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#1682759 - 07/05/05 09:48 PM Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
zeronyne Offline
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Registered: 05/16/03
Posts: 6621
Loc: Chicago/NW Indiana
So on Friday, I went to the Guitar Center near my parents' house to hassle the staff. Walked out with a Tranzport ( LINK ). By the way, if you hassle them enough, you can get it for considerably less than street price.

My main DAW is Logic Pro 7.1, although I also use Digital Performer 4.5 and Pro Tools LE, so most of my comments will be Logic-centric.

I don't want to rehash what's in the marketing literature (by our very own Jeff da Weasel, I believe)because frankly, it simply does what it purports to right out of the box: transport controls, mute, solo, record arm, add markers, undo just like hitting Apple-Z, level/pan, punch in parameters, scrubbing, metering, and a few others. This is without opening the PDF manual (single paper sheet is included).

Installation could not have been easier. I ran the installer (after checking the website for any updates...the WinXP driver is at 1.2, but the OSX driver is still at 1.0), restarted the computer, plugged in the transmitter/receiver, popped the included Duracell AAs into thte remote unit and it was ready to go. There's a second "bundle" to install for Logic, but to my pleasant surprise, Logic 7.1 already contains the bundle.

I started up Logic and my default song came up. Immediately, an environment setup window popped up showing the Tranzport along with a slew of modifiable options. I wanted to get into it right away so I closed the window, but it looked like I could REALLY customize the key bindings, type of metering, etc. More on that later.

The Tranzport was already showing the first audio track. By the way, it has no on/off button...after 15 minutes, it goes into low power mode. The backlight is pleasantly dim sky blue, but I imagine it eats up batteries. Anyway I armed track 1, switched over to track 2, armed that one, and hit record. The countoff sounded right away, and I recorded about 8 measures. The stop button responded as quickly as my qwerty keyboard. I then disarmed the tracks, panned the tracks L and R respectively, hit stop twice to rtz, and hit play. Again, it responds just like a wired controller. Even if it wasn't wireless, I would consider this unit over any other short of a fader box. I then hit undo enough times so I was back at square one. Very very slick.

Again, I don't want to rehase the literature, so I'll give you some of my favorite highlights.

-A dedicated battery status button.
-A dedicated "any solo" LED that let's you know that at least one track is soloed even if you are looking at a different track.
-Shift-Record saves (thank you!)
-Scrubbing. I love scrubbing.

Many buttons have dual functions...some up to four. The shift, punch, and loop keys facilitate these other modes.

It has a clever magnetic mic stand mount (optional) and a footswitch jack.

This little unit is by far the most exciting thing I've purchased this year. If you have any sort of studio that is larger than arms width, this is worth it. I stepped 45 feet away through two walls, and it still worked, although FDG only claims operability up to 10 metres. YMMV.

My personal need stems from my newfound passion for bass guitar. Everytime I get near the DAW to record bass, I end up bashing a headstock into a monitor, an LCD monitor, or a keyboard. Even though I will be in the same room, being able to turn around and concentrate on the performance will be a huge deal...I can't wait to start laying vocals with this thing.

Bottom line: highly recommended. If anyone has any questions or has something they'd like me to try, please feel free to ask. It's going to be indispensable to me.

I do not work for GC or Frontier Design Group, and I have no relationship with either apart from being a satisfied customer.
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#1682760 - 07/06/05 01:31 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Sean Eldon Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 462
Loc: Long Island
we got some in and took one out to mess around with. we got about 10 feet before the buttons stopped working fully and the batteries were dead within 3 hours. 200 dollar paperweight as far as i'm concerned.
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#1682761 - 07/06/05 06:25 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Mats Olsson. Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 14459
Loc: Eskilstuna,,SWEDEN
The Tranzport is not yet available in shops here, only mail order. And I would like to try before I buy or at least have funcionality confirmed from other users.

I do a lot of 2-track editing, what I need is transport buttons & scrub wheel, no need for track arming. Programmable shortcut buttons would be a nice bonus.

What I really need to know is how it's working with WaveLab, Audition and Sound Forge on a PC and how it works with Peak on a Mac.
From what I've read in the marketing material, none of those programs are supported (yet).
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#1682762 - 07/06/05 10:20 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
zeronyne Offline
I still exist
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 05/16/03
Posts: 6621
Loc: Chicago/NW Indiana
Quote:
Originally posted by Sean Eldon:
we got some in and took one out to mess around with. we got about 10 feet before the buttons stopped working fully and the batteries were dead within 3 hours. 200 dollar paperweight as far as i'm concerned.
Weird...I just used it for 10 hours with the backlight on, and it's going strong.

But hey, I'm not an apologist...if it didn't work for you, that's cool.

But it would be more helpful if you described your setup, the software you used, and the environment you used it in. Just saying it's a paperweight doesn't really shed light on much.

Thanks.
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#1682763 - 07/06/05 10:48 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Sean Eldon Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 462
Loc: Long Island
my setup is the Captain America of PCs with Sonar 4 PE and Samplitude 8 Professional. My control room is 15x12 and there are no destructive sattelites revolving around the building. The only reason I can think of it not working properly is that I'm also using a wireless mouse and keyboard, but still, I feel that's highly unlikely.
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#1682764 - 07/06/05 10:50 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Lee Knight Offline
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Registered: 10/19/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: Encinitas,CA,UNITED STATES
Does it have the option to use a wall wart? For me, that would work well as I just want to leave the room (single room setup) to verify drum mic placement, etc. Working from a single, remote spot is fine...

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#1682765 - 07/06/05 11:15 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by Sean Eldon:
my setup is the Captain America of PCs with Sonar 4 PE and Samplitude 8 Professional. My control room is 15x12 and there are no destructive sattelites revolving around the building. The only reason I can think of it not working properly is that I'm also using a wireless mouse and keyboard, but still, I feel that's highly unlikely.
Did you explore the possibility of the XKeys Pro? Might work for you. All the mouse clicks with those programs, dedicated keys come in handy and increase work flow (once you get used to the layout.)

I'm sorry to hear of your bad experiences. I also use a wireless mouse and keyboard. My experiences with Frontier have been 99% positive, so I'm hoping that the problems that you experienced with your unit have been sussed out and repaired.

Bill
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Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1682766 - 07/06/05 06:34 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Philip O'Keefe Offline
10k Club

Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Sean Eldon:
my setup is the Captain America of PCs with Sonar 4 PE and Samplitude 8 Professional. My control room is 15x12 and there are no destructive sattelites revolving around the building. The only reason I can think of it not working properly is that I'm also using a wireless mouse and keyboard, but still, I feel that's highly unlikely.
I'm sorry to hear you had problems with it Sean. \:\(

I agree that the wireless mouse / keyboard setup is most likely not in any way an issue. I use a Logitech wireless mouse / keyboard, and it has caused zero problems with my Tranzport. And I had one of the first units sent out to reviewers... IIRC, there were initially six sent out - four to North America, and two to Europe... and I have one of those six.

I have used it extensively now... literally for several hours per day, every day, since I first got it back in early May. My understanding was that my review was supposed to run in this month's issue of EQ, but it apparently got bumped... hopefully it will be in next month's issue.

My building is not exactly a "2.4 GHz friendly" environment. 2.4 GHz can have transmission issues with extremely dense walls and steel, as well as with water, but I'll get to the water thing in a minute... My walls (exterior, as well as interior) are concrete and rebar filled cinderblock, with additional internal drywall / wood walls in addition to that. IOW, if you were to look at a cross section of my building, there is a substantial interior wall in the CR, then a concrete and rebar filled cinderblock wall, then a second wall on the other side of the concrete, and then you're in the main tracking room. That's a lot of dense material for something to transmit through on the 2.4 GHz band, but in my experience, the Tranzport works great from anywhere inside my (25' X 50') building. Heck, I was even able to walk around the outside of the building and have it remained linked - and in that experiment, there were times when it had to transmit through two of those concrete filled walls, as well as at least three other interior walls. To say I was pleased with the results under such adverse conditions would be an understatement. \:\)

However, there are some things you can do to improve range and performance:

First of all, make sure that receiver isn't sitting on top of, behind or next to your PC case. In my experience, range was dramatically improved when I set the receiver unit on top of my desk, and it improved further when I got it up to about chest height (relative to a standing posture).

As for battery performance, the Tranzport goes into a very low power consumption "sleep mode" when it is not used for a period of time. There is no power switch, nor is there an AC adapter recepticle. The default time before the sleep mode kicks in is 15 minutes, but that can be user adjusted. I set mine to five minutes. That's long enough for most "typical" songs, and even if it does "fall asleep", waking it back up is no big deal - just hit any button and then hit the command(s) you want to transmit. It's only one extra button push (pick a button, any button ;\) ), so IMO, it's no big hassle. And it does make a difference in battery life. As does the use of the backlight feature... if you use that, you can expect battery life to decrease.

Another thing to consider is rechargeable batteries. I've got several sets here, and I always keep a bunch charged up and ready to go... with my reliance on battery powered wireless devices (Tranzport, computer keyboard / mouse), I feel it's a good idea. The drawback there is that not all rechargeables will fit into the battery compartment on the Tranzport. That's not really Frontier's fault (although I have let them know it is a potential concern) because some rechargeables are physically larger in diameter than standard alkaline batteries. But I do have 8 of them that do fit, and I keep one set in the unit, and one charged and ready for instant replacement.

I'm able to go for several days of heavy useage before the batteries crap out on me... if they're dying in three hours Sean, I think you must either have had a bad set of batteries, or there is something wrong with that particular unit.

Now back to the "water" issue I mentioned earlier. Even with the receiver elevated, when you get out towards the limit of the effective range, positioning matters. What I mean by that is relative positioning of the user and the unit relative to the receiver. Watch that green "Link" LED... when it goes out, you're getting out of range. However, if you're 25 feet away from the receiver and the transmission / link is spotty, usually just moving the unit a few inches in any direction will link you back up. And as far as the water thing, remember that the human body is primarily made up of water, and water can interfere with radio transmission in the 2.4 GHz band. IOW, if you're in between the Tranzport and receiver, you're making it more difficult for the device to function properly. Under normal conditions, this isn't an issue in my experience, but if you're out near the limit of the range, placing the unit to the other side of you can make a difference between "linked" and "not linked".

I really wish my review had already run, because then I'd feel a lot freer about discussing the unit (I don't want to give everything in the review away ;\) ), but I did discuss it a bit in a couple of threads over on Craig's forum, and I will be willing to answer any questions that I can from anyone who wants to know more.

Here's some links to other threads where we were discussing the Tranzport, and there are some tips and tricks in a few of my posts, just in case anyone is curious:

Link One

Link Two

Link Three

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Sound Sanctuary Recording
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#1682767 - 07/06/05 06:37 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
BTW Sean, feel free to put the info you were talking about into the "Swap Meeet" thread, with my approval. Just send me a PM with the price on the '49 first. \:D
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Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
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http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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#1682768 - 07/06/05 11:43 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Sean Eldon Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 462
Loc: Long Island
posted a bit in swap meet. pm sent. let me know what you think. it really is the kind of thing that needs to be heard to be believed. i can arrange that, though ;\)
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#1682769 - 07/07/05 12:09 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
RaGe Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 04/26/01
Posts: 800
Loc: 1614 N 6132 W
I am still aiming at old laptop on eBay+ wifi cards+ XP's remote desktop. Slightly more than a Tranzport but I think a much better solution.

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#1682770 - 07/07/05 02:27 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/23/03
Posts: 9613
Quote:
Originally posted by RaGe:
I am still aiming at old laptop on eBay+ wifi cards+ XP's remote desktop. Slightly more than a Tranzport but I think a much better solution.
I've mentioned it before, but Rip Rowan wrote a nice article about that on http://www.prorec.com

Bill
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"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1682771 - 07/07/05 03:05 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Philip O'Keefe Offline
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Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
Direct link to the article.

That's actually a pretty spiffy idea... and another one of those "why didn't I think of that before?" situations. \:o

However, I think the Tranzport is better suited to my needs. While the remote laptop / wifi idea offers complete access to all of your DAW features, the Tranzport really does everything I need from a remote unit, it's preset and easy to get up and running with in about 5 minutes, and costs less.

I do admit that having a remote screen, full keyboard, etc. would be nice for some people, but for me, if I'm going to be going into great detail in the software, chances are I'm going to want to be in the CR anyway. When I'm tracking myself, I want as few distractions as possible - just give me the basic tools I need to drop markers, hit record, adjust my levels and so forth so that I can concentrate on performing, and not engineering. I don't want to get caught up in editing while tracking, and I prefer to seperate those left brain / right brain oriented tasks... but since everyone has different / preferred methods of working, this could definitely be a cool idea for some folks, and I'm glad that Rip wrote the article.

And thanks for letting us know about it Bill.
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Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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#1682772 - 07/23/05 10:38 AM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
BobK Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 37
Loc: Oakland, CA
Phil - you wrote that not all rechargeables fit in the Tranzport - which ones have you found that fit? I bought some PowerEX NiMH rechargeables from Thomas Distributing for my digital camera because I read they were high quality, but they don't fit.

I got a TranzPort last week and used it for overdubs. It saved a huge amount of running back and forth from the computer, but I also had problems staying linked - and the battery indicator was never less than 8 (out of 10). The receiver was no more than 15 feet away, and the (two) doors between the rooms are hollow-core wood. Will experiment more with placement of the receiver...
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#1682773 - 07/23/05 01:21 PM Re: Frontier Design Group Tranzport review
Philip O'Keefe Offline
10k Club

Registered: 12/17/00
Posts: 17674
Loc: Riverside,CA,UNITED STATES
If you're using rechargeable batteries, it is normal for the battery meter to read a bit low... that's due to the voltage difference between rechargeables and normal alkaline batteries. Most rechargeables are not 1.5V but rather, 1.2V.

As far as the range, a couple of suggestions.

1. Get the receiver elevated.

2. Make sure you don't have it behind any metal objects, or that there isn't a large metal object between you and the receiver.

3. When near the limits of the range, make sure you are not in between the Tranzport and the receiver. Humans are mostly water, and water can cause problems with transmission in the 2.4 GHz band... BTW, that's the basic frequency area that microwave ovens use.

The batteries I found that fit in my Tranzport were some off brand ones that I found at a local shop called Netseller - http://www.netseller.com/ They had two types, and I bought some of each - some that were 2000mAh NiMH and came bundled with a charger (those fit) and some that were 2200mAh NiMH's, and those didn't fit. Forget about Radio Shack rechargeables - those don't fit either. I have not tried the Duracell or Everready rechargeables in it yet.
_________________________
Phil O'Keefe
Sound Sanctuary Recording
Riverside CA
http://www.ssrstudio.com
http://www.philokeefe.com
pokeefe777@ssrstudio.com
My New Forum on Harmony-Central

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