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Adam Butler

Portabrace AO Organizer Bags: Modifications - Brainstorm Frenzy!

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I would like to please gather your input in a brainstorming frenzy!

 

Portabrace haven't made too many significant changes to their AO-Organizer series of bags, with the recent AO-633 being an exception. It's been a project I've wanted to dive into and get started for a while, as I'd like to improve the bag line for all its users, including myself. 

 

After attending NAB this year, I was really encouraged by the feedback I got from users. So I am now making sure that Portabrace's "Audio Department"... Me. Discuss suggestions about product development and modifications. What better place to research those changes than here!

 

Below is the current list of intended mods. But I would also like to establish as to wether the current removable sides of the AO bag need to remain removable? Are you using them for setups? Are they a waist of time?  

 

1) The top lid zip closest to body was removed.

2) Added a removable double vinyl storage lid to the top. Opening away from the user. 

3) Added three harness ring attachment points to each side of the bag. For increased attachment options and balance.

4) Reconfigured both right and left removable sides with:

Left: External vinyl covered transmitter and receiver pockets.

Right: External vinyl covered transmitter and receiver pockets and additional headphone/flask pocket. 

5) Added velcro system that allows you to compact and compress the large front pocket flat against the bag when not in use or traveling.

 

Along with the list above we are working on an access point to batteries and memory card slots (below the mixer) i.e 633, maxx, 552 and so on. (The AO-664 already features this design)

 

Thank you for your input. I hope this doesn't get to crazy!

 

por2-11.jpg

 

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That looks excellent, Adam. Just having access to the cabling on the sides would help a lot.

 

Copy that, thanks Marc. The newer modified bag will also have the transmitter/receiver pouches on the left and right, to keep your sends separated. Something I may add is the option to have modular sides. Offering about 4 different variations. Any suggestions on that would be great. 

 

What pouches and or holders do people want on the sides of the bag? 

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My personal preference has long been to have an np-1 cup on each side of the bag. With the cup living and held tight at the bottom of the holder. Allows for quick swap. I've never liked np1's living buried in the depths of the bag or the petrol "belly pocket"

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Np1 has never been quite right on any bag. Something should be done in that area.

Marc is right. Opening on the side  is A MUST.

Rigid is good.

It is great when competition pushes innovation...

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Something I may add is the option to have modular sides. Offering about 4 different variations. Any suggestions on that would be great.

What pouches and or holders do people want on the sides of the bag?

Modular sides are great. I'm a big proponent of "less up front" and "more on the sides" when it comes to bag work. I prefer to have the weight evenly distributed along the waist via a belt, rather than lugging around a cinder block on my chest. Spreading things out to the sides and along the waist has helped my back and shoulders considerably.

Cheers,

Evan

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I have the AO-4WT/664 bag. I had you guys make a mirror image of the right side end for me. The vinyl covered pockets on ether side of the opening and the big zipper pocket didn't do much for me, One suggestion would be a 1/2" wide X 1/8" thick u shaped spreader across the tops of the sides. After some time hanging from a harness, the top of the bag starts to squeeze together a little which can create a challenge. I bent a pair up for an older AO bag I have some time ago, just haven't gotten to it for the new one. 

post-1223-0-34151600-1397303465_thumb.jp

post-1223-0-99587800-1397303465_thumb.jp

I'm not sure how it should be done, but a better more solid way of attaching the main compartment divider on the AO-4WT/664 would be great as would making the front and back pouches removable.

Best regards,

Jim

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My personal preference has long been to have an np-1 cup on each side of the bag. With the cup living and held tight at the bottom of the holder. Allows for quick swap. I've never liked np1's living buried in the depths of the bag or the petrol "belly pocket"

+1. I do this as well, and it is a welcomed addition.

To me the most important things are:

- Bag can remain standing up, it does not tip over.

- Has access points from left, right and bottom sides (where mixers and recorders typically have connections).

- Has handles to be able to grab and carry easily when there's no harness or shoulder strap on.

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I own Portabrace AO 1 and 4,  I am kind of hoping there are more options on the divider. There are velcro and harsh divider come with the bag, but I am always lacking some proper partition to keep one or another gear separated. Or even a holder for few wireless with velcro or tights...or some pouches with velcro..then we could stick to another where we like in the bag or even outside of it. 

 

Thanks for bringing out the thread.

Hiro

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My personal preference has long been to have an np-1 cup on each side of the bag. With the cup living and held tight at the bottom of the holder. Allows for quick swap. I've never liked np1's living buried in the depths of the bag or the petrol "belly pocket"

I'm also a fan of the NP1 being on either the left or right. In my AO-4 I have one positioned on the right for my 788, and then also I keep one in the front pocket for the receivers.

I think following the plan of simply offering a couple of options is key. It's obvious that every mixer likes their own setup. That's what initially prompted me to add more attachment points to each bag, offering solutions for every setup.

I'll check and make sure that the NP1 will fit the bottom of these pockets.

Thanks.

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Modular sides are great. I'm a big proponent of "less up front" and "more on the sides" when it comes to bag work. I prefer to have the weight evenly distributed along the waist via a belt, rather than lugging around a cinder block on my chest. Spreading things out to the sides and along the waist has helped my back and shoulders considerably.

Cheers,

Evan

This is also a point that I've tried to push. Fatigue is definitely increased with weight in the front of the bag. Having additional side options is something I'd definitely be able to work on. At least that then offers options for people who may like larger pockets on the sides, or run v-mount batteries from that position.

I'll also be making that front large pouch fully collapsible. The hard bottom will fold up to the bag and fasten flat against the bag. That way, you can use the pouch if needed. But also, after you've dished out all your transmitters out, you can fold it up. It also makes it very good to travel, or pack.

If you have any ideas for modular designs of the ends, please do let me know. I'd like to come up with 4 different options.

Thanks!

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Adam, first I thank you for asking for input like this. That's really excellent, and you've got my attention for consideration during the next round of bags I purchase. 

 

The four biggest problems I have with bags are as follows:

  1. Lack of easy access to side cabling. It amazes me how many times I have to access the sides of my mixer / recorder, even when my bag is generally set up correctly. I hate that it is difficult with my current bag. 
  2. Lack of easy access to the bottom of my mixer / recorder. I know that not every bag will work with every mixer / recorder, but for mixers which require access to the bottom of the units, there should be a very easy way to access the unit. It should not be a 'fight' once all of the cabling is in place in the bag.
  3. BDS access / storage. I can't tell you how many bags I've seen that have ZERO place for a BDS. We wind up just having to figure it out and it's never elegant. In my current bag my BDS eats up the space of one receiver. And if there is a designated space for it, it's as though the manufacturer has never actually plugged cables into a BDS and routed them correctly in the bag. Many of us use them, and they take up a significant footprint, particularly in a bag like the one you've shown which is full of receivers. My suggestion is to actually set a BDS up, complete with cabling for power distribution to all the components of the bag and then determine how it could be placed by a sound mixer, used long term and the cabling kept protected.
  4. NP-1 Storage and hot-swap changes. My current bag is not designed well for this at all. Hot-swaps should be fast and seamless when running and gunning. The battery should be protected and secure enough to actually run in the bag, while still be accessible enough to swap out quickly.

There will never be the 'perfect' bag. But so many bags that I have seen on the market seem to be simply put together without cabling or actual use, as though the designers have never actually set the bags up and tested them in the field with a real sound mixer before sale.

 

P.S. I didn't see Nomad on your list. Please consider releasing a bag for Nomads.

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Np1 has never been quite right on any bag. Something should be done in that area.

Marc is right. Opening on the side  is A MUST.

Rigid is good.

It is great when competition pushes innovation...

I think this might again be a good suggestion for a modular side. Something that is built specifically for the NP1 easy excess and functionality.

Zipable sides of each end of the bag will make access for construction very easy. Also the Velcro boots will be positioned at the ends of the mixer to allow cable input and output access.

I believe these pushes will create some really great modifications.

Thanks!

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I have the AO-4WT/664 bag. I had you guys make a mirror image of the right side end for me. The vinyl covered pockets on ether side of the opening and the big zipper pocket didn't do much for me, One suggestion would be a 1/2" wide X 1/8" thick u shaped spreader across the tops of the sides. After some time hanging from a harness, the top of the bag starts to squeeze together a little which can create a challenge. I bent a pair up for an older AO bag I have some time ago, just aren't gotten to it for the new one. 

attachicon.gifIMG_2012.jpg

attachicon.gifIMG_2014.jpg

I'm not sure how it should be done, but a better more solid way of attaching the main compartment divider on the AO-4WT/664 would be great as would making the front and back pouches removable.

Best regards,

Jim

Hi Jim,

 

Thanks for the picture references. Its great to see how people use their bags. 

 

Thats interesting that you've already had a mirror imaged side made for your bag. That definitely proves that the option to have about 4 different options would be a great Idea. Then if I get requests for more options, I can simply make an additional end, as opposed to a bag redesign. 

 

I will make sure that the top edges of the bags are reinforced a little more. I personally dont have that sag problem with my bag, as its full to the brim with gear. But its a valid point and I will take that into consideration. 

 

The new bags have velcro attachment points closer to the main body of the mixer, which definitely helps you secure the mixer better. Also, I am going to replace the current dividers with a much stronger panel divider. 

 

Its something I would like to discuss with everyone actually. What dividers would you like to see come standard with the bag? One long hard strip to divide the mixer from the rest of the bag, then either 5 small dividers to separate receivers vertically, or another long strip to separate them horizontally? 

 

Your final point about the removable bags both front and back has been considered. But, to avoid sag issues, i've found the best results are to attach and then give the option to compress. This helps a great deal with the structural integrity of the bag. 

 

Please do let me know your thoughts, and thank you. 

 

Adam

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+1. I do this as well, and it is a welcomed addition.

To me the most important things are:

- Bag can remain standing up, it does not tip over.

- Has access points from left, right and bottom sides (where mixers and recorders typically have connections).

- Has handles to be able to grab and carry easily when there's no harness or shoulder strap on.

 

I will definitely then make sure again that the NP1 system works well with the pocket size. 

 

One thing I actually love about the AO series is that it takes a bulldozer to tip one over. Granted, I do have a full rig setup, and If anyone thinks otherwise, please do let me know. I will definitely keep this in mind. 

 

Access to all areas will be my biggest challenge i believe. Im making these changes across the board and making these bags to cover basically every mixer ever made. So... Access to all areas will be a top priority. 

 

The handles topic would be something I'd like to get more feedback on actually. At the moment, the bags come with a nice heavy duty strap and have a handle system built in. Would you prefer a clip on handle instead? Or even an AH-2 Harness?

 

por2-08.jpgopplanet-portabrace-lh-leather-handle-01

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I own Portabrace AO 1 and 4,  I am kind of hoping there are more options on the divider. There are velcro and harsh divider come with the bag, but I am always lacking some proper partition to keep one or another gear separated. Or even a holder for few wireless with velcro or tights...or some pouches with velcro..then we could stick to another where we like in the bag or even outside of it. 

 

Thanks for bringing out the thread.

Hiro

Hi Hiro, 

 

Im looking to get some feedback about the divider kits to see what the most popular solution is. As every mans setup is different, Its hard to keep everyone happy. I'm considering sending out two hard dividers that separate the bag length ways. This would at least enable you the option of cutting the spare on up and creating your own divider arrangement. 

 

Thanks. 

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Adam, first I thank you for asking for input like this. That's really excellent, and you've got my attention for consideration during the next round of bags I purchase. 

 

The four biggest problems I have with bags are as follows:

  1. Lack of easy access to side cabling. It amazes me how many times I have to access the sides of my mixer / recorder, even when my bag is generally set up correctly. I hate that it is difficult with my current bag. 
  2. Lack of easy access to the bottom of my mixer / recorder. I know that not every bag will work with every mixer / recorder, but for mixers which require access to the bottom of the units, there should be a very easy way to access the unit. It should not be a 'fight' once all of the cabling is in place in the bag.
  3. BDS access / storage. I can't tell you how many bags I've seen that have ZERO place for a BDS. We wind up just having to figure it out and it's never elegant. In my current bag my BDS eats up the space of one receiver. And if there is a designated space for it, it's as though the manufacturer has never actually plugged cables into a BDS and routed them correctly in the bag. Many of us use them, and they take up a significant footprint, particularly in a bag like the one you've shown which is full of receivers. My suggestion is to actually set a BDS up, complete with cabling for power distribution to all the components of the bag and then determine how it could be placed by a sound mixer, used long term and the cabling kept protected.
  4. NP-1 Storage and hot-swap changes. My current bag is not designed well for this at all. Hot-swaps should be fast and seamless when running and gunning. The battery should be protected and secure enough to actually run in the bag, while still be accessible enough to swap out quickly.

There will never be the 'perfect' bag. But so many bags that I have seen on the market seem to be simply put together without cabling or actual use, as though the designers have never actually set the bags up and tested them in the field with a real sound mixer before sale.

 

P.S. I didn't see Nomad on your list. Please consider releasing a bag for Nomads.

Hi there,

 

Thank you for your detailed response. I'll go through all the points. 

 

1) By keeping the removable sides to the bag, will absolutely make access to the sides of the bag easier. There will also be velcro access to the left and right of the mixer. 

 

2) I'm currently working on a way to create a good amount of access to both the back and underside of the mixer unit. Working closely with the structural sewist, we're trying to come up with the best way to provide both ample access, but also keep the strength and protective elements of the bag. (Another high priority)

 

3) BDS interests me. I actually have custom cables that run direct from the NP1 and never use a BDS system. But, creating a pouch, or holder, or something for the bag would be something I can absolutely do. Now would this be a good thing to add to one of the modular ends? Or would you like a pouch built into the front pocket? Where do you think would be best?

 

4) Seeing as the NP1 cup being held in the bottom of the side compartment has come up a few times, would it help to have a velcro system that held that NP1 in place?

 

5) Portabrace currently offer the AR-NMD for the Nomad, but staying with the AO bags, there isnt really a bag that the AO system doesn't cater for. The AO-1.5 is a perfect fit for the Nomad. These new adaptations will take into consideration all mainstream mixers and wireless systems. 

 

Thanks again for your feedback. Please let me know your thoughts. 

 

Adam

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Hi Adam, 

nice to see a manufacture listen. I do own two AO Bags - I think its the 1 and the 1.5. 

 

I really like the small one for my SQN 2 - great bag for it. I have used the 1.5 for the 552 and the 664 but it is not that great for the too large (deep) front compartment and the side pockets.

 

One big bonus you have over your competition is the reduced weight combined with a rigid structure. Please please keep that advantage with your modifications.

 

Comments to AO 1.5 (2010) 

 

- I don't like the Vinyl over the front Pouch / transmitter pouches. makes it bulky and stiff / not versatile to fold away

- I don't need the velcro to let out antennas on the front pouch. Its not padded so I put the receivers in the main compartment. Front pouch is for uncritical stuff like cabels, batteries, lavboxes for me.

- I don't need the pocket on the backside - like to have the weight of the mixer close to the body

- front pouch too deep and high. deep for getting through tight spaces and high for touching floor before main compartment. an additional net in the front pouch sewn to main compartment could help organize it. 

- accesibility to the sides/Card slot must be improved. vertical zipper with fold away sidepockets?

- left side pockets for transmitters eat too much space - prefer one bigger slightly padded one that is also higher to less bend on antenna. Without vinyl and with vertical velcro to close in different highs

- dividers: 2 or even 3 long ones is much better than ready cut shorter ones to modify yourself. Thin ones are ok for reduced weight and space. they don't need to make bag more rigid just keep stuff in place. rounded lower corners to let cables pass by. 

- handles: I like the two already there. Could just be a tad longer for carrying with cables + headphone on top of mixer + vinyl. single handle does not keep the bag together for me.

- I'd like to have a velcro on the front pouch to fix the vinyl of the maincompartment upside down to have it out of the way. Maybe complete front pouch with female velcro also helps fixing front pouch in differnt highs.  

- generally: improve the sides and reduce the  depth to have the weight near to the body and get better through tight doors etc.

 

my quick thoughts

 

Armin

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Not that this is specific to your AO-line, but I really wish you would incorporate a waist strap option into your bags. As of now Kortwich is the only manufacturer I know who does this, and as such I use their bags exclusively.

E.

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Adam: " What dividers would you like to see come standard with the bag? "

you have come to the right place for redesigning ideas!

dividers, and perhaps even the outline of the bag ought to incorporate RF attenuating materials where feasible...

" would it help to have a velcro system that held that NP1 in place? "

I like that, with the NP-1 vertical and the cup on the bottom...

I like the flexibility of selecting amongst a handle, or shoulder strap, or harness, or belt, as the situation dictates.

Armin: " I don't need ... "

there are lots of "things" that various individuals do not want or need, but unless you make each bag custom, it is nice to have the options to use things like Velcro panels and strips if desired, as there are many individuals who do want or need them

" I'd like to have a velcro on... "

see what I mean ?

" Could just be a tad longer for... "

then someone else would want theirs just a tad shorter!

thus perhaps a bit of adjustment range ??

Edited by studiomprd

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Adam: " What dividers would you like to see come standard with the bag? "

you have come to the right place for redesigning ideas!

dividers, and perhaps even the outline of the bag ought to incorporate RF attenuating materials where feasible...

" would it help to have a velcro system that held that NP1 in place? "

I like that, with the NP-1 vertical and the cup on the bottom...

I like the flexibility of selecting amongst a handle, or shoulder strap, or harness, or belt, as the situation dictates.

Armin: " I don't need ... "

there are lots of "things" that various individuals do not want or need, but unless you make each bag custom, it is nice to have the options to use things like Velcro panels and strips if desired, as there are many individuals who do want or need them

" I'd like to have a velcro on... "

see what I mean ?

" Could just be a tad longer for... "

then someone else would want theirs just a tad shorter!

thus perhaps a bit of adjustment range ??

 

I agree. I already have some great feedback and a greater understanding of what can be done to improve the AO-Series. I'm looking forward to making these changes and continuing on the discussions. 

 

We all know its an impossible task to please every user. There are just too many variables in an audio mixers "bag setup". That being said. I will always try to offer more in these bags, so that at least the user has the option to "remove", as opposed to being disappointed that the bag doesn't cater to their individual needs. Easier said than done, but I'm trying. 

 

I'm putting plans together so that a list of definite alterations will go ahead this coming week. Other points and simple adjustments, like velcro strap positions, vinyl covers, BDS storage and so on will be tweaked after the initial changes are complete. The biggest challenge to the project structurally will be in integration of an access point below the mixer. 

 

Additional Ideas that have sparked great interest are the possibilities of using RF- attenuating materials, modular sides and NP1 and BDS solutions. The list is very long. 

 

I will continue to answer everyones individual requests and enquiries and also do my very best to incorporate those ideas into the final product.

 

Many thanks! Lets see where this takes us.  

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Not that this is specific to your AO-line, but I really wish you would incorporate a waist strap option into your bags. As of now Kortwich is the only manufacturer I know who does this, and as such I use their bags exclusively.

E.

 

I have been toying with the idea for a while about creating a wide waist strap into some of the bags. I will have to do some research, and  read through some of the other forum threads. But, please know that developments for this idea are definitely something I'm very serious about. It's just a matter of design and integration. If you know of any good resourses and or forums on this subject, please do let me know. I'd be interested in checking them out. 

 

Thank you. 

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Hi Adam, 

nice to see a manufacture listen. I do own two AO Bags - I think its the 1 and the 1.5. 

 

I really like the small one for my SQN 2 - great bag for it. I have used the 1.5 for the 552 and the 664 but it is not that great for the too large (deep) front compartment and the side pockets.

 

One big bonus you have over your competition is the reduced weight combined with a rigid structure. Please please keep that advantage with your modifications.

 

Comments to AO 1.5 (2010) 

 

- I don't like the Vinyl over the front Pouch / transmitter pouches. makes it bulky and stiff / not versatile to fold away

- I don't need the velcro to let out antennas on the front pouch. Its not padded so I put the receivers in the main compartment. Front pouch is for uncritical stuff like cabels, batteries, lavboxes for me.

- I don't need the pocket on the backside - like to have the weight of the mixer close to the body

- front pouch too deep and high. deep for getting through tight spaces and high for touching floor before main compartment. an additional net in the front pouch sewn to main compartment could help organize it. 

- accesibility to the sides/Card slot must be improved. vertical zipper with fold away sidepockets?

- left side pockets for transmitters eat too much space - prefer one bigger slightly padded one that is also higher to less bend on antenna. Without vinyl and with vertical velcro to close in different highs

- dividers: 2 or even 3 long ones is much better than ready cut shorter ones to modify yourself. Thin ones are ok for reduced weight and space. they don't need to make bag more rigid just keep stuff in place. rounded lower corners to let cables pass by. 

- handles: I like the two already there. Could just be a tad longer for carrying with cables + headphone on top of mixer + vinyl. single handle does not keep the bag together for me.

- I'd like to have a velcro on the front pouch to fix the vinyl of the maincompartment upside down to have it out of the way. Maybe complete front pouch with female velcro also helps fixing front pouch in differnt highs.  

- generally: improve the sides and reduce the  depth to have the weight near to the body and get better through tight doors etc.

 

my quick thoughts

 

Armin

Hi there Armin,

 

Thank you for taking the time to write those points. I'm definitely interested in possibly removing the vinyl from the front pouch. I agree, it would make it easier to fully collapse that section then. The dividers I think might change to simply having two long dividers, left to right. I'm sure people will still use the other method. But I think these rigid dividers are much more user friendly and make the setup process much simpler. 

 

Thank you again for your suggestions. Ive added them to my list.

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Adam, I have a suggestion, though you may not want to go down this path.  I have been a Portabrace user for many years, (more than 30) and you guys make some fine bags and kit.  In recent years the bags have not kept up with the rapid changes in audio gear and the demands placed on the user in the work environment.  My most recent bags have been made by three different manufactures. 

 

The German company Kortwich fills a niche by offering both stock bags and custom bags.  Their bags command a premium in the US due to currency exchange and customs duty.  Would Portabrace consider offering a range of stock bags and additionally for a small premium offer custom adaptions to those bags?

 

Perhaps not what you want to here, but maybe a partial solution to folks having different needs and wants.  There are several custom coach companies here in Nashville that build to the clients specific needs.  The coaches start out as a shell and these companies have modular units that fit within the defined space.  Maybe Portabrace could have the basic bag, much like Jim Domke did with camera bags back in the 70s, that would accept modular units.

 

Just some thoughts.

 

David in Nashville

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