Computer music off the grid

Over the last few years, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of being able to perform computer music anywhere. I’ve iterated through a number of solar/battery-powered setups at this point, including a pathetic attempt at converting a Home Depot wagon in to a mobile DJ booth (turned out more like the Danger Cart from ATHF) and lugging a 13-lb lead-acid battery & inverter (Escape150) up a mountain with all of my other gear (only made it about 1/4 mile from the car). Clearly we can crowdsource better alternatives.

My approach has been heavily inspired by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), specifically the idea of a computer-synthesized acoustic ensemble. To clarify, that means ‘no PA’ - each performer is their own acoustic entity with a hemispherical speaker, and in a concert setting would be mic’d the way a chamber orchestra is. Specifically, Scott Smallwood has made a number of contributions & explorations in this area, his paper ‘SOLA: Sustainable Orchestras of Laptops and Analog’ is a must read.

I’m curious to learn about the off-the-grid endeavors of others, and interested to see what kinds of feedback evolve from this seedling community.

Here are my two latest explorations:

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Seems like your biggest bottleneck is the amp and its power… that thing is huge. I’m thinking of doing some busking with the laptop and monome this summer, but I’ll probably just pick up a Roland M-Cube; I’m not looking for a huge sound anyway. Laptop, 64 grid and M-Cube - it’s a pretty compact setup.

our off-the-grid hilltop show (you were there raymond!) indeed i hauled a roland amp up to the top. it was pretty unreasonable.

it seems that a lightweight battery rig could be designed, given new high-density batteries? this is certainly an interesting project to me-- though i’m clueless about speaker design. keeping the whole rig in DC without conversions will likely keep the system much more efficient.

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also-- great performances. these videos are fantastic. i’m very into the localized sound from each performer. let’s see an off-grid ensemble.

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Consider a minirig or three as well. Amazing sound, can be stereo linked, and there is now a sub module too. Very good battery life. c10-15 hrs at full volume on a full charge.

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I have a sentimental attachment to the venerable Pignose. But for efficiency a class D amp is definitely the way to go and that Minirig looks great.

Hah, awesome! A friend and I ( did something similar as a series during summer 2011. We would load the car with equipment and a Honda generator, drive in a direction and set up.

One of those times we came across a platform in the Angeles Forest used during WWII as a Nike Missile launch site. Made for a pretty spectacular setting.

The Honda genny wasn’t the best. We typically had to hide it behind something on a substantially long extension cord, otherwise the the sound was too much. Was a fun time!

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minirig link:

these look great, i recall seeing them a few years back. anyone here experience them firsthand?

Yeah I have one. Great build quality. Sounds fantastic too. Nothing below about 70hz obviously but a fantastic flat detailed output otherwise. Doesn’t feel lightweight in the bass department despite that.

Not tried the sub module.

yea b, the minirigs are bad ass, and with a low/high input, I can consume battery life with low, but on high, and preferably against a wall, or on the floor, the minirig sure does produce crisp vibrations, and it delivers loudly!

one can purchase through

i think for the price, sound quality, seamless design and durability, the rig packs a punch where other speakers on the market can’t hang.

overthinking it, but would like to add the woofer as well