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Help me put together a stealthy HW setup for the office cubicle Desktop Synthesizers
Old 15th November 2013
  #1
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Help me put together a stealthy HW setup for the office cubicle

I will be back to working in a cubicle soon and was thinking about putting together an inconspicuous OTB setup that would not look out of place on a work desk. There will be about 3.5 x 2.5 feet of desk space to work with, and the floor underneath is not visible from outside the cubicle.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Pedal looper: Working with audio (vs MIDI) will be simpler and require fewer sound modules. It will also take advantage of the free floor space.
2) Monotron + Monotron delay + Monotron duo: Small, battery powered (which means fewer cables), built-in controller, no excessive blinky lights.
3) MFB-522: I would like a drum module with a built-in sequencer. I have a Monotribe already, but feel it's too limited for drums. The Volca beats is a lot more capable but too conspicuous with all the blinky lights. The MFB522 is probably the best option here since it has a step sequencer, and is very compact.
4) Pedal effects: May as well take advantage of the free floor space.
5) Kaossilator: Optional, but could be useful.

In place of the monotrons, I would prefer a sound module(s) with better control over note input, but it's going to be difficult since I can't have a keyboard controller on the desk. Maybe one Volca keys to replace all the Monotrons and blank out the lights with tape? It would also give me polyphony of a sort.
Old 15th November 2013
  #2
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It all sounds rather conspicuous, especially as you add more boxes and gizmos. Have you considered a more one-box solution, like the Analog 4?
Old 15th November 2013
  #3
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laikenf's Avatar
 

Ipad maybe? can't be stealthier than that; though I have to say, just make music at home, after work, what's the urgency?
Old 15th November 2013
  #4
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Subosc's Avatar
 

op-1?
maybe too expensive?
Old 15th November 2013
  #5
Yeah, sounds like trouble to me. Even if you are OTB at home, you could always just work ITB at work to get ideas out and minimize your DAW window when the boss comes around. I use a laptop at lunch or when I have time away from home and just save the projects to a dropbox folder which I can then open at home, later. I understand that when an idea strikes you need to act fast.
Old 15th November 2013
  #6
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depulse's Avatar
Sounds like a recipe for being fired.
Old 15th November 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laikenf View Post
Ipad maybe? can't be stealthier than that; though I have to say, just make music at home, after work, what's the urgency?
Ipads are pretty rare where I work; it would stand out a lot more than something like monotrons (which could pass for telecom stuff).

Why make music at work? Well I often find myself inspired at work but have no tools to develop ideas; I'm reduced to recording myself humming into my phone. And by the time I get home, I'm often drained and don't feel like doing anything creative.
Old 15th November 2013
  #8
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If an iPad would stand out on your desk as a "red flag" for your declining productivity, you're living in a fantasy world with everything else you've mentioned so far.
Old 15th November 2013
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by depulse View Post
Sounds like a recipe for being fired.
No worries there, there's no problem as long as I finish the work. Due to the nature of the job, I oftentimes have large blocks of free time interspersed with intense periods of work. So it's a perfect type of schedule to do some music making during those down times.

Of course I shouldn't advertise it either, thus the need to be inconspicuous.
Old 15th November 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EDGEK8D View Post
Yeah, sounds like trouble to me. Even if you are OTB at home, you could always just work ITB at work to get ideas out and minimize your DAW window when the boss comes around. I use a laptop at lunch or when I have time away from home and just save the projects to a dropbox folder which I can then open at home, later. I understand that when an idea strikes you need to act fast.
Well I don't prefer working ITB, but also we can't install any outside software on the work computers. I would also rather not bring my own laptop into work just for this purpose (for security reasons).
Old 15th November 2013
  #11
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laikenf's Avatar
 

I understand wanting to be ahead of the curve when inspiration hits, but even a monotribe alone is good enough to capture ideas that would later be fleshed out in the studio (works for me); I don't know the nature of your work space but this seems kind of desperate and unnecessary. This is MHO of course, and you must do whatever you wish.
Old 15th November 2013
  #12
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Originally Posted by solipsynth View Post
Ipads are pretty rare where I work; it would stand out a lot more than something like monotrons (which could pass for telecom stuff).
I'd take that idea further and built a DIY synth or sequencer like some Midibox SID or similar inside phone/fax machine/gray old boring looking device. heh
Old 15th November 2013
  #13
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How about an iPhone or iPod touch instead of an iPad? A lot of the same software runs on both. Something like NanoStudio is amazingly useful even on the small screen -- it includes a decent VA synth, drum module, multitrack MIDI sequencer, sample record & playback, per track & global effects, mixing, file import/export, ...
Old 15th November 2013
  #14
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natefrogg's Avatar
 

nice!

with my day job there can be a lot of hurry up and wait time, i like devices i can run of of batteries for the office, gameboy and nanoloop for example are great fun in this setting, shout out to old roland kit too if you have the cash like 606 and 303, i am curious about korg volca's too in this respect, maybe fit a monotribe in too

have fun man
Old 15th November 2013
  #15
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I'm going to suggest a Casio VL-1, because at least it has a calculator so you can pretend you are working .
Old 15th November 2013
  #16
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natefrogg's Avatar
 

if you have access to the server rooms, that can be handy too, i miss my server rooms which only i had keys for at our old offices, had some good times holed up in there with the octatrack as progress bars slowy progressed on ye olde servers
Old 15th November 2013
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffee View Post
I'd take that idea further and built a DIY synth or sequencer like some Midibox SID or similar inside phone/fax machine/gray old boring looking device. heh
Oh yeah, why not something like a Instruments – Ambika | Mutable Instruments ?

Quote:
Of course I shouldn't advertise it either, thus the need to be inconspicuous.
Right, but seeing you plink around on a tablet PC would be much less inconspicuous than banging away on a series of wired-up devices.
Old 15th November 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosium View Post
Oh yeah, why not something like a Instruments – Ambika | Mutable Instruments ?
That would be great, although I don't know how to explain all the knobs. "No, they're volume controls for different parties in a groupcall!"
Old 15th November 2013
  #19
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cdog's Avatar
op1, or electribe/yellow emu groovebox/mc808 if you want to keep it cheap
Old 15th November 2013
  #20
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Mr. Varaldo's Avatar
I don't condone it but... Original E-mu Proteus/1 rack - it looks like a cisco 2801 router or ASA heh
Old 15th November 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaosium View Post
If an iPad would stand out on your desk as a "red flag" for your declining productivity, you're living in a fantasy world with everything else you've mentioned so far.
Settle down, ipads are not synonymous with productivity where I work. In fact just the opposite, they are seen as entertainment devices belonging at home. We are all issued pretty powerful laptops which removes the need for any other computing devices.
Old 15th November 2013
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rimwolf View Post
How about an iPhone or iPod touch instead of an iPad? A lot of the same software runs on both. Something like NanoStudio is amazingly useful even on the small screen -- it includes a decent VA synth, drum module, multitrack MIDI sequencer, sample record & playback, per track & global effects, mixing, file import/export, ...
An ipod/phone would definitely pass scrutiny but I feel like it's going to be hard to work with due to the small screen. Also I've never really gotten an OTB feeling from tablets--maybe as MIDI sequencers or loopers but not as actual musical instruments.
Old 15th November 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laikenf View Post
I understand wanting to be ahead of the curve when inspiration hits, but even a monotribe alone is good enough to capture ideas that would later be fleshed out in the studio (works for me); I don't know the nature of your work space but this seems kind of desperate and unnecessary. This is MHO of course, and you must do whatever you wish.
I don't really have a master setup, more of a few micro ones (one is portable, another I keep at a relative's place that I visit on weekends, etc.). Another micro setup at work fits logically into the way I make music and fills out the last place in my life where no music making exists so far. Desperate? Not at all. Unnecessary? More than likely
Old 15th November 2013
  #24
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Stevism's Avatar
hilarious thread.

i think the best way for this is to get rid of all of the things that will sit on the desktop and get a bunch of rack units. synths, effect units, etc.

then a nice interface / patch bay.

put it all under your desk and blame IT if anyone asks what it is

looks ambiguous enough to hide in plain sight
Old 15th November 2013
  #25
Whatever you do make sure you come back here and post about what happens.
Old 15th November 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subosc View Post
op-1?
maybe too expensive?
i like this idea. keep it in the desk and pull it out + some headphones when you can. the thing is very small, and people are so clueless you could tell them it's an mp3 player probably
Old 15th November 2013
  #27
Gear Nut
 

A used Yamaha QY70 or QY100

Very cheap, battery powered, size as an old video tape. Very nice sequencer, and lots of sounds.

Great small devices, I have both.
I got my QY70 for $100 and the QY100 for $50...
Old 15th November 2013
  #28
Gear Guru
Op-1

But the QY idea is better if you want to take it home to your real setup.
Old 15th November 2013
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby68 View Post
A used Yamaha QY70 or QY100

Very cheap, battery powered, size as an old video tape. Very nice sequencer, and lots of sounds.

Great small devices, I have both.
I got my QY70 for $100 and the QY100 for $50...
I've never understood the allure of those things
Old 15th November 2013
  #30
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Transfer to an IT position so you have access to the server room.

Install rackmount synths and gear in the server racks. If someone asks tell them it's new routers or telecom equipment.

If it's just to get ideas down, Nanostudio on an iPhone or iTouch would work, and be pretty inconspicuous as well.
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