Portable-ish groovebox for "off-studio jamming"?


I’m trying to figure out the optimal ‘groovebox’ for creating stuff outside the studio. My current core setup is Octa+A4+modular.

I’ve gone through MANY options, and the things I’m hoping it’ll cover:

Sound design, interesting melody lines, interesting timbres. Basically, the interest can come from either timbral qualities or sequencing possibilities that are outside the (Elektron?) norm.

I think that currently my forerunners are either an OP-Z or something of a Make Noise Easel w/ 0-ctrl, 0-coast and Strega. You can see that the two are pretty different, but both have a layer of intrigue, and both are somewhat familiar. I’ve owned the digitone, and see that as a possible grooveboxy type thing, but I’m not sure if getting another Elektron UI on the couch would accomplish what I’m trying to do, here.

The M8 Tracker is pretty much the one to watch right now, but I’m not sure that the input method of programming notes on a tracker interface is the thing I’m after, here – I have a lot of pretty intricate possibilities in my actual studio, so immediacy and interesting things are key here.

The PolyEnd Play would probably also be a really strong contender, but it’s actually pretty damn expensive. (Even though the MN Easel is twice as expensive, all told.) The SP404MK2 I’ve tried, but I think it was a bit too simplistic, in the end.

Curious about your thoughts – what has worked for you? Do my ramblings spark any thoughts?

EDIT: Oh, and I’m aware that “off-studio jamming” is a bit of an artificial construct, but I’m just not always in the mood to go to my music room to tinker with music – hence the thread.

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Right! My current setup is Octa+A4+modular. Good shout, though – it’s something I’ve considered. Unhooking the Octa from the studio is a bit of a hurdle, though :slight_smile:

Get a second one :wink:

Octatrack with say, a Microfreak as a sound source could be extremely versatile and fun.

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my top recommendation is the ipad, if you are fine with a screen only workflow (you can add hardware controller, but this limits portability). There are tons of awesome synth/sampler/groovebox apps etc.


iPad + Digitakt? That would be pretty portable as well as insanely powerful.


Oh man the OP-1 field is the best off studio jammer with great input and sound design. And i say it with the best of intentions.

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Check out Organelle by Critter & Guitari. Easy to miss, might be something new that you are looking for.

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Correct answer is Circuit Tracks or Corcuit Rhythm. Great add on into your existing set up if you want to too. :+1:


My advice is to keep it as simple as possible. One device for which the only additional thing you’d need to start jamming are headphones. Anything that required a wall plug or some external sound source, or external sequencer/keyboard was enough to kill the comfort for me. My top recommendations from the things I’ve tried and lovedwould be either the op-1 or op-z.

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mpc live 2? Battery and speakers in the box too!

Otherwise: Digitakt? Maybe paired with a microfreak to feed it some stuff?



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Ipad with drambo, loopy pro, mirack etc

Great sample fodder for the octa when back in the studio


1010 Blackbox.

Small and portable and can be external battery powered. It boots in seconds and you can easily make progress in whatever project you’re working on in even 2 or 3 minute blocks.

You can make interesting sounds through sampling and resampling. You can use the factory sounds but it shines when you go clean slate and just fill it with whatever you’re working on. The best thing is it’s quite flexible to how you want to work.


Don’t own one but I’ve been thinking about an MC101 for just such a situation. Even better would be the 707 with its bigger screen and more controls.

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MPC Live? Portable, battery powered, has quite a good speaker, built in synths, sampler and an immediate workflow?

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Emphasizing on “portable-ish”, I’d really recommend the MPC Live II if your budget allows it. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used either as an extremely capable sample mangler, or a proper sound design tool. You get a bunch of great soft synths too, like the ARP Odyssey. Endless sound design capabilities by jamming, adding effects, resampling and chopping things up. 4-5 hours of battery, built-in stereo speakers, boots up in 20 seconds, zero cables needed. It’s the perfect studio escape if you are fine with it not really being pocketable.


Dont go wrong, take an m8… try it with an headless setup if really not sure… in your pocket you’ll have an fm synth with a quite elegant implementation, mutable instruments braids, chiptune synth, very honorable sampler that sample, all your sample library( sd card a la ot) powerful internal and poly midi sequencer with very rare capabilities (tables) , reverb, delay chorus, amp sim , mixer with audio input (2 mono or 1 stereo) sendable to fx, 10 track mixer, scale and transposition support (including custom) ( in a so efficient way that youll have hard time to found better device to realise better melody with so little efforts ( betwen’ the way scale ,transposition and cloning is implented) its really portable, not like all recomendation up. Meaning it can go right in your edc, everyday, everywhere, everynight. Making it the perfect device with a life not about music, and in the struggle to find time for it…with only one usb cable it will do midi an audio with any ios device… touchosc will then give you controller for it on your iphone…or a moog model d ios… instant startup…

The ui is just so well thought and realised, comprehensive control, presentation, and combo among all pages. Its such an elegant device. You can connect it to a computee or a tv ( via a pc or raspberry) for more ergonomics at home.Support and communication wonderful.

Someone else on elektronauts say thats the sort of thing youll seen one time in one life, i think the same. I was part of the post beta preorder, don’t understand why people here seem to have spent one year before starting to understand.

Plus its only ONE MAN work (who i think was already responsable of the arduinoboy)

Plus bug correction, is sort of immediate, and firmware upgrade with new things come every two month or so…

Hard to justify to not at least spend some time with the headless version, dsc4 and a dualshock/xbox pad ( you can then configure excess button directly to combo, lovely)

If youll really try it, youll spend one day muscle memorizing the combo button, then around one week memorizing the command place in the command screen. Then youll disvover how quick and efficient writing music on it is. The note input method in no very different than on elektron in fact. You choose a step then a note… elektron are sort of trackers…

I see m8 as way more powerful than any elektron device taked alone…

Just one track of the 8 with fm instrument by ess:

Another track by grazcore m8 only

Another i like A lot


But load and loads of good tracks on the discord…

I hope that you start understand that with dirtywave « the off the studio making music » is not an « artificial construction » anymore, and that the m8 IS a full studio…

By the way, the discord community is great, more to my taste thats now here. The complete nature of m8 make that people spoke less about gear, more about music, tricks… they share complete songs as bundle that you can study, samples, themes…the fact that on this place the m8 is often the only device, or at least the principal in music creation process, even in studio, give comprehensive discutions. You wont have massive, serum, timefactor in it. But it save you time, and in the end, it make you remind and re realise that finally music is more about note and rhytm than about pure sound…

At the end, i will just add that this thing is a fuck you at all major cie. Surely it will evolve in a different way with the inevitable success and recognisation that will come, but for instance the transparency, honesty in devellopment, in effort… youll reward a guy for his passion and the love he give. How many time we were waiting for overbridge, trx b2… did you remind that the md or the octatrack were not developpable anymore said elektron,then seing alternative firmware with new instrument for md, or chance appearing on octatrack after years? ( clearly showing marketting bullshit…)
It also question what are really big brand do , when you see what only on man can do… remind me a lot of mutable for all this reasons… the m8 is a labor of love, and love is what youll received if you order it…

Finger crossed that the success dont make dirtywave explode, not that i am waiting for the next thing as i dont need anything anymore, but i dont want to see this gem disapear from the market, as i want one in my life till the end ( will purchase spare unit when money here, and too because i hop to soon « live » with two unit and a dj mixer, loading my own loops instead of tracks, for a compact efficient creative and original setup…

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teensy 4.1 headless setup is my plan to check if i gel with m8.

ordered a teensy, might get it soon.

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Synthstrom Deluge is always a choice in this area. If you want true portability though (i.e. whip it out on a bus ride for 10 minutes to mess around) then it’s hard to beat the M8 or OP-1/Z.

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