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Adam Butler

Portabrace AO Organizer Bags: Modifications - Brainstorm Frenzy!

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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

Hi David,

I actually think that that's a great idea and would definitely be the perfect solution to these often frustrating bag/design limitations.

Portabrace as a company is now spending a considerable amount of time and money developing the products for the audio consumer, which is something that has been somewhat neglected in the past. Modifications can now be made and tested continuously so that the products follow technology demands. New products are being released with the audio department in mind, such as backpacks and travel case solutions. It is my goal to introduce more modular items into the line, starting with this AO system.

With a dedicated audio department listening to the consumers, demands can be met much quicker now. If enough mixers want the product a certain way, then we are happy to implement the changes. That is one of the main advantages of our US-based facility: from suggestion to design change to completed product can be just a matter of weeks, or even days.

I will take a closer look at modular integration and customization. Portabrace offers custom features and can make many changes upon request, but I know that can sometimes be expensive depending upon the complexity of the design. So stand by on that one. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

Thank you for your response and your time.

Adam

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I agree that portabrace indeed make a very good quality product. Regarding handles, I have to say, the AO series handles are great. I haven't seen better than the suede covered ballistic nylon anywhere. Comfortable quality. I do however agree with Armin on his mention of the handles being a bit short. I remember that being especially frustrating when I owned it. A bit longer would be welcome for indeed, things end up being stuffed for transport in that area. Headphones and cables etc. so true!

I don't envy you the challenge of designing the np-1 cup/zone. It will be a tricky endeavor since the sides mostly/partially need be accessible and no one wants an np1 that flops around either.

Also, since our recorders now have the ability to accept so many channels, and small dual receivers being readily available, having 6+ transmitters to spread around then subsequently collect is a fair amount of bulk. Instead of just stuffing in front pocket, I am a friend to the idea of elastic strips being sewn on the outside of front pouch to clip the transmitters to. Could even have two rows. Fit 6 or 8 transmitters clean and organized. My two cents. Good luck with the rebuild and don't be shy to sell off the prototypes here!

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I agree that portabrace indeed make a very good quality product. Regarding handles, I have to say, the AO series handles are great. I haven't seen better than the suede covered ballistic nylon anywhere. Comfortable quality. I do however agree with Armin on his mention of the handles being a bit short. I remember that being especially frustrating when I owned it. A bit longer would be welcome for indeed, things end up being stuffed for transport in that area. Headphones and cables etc. so true!

I don't envy you the challenge of designing the np-1 cup/zone. It will be a tricky endeavor since the sides mostly/partially need be accessible and no one wants an np1 that flops around either.

Also, since our recorders now have the ability to accept so many channels, and small dual receivers being readily available, having 6+ transmitters to spread around then subsequently collect is a fair amount of bulk. Instead of just stuffing in front pocket, I am a friend to the idea of elastic strips being sewn on the outside of front pouch to clip the transmitters to. Could even have two rows. Fit 6 or 8 transmitters clean and organized. My two cents. Good luck with the rebuild and don't be shy to sell off the prototypes here!

Thanks for the input!

 

I will take a look at what we can do to the handles. Ive always thought they got in the way against the body when using the bag. I personally prefer the leather clip handle shown in the thread above. But, as i've mentioned before, I'd rather offer these things and let the user take them away if needed. The attached handles do seem to be quite popular. 

 

The NP1 holder and the BDS will be a challenge I think. I dont want to over think the issues, but just provide a clear and simple solution. 

 

The transmitter issue I have been toying with. Personally I can fit all 7 into my front pouch and then I fold it away after I've miced everyone up. 

 

What do you guys think about boom pole holders too? I was thinking that the front flap of the pocket could double up as a boom holder when wrapped up. Or simpler still, just have two velcro loops at the front of the main compartment.

 

What do you think?

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20 or so years ago I had porta brace modify some bags for me. At the time they would do custom bags but they would do some minor modifications to existing bags. It was quite pricy since I had to pay list price (not sure it is still the same today but list price was way higher than retail) plus the extra charges for the modification.

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20 or so years ago I had porta brace modify some bags for me. At the time they would do custom bags but they would do some minor modifications to existing bags. It was quite pricy since I had to pay list price (not sure it is still the same today but list price was way higher than retail) plus the extra charges for the modification.

Currently you can still get custom changes made to bags. But I agree, it does get rather expensive, simply because of the time taken to complete the modifications. 

 

There may be some room for improvement and/or a better system to allow for customization. I think the key though for now is to expand this modular system idea. That way if we already have the blueprints for 10 variations of each Idea, you could go down the list picking the best options tailored to your individual taste. Much like the system used when buying a new Mac.

 

You pick what you want going down the list and you end up with a price on the bag and a unique bag code for that combination. 

 

This is obviously a long way off, but I believe its possible. 

 

(PS, No offence to any PC users, its the best example i could think of)

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20 or so years ago I had porta brace modify some bags for me. At the time they would do custom bags but they would do some minor modifications to existing bags.

Sorry that should say would not do custom.

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Hi Adam!

I'm one of the many people that bent your ear at this year's NAB.

Here's a photo of my 14 year old Portabrace bag, model MX-M4II, made for my old PSC M4MkII mixer that I'm currently making work for my SD 633 until something comes along that fits my particular needs better.

The photo is of the bag in its most basic setup.

The MX-M4II bag's main drawbacks are that it's old and floppy, needing some lightweight structure and that it needs a better space saver for when I don't use the 633's attachable Sony L batteries, which is almost always.

It also needs better access to the 633's CF and SD card slots.

The general layout works for me.

Compact and lightweight, with enough room for my typical jobs.

post-987-0-17053400-1397528334_thumb.jpg

Thanks for listening!

 

Dave Wendlinger

San Francisco, CA

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Hi Adam!

I'm one of the many people that bent your ear at this year's NAB.

Here's a photo of my 14 year old Portabrace bag, model MX-M4II, made for my old PSC M4MkII mixer that I'm currently making work for my SD 633 until something comes along that fits my particular needs better.

The photo is of the bag in its most basic setup.

The MX-M4II bag's main drawbacks are that it's old and floppy, needing some lightweight structure and that it needs a better space saver for when I don't use the 633's attachable Sony L batteries, which is almost always.

It also needs better access to the 633's CF and SD card slots.

The general layout works for me.

Compact and lightweight, with enough room for my typical jobs.

attachicon.gifPSC MX-M4II bag w: 633.jpg

Thanks for listening!

 

Dave Wendlinger

San Francisco, CA

Hi Dave,

 

Thanks for your input, and also for stopping to talk at NAB. That's a nice bag for the 633! We should just find the old print sheet and we'd be half way there. I actually had my 633 in the MXC-552 for a minute. That isn't far off the setup you have there. 

 

I'm sure the CS6 will be going through some similar modifications to make it very similar to the system you suggested. I'll keep you posted on that one. 

 

off topic, would you mind if I used that picture on our website? 

 

Thanks Dave!

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I'd still like more input on the following please. 

 

1) What would you like to see come standard with the bag? (Divider Kit)

2) Would a dedicated pouch to the side be a good solution for the BDS?

3) Do we all agree that it needs longer handles?

4) how many of you use the large suede strap with the bag?

5) Would you like different options, i.e leather handle?

6) Do you need a vinyl pocket on the front pouch? 

7) would you like the front pouch to be removable?

8) Would you like to see a large waist strap option integrated into the AO series?

 

Thank you all very much for your input! Things are coming together very well. Back to the drawing board for me. I'll keep you posted. 

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personally, I like buying ala carte, so bag + strap + harness + belt + pouches are picked, mixed and matched as desired...

OTOH...

it is nice to get package deals...

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I'd still like more input on the following please. 

 

1) What would you like to see come standard with the bag? (Divider Kit)

2) Would a dedicated pouch to the side be a good solution for the BDS?

3) Do we all agree that it needs longer handles?

4) how many of you use the large suede strap with the bag?

5) Would you like different options, i.e leather handle?

6) Do you need a vinyl pocket on the front pouch? 

7) would you like the front pouch to be removable?

8) Would you like to see a large waist strap option integrated into the AO series?

 

Thank you all very much for your input! Things are coming together very well. Back to the drawing board for me. I'll keep you posted. 

For me personally

  1. Just a strap
  2. Not for me
  3. No
  4. I do to carry from the car to location and through airports etc - but never when mixing
  5. No
  6. No
  7. No
  8. Maybe

But my guess you will get 100 different answers from 100 different people. I think there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to bags.

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Adam,

 

1.  I would suggest dividers or modular compartments like Jim Domke came up with (a compartment for a 633, 744T, 302, Nomad, Maxx)

     something that would support and cradle the mixer/recorder, additional modules for receivers, battery, bds, etc.

2.  A pouch for both the battery and BDS.  The idea of a BDS is great.  I never liked the side mount connectors, this takes up too much      

     space in your bag, plus the connectors are hard to grasp and loosen.  Not as user friendly, but my solution was to use a multipin

     chassis connector on the bottom of the box and simply wire as many cables as I need to the male connector.  If I add or subtract a new

     piece of gear I can add or subtract a cable to the connector. 

3.  Yes I like the idea of longer hand straps.

4.  I do like your suede straps.  Better that anybody's

5.  You could offer the leather handle as an option.

6.  I don't think a cover over the front pouch is necessary.  An overall rain/vinyl cover for the whole bag, yes

7.  I like the front pouch to be fixed.

8  The waist strap idea would be appreciated for a small AO bag

 

Thanks

David

 

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personally, I like buying ala carte, so bag + strap + harness + belt + pouches are picked, mixed and matched as desired...

OTOH...

it is nice to get package deals...

The ala carte option appears to be very popular.

 

This really pushes me once more to consider all the bags options to be "ala carte". Creating a checklist of modular options with a simple yes or no tick box would not only give the customer some creative input and control in the creation of the bag, but could also save you some money if you tick less boxes. 

 

Nice. I like it. 

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I think you are on to something with the "options" idea. Much like zaxcom with their different options for their recorders, it's a super idea to mix and match options with a bag. For example, I wouldn't use the large suede shoulder strap at all, (it's a GREAT, quality strap though, and surely not cheap.) and am happy to save the dollars not having to pay for one I would not use.

2) Would a dedicated pouch to the side be a good solution for the BDS?

It depends. Power distro box placement is tricky. Previously mine lived in a petrol pouch nice and snug on the side, but I wanted to cut down on the bags overall width. It now happily lives in the front pocket. Much preferred. Wider is not better and neither is flappy.

3) Do we all agree that it needs longer handles?

-I agree.

4) how many of you use the large suede strap with the bag?

-I would not. Again, great strap. A portabrace classic.

5) Would you like different options, i.e leather handle?

-Having the heavy duty black leather handle as a separate purchasable option is a great idea. (also a GREAT portabrace classic)

6) Do you need a vinyl pocket on the front pouch?

-not sure what you mean but in my opinion the front pouch needs to be able to be sealed closed so nothing pops out. I'd say zipper.

7) would you like the front pouch to be removable?

-No

8) Would you like to see a large waist strap option integrated into the AO series?

-Only if it is designed and balanced and actually works REALLY well.

Speaking of add-ons, a member here named -Infrequency editions, came up with what I think is a great idea for his Kortwich bag. A simple removable fabric cover. Cuts down on the conspicuousness of a loaded bag, and the beating sun. Love it.

tavazeje.jpg

aqa4ubu2.jpg

Currently this is my bag build and it's the best I've managed to get it. BDS in the front pocket and double NP1's in what previously was the "belly pouch.

Access to inputs and outputs isn't the best but I've had to make do with this petrol model.

y3ugu8as.jpg

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I'd still like more input on the following please. 

 

1) What would you like to see come standard with the bag? (Divider Kit)

2) Would a dedicated pouch to the side be a good solution for the BDS?

3) Do we all agree that it needs longer handles?

4) how many of you use the large suede strap with the bag?

5) Would you like different options, i.e leather handle?

6) Do you need a vinyl pocket on the front pouch? 

7) would you like the front pouch to be removable?

8) Would you like to see a large waist strap option integrated into the AO series?

 

Thank you all very much for your input! Things are coming together very well. Back to the drawing board for me. I'll keep you posted. 

1.) More dividers would be nice.

2.) Not sure.

3.) I'm about to cut the handles off my bag, I hate 'em.

4.) I give them away, other than the one I mounted to a boom and boom stand caddy.

5.) I'd like to see the leather, web strap and snap clip handle that comes (maybe came) with old run bags and CRT monitor cases over sewn-on handles of any length.

6.) No opinion

7.) Yes but with structure and good attachment points, unlike the old RF multi.

Thanks for asking!

Best regards,

Jim

 

PS: Take a look at rain covers the way ThinkTank does 'em for their camera bags. I'd pay for a built-for-the-bag rain cover that's easy to deploy like theirs are.

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For me personally

  1. Just a strap
  2. Not for me
  3. No
  4. I do to carry from the car to location and through airports etc - but never when mixing
  5. No
  6. No
  7. No
  8. Maybe

But my guess you will get 100 different answers from 100 different people. I think there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to bags.

Thanks for your list. 

 

I do agree that the one size fits all bag definitely doesn't work. This AO-series will come in 5 different sizes, S,M,L,XL and 664, to cater for many mixers. 

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I think you are on to something with the "options" idea. Much like zaxcom with their different options for their recorders, it's a super idea to mix and match options with a bag. For example, I wouldn't use the large suede shoulder strap at all, (it's a GREAT, quality strap though, and surely not cheap.) and am happy to save the dollars not having to pay for one I would not use.

2) Would a dedicated pouch to the side be a good solution for the BDS?

It depends. Power distro box placement is tricky. Previously mine lived in a petrol pouch nice and snug on the side, but I wanted to cut down on the bags overall width. It now happily lives in the front pocket. Much preferred. Wider is not better and neither is flappy.

3) Do we all agree that it needs longer handles?

-I agree.

4) how many of you use the large suede strap with the bag?

-I would not. Again, great strap. A portabrace classic.

5) Would you like different options, i.e leather handle?

-Having the heavy duty black leather handle as a separate purchasable option is a great idea. (also a GREAT portabrace classic)

6) Do you need a vinyl pocket on the front pouch?

-not sure what you mean but in my opinion the front pouch needs to be able to be sealed closed so nothing pops out. I'd say zipper.

7) would you like the front pouch to be removable?

-No

8) Would you like to see a large waist strap option integrated into the AO series?

-Only if it is designed and balanced and actually works REALLY well.

Speaking of add-ons, a member here named -Infrequency editions, came up with what I think is a great idea for his Kortwich bag. A simple removable fabric cover. Cuts down on the conspicuousness of a loaded bag, and the beating sun. Love it.

tavazeje.jpg

aqa4ubu2.jpg

Currently this is my bag build and it's the best I've managed to get it. BDS in the front pocket and double NP1's in what previously was the "belly pouch.

Access to inputs and outputs isn't the best but I've had to make do with this petrol model.

y3ugu8as.jpg

 

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to show pictures. Much appreciated. 

 

Number 6 was unclear. I meant, would you like the lid or flap on the front pocket to be see through vinyl, or could it simply be fabric? This way It can fold away easier as I would like to be able to collapse it down and velcro it flat to the bag when not in use, or traveling. 

 

I think that either keeping the bag narrow, or using the side pockets is a split decision. Again, something that can be solved with the modular system.

 

Thank for your input and ideas. The fabric cover I'm sure can be added to a modular setup very easily. Another Option to add to the growing list.

 

Thanks again.  

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Thanks for your list. 

 

I do agree that the one size fits all bag definitely doesn't work. This AO-series will come in 5 different sizes, S,M,L,XL and 664, to cater for many mixers. 

Adam

I'm not so much talking about size of the bag - I am talking about accessories.

 

Like you have mentioned in a previous post - and the Senator brought back up - a good option might be to do things a la carte.

Because as you have seen no two people want the same bag.

 

Though one big issue is if you do an a la cart bag - it makes it harder for the dealers to stock and maintain an inventory of all the parts.And it could be a production issue for you but I am not going to tell you how to do business.

 

22 or so years ago when I first bought my own gear PB was pretty much the only game in town when it came to audio bags - there were two or three other players but much smaller - and in my opinion not as good. PB did, and still, makes very durable bags and cases - I own some that are almost 22 years old and they are still kicking - they look a bit road worn but they they have hard miles on them.and they have served me well. I love your bags - but have avoided your sound bags in recent years because - in my opinion - the design hasn't keep up and. And PB hasn't been listening - I even have called and spoken to some people about some customizing. For me personally I have had PB do some modifications and customization - but they seemed much less open to it in recent years - not sure why.  

Today there are several new bag companies in a relatively small market now competing for an even smaller slice of the pie and I do appreciate that Porta Brace is now listening and working and designing for us. Competition is always good it keeps the manufactures on their toes and we as the consumer always benefit.

Adam keep up the good work.

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Adam

I'm not so much talking about size of the bag - I am talking about accessories.

 

Like you have mentioned in a previous post - and the Senator brought back up - a good option might be to do things a la carte.

Because as you have seen no two people want the same bag.

 

Though one big issue is if you do an a la cart bag - it makes it harder for the dealers to stock and maintain an inventory of all the parts.And it could be a production issue for you but I am not going to tell you how to do business.

 

22 or so years ago when I first bought my own gear PB was pretty much the only game in town when it came to audio bags - there were two or three other players but much smaller - and in my opinion not as good. PB did, and still, makes very durable bags and cases - I own some that are almost 22 years old and they are still kicking - they look a bit road worn but they they have hard miles on them.and they have served me well. I love your bags - but have avoided your sound bags in recent years because - in my opinion - the design hasn't keep up and. And PB hasn't been listening - I even have called and spoken to some people about some customizing. For me personally I have had PB do some modifications and customization - but they seemed much less open to it in recent years - not sure why.  

Today there are several new bag companies in a relatively small market now competing for an even smaller slice of the pie and I do appreciate that Porta Brace is now listening and working and designing for us. Competition is always good it keeps the manufactures on their toes and we as the consumer always benefit.

Adam keep up the good work.

Hi Jack,

 

Apologies for the confusion. That was a misunderstanding on my part and also a hasty answer.

 

You are absolutely correct, I do agree that the multiple bag options would be an awkward and rather complex system for the dealers to work with. I think that the modular customization options and system could only work direct from the Portabrace website. We are currently working on a similar system with interior carry case options. So I will have to spend some time developing a workable system. 

 

I also agree that this current level of attention is exactly what's needed to bring PB back into the spotlight and that in the past, the designs haven't kept up with consumer demands. With the US based factory and the ability to customise, I really do hope to capitalize on this strength and improve the bags significantly. 

 

I think I might now re-word my thread title and ask exactly what people want to add to our bags as opposed to just simply modify. I would really love to know every detail about what makes a good bag for you, and also each and every user.

 

Thanks again Jack, I do appreciate your time and input.

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Ok, things are coming together well. We've had some great input and have drawn up a mods list to work on.

As the bags blueprint will change to add the lower back access points, we have the chance to change the size of the bags too, so that more of the new mixers that are being released fit perfectly.

Currently, the AO-2 is a tall thin bag, something I may adapt for a Zaxcom RX-12 setup. Also, would you guys be interested in a smaller protective bag in the AO style? A lower price point, non removable sides, but strong and versatile. To be used by people with a 633, or maxx sized mixer, but catering specifically for less wireless.

What do you all recon?

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