DIY Guide To Making A Mobile Electronic Music Rig

Lately, it seems like more and more synthesists are sharing performance videos recorded in natural locations.

It’s a variation on the ‘dawless jam’ trend of electronic musicians wanting to get away making music on computers. By taking your gear out into nature to record performances, you’re not just getting away from computer-based music making, you’re moving into an an environment that may be inspirational, and one that provides an interesting backdrop for your performance.

In this video, synthesist Travis Dumais documents how he DIY’d a rig for mobile performance.

His setup is based around his electronic music gear and three items selected to make his rig portable:

  • A folding gear stand, MacGyvered from a keyboard stand and plywood;
  • A high-powered portable laptop charger (Amazon link); and
  • A Zoom H6 portable audio recorder (Amazon link).

Here’s an example of a live performance he recorded with this setup:

Dumais is using a lot of gear in his setup; many musicians are recording performances on location with more minimal setups, all the way down to an iPad for making music and a cell phone for recording video. For electronic musicians with more gear-centric rigs, though, the approach of using a laptop charger or a USB mobile device charger, combined with a digital audio recorder, is popular.

Have you set up a mobile performance rig? If so, let us know about it in the comments!

32 thoughts on “DIY Guide To Making A Mobile Electronic Music Rig

    1. Awful comment. Can’t take a comment seriously if it’s presented that way. Seriously, the voice-over was excellent.

  1. Nice mini-set! The tune was engaging and your buildup to the end was smooth. My only issue has been how the heck to amplify things. There are several good options for power now that it takes so little to drive the gear & powered speakers that’ll run for several hours on a charge are a fairly easy haul if you’re busking. My dolly has been around longer than some of my gear!

    1. this is a great question. i could suggest a blutooth speaker a high quality one with a battery inside. quality wont be perfect but…. that’s how it goes ::) and oh that’s an old dolly!

  2. I don’t mind these videos. It’s the over the top personalities that review synths that annoy the hell out of me. YouTube has become a cesspool of obnoxious edm ‘producers’ that review gear with ridiculous gimmicks and turn it into a ridiculous circus instead of just talking about the circuit designs. I’m over it.

    1. Read you loud and clear…. I’m way, way over it too

      And while we’re on the subject, another pet peeve are the stupid You-tube thumbnail images everyone’s using to promote their video… pull a stupid face, stick your ear up against the synth, pretend to pull your hair out, peek out over the top of the keyboard… it’s beyond lame.

      Just my 2c…. peace.

      1. Agreed! To add a few more pet hates: long digressions, unplanned speeches & misleading/clickbait titles/thumbnails.

        At least there’s several great Youtube reviewers setting a really high bar. Hopefully the ‘personalities’ eventually learn to emulate good presenters.

        1. Yes, loopop, one of the more popular dry presenters digs deep, keeps it dry and informative. He clearly knows what he’s talking about and i walk away with insight towards my next potential purchase. It’s YouTube and a lot of morons want to be the next pewdiepie to get rich off their maniacal videos, i get it and synths have become very popular i just hope it starts to trend into a more mature direction.

        1. oh super interesting…. it seems like the more subdued your personality is within the synth youtube world the more followers. the only exception i can think of is Andrew Huang, who is more high energy. but i think with that he brings a lot of informative and really interesting videos to the table. but loopop, Ricky Tinez, cuckoo, bobeats, etc. they are usually pretty calm and highly organic and informative. i was actually heavily inspired by binging with babish (a food youtube channel) in making this video.

    2. thanks Xavier! the spectacle can really only be pulled off by a few…. “HEY GUYS ITS ME, JOHNNY SYNTHS AND IM GOING TO CREATE A PATCH AND THEN THROW THE SYNTH OFF OF MY ROOF!!!” <– my attempt at being this kind of personality.

  3. Nice vid & cool rig! Dude clearly gets the performance angle (which tends to get missed in a lot of similar videos). But I can’t help thinking that wearing a face mask alone & outdoors is kinda silly. Was that deliberate?

    Really like this trend towards mobile & dawless setups. There’s a bit more personality that seems to come across with them, probably because of the need to really learn gear to perform this way.

    Because of a minor flood in my basement (didn’t lose any gear *PHEW*), got a small & portable studio set up in the spare bedroom. A Squarp Pyramid & Launchpad Pro control a Volca Kick, Volca Drum, a KP3, an SH01a & an SP404sx. Plus a few pedals like the Boss ODB3 & DD6 in fx loops for a small Soundcraft mixer. It’s a nice little techno rig.

    Whenever I’m away from home I’ve usually got the SP404sx, OP1, a Nintendo DS running the Korg DS-10 & an old Ipod loaded with rips of old records nearby. Good times!

    1. thank you!!! and yeah, i have been getting a lot of comments basically saying “why are you wearing a facemask in the middle of a field”… so i wore the facemask to get out there because the park required you to wear them if there were people around. when i got out into the field I took it off and then started sneezing pretty shortly after, so decided to put it back on. it seemed to help.

      i dig the trend too. sorry about your flood but glad the stuff didnt get damaged. i dig the idea of having an OP1 with a DS rig. super cool ::)

  4. I just think this is all around amazing, the energy, the passion, the music he has put together also the originality of his location, it’s beautiful and great talent. Looking forward to see what he does next

  5. Really like this – any particular recommendations if you also wanted to power something like a StagePas system alongside this? I would think a second one of these power supplies would be a must, but wonder if the battery time would simply be too low.

    1. Now you got me curious. Can you make a video showing you, using an iPad and a loud Bluetooth speaker to do all that he is doing here?

      1. There are a fair number of examples of people doing this. I pretty much only make music on my mobile devices and have posted several videos of me “performing” on an iPad on YouTube and Instagram.

        If you’re interested:

        THAT SAID, as Paul says below, me poking at an iPad probably isn’t as engaging as someone playing a bunch of hardware – it’s a much more intimate, private even, experience.

        It’s also a lot harder to really “play”, as a small slab of glass and metal just doesn’t have the tactile experience of physical keys, pads, knobs, sliders and buttons.

        I love the power and extreme portability of mobile computing devices like iPads and iPhones, but I do feel the limits….

        1. I’ll check your videos out, even though my comment was more meant to see if Mr. Rothenberg can actually show that HE can do all this with an iPad and a loud Bluetooth speaker. 😉

          Anyway, I think Mr. Boos said everything that have to be said about Mr. Rothenberg’s comment. Actually about the whole software vs. hardware discussion.

    2. While that may be true and there are MANY ways to go about creating musical content, an audience would probably much prefer to see him playing a synth over an iPad. And even though he is not playing for an audience, this is the equipment he likes using and is using the mobile set-up to go to inspiring places.

      I don’t feel this is an empathetic comment to the creator; he’s not doing it your way; he is doing it his way. Just my PoV, YMMV.

    3. lol. i should re-edit the video. i suspect it would then become a 1 min long video. much better ::)

  6. I get that it’s nice to play outside, and it makes for nice videos. I personally can’t be bothered to haul all my gear to a park and sorting out all the portable power tech, and then being totally immersed in my own headphones and not *really* engaging with my surroundings at the end of the day.

    Besides, aren’t we supposed to be staying home?

    1. “Besides, aren’t we supposed to be staying home?”

      That pretty much depends on where in the world you are.

    2. i hear ya Rover, different strokes different folks. yeah, i believe this park was open at the time of filming so long as you didnt park there ::)

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