Upon the recent overhaul and acoustic treatment of my personal studio space (see the Primacoustic Broadway review in September 2008 issue of PAR), I reasoned that I should take the opportunity of my work environment's temporary disarray and move in a new, more functional, and carefully designed media production desk, too. After all, since acoustic treatment allows your ears to work more comfortably, I might as well give my body some comfort, too.
The Author's Studio Sure — you can sit a small mixer, monitors and DAW of choice on a standard yet big and sturdy office-style desk (which I had been doing for years), stack rack-mount gear all around you, and still get things done. However, specially designed studio/media production furniture — the kind that Middle Atlantic Products, Inc. specializes in — allows ideal placement of your nearfield speakers (key to accurate monitoring), comfortable and easy access to the gear that you use (because audio connections, at least for me, are always changing), and an open, flexible feel that a standard desk cannot provide.
Middle Atlantic's flagship desk series, the Edit Center, comes in a range of measurements to fit mid- to large-sized control rooms. It is designed for a wide range of A/V production applications – music studio, broadcast audio production, video production, and so on. Additionally, the Edit Center range offers complimentary accessories, such as the Side Bay with fan-based ventilation system and sound baffling.
After examining the Edit Center product line closely, measuring my work space, and carefully considering the range of audio gear I own and use (and may own and use in the indefinable future), I ordered the ES+S12D desk and side bay package ($4271 list) in Dark Cherry.
Dark Cherry The Edit Center ES+S12D package features a 60-inch (five foot) wide desk with an approximately 32-inch desktop depth and a single-bay 12RU outboard rack with gasketed doors (plexiglass front and solid back), and cooling kit. Edit Center desks are also available in 84-inch widths; Side Bays are also available without doors and in dual bay configurations. The Edit Center and Side Bay are primarily built of MDF material; desktops and work surfaces are available in three scratch resistant laminates — the aforementioned Dark Cherry, Honey Maple, and Pepperstone — and most of the desk has a textured flat black look. The Side Bay has a nice wood grain texture and look.
Honey Maple According to Middle Atlantic, the Side Bay's internal acoustical absorptive material reduces noise escaping from the enclosure by up to 22dB (and I believe it). The rear door features a low-noise cooling fan and removable filter kit for air intake; a brush grommet at door bottom allows cable in/out while maintaining good noise resistance.
Like the other models within the Edit Center range, the ES desktop slightly resembles a kidney bean in shape and curvature. Twenty inches back from the front of the desk, an 19-inch deep overbridge hovers approximately seven inches from the main desktop; this overbridge perfectly supports small- to mid-sized nearfield speakers as well as a video monitor. Further, a pair of pivoting speaker platforms allow placement of monitors — or any other gear — at "optimum listening angles," explains Middle Atlantic documentation.
The outwardly rounded contour of the desk's left and right ends allows the side bay's extended, inwardly rounded desktop to fit together like two smooth pieces of a puzzle; thus, the side bay can be rolled closer or further way from the user — for a long straight desk or a near L-shape — for use on either side of the desk (the side bay's top can be unscrewed to place the curve facing left or right).
Before I could use the Edit Center, I had to unpack it; it arrived via freight in two very large containers: one 34" X 35" X 36" reinforced cardboard box nailed to a wooden pallet (152 lbs) and a 39" X 68" X 36" plywood case; these held the S12D and ES desk components, respectively. As "all Edit Center racks are assembled at the factory to save you time," Middle Atlantic promises, getting the S12D up and running was as easy as cutting the box down, and – with the help of an enlisted friend to help put the desk together — the bay was easily lifted from the pallet, to the floor, and rolled into the studio. In as much time as it took to screw in rack gear and plug in the cooling fan, my new rack was essentially ready for action. Side Bay
Surprisingly, the ES was a breeze to put together. This was due to the clearly defined instructions included in the kit and the simple and intuitive design of the desk. To be honest, the desk could be put together with only two able hands and not a single tool other than a Philips screwdriver and the included Allen wrench (for those in a hurry, a power driver bit is also in the box).
I was immediately struck by several attributes of the ES desk. First, the materials and construction of this desk's components could easily be assembled and disassembled over and over again, thus allowing it to move alongside an on-the-go professional user's workspace; it's definitely not "mobile furniture," but it's hearty enough to be tightly constructed more than once or twice. Secondly, the sheer amount of available desktop area is great, yet it doesn't feel like it is terribly large; its open design allows air (and sound) to flow through and around it.
While some users may find the speaker platforms best suited for their intended use, I found them to be better for holding other components — vertically-racked audio modules, headphone amps, and so on. Personally, the spread is a bit wide for my main nearfield monitoring habits (and a bit small for my nearfields), but I have used them for secondary monitors (Auratone-style speakers) a couple of times. Regardless, I love their easy accessibility and, like the form-fitting Side Car, their adjustability for any way I may be working on a particular day.
Fast Facts Applications
Studio, broadcast, audio and video post production and project/home studio
heavy-duty MDF construction; Dark Cherry, Honey Maple, or Pepperstone scratch-resistant laminate desktops and form-fitting desktop contours. ES desk: 60" wide (84" available) 32" desktop depth; 19" deep overbridge; pivoting speaker platforms. S12D: single-bay 12RU outboard rack with gasketed doors (plexiglass front and solid back); low-noise cooling fan and removable filter kit; a brush grommet at door bottom.
$4271 list (ES+S12D), $2547 list (ES only), $1958 list (S12D only)
Middle Atlantic Products, Inc. | 973-839-1011 | www.middleatlantic.com
You could say that Middle Atlantic's Edit Center is one stylish looking piece of studio furniture, but it is certainly not trendy or disposable. With that, I mean that the company only makes industrial strength, professional grade studio gear built to last as long as you're a professional. The Edit Center is built to use demandingly.
The literally open architecture of the Edit Center series is its main attribute, as it can evolve as your workspace and audio tool collection changes over the years. None of us really know what will sit on our desks in a decade, but it is highly likely that it will fit on an Edit Center.
Best of all, you can literally wrap yourself within the Edit Center and Side Bay — thanks to the form-fitting contour configurability of the two unit's desktops — so everything is at a comfortable reach. The Edit Center is not cheap, but if you prefer to buy furniture only once and you can justify the financial investment, consider the Edit Center as a studio heirloom before confidently placing your order.
Strother Bullins is a Contributing Editor for Pro Audio Review.