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What’s on your desk, Andrew Marino?

A cornucopia of audio tech spread across two desks

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Podcasting can be a fun and incredibly creative field — but also a very demanding one. Your skill set not only has to include familiarity with a variety of audio hardware and software, but you also need imagination, a good feel for what will sound good to your audience, and a very sensitive ear.

Andrew Marino is The Verge’s senior audio director, and is responsible for producing almost everything you hear in our podcasts. We asked him to show us his desks — both of them — and tell us a bit about them, and about himself.

What is your background, and what do you do at The Verge?

Hello! I am an audio engineer / creator living in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in audio / visual technology, whether that is making music, podcasting, video producing, or playing with fun media formats. That is not so coincidentally what I do at The Verge.

Most of my job is producing, editing, mixing, and recording audio for Verge podcasts and videos, and I try to write on the site when I can!

You have two — count em, two — separate workspaces. Where are they and what are they for?

Yes! I am very lucky to have two workspaces. The smaller desk is in my living room, and the larger corner one is in my bedroom.

The living room has been where I’ve set up a desktop for the past five years in my apartment, but while working from home the past year, I decided to separate my work into two spaces: the one in the living room for most Verge stuff during the week, and then the other for personal projects like my Etsy store, Twitch stream, personal blog, or podcast. Or sometimes I’ll work there when I need some kind of change of scenery.

A corner desk in the bedroom for personal audio projects.
A corner desk in the bedroom for personal audio projects.

Let’s start with your personal desk in the bedroom. It looks like it’s got a complete sound setup. How did you decide where and how to set it up?

I wouldn’t say it’s complete — you may notice I don’t have any studio monitors at either desk. I work on headphones in my apartment.

I’ve had that corner desk for a long time, and I really didn’t want to throw it out when I got a new desk (the one in the living room). I also was trying to set up a separate space for Twitch or my Etsy shop where I didn’t have to make a mess and move stuff around all the time for different projects, like I have to with my Verge desk.

There’s also something nice about moving to another room to work on a different project, and that has helped a lot with productivity and creativity.

Tell me a little about the desk.

This was a desk someone in my hometown was getting rid of many years ago — I still keep it around because of the L shape. I like to have a lot of space for different projects and tools I’m using so I can access them quickly. My Verge colleagues may see a pattern here with my desk in our office.

I also took a shelf from another old desk and screwed it onto this one — that’s where I put my cassette decks or can mount some other gear if I wanted to.

Do you have a desk chair for that one?

Oh, yeah, I do. It’s a 50 dollar computer chair I got from Ikea. It’s comfy enough, but I wouldn’t really recommend it because the material of the chair comes off very easily, so there was black plasticky stuff on my floor all the time. I had to put pillowcases on the top and bottom of it. It’s ugly so I didn’t include it in the photos.

Okay, let’s go for the gold: could you tell us about the tech you’re using there?

All right. The essentials of this setup are a MacBook Pro (a 2014 or a 2020 model, depending on if I’m using my personal or work computer), a 24-inch U2414H Dell monitor, a Rodecaster Pro mixer / audio interface, and the traditional Apple keyboard and mouse.

The Rodecaster Pro is the cool gadget I’d like to point out here. It’s a consumer audio mixer by Rode built for podcasting and live audio, with the ability to mix and record up to four microphones, device audio, and sound banks. I prefer to use it for live mixing rather than recording — it makes it really easy to mix multiple microphones and sound sources into one signal for streaming for live video before it even hits the computer.

Everything else are tools for different projects: an old Panasonic VHS-C video camera for a streaming webcam, a few cassette decks for making mixtapes, arts and crafts materials, and several recording devices (a Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6, Zoom H4n, a PreSonus FireStudio, and some lavalier microphones) for recording in the field.

This Panasonic camera now serves as a webcam.
This Panasonic camera now serves as a webcam.
The feed from the Panasonic.
The feed from the Panasonic.

The big bin under my desk is completely blank cassette tapes for my online store. I have been putting my podcasts on cassettes and also make custom designs and labels for mixtapes. The other bin with drawers is all arts and crafts and office supplies — markers, stickers, paper, shipping supplies, stamps, paper glue, device cables, etc.

Um — tape cassettes?

Honestly, it’s more aesthetic than anything (ha ha). It’s also easy and cheap to make duplications and personalize a physical piece of media. You see it a lot in DIY music spaces.

Two screens: a 24-inch monitor and a MacBook Pro.
Two screens: a 24-inch monitor and a MacBook Pro.
Some tape desks, including one from Crayola.
Some tape desks, including one from Crayola.

I love the photo of the hippo above your desk.

That article (which is actually in an old Wharfedale picture-frame speaker) is about the oldest hippopotamus in America, named Lucifer. My grandma sent me that article a couple years ago because I used to visit him as a kid. I recently did a little story about him on my personal podcast that I’m proud of, so it is sort of a memento to that.

That little orange thing on the edge of the desk is a vintage tabletop vacuum that I found very pleasantly designed.

I see that you’re set up with some sound-absorbing material.

Oh yeah, it’s not set up very well, and I’m kind of embarrassed by it. But I could not stand the low-end reverberation of my voice in that corner, so I had to add something pretty simple to dampen the sound bouncing off those walls.

I love the toys. I was especially drawn to the Crayola toy. What is that?

It’s a tape player! It was a gift from a friend. I use it half for testing out cassette tapes and half to just look at. There is a crayon-shaped microphone you can record with.

The living room desk is for Verge work.
The living room desk is for Verge work.

Let’s pass on to the smaller desk. Can you tell us about the desk and the pink chair?

This is where I do most of my work for The Verge and this is where you will see me sitting on our work Zoom calls 90 percent of the time.

This was also a desk that someone was giving away. It’s a Husky adjustable work table and it works great as a standing computer desk. I’d recommend this if you’re looking for an affordable option for a standing desk. It has a very slow hand crank to adjust height, but I eventually got used to it and my arms are more buff now.

The chair is a Karljan from Ikea, and good for the price! I initially bought this as a kitchen chair, but moved it over in the living room once I got the second desk. In general, I try not to sit for too long during the day, so I guess I don’t care too much about chairs. Maybe that’s just because I don’t own a “good” chair. This one’s cute, though.

What is the device you have between the keyboard and the monitor?

It’s an Akai MPK mini MIDI controller I use for music production, mostly in Ableton Live, a digital audio workstation.

Once in a while I will make something for Verge podcasts or videos with it. Other times it is on the carpet next to me when the desk gets too full. I’ve been working on the desk space issue forever. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep a minimalist desk in my living room, but it keeps growing. I’m a maximalist, I guess.

Tell us about the other tech on this desk.

Again, I switch MacBooks back and forth between desks, so the classic MacBook Pro for all my work is here too.

For the other gear, I’ve got a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface, which I use mostly to plug in a Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun mic for Zoom calls, or for the rare occasion I need to record myself at work. Our podcast hosts have been using the Scarlett for recording at home this past year. This Sennheiser model has been the clearest, most directional, and most non-bulky option for voice chat I’ve used (you will also see this mic at my other desk), and I’ve used a lot of microphones.

My main screen is a 32-inch LG 32MP58HQ-P LED monitor, which is big but I love it. I was trying to mimic an iMac-size screen initially, then went a little bigger. Editing a podcast on a screen this big makes it so much easier to navigate through a project. I have the monitor stacked on a book right now to put it at eye level, but I think I’m going to have to find a way to raise it up a bit more. I actually loved Dan’s monitor arm from his version of this desk chat, I might have to get one myself.

I use the MacBook as a second monitor for my mixer window.

I keep my external LG Ultra HD Blu-ray drive on this desk to burn or read discs. This is an overspill gadget from my bedroom desk because it is kind of delicate.

Depending on the computer, I have some dongles. For the 2014 MacBook Pro, I just use an Anker 4-port USB-A dock for various devices I’m plugging in. For the 2020 MacBook Pro, I’m using a Satechi USB-C dock that gets everything I need into my computer — except a Thunderbolt 2 cable for my hard drives and video interfaces, which I have to use another dongle for.

I’ve been using the Logitech C270 as my Zoom webcam, because it was the only one available at the time I needed it last year. It is in 720p and 4:3 aspect ratio, which is kind of charming at times but it looks like I’m using a mini DVD camera for my meetings.

Then, once in a while, I bring in my Magnavox MWR20V6 VCR / DVD combo from the bedroom when I need to digitize something or convert media formats.

The orange things on the corner of my desk are my LaCie external hard drives, where I keep all the digital projects I’m currently working on, and some archival projects.

Okay, there’s no way I’m not asking you about that cat on the wall.

The cat piano!! I got this at Target about seven or eight years ago because it was so wacky and you can play cat meows on it with the keys. I added a quarter-inch TRS analog output on it so I can record it directly, but it is mostly decoration these days.

A cheerful cat piano.
A cheerful cat piano.
Why is the skull made out of broccoli?
Why is the skull made out of broccoli?

I love the Star Wars mug. And the green skull ...

Oh, thanks! Yeah, you gotta have a mug with tools in it. That Star Wars mug was a gift my great-grandma’s neighbor gave me as a kid after my great-grandma died. I always thought it was a weird thing to give a grieving child, so it has taken on some meaning after all these years.

The broccoli skull is something I bought at Wayfair a couple months ago because it was also a weird thing! Why broccoli?

Is there anything else about your workspace that we haven’t covered?

I would like to note that I don’t take cable management too seriously, and it is sometimes overrated, especially when you are moving gear around a lot! I tried to keep these images authentic and not over-tidy my setup for this piece. Also, I am currently working on an art project to make unruly cables look good in your home — more on that at a later time.

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