Welcome to the second installment of "Laid-back Library Control." As I said last time we will be stepping up our game a little in price and functionality. Once again we will be solving the question of "how do I control my music library from my listening chair?" Based on feedback I received I think I should note that the fictional music server this remote would connect to is not connected to a visible monitor. This rules out remotes like the Firefly from Snapstream since it requires a screen to navigate your library. While the Firefly is a good remote, it does not suit the purpose of these articles. My purpose here is to bring attention to this product as an option for audiophiles. In a short period of time this site will be full of articles such as this that bring unbiased attention to products and give opinions. My goal is to save people the hassle of looking for this stuff because I know it can be difficult to find based on the questions I receive.
So, here we go with the Tranzport from Frontier Design Group. I have not personally used this product so my opinions and facts are based off of solid research. Please let us know your experiences with the product if you have any! The Tranzport is built to be a remote control. It can control over 25 applications on Windows and OS X. I will focus on controlling iTunes here. Similar to the TuneView this remote uses an RF signal. A very nice feature for those without a direct line of sight to their music server. This remote also has a small USB receiver that connects to the music server.
To use the Tranzport with iTunes the user selects the iTunes operating mode on their PC or Mac. Once this is enabled you can control iTunes as if you were at your computer (OK that is a little stretch but the control is much better than the Tune View). You can navigate your library by the usual identifiers such as artists, album and song. The Tranzport also allows you to add songs to playlists, control shuffle and repeat modes and a use a nice cue feature that lets you line up tracks to be played. My first question after looking at this remote was, "What does the wheel allow users to do?" The default function is not helpful to audiophiles as it controls volume level within iTunes. If you are using the volume level in iTunes we need to talk! The other capabilities of the wheel are used by combining it with other buttons. Combine the wheel with REC, MUTE, or SOLO and you can make selections by artists, album, or song respectively. Since I haven't used the Tranzport I can't vouch for this, but I can envision zipping through a huge library with that wheel, similar to the wheel on an iPod. (verification needed on that however). A very cool feature is the alphabetizing of everything. By this I mean when scrolling through tracks or albums everything is alphabetical instead of the way it is ordered in iTunes. Sure some may not like this but given the limited screen size I think this is a smart move by Frontier. Want to restrict tracks to a certain artist or album? You can do it with this remote through a combination of buttons. If you screw up or change your mind you can always hit the undo button and you are back to normal. One feature of iTunes that I've never used is controllable by this remote. That is song ratings. To me this was a filler feature because they had extra button combinations to use up. If you use it hey that's great, it's just not for me. Perhaps the most un-audiophile feature is the ability to preview songs in the iTunes music store from this remote, but what audiophile ... oh forget it.
The Tranzport can be purchased for around $195 from many online retailers. Based on some reader comments about the TuneView and some really advantageous features of the Tranzport I would spend my money on the Tranzport first. Let us know if you think otherwise, we all benefit from your input!
I've included some documentation from the Frontier site . I always find this helpful to read pre and post purchase.
1. Tranzport Quick Start Guide 2. Tranzport Users Guide
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