Commuter Audio: What's In My Bag

Of late, I've decided to work from the NYC office every other Wednesday. My commute consists of a roughly hour drive to Hoboken, a PATH ride to 33rd Street, and the few block walk to 261 Madison Ave. As such, I carry a bag with stuff in it and at Jana's suggestion, here are some of its contents.

(clockwise from top right)

  1. iPhone 6 w/64GB
  2. Apple Camera Connection Kit
  3. AudioQuest DragonFly Red (currently under review)
  4. RHA S500 headphones with Comply Foam Isolation 200 tips
  5. 1 - 4 = one great music machine
  6. My trusty TEN notepad
  7. Scholarly Gumby
  8. Sailor fountain pen
  9. A book. Right now that book is the wonderful Les Chants de Maldoror (1868) by Comte de Lautréamont, aka Isidore Ducasse, which helped give the surrealists their dreams
  10. The FM3 Buddha Machine for listening to live largely random music
  11. Swiss Army knife for opening things
  12. My bag: Bleu de Chauffe Musette Mariole Waxy

Wavelength's picture

Just back from Scotland I took a number of IE headphones with me including Grado GR8, Westone UM1, Etymotic ER-4S, AKG N20 and the new Fender FXA6. Using MacBook, iPhone6 +CCK, iPad Mini +CCK and AudioQuest DragonFly Red I really liked the new Fender headphones.

Full headphones are just a little too bulky for me when I travel. I can't wait to see what Skylar comes up with for IE headphones. That would make my travel bag really happy.

Gordon's picture

I look forward to your review of the Red. We both own and love the AX-5. Haven' heard the Gibbons, but I think you like the Treo's that I do own so I usually look forward to the reviews you do. I am really liking the DAC with my Noble Savants. Not many options for the cost, size and compatibility with iPhones, but I do hear a difference with Tidal streaming as well as my Apple Lossless recordings I store.

CraigS's picture

May I suggest the 1TB Western Digital MyPassport wireless HDD with built in wifi. Boots up in about 15 seconds and, more importantly, does not re-index every time it boots up. I connect to my car's processor via an ipad mini (8 player app), apple CCK, a powered USB hub and an old Musical Fidelity USB to SPDIF. All but the ipad powered via an electrical port in the arm rest. I suppose this will be moot in a few years when we will all be getting cheap, unlimited and fast cell service in our cars and we can just use Tidal (with all songs MQA'd :)), but I've been running this set-up for 3 years now and love it. P.S. be sure to unplug the hub when the car is not running to make sure that there are no drains on the car battery.

Stephen Dupont's picture

nice bag.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
I kept an eye on the Bleu de Chauffe bags for years, literally, until the one I wanted went on final sale. It was worth the wait.
Stephen Dupont's picture

i wasn't familiar with them, but i have something similar by Ernest Alexander.

mostly i carry a waterfield staad bag:

Michael Lavorgna's picture
On both counts.

On another subject, for the past few days I've had Margo Price songs in my head when I woke up ;-)


agb's picture

Maxpedition makes some interesting small knapsacks for the hard user ready to climb Everest or join the SEALS. I have become sensible. No camera connection kits, no DACs to strap on. For what?

New LG-V10 mobile with the best 32 bit mobile DAC I've heard, drives Audeze LCD-Xes directly and loudly...Now leaving my DACs at home to keep company with the iMac - thank you. The V10 also has one of, if not the, best mobile cameras too.

BTW, Apple is buying its next cameras from LG, as well as its next screens.

Two summers ago in Budapest we sat next to two Korean gents who started talking to us. And then one whipped out a mobile to compare with my then-new HTC. We just saw the future...and it is pretty!

The two were the Euro chief execs for LG. Which stands for Life's Good. It's better with no camera connection kits, extra wires that disconnect unexpectedly, DACs needing recharging, and large pockets...

No thanks...

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...a book in your LG-V10?
Wavelength's picture

There is a new lightning to USB3 CCK that is nice because it also has a downstream lightning that can power the phone and the device at the same time.
See here...


CG's picture

I have a USB DAC next to my bed that I attach my iPad Pro to for listening to some internet "radio" stations. This feeds a Tivoli Model One radio. Works pretty well, in fact.

But... If you try to use the Apple supplied power supply for charging the iPad, just forget about listening to the radio on either AM or FM. Awful noise.

I ended up using a so-called "linear" power supply to power the arrlngement. (Anything with a rectifier is hardly linear, by definition, but it's way better than what is commonly known as a switching power supply. At least most switching supplies.)

The radio interference went away for the most part. The sound of the iPad playing throigh the Tivoli is better, too.

Wavelength's picture

Were waiting for your linear 5V->USB_A connector :)

CG's picture


CG's picture

BTW, the reason for the linear supply was to get rid of the radio interference. Better sound was a nice side benefit.

Since probably about 19 readers of this web page actually ever listen to radio, especially AM, the convenience and portability of the standard issue charger is probably the only concern for the rest.

BTW #2, stuffing a small pom-pom into the Tivoli's port and putting some cork feet underneath the radio's box to move it further off the table improved the clarity of the radio quite a bit. At least for my taste.

monetschemist's picture

I have a long commute that I don't do every day so maybe I'm in a different category, but I can't imagine travelling without my kindle (well I could travel with a Kobo instead but anyway).

Michael Lavorgna's picture
That's all the kindling I need ;-)
monetschemist's picture

... a "give me paper or give me death" attitude?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
And feel. And look.

Plus, I get tired of staring into a light source.

monetschemist's picture

I get and respect your points; I have the same kind of conversation around the house with certain people who prefer the physical to the electronic when it comes to books.

FWIW there are two killer apps for e-books. One is being able to buy a book in the language of your choice when you are in a place that doesn't have books in that language. The other is the online dictionary, which is especially wonderful when reading a book in a second (or third, or...) language.

brucew268's picture

I definitely get that and it is why I've not gone with an android or iOS reader but a Kindle which feels altogether different to me than looking at a light source. But it's not quite the same feel and look.

fritzg's picture

What software do you use for hi-res files on the iPhone?

Very nice bag and contents. Nice.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...on my iPhone that can play hi-res files; Onkyo's HF Player (free), and KaiserTone ($9.99). They do not get much use since I tend to listen to new music on my iPhone, the majority of which is downloaded from Tidal HiFi (offline mode).
fritzg's picture

Through the DragonFly?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
brucew268's picture

Scholarly Gumby... of course, who could be without it!

Sailor fountain pen... love fountain pens. I most often reach for an Indian franken-pen with a 1928 Waterman flex nib fitted. Appreciation for fountain pens is not wholly removed from the sort of person that loves paper books, though my travels necessitate a Kindle due to sheer weight and bulk when I want a choice of three books.

I am also enjoying the SQ and portability of Android > UAPP > Dragonfly Red.

Sprice's picture

Hi Michael,

Thanks for this peek into your portable audio set up.

Attempting the same thing with an iPhone 5 thru Camera Kit to Dragonfly Black, I get a "connected device requires too much power" error. Do you know if this a iPhone 5/6 issue or a Dragonfly Black/Red issue, or both?

Thanks in advance.


Sprice's picture

First gen Dragonfly. Problem solved.