The Top 10 Products People Told Me I Had to See

Frontier Design Group TranzPort

This $199 2.4GHz wireless remote control was the hit of the show — control your DAW (transport control, track arming, punch in/out, marker setting, loop start/stop, and more) from anywhere in your studio without the “line of sight” limitations of IR remotes. It’s compatible with Mac OS X and Windows 2K/XP, and currently has profiles for Pro Tools, Logic, Sonar, Digital Performer, Cubase, and others. As a bidirectional controller, TranzPort also provides feedback on signal levels, timecode position, track names and more, via a backlit LCD display and LED indicators.

Spectrasonics Stylus RMX

This drum groove and loop-oriented plug-in for Mac and Windows was the piece of software that made jaws drop, heads turn, and credit cards appear. As Phil O’Keefe said, “I was extremely impressed with the ability to control, process and manipulate individual beats within a stereo loop, and I’m not even a real big loops/groove oriented guy!” And the sounds have the Eric Persing imprimatur . . . enough said. At $299 list, this is picked to click.

The SMART Console

Clever idea, expensive implementation . . . but they may be on to something. Basically, this is a digital mixer — but one designed to address the issue of “page-flipping.” An arc across the top of the mixer shows all the available channels, and by simply touching it on the space that represents a specific channel or group of channels, the control surface in front of you reconfigures itself to place those channels front and center.

For example, suppose you have the drums off toward the left of the arc, and vocals near the middle. When you want to work on the drums, just touch the drum part of the arc and now all the drum-related faders sit in front of you. In terms of user interface, this is pretty hip. Whether it’s compelling enough to justify the price tag is something we’ll know more about at the next AES.

Adam ANF10 Passive Monitors

For many, to hear an Adam speaker is to lust after it. I first heard one at the Frankfurt Musik Messe and even under trade show conditions, I could tell there was some special mojo going on. So I asked about the price. Okay . . . maybe someday.

Well, that someday is now. Sure, you have to supply the power amp, but at $700/pair, this is probably as close as you’re going to get to “budget” Adam speakers. And they still sound great.

Mackie C4

Human control, anyone? Mackie’s C4 ($1,299) is the ticket to controlling your soft synths and processors along with volume, pan, and other more mixer-like parameters.


Yes, it records DSD, and for a list of $1,499. But you can also use it as a USB 2.0-compatible DVD+R/RW drive with your Mac or Windows computer, record audio CDs, and add multiband compression or 3-band EQ thanks to some built-in mastering tools. Oh yes, word clock too . . . this is the equivalent of a DAT machine for the 21st century.

Edirol R-4

This portable, 4-track recorder does up to 24/96 recording on an internal 40GB hard drive, with USB 2.0 transfer, an on-board limiter, built-in mic, simultaneous 4-channel recording, processors (3-band EQ, graphic EQ, noise gate, enhancer, compressor/de-esser), and waveform editing on a decent-sized LCD. At $1,895, the price says “Take that, Nagra.”

Euphonix MC Intelligent Application Controller

This workstation control surface is designed to speed up working with any application, as the surface detects the latest active application (the application that’s “on top”) and resets all controls to match. The MC has a full sized keyboard with dual trackballs for standard operations, along with 56 LCD SmartSwitches, 4 faders, 9 rotary controls, and a monitoring section. It connects to a host workstation computer, which must be running an MC driver, via Ethernet.

Masterpiece Mastering Processor

Conceived by veteran mastering engineer Billy Stull, with all circuitry designed by audio legend Rupert Neve, the Masterpiece is a unique analog mastering processor. The 6U frame holds eight vertically oriented filter modules that offer precision peak and shelving equalizers, dynamics section, tape texture (with a real tape drive circuit), incremental phase rotation, and various classic audio functions. The downside: $19,000.

Radial ProDI

Sometimes it’s the little things that count. So when some people said to me “Hey, you’re into direct boxes, you should see this cheap one that sounds good,” I had to check it out. Well it is, and it does. It’s claimed to be phase accurate throughout the audio spectrum, and features a linear custom made transformer that can handle high levels without saturation — all for under $100.