Minimising gear

i used a lot of gear in my life, and in many situations, I had the feeling I needed something to make my music better. This brought me from ableton to all types of controllers, to maschine, to NI Komplete, to a table full of equipment.

Now I only use AR and A4 and 2 great monitor speakers . I even sold my OT.

When I make music with only these 2 things, I feel free in my head. Also, I can take all my equipment everywhere I want to.

When I see setup pictures on the forum, most pictures contain tons of equipment. Are there more people here who don want more gear, and prefer a simple setup?

Ah… and by the way:
I think I need an Elektron Mixer device, to connect my AR and A4 to :slight_smile: It probably makes my music much better. And when I have that, I really need nothing else.


Yeah, I’m looking to make my live setup nice and compact. Part of this is learning how to use the MnM on its own, or maybe with one external synth/sampler and one reverb unit. Oh, and a little MIDI keyboard.

Also, I’m getting into making chiptunes which is basically the ultimate in compact setups. Nanoloop on a gameboy micro and LSDJ on a DMG, plus a mini kaoss pad and a tiny passive mixer means that I can fit everything into a little bag and even run everything from batteries if I want!

Part of the reason why I like compact setups is because I don’t drive, and it’s nice to have a light setup I can carry in one or two bags/cases on public transport. Not to mention the minimal setup times!


There’s going to always be someone with less doing more, it’s all relative and very personal.

In my opinion, limitations are a great way to improve and master a few tools rather than simply learning the basics of many.

A lot of great elektron users here definitely have a favorite machine based on their preferences/style but I’m sure they will have owned many pieces of gear from various manufacturers picking up various useful skills and processes along the way. If you’re fortunate enough to keep everything then lucky you :slight_smile:

For some people this is just a serious hobby that involves having many options/flavors just like any other collector or enthusiast.

All good :slight_smile:

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I’m with you on this.
Every other week I’ve got someone else telling me how I should pick up an Octatrack, how I would just loooovvve an Octatrack. I respect the Octatrack, and the Machinedrum, and the SidStation, but just because they are there and they do different things doesn’t mean I need them.

My rule is this: Keep my gear down to the size of what I can personally carry on a flight in only an HPRC/Pelican flight case plus a small backpack. Right now that’s AR/A4/MnM/NordDrum, with a small midi controller and Mackie Mix5 and nothing else. Sometimes I may bring TB-3 and/or Volca Sample along.
I use this limitation because it allows me to keep a performance in mind when I am writing music, and also because some limitations are obviously good for creativity. It helps curb the gear lust too, and makes every piece of my own gear puzzle carefully thought out. When I write tracks in the studio I limit myself to one Elektron sequencer as much as I can and only add a 2nd if the track absolutely demands it. This has helped me focus and has ultimately made me more productive. And better yet, I feel I am getting the most out of that single Elektron machine.

This subject reminds me of something Gavin Harrison spoke about in the first 45 seconds of this video. I think he does a great job of explaining how limitations (he calls them “parameters”) give us direction and help spark the creative process:


Yeah, when I see those pics of massive setups, I’m a little envious but also don’t know how I’d actually use that stuff. I’ve tried incorporating more hardware into my setup, but right now I just use an Octatrack alone. I have trouble working on more than one box at a time.

I’m trying to focus on adding details to the layers that are already there, rather than adding additional layers. So for percussion I’m using sliced drum loops, but aggressively p-locking each slice to get interesting results.

My next purchase is going to be a talkbox + a Meeblip anode. I want to put together an OT live set where I “sing” over the tracks.


Good thread, similar thoughts come to my mind when reading the ‘your setups’ thread.

I’m also trying to keep it as minimal as possible. Yesterday I was jamming on someone else’s Yamaha PSR keyboard (he has just that), and was impressed again how much you can squeeze out of such a simple tool.

However, there’s a trade-off: if your setup is too minimal, it can get fiddly. I don’t like things being too fiddly. People think you’re a DJ when you’re just twisting knobs on stage (and maybe you are somehow).

My current setup consists of a MPD32 and a Roland System-1. The MPD32 is triggering sounds from an AR and an OT in the background. The OT records everything I trigger on the AR and loops it. I can overwrite this without touching the Elektrons. Not minimal but as minimal as I can think of while still ensuring spontaneity and variety.

EDIT: No, I have to admit that my current setup is not as minimal as I can think of. It’s very live oriented, spontaneous and fun though :slight_smile: using just a Yamaha PSR is minimal, or just a MPC500. Inside the Elektron realm: just one Elektron is minimal.

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You don’t need lots of gear to be creative…
We lots of example of awesome artists doing great things with almost nothing!
Besides, limitation is definitively great for creation because it demands works and originality, finding a way around!

That’s for the artistic side/music side!

BUT there is also the technical side that some of us enjoy, the hardware, the UI, the specs…Not all the Ferrari or Porsche owner are racer.

That’s always my struggle. I want a minimum set up to be creative and mobile…but I love these stuffs so much that I am drooling when I discover a new exciting instrument. Even if I know that it won’t make me a better artist :slight_smile:

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I started collecting gear in 1993. I started small, a few crappy drum machines from a local pawn shop (Roland TR-505 and 626), but my studio soon grew into a mishmash of old synths and boxes.

Then, in 2001, I sold almost everything to fund a relocation out West (Portland). I never officially gave up production, but went more software than hardware, and ultimately took 15 years off.

However, near the start of this year, something clicked in me and a resurgence has occurred – fueled, in large part, by a desire for more hands on compositional approaches, new music inspirations, and the Eurorack renaissance which snuck up on me.

Anyhoo, how this story gels with the OP’s premise is on the subject of minimalism: Nowadays, I’m happy disconnect from all the options and find strength in a stream lined studio. Once I acquire my 12U Eurorack, I won’t be purchasing anymore synths (I have a Microbrute, Nord Modular G1 Rack, a Waldorf Micro Q and a currently non-functional TX81z, not to mention Reaktor – pretty much everything is covered). Once I score an Octatrack, I’ll be set there as well (until something better comes along, then I’ll be replacing the Octa, not adding to it). Drums are handled just fine with what I’ve got (Nord Modular, Reaktor and Maschine).

I want to create a fluid and simplistic system – my dream would be to construct something like Tim Exile’s improv machine. I want to be able to jam, and fluidly work other into my space. I want music production to start being fun again.


I like simple setups. They let you focus on your songwriting rather than having tons of options.

A good, simple setup that works for you is not easy to design though. It can easily take years and lots of buying and selling before you find a setup that suits.

The downside is that you tend to overuse your synths. I made like 300 tracks with the Analog Four as the main synth and in the end I just had to sell it and buy something else to get me in an inspirational mood again. So the perfect setup is not static, it changes all the time.

Currently I’m quite happy with my setup, consisting of:

Aira TR-8
Moog Sub Phatty
Emu Vintage Pro
Shure SM-58
Zoom 1201
Zoom H4n
Boss BX-8

I would like to expand that a little bit though, but not too much. Maybe get the new Avalon Bassline thingy and some compressors/FX.

This. :slight_smile:

I’ve got a mixed relationship to this, although I kind of agree with Barfunkel.

For about a year, I’ve sold, traded, bought and swapped gear, having gone through most of what’s out there and some that’s not. I’m not a gear junkie, but this journey has been necessary to find what kind of sound I’m after and my preference for workflow.

So in the end, I’ve landed with the Analog Rytm as my final output for everything. Most of the time, I work only with this instrument.

However - there’s always a however - I use it almost exclusively for its sample playback abilities. It has replaced the Octatrack for me in this regard. And since I almost only sample my own stuff, that means I have a few instruments as satellite gear, which I use for composing, creating loops, new sounds, drums and whatnot. These have the sound and the workflow that I like, and I build something in them, sample it and put it in the Rytm. Once it’s in there, I work only with the Rytm.

So as for performance and building songs, and performing those songs, there’s just this one piece of gear.

For coming up with the stuff that goes into the Rytm, there’s more. Not a whole lot, just four or five pieces, but they’ve been carefully selected from a lot of I believe almost 50 instruments, which have come and gone over the year.

Once I start gigging with my material, I might bring a keyboard of some sorts. I’m a keyboard player and I think I’d miss the opportunity to add that live vibe to the whole thing if I didn’t bring something with black and white keys on it.

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Well I’ve learnt that less is more. My friends know me for going in and out of gear like crazy but since I’m about two years into this all I lack the experience to really say but I found that a drum machine and a sampler works best.

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nice topic

i remember the times when i used to play with a whole rack of synthesizers… but for some reasons, one was the Octatrack, i kicked out everything

it was like a start in a new life

just the OT, a DSI Tetra and a Blofeld … after that i once reduced it to the OT and the Blofeld (Tetra sounds boring to my ears)

and after that … the A4 joined the team beside my modular

to be honest … the Elektron gear shaped the way i am doing music and it is the first time in my gear-history that i’m satisified with my gear… so no GAS

it just feels a bit more complete and i have to go the same way with the modular stuff… i’m quite sure

Up until last year I didn’t believe there was such a thing as “too much gear”.

Not sure what happened but something seems to have pressed the “OCD ergonomic nightmare puzzle” button, so now everything must be within easy reach (i.e. like the position of the steering wheel in my car) and SYMMETRICAL.

Anyways, finally managed to solve the puzzle by modifying a dining room table & building a custom desktop rack.

Main setup now is: Virus TI desktop, AR, & MoXF6 (plus patch bay, saffire, & laptop). I rarely turn on the moxf, and Ive got a BS2 packed away that I’m not sure what to do with.

Keeping the OT completely separate so i can play with it anywhere - usually on my study desk.

A minimal set of gear is always the best, but I feel that all the gear pictures are more of a fun brag part of everything. Every one loves gear and gearporn.

Also, it’s quite fun to alternate between gear.

Yesterday I made a tune with an Electribe 2 only and the day before I made a tune with A4, AR and Octatrack.

I sometimes wish I could make do with a single wall of modular…

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After trying various set-ups I also believe a minimal set-up works best.
I reduced my workflow basically to AR+A4 combo.

The other stuff (OT, strymon pedals, Biscuit, Eurorack) I use mainly for sampling and creating the sounds I like to use in my tracks (sampling hits/sounds with OT and load then in the AR).

I also use simple a midi controller to change the performance parameters of both AR+A4.

To crank up the sound of the A4 (for input to AR) I use compressor.

Using more than 2 elektron is too much. Or your name is Dataline or Bach…


I have a lot of gear atm

but also a live/travel rig

A4, Tempest, OT all in one case

Best of both worlds for me

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It is just something personal. Most important is to find your way to get the best workflow you want!

People are always saying you have to know your gear inside/out… I don’t agree on this, it depends on your experience with synths! Of course you can always read the manual, check video’s and use what you need to create your own sound, techniques and ideas. Because that’s all what really matters!

a studio is a process, a studio is breathing, evolving, full of mistakes, full of learning experiences and foremost a fun place “to be” grounded within yourself and the universe.

never would anybody take away a rubber duck from a child in a bath tub … never should a artist limit himself to “fewer” toys / instruments … off course the rubber duck will be exchanged to a RC car, and eventually a magazine/bmx bike/pc etc …

I am right now in a state where I can embrace the fact that things go into my (amateurish) home / bedroom studio, to stay with me for a while, and then find love from another musician, …

maybe instruments are not intended to stay with you / me forever, but require to be moved …

with the wonderfull Elektron boxes I (imho) learn the architecture, gain knowledge from that process, use the knowledge of the architecture, evolve in my pattern as a musician + sound designer and then , off course, move on!

also a step backward is a step forward! …

I do dream of a juno106, but at the same time I kinda know, it will only stay with me for a year (maybe more maybe less)

A4, then MD, then off course need to try OT (left me after 1 year) … had to try the AR (learnt something there) sold the AR … now SH101… wow! but I know I will be bored by it in probably 1 year… so it has got to go … (edit: MM too, just be there with me, have some fun, maybe sell, maybe keep)

If I slim down to 2 boxes I can fat up to 4 boxes again, and with no problem peak to 8 and be down to 1 … each time I grow from the process by ( you guessed it ) being limited to less, or have the world in front of you by too much …

enjoy the ride (you may only have 1 :slight_smile: )

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