The Absolute Minimum Viable Creative Setup Thread

We all work with a variety of different tools and media, but I think this concept could yield some inspiration. Would love to hear some stories from folks who have traveled with their equipment or from people who have plans to travel with their equipment soon.

Context: I’m working abroad for two months in South Africa and can’t take everything, obviously. I can only bring so many tools with me. These can be musical or otherwise.

Restrictions: Must fit in a carry-on bag of most major airlines (Pelican 1510 is what I will be using) and should be under 50 lbs. You don’t have to weigh everything out (not the point) but please try to be realistic.


I’d take my two norns and a grid. Plus my MacBook Air. And an iPhone. And my zoom H2n. And cables. That’s it.


My OP-1 and/or OP-Z are all I need on the go :slight_smile:


Laptop + mouse + headphones works for me! I’ve recorded some albums on the train with this setup. Here’s one:

My non-computer-musician friend got lots of mileage out of his suitcase setup when we toured on the train a few years back. His rig from the back is the cover of this one:

^ That wasn’t recorded on the train, but we rehearsed our set on the train!

Edit: I wish I had a pic of the inside, but it seems like this is a fairly common thing now? He built eurorack rails and a power supply into the suitcase, and filled it with various modules – including a raspberry pi with a custom DAC that we used to network our rigs together…

Edit edit: oh here’s some pics!

You can kinda see inside the suitcase in this one:


I used to travel with Digitakt and ipad. Always in carry-on department. These days, I’m not so sure…

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I’d bring a laptop and some kind of MIDI controller, or a monome grid if you’re into that. Then Ableton Live and/or Max or your DAW of choice. Personally I’d also bring a guitar, but if you’re not a guitarist then you can ignore that :slight_smile:

  • iPad Pro with lightning-usb adapter
  • Linnstrument
  • RME Fireface UCX
  • Plugable USB hub
  • Cables
  • Tamrac backpack (Tradewind seems to be the current version of the one I have)


  • MBP

iPad Alternatives

  • Pulp Logic Lunchbox that contains ER-301 and ES-8
  • norns
  • RPi

OP-1, an inexpensive Tascam digital hand recorder (can’t remember the model number) and my work laptop (which I brazenly install music stuff on). OP-1 can be a midi controller if i’m in a laptop mood, or I can doodle around with it on its own. I like making field recordings while I walk around. I like the FM radio bits in the OP-1. More recently I’ve started traveling with an ipad for reading and other ipad related things. I put a bunch of music stuff on there, but I don’t lose time with it the way I do with the OP.

Enjoy your trip!

most minimal:
op-1 + laptop

a step up:
60hp skiff
2 fx pedals (bim+bam for me)
irig duo pro
some sort of small microphone


Heard way too many horror stories about flying with a guitar. I might test the waters and pick something cheap up at a music store if the right opportunity comes along.

Tongue-in-cheek answer: pencil & paper.

In-previous-life answer: laptop + Korg Nanokey + headphones.

Today’s answer: Octatrack with lid & carrying bag + headphones.


For me, I’m thinking Norns/grid, headphones, tascam dr40, Leica D Lux 7 for video+photo, and my work computer (mbp). Starting to think it might be worth picking up a used iPad, too…


Norns/Grid/OP-1/iPad w/audio interface


I’ve planned for this a lot- packed up and never end up doing anything when I get to where I’m going. The pen and paper response really resonated with me, as I’ve felt most musically creative when I can’t musically create. The last big creative bout I had was when I was in a van for 6 weeks on tour. I had a volca sample packed away somewhere but never felt like plugging in so just I wrote and wrote and wrote. Has been enough material for two albums now!

Gear I would take if I could guarantee space and time and readiness to be creative: octatrack, op-1,
0-coast in that order as space permitted. Would probably sample a lot of youtube videos from my phone.


I’m going to be doing some touring in the next little while and will have to fly/train/walk a lot, so this is top of mind :slight_smile:

My bare minimum would probably be something like:

  • iPad Pro
  • Faderfox UC4
  • Headphones

Next level, all of the above plus:

  • iConnectAudio4+
  • OTO BIM and BAM
  • Small mixer (Mackie 802 or 1202)

Less minimal but still pretty easy for travel, all of the above plus:

  • 2Frame Bugbrand system or 2 panel Serge in a briefcase style case (carry-on size)
  • maybe Beatstep pro

If you have an electric guitar, especially a headless, it’s pretty safe.

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Bare bare minimum: pen and paper (or ipad+apple pencil or equivalent).
Beyond that, it so depends on what you want to do and what sort of audio practice you have.

I deal with this every summer when I teach in Iceland. I always WANT to take a midi controller or equivalent, a guitar, etc… but I have to pare down to what’s practical and what I’m likely to use. So I take:

  • Ipad Pro with Apple Pencil. Musically, used mostly in lieu of controllers for the MacBook Pro, and for scoring and writing.
  • Macbook Pro w/Bidule, plugins, Davinci Resolve, VDMX.
  • Caldigit Dock
  • Tiny SSD drives.
  • Good but not too huge headphones.
  • Olympus LS-10 or Tascam 100 for field recording.(The Tascam only if I need to run mics needing 48v power, as I did one year for a specific project).
  • GH5 or Blackmagic Pocket Cam (I’m a filmmaker and a long-term ongoing project is shot mostly in Iceland). No lights or even a cage, I keep the filmmaking side very lean. One lens (lately the Lumix 12-35)
  • Rode Videomic pro, two “stealth” earbud mics for the field recorder, occasionally a shotgun mic.
  • One small controller of some kind.
    If needed I rent/borrow/buy-return other gear while there.
    If I was performing it would be different, but I’d also have to check gear through…
  1. Laptop, audio interface, microphone… probably SM57.
  2. The above plus one of the Trogotronic 168 cases.
  3. The above plus a cheap but serviceable electric guitar. The G&L ASAT tribute series was under 200 bucks and is really nice. Easily replaceable if lost or stolen.
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Laptop, iPad, and the small LaunchControl. Most trips that involve a plane, that’s what I’ve got.

I’m thinking about that iConnectAudio4+ that @emenel mentioned. Are there other good options?


Turns out I know the answer to this one because when I landed in hospital unexpectedly all I had was an iPad & a pair of sennheiser earbuds. Still managed to make 30 mins of music

Would take better earphones if I was actually planning it & probably a proper keyboard - maybe an arturia key step.