Because the computer is the center of your musical operation, you might be tempted to place it front and center—say, within arm's reach of your right hand. But because a computer is noisy (due primarily to its cooling fans) and bulky, it's better to place it off of the desktop and out of the way. Keep just the monitor in a central location.

You will, of course, need access to the CPU periodically—when installing software or plugging in cables—but the most physical interaction many of us have with the computer box itself is pressing the power switch. After that, most of our activity is conducted via the mouse or the keyboard.

A good solution is to keep the computer on the floor under your desk. This not only keeps the desktop free and clear but allows the desktop surface itself to act as a sound barrier that somewhat inhibits the fan noise from hitting your ears directly.