TMO Workspaces: Bryan Chaffin

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Welcome back to another edition of TMO Workspaces, a new weekly segment in which we highlight a user’s workspace, provide detailed information on equipment, and give tips on what is useful and what isn’t. Our goal is to go a bit deeper than what we’ve found elsewhere and to give both TMO staff and readers a chance to brag about their amazing setups.

This week, we’re taking a look at The Mac Observer’s Co-Founder and Co-Publisher, Bryan Chaffin.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

All of Bryan’s articles, analyses, and creative endeavors take form on his primary workstation, a 2008 8-core Mac Pro running at 2.8GHz with 18GB RAM and an upgraded Radeon HD 5770 GPU. Two displays are connected to the Mac: a 27-inch Cinema Display and a 23-inch “Cinema HD Display,” which has served Bryan well since its release in 2002, but is finally starting to show its age with a failed backlight strip.

To interact with the Mac, Bryan uses a wired Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and Logitech MX Revolution Mouse which, sadly, has been discontinued. No other desktop mouse can compare to the MX Revolution, so Apple had better hurry up and get Siri working on the Mac before this one breaks!

On the left of Bryan’s desk is a 22-inch 1080p TV from Vizio perched on top of a DirecTV receiver and Sony Blu-ray player, which lets him enjoy television and movies while he’s supposed to be editing articles.

On the right of the desk, in front of the 23-inch Cinema Display, is Bryan’s 64GB third-generation iPad. The iPad is protected by an Apple Smart Cover and is propped up in an Anvil stand from Hub Innovations. The Anvil is so awesome that it won a TMO Editors Choice Award at this year’s Macworld | iWorld.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

Back on the left side of the desk is Bryan’s 64GB iPhone 4S, protected by a Third Man case made from recycled 7-inch vinyl records. Bryan keeps his iPhone and iPad fingerprint-free with a handy microfiber cloth from the fine folks at Smile, sitting just in front of the iPhone.

Next to the iPhone is a pair of Shure SRH 940 headphones for everyday use. Not pictured are Bryan’s Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones, used for monitoring.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

Flanking the displays are two sets of speakers: the Audioengine A5 desktop speakers (on top), which Bryan has set up to play back audio from iTunes and the television, and the Rokit R6 studio monitors (bottom) for mixing music which, while discontinued, are similar to the KRK Rokit 6 speakers. The R6 are passive speakers, so Bryan uses the Audioengine N22 desktop amplifier, located next to the television, to power them.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

On top of the Mac Pro is the M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB audio interface that handles Bryan’s headphones, microphones, and instruments.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

Speaking of microphones, Bryan’s primary mic is the Heil PR40 that he uses for podcasts, Skype, and shouting marching orders to his underlings here at TMO. He also has a variety of other microphones off camera that he uses for recording music.

Attached to Bryan’s desk are red and white Ergorest Arm Supports, adjustable supports for a user’s arms that help to prevent injury. For Bryan, they’ve saved him the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. If he types without them for any amount of time, he experiences wrist pain. Anyone who spends more than a few hours a day typing should check them out. Also on the topic of ergonomics, Bryan’s desk chair is a Herman Miller Aeron.

TMO Workspaces Bryan Chaffin

When he’s not covering technology news, Bryan picks up one of his two guitars, a Gibson SG 1963 Reissue and a Phantom 12-String 1964 Limited Edition Reissue, and makes sweet musical love.

As a bonus, on the floor to the right of the guitars, is an original painting by Nancy Carroll Gravley, who also contributes to TMO.

Have questions for Bryan? Ask in the comments below! Meanwhile, if you have a sweet setup that you want to share, send high-quality pictures and descriptions to with the subject line “TMO Workspaces” and we’ll be glad to share your creativity with the world!

Previous TMO Workspaces:

TMO’s Dave Hamilton
TMO’s Ted Landau
Jason “aftermac”
TMO’s John Martellaro
TMO’s Jeff Gamet

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How do the Ergorest Arm Supports work out ? It’s a clever idea I’ve not seen before. I’ve relied on a 3M Gel Wrist Rest (and similar) as a way to park my arms when typing.

Regarding the TV, have you considered the Elgato EyeTV as a solution ?
(You’d need another video card to drive the third monitor ?) But then you’d get 3 screens worth of Screen Estate.
(Just think of the all over screen tan…)

And how did you get 18GB of RAM installed ?
I followed the link you provided for the Mac Pro, and I can’t get how you’ve got 18GB installed.




I’m probably the only reader who is most excited by the Phantom guitar. I used to play a Vox Phantom XII.

Bryan Chaffin

furbies, the Ergorest devices have two arms, both of which pivot (the first at the point of contact with the desk and the second in the form of a joint between the two arms). The red arm rest then pivots 360 degrees. It allows total freedom of movement while allowing you to type ergonomically.

I’ve spoken with people who could never get used to them, but I took to them immediately.

dhp, Phantom Guitar Works is a great steward of the Vox guitar legacy. The company was founded by the guitarist of Scandal, if that means anything to you, and they bought the rights to the Phantom name. Their Teardrop and Phantom models are fantastic, made in America, and very affordable.

I was torn between the Teardrop and Phantom model, but clearly winded up with the one you see. I love it, though as a 12-string it only gets played in special uses. It even does a good job of staying in tune.


Impressive, Bryan.

It looks like a collision between NASA Mission Control and a recording studio (I think the latter prevailed).


I see one common trend amongst all the workstations you’ve featured thus far (I may have missed one or two); all feature multiple screen set ups.

I have seen this trend too amongst colleagues with fixed desktops, but not those who work primarily from laptops.

I, for one, have not felt the need for the extra real-estate, but probably because my work is, quite literally, so mobile; however I am taking notice, and giving it thought.

I’d be curious as to how common this is amongst others.


I see one common trend amongst all the workstations you?ve featured thus far (I may have missed one or two); all feature multiple screen set ups.

I’m running a Mac Pro (early ‘09) Quad 2.66 with a 20” Apple Cinema Display and a ASUS 19”.

I’d love to afford / justify an Apple 27” LED Display but the cost…..
Oh the cost…

Bob LeVitus

Bryan picks up one of his two guitars, a Gibson SG 1963 Reissue and a Phantom 12-String 1964 Limited Edition Reissue, and makes sweet musical love.

You have more than two guitars, Bryan…

Your conscience grin

Bryan Chaffin

Yeah, it’s true, My Conscience, but these are my go-to guitars for noodling and idle play. smile

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