Just finished my portable studio case

I took me about 16 months to complete it, but I’m very happy with the result:

Includes:

  • Digitakt
  • Digitone
  • Typhon
  • MicroMonsta 2
  • OPZ
  • Korg NTS1
  • 1010 Bluebox
  • Korg nanoKEY Studio
  • Sony SRS-XB01 (mini speaker)
  • Bluetooth controllable led strip (for fun and ambiance)
  • Custom extension box with USB power, midi in/out, sync out and audio in/out to connect extra gear (visible in the top right corner)

All tightly fitted in a Magma Carry Lite XXL case.

Everything is of course wired (audio+midi), and all devices are powered by USB (some using ripcord cables) with USB isolators to avoid ground loops. At the end, only one power plug is required to power it all.

There’s also a bit more hidden below and behind:

  • A Raspberry PI 3 acting as the MIDI hub,
  • A compact USB hub, to connect some devices with USB MIDI
  • 2x M-Audio Midisport 2x2 for all MIDI connections
  • Some USB switches to be able to switch on/off the Typhon and Bluebox

Here’s a early version of the bottom layer, but more cables and other stuff were added since I took this picture:

The MIDI wiring goes like this:

  • Digitakt is the main brain and master clock, sequencing also the OPZ. Midi in/out connected to Midisport box.
  • Digitone is the “secondary” brain, sequencing the Typhon, MicroMonsta and NTS1, midi in connected to Midisport and midi out to Typhon
  • Bluebox midi in connected to Midisport for the clock
  • nanoKEY, Micromonsta, OPZ and NTS1 connected to USB hub for USB midi
  • Extension box midi in/out connected to Midisport
  • The nanoKey controller can be taken out and is also connected to the Raspberry Pi via Bluetooth, leaving some room for an extra synth if needed (like a TR6s or Virus Snow).

The audio path goes like this:

  • All synths audio out are connected to Bluebox
  • Bluebox main out goes to speaker, cue out goes to extension box audio out and cue2 out goes to Digitakt for sampling anything that comes by
  • Extension box audio in goes to NTS1 in
  • Digitone and Typhon inputs are left free as more input possibilities

I designed and 3D printed all synth supports to align them on the same level, and the extension box. It’s not easy to see on the picture but the top row is angled for better ergonomy.

No audio demos for now as I was quite busy building this baby, but the goal is to use it to create my new Psytrance live gig (dawless live are very uncommon for this genre) and stems for my studio tracks. Now I need to spend some privileged time with it :slight_smile:

I’m still thinking of replacing the small BT speaker with a 2.1 amp, putting stereo speakers each side of the OPZ and a sub that would be below the nanokey. But I’m wondering if that wouldn’t be better (and easier) to add these in the top cover as it’s unused for now, except for transport and protection.

What do you think of my setup?

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Looks good
Nice work! :+1:

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great stuff
I would take the bt speaker out and have speakers in the lid instead, the angle would be better too

Awesome!

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Very cool setup. Lots of compact, but powerful boxes. Clearly took a ton of thought and planning!

So your sequencing the OP-Z from the DT? I’m curious about that, as I find the best part about about the Z is it’s sequencer. I’m not a huge fan of its synth engine, are you mostly using samples/drum tracks?

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The truth is that this all started with the OPZ :grin:

After a long hiatus without making music (nor buying gear), because 2 kids, day job, no dedicated synth place etc, the pandemic made me plunge in again with the OPZ, and it was instant love! No screen, no computer, instant fun on couch/bed/hotel. So I wanted to expand with a more complete setup, still keeping it portable.

I love the OPZ sequencer, especially step components, but it’s not easy to integrate in this setup. Here I use it mostly for punchy basslines (I love the exp envelopes), FX and plucks. I found its synths perfects for digital glitches and weird sounds, works great for psytrance.

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I’ve had an up and down time with the OP-Z. Really loved it early on, got back into it here and there, with some of the great updates, but have found it really fiddly at times. Some of the sounds are all right, but I’m hoping they bring out some new ones soon. Looks like you’ve got plenty of sound design possibilities with the Digitone, Typhon and MM2 :slight_smile:

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Yes I’m considering that, but I like the fact that I can currently just remove the lid and use it to add angle to the main case or put it away to save space.

Very cool!

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Very nice work !
Could you show a bit more of the bottom layer ? I wonder what kind of power socket you chose ?
thanks !

Impressive case, well done! :sunglasses:

Great work! Been thinking of trying to do something very similar.

Damn that’s so sick. Reminds me of @TRAINTRACS setup.

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I’ll upload more photos tomorrow.
Everything but the bluebox is powered by an Aukey 6 ports USB power supply, and the bluebox has its own small USB supply to avoid ground loops. Then I used a Y 2 poles cable extension to power both USB power supplies from a single plug.

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What about switching to a Retrokits RK-006 + USB hub combo for all MIDI/clock duties?

Regarding the Aukey 6 port USB power supply, do you not experience ground noise or interference when powering multiple devices? I ask because the last time i powered my DN, OT, MC combo from one power bank using either ripcord or birdcord I got quite a lot.

Also do you have a link to the specific Aukey product by any chance?

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thanks for asking, i’ve got the same question :slight_smile:

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I discovered the RK-006 after finishing my Raspberry Pi setup, and I had the 2 midisport interfaces lying in a closet, so I went with it.

I find I could gain some room in the bottom layer with a RK-006, but the Pi also has Bluetooth which allows me to take out the nanokey outside the case while still having it working, and replace it with an extra synth :grin:

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Yes, it was the hell of ground loops issues at the beginning and took long time to solve, but now it’s perfect.

The model is this one: AUKEY | 6-Port USB Charging Station with Quick Charge 3.0 | PA-T11
I bought it off Amazon before the ban, so no link now :worried:
I tried a similar one with Anker brand but it couldn’t power the DT+DN, the 2 3A ports here help greatly.

I also have a separate 1A small charger that I got back from a sony camera I think, powering the Bluebox separately otherwise it would ground loop with everything else.

The remaining problematic synths were the Typhon, OPZ, MicroMonsta 2 and NTS1. Initially I fixed the ground loops by inserting cheap audio isolators at the audio outputs of every of these synths, but after some deeper testing I discovered that it hurts the audio quality (heavy distorsion in the very low end, phasing issues, lower levels). I removed the audio isolators and tried different USB isolator instead, before finally settling on the Hifime model (https://hifimediy.com/product/usb-isolator-high-current/). I bought 3 of these, the 4th synth being alone it doesn’t need to be isolated.

Edit: I currently use 5 ports out of 6 on the charger, the 6th one being connected to the extension box. I discovered that the 6th one have a hard time delivering even 500mA, as its voltage drop to ~3V if I connect a 12V or 9V ripcord on it, but can power a TR6S with ~250mA with a slight drop to 4.77V.
Not sure if it’s defective or not, the other 3 ports power the Rpi 3, the Typhon and USB hub with everything else without issues.
Having a charger that properly deliver its max amps on every port is very hard to find despite every brand claiming that, but it works well enough for my needs.

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More photos I took yesterday, you can see some of the custom 3d printed stands here:

A close-up of the OPZ custom stand:

And a different angle to better enjoy the lightshow:

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