"Studio Update: Argosy studio furniture" > read the full post