It seems like battery power and portability are increasingly becoming “table stakes” or expected features for “out of the box” devices. Maschine+, MPC One/Live, and a whole host of other boxes seem to be very interested in the idea of battery power (or using standard 5v USB so they can be powered by a battery bank). It seems like a lot of folks do not want to be tied to a wall outlet. Not to mention the far end of the spectrum with pocket-sized devices like TE’s stuff.
Personally, one of the thing that appeals to me about the “out of the box” experience with a groovebox or other DAWless solution is that I already sit at a computer desk and chair for 8+ hrs a day working. When I’m finally done working the last thing I want to do is sit hunched over a keyboard using a DAW. And if I’m using a groovebox, I’d rather not be stuck in one place either. So many of the devices that have appealed to me are something I can use anywhere else. I wouldn’t say I care enough about it to compromise on features, but it’s become more important to me than I thought it would.
A few questions to get the conversation started:
Do you value battery power as a feature?
Do you think the industry is going to keep pushing more toward portability?
What devices make good compromises in size/power to accommodate being portable?
Do you think future Elektron devices will come with internal batteries? Should they?
I don’t really value battery power as a feature. Or at least, I wouldn’t pay extra for the feature. The idea of portability is cool and all but as someone who works on his feet all day doing exhausting physical labor I really look forward to coming home and sitting down to work on music. I realize I’m in the minority here though. I do like to take a piece of gear to the couch or kitchen or bed but I have plenty of outlets around my house so not really a problem.
Also, as someone who works with a variety of battery powered tools, I see batteries as a future and ongoing expense. They won’t last forever and, while not exactly expensive, they often aren’t cheap.
Any device with a dc input can be battery powered though it’s easiest when the current consumption is low. We used to make battery packs for the original electribe series without issue.
I don’t mind the usb power spec as it allows for a lot of flexibility but some devices just need more than 5 volts.
Since about 2012 there exists the USB power delivery specification which allows up to 20V @ 5A (100W max.), so enough power for most devices. The problem is that most manufacturers are not willing to support standards like this (which is a shame, really).
It seems that way. I hope we keep seeing portability grow in new devices.
I’m having a ton of fun with devices running off usb power bricks with the use of some adapter cables to get the right voltage and polarity, currently have this capability with Model:samples, Poly Beebo, Polyend tracker, arturia microfreak, korg minilogue xd.
As long as they support usb power I’ll be ok with it.
One of the best things on the op1 is it’s super battery, combined with being a swiss army knife of audio - walking along a train station sampling sounds ,waving it about (wobble mod) and generally experimenting on the go.
But portability maxed for me about 5 year back (portablism) and now I’m venturing back to desk top, with my newest pc upgrade going to be desktop (instead of lap) and my OT/DT based rig being so powerful.
It’s not a dealer breaker for me but do love my backpack studio.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of manufacturers seem wary of using the PD spec. I think part of it might have to do with how confusing it is for consumers to know whether they have a compliant charger, cable, battery, etc.
I was recently trying to explain to a friend why the “type c” header doesn’t neecessarily indicate PD, Thunderbolt 3, or other capabilities and I just watched as their eyes glossed over as they said "so does it work or not?
Most people live in a mental model where the connector indicates the capability of the cable. And I can’t blame them for that! It’s pretty confusing.
Hell yes. (Since I’m traveling a lot lately.) (Don’t be afraid of the push towards the consumer market. )
Lots of options these days: MPC Live I/II, Deluge, OP-1, OP-Z, Pocket Operators, MC-101, Electribe 2, Monologue, Volcas, Reface, Tracker, M8, Nerdseq Portable, Organelle M, ELZ_1, Craft Synth 2, Skulpt, Zoom U-44, Zoom Livetrak L-8, Zoom H6, iPad, …
Model:Cycles/Samples with Power Handle (???),
I was surprised to find that the MC-101 can be powered by one of the USB-A ports on the Akai Force. I suppose I shouldn’t have been since it’s basically a PC running Linux. I wonder if the battery-powered MPC Live can do that?
It’s pretty critical for me, but I’m also a pretty casual user. I think the more complicated your setup is, the more likely you are to need to be a studio setting anyway, where you would have access to power.
As mentioned, I think that the prevalence of USB power is making it less of an issue. More importantly, the battery options offering USB power have gotten so much better even over the last 5 years. I’ve heard that some manufacturers disfavor it because it adds noise. But a lot of the budget gear has noise floor issues anyway (the Volcas have some; UNO Synth and Drum have quite a bit).
For example, I think something the size of the Model:Samples should have a battery option. But it turns out that it’s actually pretty easy to run it off a USB battery pack - for hours. About 6 years ago, I started posting on Audiobus Forum and really thought the iPad/iPhone ecosystem would really take off. It did, to a degree, and you still get insane value for the price points there. But the market still has a thirst for affordable hardware and it’s only natural that we expect our synths, grooveboxes, and drum machines to be portable considering how much else of our technology has become fully portable (TV, music players, data).
I feel the same way. Some of the options for making music on IOS right now are amazing (Drambo comes to mind), but I think at the end of the day the big killer feature that IOS production is missing hardware integration. It’s really hard to replicate the tactile experience of playing a hardware groovebox on a touchscreen. I am pretty convinced it’ll never happen.
It’s a shame that Microsoft is too frenetic and scatter-brained to see some of their more revolutionary ideas through. This concept piece for “Surface Music Kit” (and other devices like it) had a lot of opportunity to provide creative industries with first-class input devices to augment a touch screen.
I love portable gear… but also love my studio set up… & I love combining portable gear with my set up… I think I have more portable gear than not portable even though the only gear I use out of my house is op-1, K.O. & sp404sx. All my other portable gear just stays home & I incorporate it into my set up here & there (volca’s, micro-korg/sampler, guitar pedals, ect). I really like to “play”, I love to experiment & I love to bounce around/have options. I think that’s why I am drawn to portable gear, they’re like fun toys, not too expensive (except op-1) & they can still hold their own with the big boys (especially when you run them thru pedals/effects).
I’ve probably played my MPC Live II more than any other device this last month or so, and not because I think it’s the best (it’s good, but not nearly my favourite gear), but because I can play it anywhere and because the battery/speakers combo is great for my kid. Feels like a natural extension of my whole love of hardware.
It’s funny, maybe because I do a lot of music work on the couch with gear sitting on my lap, but power cables give me the sense of impending doom.
My dog is very lucky she’s cute, otherwise she would have been evicted long ago for getting tangled up in the power cable and yanking it out the back of my M:C when I haven’t saved It’s actually one of the major reasons why I started using battery power for it instead!
My thought is that anything battery powered usually an option to be plugged in as well, so you don’t have to live under the gun of a battery dying unless you want to
I feel like the devices that I learned the most are the ones that were battery powered. Something about sitting on the couch and getting lost in them for hours at a time. It takes away distractions for me.
It’s personal, of course, but for me the idea of working with an instrument on the sofa, outside, etc., was always better than the reality. I now realise that I’d rather work with a larger, more comfortable interface – and a more solid build. Full size keys and proper TRS jacks for me, please.