A 150-foot snake. I bought it on Craigslist about a year ago. I thought it would be great for mic'ing up drums in my living room or backyard, vocals in the bathroom, or a string quartet in my garage. All nice ideas. But for the past year, I've mostly been recording myself, and I can't really be in the studio hitting the record button and in the garage playing the xylophone solo at the same time. So the audio snake has spent most of the past year coiled up in the corner.

But with the arrival of my Frontier TranzPort, that snake may have a new life. The TranzPort is one of those rare items that is both in the "Why hasn't this existed before?" and the "Everyone needs one of these!" categories.

Frontier Design Group has made a wireless and really well thought out transport control for your computer-based recording setup. But this one does a lot more than play, stop, rewind, and fast forward. For just $200 street, the TranzPort can also control level and pan for every channel of your project, and it even has channel metering. A backlit LCD screen shows track titles, level/pan, location, and metering, while nice bright LED's show the status of various things like record-enable, mute, solo, loop/punch, and record status, as well as the state of the wireless link. It's got a rotary shuttle control and an undo button so you don't need to go back into the control room to kill a bad take.

Did I mention that it can control track levels? You could practically do a whole new mix with this thing-all from the vocal booth. It's also pretty handy sitting right next to the computer keyboard or on top of your console, without an additional set of cabling in your way.

Installation for use with my Digital Performer rig was a breeze. Plug in the USB dongle. Pop in the CD. Copy over a couple of files. And everything worked great. Frontier says it integrates with Pro Tools, Logic, SONAR, Digital Performer, SAW Studio, Nuendo, and Cubase. It also emulates HUI and Mackie control surfaces so I was also able to control Reason 3 with it (albeit without track metering and many of the bells and whistles). It speaks both Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X. Check out the website for compatibility information and an informative FAQ.

I can't say enough about the TranzPort. It's extremely easy to use and has way more features than I would ever ask for at this price. Even the industrial design is nice-a solid piece of equipment that you wouldn't feel embarrassed about handing to a client. Everyone needs one of these. ($249 MSRP; www.frontierdesign.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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