Music on the Move, please help


Thank you in advance for any ideas you give me!

I have to travel a lot at the moment and I am looking for something I can make ideas with on the move. I am doing a minimum of 2 x 1 hour train journeys a day + a few flights monthly.

I need a minimal amount of set up time as the train is not long enough to set something complex up. I also want something that doesn’t need too much processing after I bounce the ideas out. It needs to be backpack sized.

My budget is around £500/$650

My current ideas:

Digitakt + Batterypack + keyboard quiet-ener - I love my digitakt and I have been writing all of my new ideas on it. I love the clack of the keys, but I don’t think my fellow travellers will. Does anyone one know of a way of making the keys not so loud?

Novation Circuit:
Does anyone have experience using this? Is it fun? Does it sound good?

Roland Mc101:
Does anyone have experience using this? Is it fun? Does it sound good?

iPad Pro:
I have a iPad 2 and I have a lot of apps for it, I have never managed to really get anything from it which made me feel happy or sounded that good (even via a soundcard). Does having the pro make a difference? It is above my budget and would have to be something that had a home in my studio as well as on the road.

Deluge Synthstrom:
Does this sounds like a 90’s trance hit or is it the business? It is also over budget and it would have to be something I was reaching for in the studio a lot for me to justify buying it.

Something else?
I am open for ideas!

Circuit is cool, but limited : you have to be near a computer to properly edit the synth parts. Otherwise, it’s just macros. And you have to be cool with just 4 drum tracks (but you can sample flip) and 2 poly synth tracks.

There’s also the OPZ… pretty cool and the most portable box you can get. But the quality control is pretty horrible, and while mine is good, there’s a lot of people reporting bent OPZ and popping encoders. And them fucking double triggers. Soooo, if you get a good one, it’s lovely… but otherwise, enjoy your bent plastic paperweight.

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Model:samples? Shares a lot of similarities with the digitakt you already know, is quite portable and runs easy off a battery (might even have an official battery one day…) The buttons are different to the DT so don’t clack, too.


I have an iPad Pro I tried doing things with apps for a bit, there are heaps of good apps,
But using an iPad is not tactical and ipads still aren’t powerful enough, the newest one might be, but still. I don’t like working with a touch screen find it frustrating


I‘m gonna throw in the Korg Volca Sample into the suggestion-pool.

Although probably a tablet with some good music app is gonna be the most flexible and productive.


I would focus on the iPad.
It can sound as good as anything else in my opinion.
Spend some time exploring what daw works best for you and what synths and effects you like the sounds of.

I’m actually the most productive on my iPad. I prefer noodling on my hardware synths when at home but once you get the hang of a workflow that’s good for you it’s going to be the most powerful portable option!

If bring my Qunexus keyboard and EC4 controller with me it’s about as tactile and quick as my hardware synths, and still very portable!


I would definitely go for the Digitakt + battery pack (which I actually do, btw).
Get a good pair of headphones as the ambient noise covers the bass frequencies. Maybe a Subpac is something to consider…

As for the click of the clack of the keys, either get some external controller that can be powered on USB (ex: QuNeo), and you put the whole thing in a case. Or you can try to remove the trigs with something soft such as a guitar pick and treat them (there should be a thread about this somewhere, but I can’t find it right now).
Anyway, I am not sure in a train this noise is that loud in the ambient noise…


How about an old MPC 500? They’re pretty cheap second hand, battery powered and very portable. Built like a tank as well.


+1 for circuit

internal batteries, easy and fun

for me, multiple boxes with wires and stuff would be overkill in the train

edit: it has its own sound, but it sounds pretty good to me

it is the device i take on holiday with me, even when camping/festival some times

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Mmm, yes, you’re right.
Just Digitakt and battery is ok, still.

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If you can’t tell from my name, this is pretty much how I do all my music.

I used to use a laptop every day on my commute, with a tiny external DAC and some decent headphones. I actually managed to get a handful of tracks signed doing that every day. Then I switched to a more hardware-based process and wanted to take that with me, so used a Digitakt with a battery pack for a while:

The Digitakt is actually amazing, and I really miss mine. I sold it to fund a bigger, more elaborate setup, but I could get ideas out so insanely quickly on the DT. It’s a super fun little box.

I sold it to contribute towards funding this thing:

… Which is where it all gets a bit absurd tbh. I managed to run the OT and the Virus off the same battery pack that once powered the Digitakt. I cobbled together a wooden box with a shoulder strap and a handle so I could carry it all around like a briefcase.

Now, I’m working on a MKII of this set up, which contains the same Octatrack and Virus, and a mini PC with a touch screen, audio/midi interfaces,a nd some other bells and whistles. I’m de-casing both the OT and Virus to save space, and doing a LOT of custom electronics for it. At this point it’s just ridiculous and I feel like a madman for the amount of time I’m spending on this project, but I can show you the latest 3d model…

I present to you the X-Orbitron:

But yeah… You could start with a Digitakt. In fact, I highly recommend it :rofl: :rofl:

Honestly though, as part of this whole process I have spent an insane amount of time researching possible portable production devices. Here’s a list of things that are worth checking out:

Korg Electribe
Novation Circuit
MC 101 or 707
MPC 1000
MPC Live
Synthstrom Deluge
1010 Blackbox

Another idea, if you fancy a bit of DIY, is to get an Intel NUC mini PC on eBay for about £120, a small, portable screen, and a midi controller with lots of assignable controls, and mount them all in an old briefcase or something. You could do it for £500 and have a really powerful portable set up, equivalent to a laptop but with hands on controls.


MPC live? MC-101 only cuts it for certain type of music.

Personally I just use an iPad with Korg Gadget, connected via iCloud to my studio DAW so I can just export any ideas as als files and continue messing with stuff in ableton. But gadget isnt a good fit for every type of music either, the sequencer is limited to 16 bar chunks (lame for a software sequencer)

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you’re truly insane. make sure you document the process.

@ZDS just save an extra 200 and get an OP-1 . Battery packs are a hassle to mess around with.


I absolutely will. I’m trying to document it as well as I can - planning on writing some build logs for Medium, and making a video at the end to demonstrate the finished thing. Fuck knows when that’ll be though - complexity is rising exponentially lol.

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OP-1 is a great option

Hard to go past a small light laptop like a MacBook Air or 13” Pro

I personally prefer a synth or something that is sound producing, rather than a sampler

Perhaps an MPC Live could be great also (the battery powered one)

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I am seriously impressed. Please keep me updated with your build. I would love to see how it develops!!!

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Thanks man, I will do! :grinning:

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One more vote for the OP-1 as the best travel partner.


you could be mistaken for bio warfare with that current setup.



enjoyed this,
makes you realise how impressive this track is:

edit: and it took me 20+ years to realise the name is a classic autechre mash of PMA-5