Frontier Design AlphaTrack North Platte NE

Although the AlphaTrack also has a motorized, touch-sensitive, 100mm fader (which doesn’t require an external power source), apparently it accounts for less of the overall cost, allowing more resources for other features—several of which are significant.

Desjon Music Inc/Russo's Music
(402) 493-2116
720 N 114th St
Omaha, NE
 
Midwest Music Center
(402) 379-5252
400 W Norfolk Ave
Norfolk, NE
 
Guitar Center #480
(402) 423-2300
2801 Pine Lake Rd Ste P2
Lincoln, NE
 
A. Cavallo Violins, Llc
(402) 827-9270
8705 Shamrock Rd
Omaha, NE
 
Dietze Music House/Lincoln
(402) 476-6644
1208 "O" Street
Lincoln, NE
 
Midwest Sound & Lighting
(402) 474-4918
4318 South 50th St
Omaha, NE
 
Midwest Sound & Lighting
(402) 474-4918
2322 O St.
Lincoln, NE
 
Dietze Music House/Bellevue
(402) 291-3745
2012 Cornhusker Rd Suite 100
Bellevue, NE
 
Rainbow Recording Studio
(402) 554-0123
2322 S 64th Ave
Omaha, NE
 
Dietze Music House/Omaha
(402) 333-1535
13015 W Center Rd. Ste A1b
Omaha, NE
 

Presonus FaderPort vs. Frontier Design AlphaTrack

Presonus focused on the fader, opting for a motorized, touch-sensitive, 100mm Alps unit with an impressive 1024-step resolution. (Unfortunately, it requires a wall wart for power.) A dedicated Pan knob and Mute, Solo, and Record buttons are located along the top of the unit, and five standard transport controls are located along the bottom. Midway are buttons for Channel Select, Fader Mode (including a handy Off button), Window View, Shift (which doubles the functionality of six buttons), and Undo, along with a User button and a few multi-function buttons such as Loop/Marker. There’s also a footswitch jack for punching in/out.

Frontier Design took a different tack. Although the AlphaTrack also has a motorized, touch-sensitive, 100mm fader (which doesn’t require an external power source), apparently it accounts for less of the overall cost, allowing more resources for other features—several of which are significant. There’s a 32-character backlit display that provides lots of information—including track and parameter names. There are three touch-sensitive rotary encoders that can be turned, pushed, or both, and operate in five Modes—Pan, Send, EQ, Plug-in, and Auto—along with a Flip button that swaps the fader for one of the encoders. There are four (eight with Shift) user-assignable buttons. And there’s an ingenious Touch Strip that enables you to jog, shuttle, and jump between markers using one or two fingers. A footswitch jack for punching in/out is also provided.

I detected a slight but appreciable difference in speed and precision between the FaderPort’s fancier fader and the fader on the AlphaTrack, and if ultra-high resolution is critical to your work that may be a deciding factor. You may also be happy to trade deeper features for ease of operation and a lower price. But for me, that slight loss in fader precision is more than offset by being able to see what I’m doing on a display, touch or tap the strip to jog/shuttle and navigate position markers, grab a knob to change multiple settings, and so on. In the end, the AlphaTrack’s more robust feature set, and the fact it doesn’t require the use of an external power supply make it the better option. In fact, it is so impressive that it receives an Editors’ Pick award.

Frontier Design AlphaTrack
Kudos
Many innovative and well-implemented features.
Concerns Slightly cramped and indistinct controls that aren’t illuminated.
Contact Frontier Design Group, (800) 928-3236; frontierdesign.com

Presonus FaderPort
Kudos
Smooth, precise fader. Clearly visible buttons (some illuminated). Handles all basic transport and fader-automation functions.
Concerns No display. No dedicated jog/shuttle capabilities. Limited user programmability. External power supply needed.
Contact Presonus, (800) 750-0323; presonus.com

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