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Lynx Hilo vs Antelope Zodiac vs Antelope Zen Audio Interfaces
Old 13th May 2014
  #1
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bigbaby987's Avatar
Lynx Hilo vs Antelope Zodiac vs Antelope Zen

What's up guys? It's been quite a while since posting on GS, but I'm at the point again to make some upgrades.

I work in broadcast with some pretty heavy duty clients, and I want to make sure that everything that goes out is perfect. I downsized my studio from an HD system to basically a Duet and kept my Genelec 1030A's. They have served me well, but now it's time to do something new and improved.

For conversion, I'm currently debating between the Lynx Hilo, Antelope Zodiac and Antelope Zen. Firstly, let me say that I hardly ever record ANYTHING, so having an AD doesn't change much for me. It's all about editing and monitoring. However, to a very small degree, I would like to know that I have the option to record at a high rate.

The Hilo is appealing because it seemingly has high end AD/DA and headphone circuitry.

The Zodiac is the most appealing to me. From what I can understand, at this price range, when it comes to DA, this is going to be my best option.

The Zen is attractive because it gives me tons of options, but at what cost? Am I getting a downgrade in conversion, specifically in the DA arena?


These are my choices and I plan to get these in the next week or so, but I want to make sure that I do my due diligence in making sure I'm on the right path.

If you're a user or have used any of these, please give me your informed opinions on these. I appreciate it in advance.
Old 14th May 2014
  #2
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No one??
Old 14th May 2014
  #3
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Cheech's Avatar
 

Im not about to offer any suggestions on which of those products you should use, because I'm in the same boat as you with owning an apogee duet.
I personally will most likely end up with the Zen, because I need the pre's, and the channels for mobile recording.

Based on what you said, I can't imagine how the Zen would even begin to make sense for you.

Why would you want all that input, and output capability if you never record anything?

Im not flaming, I'm just trying to understand your thought process.
Old 15th May 2014
  #4
Gear Nut
Well the Hilo has always rated on the top of the list as far as AD/DA Loopback tests...whether or not that means anything to you, it does say something...
Old 15th May 2014
  #5
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@Cheech... I'm totally with you. I basically want to make sure I cover my a$$ if I ever need it. I don't need many inputs. I had a conversation with someone last night and they swore by the Symphony. I'm really leaning that way. With the 2 by 6 at 2499 or something like that, it's really hard to argue with. Being that it has a Thunderbolt option, makes it even more attractive, even though, every high end piece of gear outside the Apollo come standard USB 2 (including the Symphony).

@Drumbass.... I really love the thought of the Hilo. I've been gear lusting after it for a while. I've owned lynx before and loved every minute of it. It's amazing what it can do.
Old 16th May 2014
  #6
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I see... Cool man, I was once on the symphony hunt, but the price is too far out of my range :/
Old 16th May 2014
  #7
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Avening's Avatar
 

^ And that's the one downfall to the Symphony. I've got the 2x6, and it's infinitely expandable ... but each step costs a ton of cash. For a studio, not so much. However, for those of us with small rooms or people on the go, the Symphony system is a money pit once your I/O requirements increase. From a conversion standpoint, it's great. No other complaints about the Apogee at all. Love it.

For the money, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value than the Zen. Antelope states that the conversion path is identical to the Orion on both AD/DA, so if you're at all familiar with the Orion, that might be a really good thing. I really, really liked the Orion that I heard, but didn't need all the I/O. If the Zen is basically an Orion with 12 preamps, I'd be even considering one myself.
Old 16th May 2014
  #8
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Now enters the lyra. I'm really leaning toward the Zen and the Symphony at the is point.

*Please continue your input though. I'm about to put my card on the counter.
Old 16th May 2014
  #9
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stariq's Avatar
 

consider some metric halo stuff like uln2 or lio8 'cause you're on mac
Old 16th May 2014
  #10
Gear Nut
If it were me, it would be between the Hilo and the Symphony...they both have amazing conversion, though the Symphony gives you the option of future expandability...Just my thoughts
Old 16th May 2014
  #11
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I totally agree Drumbass. I honestly keep going back to the Zen and the Symphony. There's just something attractive about the amount of IO's for the money on the Zen. I'm just not sure about the quality on it. I'm not sure if anyone knows for certain.
Old 17th May 2014
  #12
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If it sounds anywhere near as good as the orion, I think you will be in good shape.
Thats just MHO
Old 17th May 2014
  #13
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Well.. I purchased my Focal Twin 6be's yesterday and now I'm on to the converter!! Decisions, decisions......

Cheech-I totally believe you. The bad part is that I've never heard the Orion. There's nowhere in Dallas that carries anything on that level.
Old 17th May 2014
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbaby987 View Post
Well.. I purchased my Focal Twin 6be's yesterday and now I'm on to the converter!! Decisions, decisions......

Cheech-I totally believe you. The bad part is that I've never heard the Orion. There's nowhere in Dallas that carries anything on that level.
I own a Symphony, and have used the Orion. For the value of the Zen, and assuming it sounds the same as the Orion (this is what Antelope has told us), I would get the Zen, if I was deciding today. I love my Symphony, but as I said before, expanding the system is costly. With the Zen, you start out with so much more.

Maybe contact Antelope and get them to refer you to a dealer with a great return/exchange policy. Get a Zen or a Symphony in your room and use it for a week. Make the decision on your desired workflow and feature requirements now, and worry about which box speaks to you sonically later. They're both stellar.
Old 17th May 2014
  #15
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Cheech's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbaby987 View Post
Well.. I purchased my Focal Twin 6be's yesterday and now I'm on to the converter!! Decisions, decisions......

Cheech-I totally believe you. The bad part is that I've never heard the Orion. There's nowhere in Dallas that carries anything on that level.
Oh nice!!!! My buddy just got a pair of Focal Twin 6be's as well.
Hearing was believing, and I walked away with the impression that the speakers wasn't even there.
It was just music. It was awesome! Wish I had the cash to drop on a pair
Old 18th May 2014
  #16
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Thanks Cheech. I'm looking forward to it. I was originally going to get the Adam A77x's and my friend talked me into the Focals. I never really like the Twins, but I figured I'd put my money where my doubts were. I love Focal in general, but I was never a fan of the Twins. Now it's time to tackle conversion. Let's see what happens. I'm going to make those changes soon.

*Another thing I was thinking of doing is purchasing a 500 series lunchbox and using some outboard as inserts. This would be best used with something like the Zen, Orion and Symphony due to the multiple outs.
Old 18th May 2014
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumnbass411 View Post
Well the Hilo has always rated on the top of the list as far as AD/DA Loopback tests...whether or not that means anything to you, it does say something...
This is a little skewed...

The guy who posted these results was a Hilo fanboy who was probably getting a kickback from Lynx. There was a thread awhile back which this was discussed to death.

Sure the Hilo is better than most low to mid level converters out there, but it's by no means the perfect loopback converter.

It has a definite sound - Very full and forward and a little 'squished' sounding. Good for the money? Yes.

I've been through a lot of converters and have finally ended up with the Antelope Eclipse + 10m. It's a great combo but not cheap! If the other Antelope stuff sounds close to the Eclipse it would be a killer deal...
Old 19th May 2014
  #18
Gear Nut
You might be thinking of the thread that got the boot cause of attitude towards people who disagreed...theres a new thread in the shootout section. Heres a link to it:
Evaluating AD/DA loops by means of Audio Diffmaker

Again, these loopback tests aren't everything for telling the quality of conversion, but I do believe they say something.
Old 19th May 2014
  #19
I know this is a bit off topic but have you considered the Audient ID22?

It has the I/O similar to Hilo and from what I've read, extremely good d/a.
Old 12th June 2014
  #20
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So, my buddy convinced me to pick up a Duet 2. I agreed to do it for a travel solution, and i have to say this little box isn't bad. Not my main studio decision, but it's not bad. Very detailed and clean. Clean is probably the appropriate word for it. Picked it up locally from a lady on craigslist that didn't know what to do with it for 350. Not a bad deal at all. It still had the plastic on it. Still deciding what high end converters to go with, but right now I'm leaning toward the Zen. It seems like a nice all around solution with Orion quality. Not a hundred percent positive just yet considering Apogee's Symphony summer sale.
Old 12th June 2014
  #21
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Since you don't need the AD part of it, you might want to considering DAC units only? (Instead of buying a unit that has preamps etc..)

Antelope Zodiac has the Platinum DSD now and the nice thing is that has a separate pwr supply, you can play back dsd files as well (if that matters to you) and has a pair of line level AD as well.. of course it's not cheap, but might be closer to the features you really need (and probably pay for).

You might want to check out also Weiss converters (they have an interface as well) and the Bricasti M1 dac or the prism dream da2 or the Forssell DAC.. some of these could be found used.. of course NOT cheap.. but you might score a great deal, that will pay in the long run..all excellent pieces.

You might also want to check out the new Merging Hapi, which is a modular 1RU interface..(able to playback dsd as well with the premium cards).. and you could buy the DA card only.. saving some $$$.. buy the non premium card will save some more cash if you don't need DSD. This is top quality conversion, very clean ime.

As said in other threads the symphony, while being a great converter is a rather noisy unit.. maybe you could change the fan.. I don't know though.. if you have a different room where you put the converters then nevermind.. the symphony sounds good.

I just thought to give you a different point of view could've helped..



Cheu
Old 4th December 2014
  #22
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It's been half a year and I have to report that I picked up the Symphony and I have to say that I love it. It is more than what I expected, and it makes my Twins actually sound good. I'm happy for now. Thanks again for all your input. I do appreciate it.
Old 6th December 2014
  #23
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbaby987 View Post
It's been half a year and I have to report that I picked up the Symphony and I have to say that I love it. It is more than what I expected, and it makes my Twins actually sound good. I'm happy for now. Thanks again for all your input. I do appreciate it.
Good to hear!

It's funny that GS has so many Hilo cheerleaders, but I found a listening test where out of 153 people, 63% chose the Symphony i/O over the Hilo. I'm not sure what that even means. I've always felt that 1 out of 10 Doctors think that 9 out of 10 Doctors are idiots.

One thing is for sure. There are many very happy Hilo and Symphony owners and very few unhappy owners. (well outside the multi card fan issue.... oh crap I didn't go there). lol
Old 7th December 2014
  #24
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahallada View Post
It's funny that GS has so many Hilo cheerleaders, but I found a listening test where out of 153 people, 63% chose the Symphony i/O over the Hilo. I'm not sure what that even means. I've always felt that 1 out of 10 Doctors think that 9 out of 10 Doctors are idiots.
One thing I can say with certainty, you'll never find results like that in a properly run listening test among professional mastering engineers with nice monitoring environments. While other areas of the forum go all over the place, it's pretty widely understood in the mastering forum as to which unit provides the cleaner conversion. The ratio of working professionals with trained ears & nice monitoring environments is much higher there than some of the other forums. Taking shootout comments seriously without any idea of the caliber of monitors/DAC/room used is as reliable as tossing a coin. Worse if people are influenced by what others already posted.

None of the other units in this thread will pass audio more cleanly than the Hilo, and that's something that anyone can test and verify themselves with a loopback. I'd buy a Symphony way before the Antelope stuff though.
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