Synth trolley hacks (small apartment with kids)

For about 4 years now (since my first born arrived), my music sessions have involved pulling bits of gear out of cupboards and setting them up as and when I get the chance. No studio space to speak of and therefore no permanent set-up with which I can just switch on and go.

This is fine, and brings its own merits, but for the sake of saving time, and given that we’re not moving out of our 2 bed apartment anytime soon, I’m seeking a solution that at least resembles a setup I can come back to more easily.

One that doesn’t cost the best part of $2000 either (like the unit in the image).

If anyone has any experience, tips or hacks for such a solution, I’d be very interested to hear about it.

My current buffet of machines is:
Op-1, Digitone, Model Samples, Model Cycles, Lyra 8, a Mackie Mix-5
and about 6 FX pedals.


I don’t have any experience with this but for some reason I thought of those old style roll up writing desks like this. You might be able to find one for next to nothing. You could put a few Elektrons and some mini speakers in the lockable area so no curious eyes would see. Drill the back for wires and maybe cut out the back of the drawers too (wiring or to handle something large). Might need a local carpenter for more extensive changes.

Anyway I have a lot of weird ideas and this could be one of them but I throw it out there.


Have kids as well… I know the struggle! I’ve seen folks use something like a large pedal board with a case to mount their gear. Nothing you have seems TOO large. Maybe something like this, and you can get a keyboard stand to set it on. Pull up a chair, and you’re ready to go once the kiddos are in bed. After, pack it up and hide case/stand in a corner.


sometimes I forget how lucky I’ve been to have music space most of the time I’ve been doing it (minus before I started playing with electronic music, in college as an apartment dweller, and had to drive half an hour to play my drums). I feel for you… and I know some clever Elektronauts have come up with some great solutions to this and will share them, so I look forward to that.

the only thing I can offer is that I once worked with a friend in his studio space. it was in his and his wife’s bedroom. he was allowed to utilize a couple desks in there and they had just sectioned them off with curtains, so they could easily make the room look nice normally and the curtains doubled in absorbing some sound when he was working on music. I don’t know if their kids were ever allowed near any of this or how that worked, but they were happy with it.


I’ve been in similar situations and have used a shitty IKEA side table as a compact solution.

There’s been a number of iterations of the technotrolley, but all have been pretty useable and I’m always surprised how much I can squeeze in it with a few extra adaptations.


I will try and write a well thought out post later, rather than the stream of consciousness garbage you will get as I try to bang out a good response during work hours.

I am 100% in your boat, but with some light at the end of the tunnel, so I have some strategies that I have been using for the last 6(!) years, when I got pregnant with our first child. :slight_smile:


i would normally recommend a 19" rack with sliding shelves however this "sidecar’ furniture ( is a bit wider, so you could fit more on the top. having a few or more rack shelves on top of each other starts to get impractical.

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the pedal board is a good idea. can shove it under a bed or in a closet when not being used.

with the amount of gear the OP has, maybe look into a computer desk with a large roll-out keyboard tray? put all your gear on the tray and pull it out as needed. otherwise, it’s the family computer desk.

the trolley seems just as big as another desk to me. and might be overkill for that amount of gear. but guessing the OP has a reason for wanting to go this route…?

These look rather splendid.
A touch of class to the music making process.
A bureau of this kind did come to mind, second hand of course.

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So many marvellous suggestions to process already.


I’m sure I’m not the only 'naut that will benefit from this.


Less easy to change stuff out on, but you could go the live rig in a flight case route. I’ve been thinking at some point about getting an SKB rifle case and turning it into a setup like that, with stuff in both the base and the lid. Toss some foam between, shut it, and stand it on end in a closet.

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Actually I am glad you posted as I am going to have to downsize and move again for the same reason. I’m going to have to come up with something better than what I have, which is zip. Guess what happens when little feet jump up and down on a Roland boutique keyboard. :see_no_evil:


another reason to go with vintage synths: they’re more robust!


Hahaha that’s the best reason I have heard to go vintage!

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I feel the pain. I live in Tokyo and my wife does not share my gear love (particularly when it comes to dust and wires). :frowning:

While I know this solution won’t work for everybody, I’ve been transitioning more and more to making music “in-the-box” and I honestly couldn’t be happier. While going totally ”in-the-box” might not work, a hybrid setup might mean that you can have an even smaller trolley for hardware.

I’ve still got a shelf in the corner for some guitar stuff, but honestly, I could probably downsize that to a handful of Strymon pedals and be just as happy. Just some food for thought. Good luck!


my partner and I had a one bedroom apartment a while back and each had a bifold closet in the bedroom. I sacrificed most of my closet space for my music set up. if you’ve got a closet you can spare this works wonders. You can always close it up to keep the peace :v:


Would an outdoor setup be a problem?



Pedal powered!

From time to time I try to make a full ITB track but I’m never satisfyed with the workflow and the result.
What softwares are you using ?

I use Logic as my DAW.

For MPC-style sampling I love Serato Sample. Fantastic, quick workflow.

For synths, my favorites are U-he Diva and Repro and a few in Arturia V-Collection like the Buchla, Synthi, and ARP2600.

For drums, I love Addictive Drums 2 and use the Abbey Road Kits (among others).

I use Kontakt a lot for multisampled instruments, and have gotten into stuff by some of the bigger library developers like Spitfire Audio, Project Sam, Fluffy Audio, and Funk-Soul Productions.

For effects, I love RC-20 and use the Soundtoys bundle.

Probably some others I’m missing but those are the heavy hitters.

This series really inspired me: