Frontier Design Group: A Tradition of Innovation

In 1995, the world of audio recording and music production was about to experience a revolution. While computer-based MIDI sequencing and audio editing tools had been in use for awhile, the speed and power of personal computers was growing exponentially. As a result, computers were beginning to be viewed as a viable replacement to hardware-based recorders and signal processors.

It was during this time that engineers Barry Braksick and Charlie Hitchcock realized that one of the keys to computer audio would be interface tools. The power of the computer and the design of the software applications were crucial, but if musicians and audio engineers couldn't successfully get multichannel audio and other data for audio production in and out of computers, the game was over.

The Beginning

In January of 1996 Braksick and Hitchcock formed Frontier Design Group with the mission of providing high-quality, high-value digital audio tools to help their customers be more creative and productive. With the type of product designs they'd begun to plan, it was clear that their customers (at least the early ones) would be those on the cutting edge of audio technology. Realizing that they were exploring new frontiers of audio equipment design, Braksick and Hitchcock knew they found the name for their new venture.

During that time period, Alesis Studio Electronics had established their ADAT Optical digital audio interface as an industry standard. Frontier became an early member of The ADAT Group, a collection of manufacturers who were implementing Alesis' digital audio protocols in their products. The first Frontier Design Group product, the original WaveCenter, was the first computer interface card that supported direct digital transfers between ADATs and PCs. The product allowed ADAT users to edit and enhance their projects with the powerful low-cost Windows editing software that was just then becoming available.

Seeing the Need

Quickly acquiring a reputation for the solid performance of their gear, Frontier Design Group began to expand their line with more tools to complement digital audio systems. Tango and Zulu, the company's first external hardware products, were multichannel analog/digital converter tools that (along with WaveCenter) allowed for direct recording and playback using the computer with no other devices required.

Frontier's next undertaking was the popular Dakota PCI audio system. Again, the rapid growth in abilities of both computers and software dictated the need for more comprehensive interfacing tools. Designed as an expandable system to accommodate everyone from serious hobbyists to advanced professionals, Dakota was introduced along with Montana and Sierra to allow customers to put together the system that was right for their applications. Frontier then created powerful updates to two of their most popular products with the re-design of the Tango and WaveCenter products as the Tango24 and WaveCenter/PCI. More recently, Frontier introduced the Apache, a digital patchbay that allowed easy interconnection between components of the modern all-digital studio.

The latest creation from Frontier is TranzPort, which harnesses low-cost, low-power wireless technology to let musicians and sound engineers remotely control their computer workstations. Unlike any previous product, TranzPort is another example of how Frontier continues to provide innovative solutions to the recording community.

Partnering in Innovation

Some of Frontier's most popular products have been co-designed and released by TASCAM, the respected recording company. Seeing the fast proliferation of the USB computer interfacing protocol in 1999, Frontier's computer knowledge and TASCAM's manufacturing skills combined for hit products like the US-428, the US-224 and the US-122. In 2003, TASCAM and Frontier partnered on their most advanced computer interface/control†surface devices, the Firewire-based FW-1884 and FE-8, followed by the†lower-cost FW-1082 and FW-1804†interfaces.

What's Next?

Frontier Design Group is committed to keeping their eyes on the new frontiers of audio equipment design. Always able to find the right solutions for the needs of audio enthusiasts and professionals alike, new Frontier tools will continue to push the boundaries of our creative imaginations.

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