Review: Ambient NANO Lockit

Most people don’t know this but I help with product development for a few manufactures. One of those was a company looking to explore the idea of making a budget friendly micro TC box that featured simple 1 button operations. We also talked about blink patterns for a single LED, USB rechargeable and featuring auto detect for FPS so that it just worked as simple as syncing should be. And while at NAB I met up with the manufacture rep who has been spear heading the TC Box project.

“So the TC Box project is dead,” he says with a sigh of frustration.

“Oh, how come?” I said shocked.

“Go check out Ambient….”

imageAmbient NANO Lockit was a real surprise for most people this past month at NAB. And for me it was like looking at the 3D models and email chains from the past 6 months all embodied in a real tangible object that I just wanted to play with. I was lucky enough to win one in a raffle and I knew I should share my experience with it these past two weeks.

The Specs:

  • Highly accurate timecode generator
  • Less than 1 frame drift per day in autonomous mode, zero drift with active C-Jam master in ACN
  • Full ACN support for ease of use and enhanced network capabilities
  • Auto framerate configuration on jam
  • Professional, locking Lemo connector with TC in/out and ACN metadata support
  • Timecode output level adjustable for LTC on audio track on non-timecode equipment as DSLRs
  • Metadata transceiver for RED Digital Cinema cameras
  • Self-configuring SMPTE and MIDI timecode in- and output
  • Easy-to-read bicolor status LED
  • Micro USB connector for external power supply, simultaneous internal battery charging and firmware updates
  • 35hrs+ operation on full charge in 2 hrs, fast charge 15 min for 4hrs of operation
  • Solid aluminium body
  • Size: 65.5 mm (2.6″) x 36,5 mm (1.4″) x 21 mm (0.8″) plus antenna 31mm (1.2″)
  • Weight: 72 g

How it Works:

Hold the Power Button for a few a seconds. Plug in the appropriate 5pin LEMO TC Cable to Jam it to your sound recorder. Done!


If you have several NANOLockit just push and hold the green button and they all are synced now.


Build Quality:


But really it is actually a really nice metal housing. It doesn’t feel like a project box like how other TC boxes look and feel. The paint is good, but a powder coat would have made this box feel truly bullet proof


The sound quality of the Timecode is excellent. Listening back to the ticks and beeps really pulls you in and makes you relive that moment in time and then the next moment and then the next. The tonality of the rapid clicks reminds you of a yesteryear. No longer will you have to drift mindlessly looking for good sound quality in your sync box because now you can just sit back and enjoy.

Wireless Sync:

MX9A0163_fullWell, I only have the one box but they claim that it will talk to all of their ACN enabled Sync boxes. But even as a single stand alone product its still a solid product. If you were to start from scratch and were buying all new TC boxes, the wireless syncing onto themselves makes this a great feature.

For a reality competition show I was working for LEGO and Disney we had 5 Tentacle Syncs. And while that is only 50 seconds wasted waiting around for them all to sync (10 seconds each), doing that twice a day and the time it takes to setup their settings with the iPhone app…. 1 button sync really is an amazing time saver for your Sound Utilities.

User Interface:

Easy! If you can program a Casio digital watch or a VCR you shouldn’t have a problem. For volume control you get to guess how loud your output signal is and then dial it in using the green and red buttons… don’t guess wrong or you will look silly in front of the camera department. There is absolutely zero indication to tell you anything other then Jammed and Not Jammed….

They need to reconsider the design and either add a yellow LED that will blink out 1-10 short quick blinks when the red button is pressed for 5 seconds. This would act as a simple guide as to what the current output level is. 10 being 0db Line Level and 1 being -40db Microphone Level. Or if the firmware can be updated so that green and red can blink together that would be nice.

What is the Box?

  • The Sync Box
  • 3.5mm to Lemo 5pin TC IO Cable. : Not mentioned anywhere in the manual, website, or box is the pinout for the 3.5mm side of the included TC Cable. I asked Clause at the Ambient booth at NAB.
    1. Tip is TC Out
    2. Ring is TC In
    3. Sleave is Common Ground
  • Amazon Basics USB cable for charging the unit.
  • Quick Setup Guide

*Note that a USB charger does not come with the unit.


    Buy it! At $299 its priced the same as the other. Or don’t buy it and buy the Timecode Systems ULTRA One. All the miniature TC boxes really are the same at their core and beat the hell out of all of our expectations. If you are invested in Ambient this is a great addition to the ACN Family. But it’s not enough I think to make you change brands if your invested in Betso, Denecke, or Timecode Systems. Tentacle Sync might consider going back to the drawing board and think beyond Bluetooth and a better Mic.


    3 thoughts on “Review: Ambient NANO Lockit

    1. Thanks for the article. I am contemplating the choice between the NanoLockit vs the Tentacle Sync E. If cost was not a consideration then the Nano would be my choice, however Tentacle hardware includes a license to their excellent Tentacle Sync Studio software, which I would need to purchase as an extra if using another brand, like the Ambient.
      Q1: Do you really feel that you need to re-sync during the day? I thought that these devices are all good enough for a full day’s use in terms of drift.
      Q2: Are there any low cost (=free?) alternatives to Tentacle Studio s/w for FCPX?


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