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Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread
Old 2nd May 2019
  #1
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Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread

Hey all,

I searched, but it seems there isn't a thread dedicated to the new generation 32+. I think I was one of the first adopters here in the states - I've had mine since February.

Just wondered if anyone else has one, how they are being used, etc. I also thought it might keep this particular unit separate (in this thread) from the multiple Antelope interface threads that seem to suffer from product conflation.

To start - I bought my unit as part of a studio upgrade (interface/converter configuration). The primary driver was getting the new converters into the studio as an A/D and D/A front end for a new RME UFX+. It turns out that I also wound up building a new machine for dedicated mixing duties. As such, the previous machine (which is still humming along quite nicely) is actually using the Antelope device as its primary interface.

To date, these setups have been very solid. My machines are AMD-based, Win 7/64 boxes, so I'm connecting to the 32+ through USB2 (on the older computer) and through MADI on the mixing computer. I'm actually clocking the RME through MADI from the Orion (why not?).

I'm having no issues using all 32 channels over the USB 2 protocol. The drivers have not let me down yet - despite some worries on that front given several of the threads here. In addition, I have had excellent responses from a number of the folks in Europe as a result of my "how to" type questions.

On the primary mix machine, the D/A sends stems outboard to hardware, which are then summed through an X-Sum and some other gear (Kush/RJR) before being returned as a stereo signal for bouncing/printing. This has been flawless thus far - once I figured out how to setup hardware presets on the 32+ to cover ITB and the normal OTB mix signal flow.

For the older machine, I'm intending to use it mainly as a mobile recording rig with the preamp rack (which also includes a Zen Studio + as well now). As already mentioned, the drivers have been super stable for the 2+ months I've had the interface to this point.

Oh - sound quality is, as should be expected, fantastic. The monitor outs are particularly pristine (129db d.r.), and the converter specs are impressive. I don't hear any "character" (to the best of my subjective ability to detect it). Everything seems very, very clean.

With all that being said - I'm still working on getting comfortable with the control panel interface. I have years (10 or so) of experience with total mix (RME) - and even then I only knew enough to ensure signal was getting where it needed to be sent/received. The Antelope Control Panel is a bit "bright" (if that term makes sense). Once I became familiar with the preset programming piece, things got better. The drag-n-drop signal "patching" paradigm is still something I'm wrapping my head around - I think the labeling could use some work to make things a bit more easy to understand.

I've also begun experimenting with the effects available. I have three of them authorized, and I'm building presets such that (say) a vintage eq can be dedicated to a pair of analog outs for mix purposes. More on that as I learn more.

Hopefully that serves as a start to the conversation. I know Antelope has a checkered reputation here - quite probably for very good reason. That said, color me a fan of the new 32+. So far, it's a brilliant piece of kit and a nice upgrade to the overall setup. It's nice having such a high channel count of top-shelf conversion available. I'm finally able to maximize my use of outboard hardware and summing - and having that amazingly spec'd monitor out on the unit has been very nice indeed.

I'm in the middle of a particularly busy phase (not music - but family/school related), but after I get through this, I'll post up some pictures, etc. Cheers.
Old 6th May 2019
  #2
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So, in the spirit of chronicling my learning "journey" with this interface, I'll offer up two areas that I think need improvement (along with a positive comment or two).

So the first area of improvement is in the visual scaling of the control panel. The panel itself scales nicely - which is good if you put it up on an alternate monitor of ongoing routing decisions. However, if you then open up the "settings" dialog, several of the items within it do *not* scale appropriately with the resultant dialog window size. This results in labels for certain buttons, etc. winding up in very unrelated places within the GUI.

This could be fixed in one of two ways - the best would be to have ALL the graphical elements within the settings window scale appropriately to whatever scale the window happens to inherit when selected. The second, and perhaps less flexible, would be to lock the settings dialog window to a given size respective to resolution - holding it's size constant no matter the size of the overall control panel window.

The second area for improvement is the way in which the hardware-level FPGA effects are "dropped" onto channels and then routed to appropriate outputs/inputs. I do *not* agree with many naysayers who insist Antelope should just make the effects normal VST plugins, drag and droppable within any DAW. That's nice (and MAC users now have that option), but that's not the paradigm here. The effects, as I understand it, are intended to function as hardware inserts - at the interface level - and I think there is value to both the workflow and signal flow in this regard. I actually think Antelope gets this piece correct - and I like the way it is set up within the interface..

(Edit - the recurring problem, though, is some reliance on dragging things to the "record" line of channels in the control panel. This just doesn't make sense if you're trying to mix - which is the way "most" folks will want to use effects. Tech support and I are going around in circles right now on this point. Disregard my afx in vs. afx out comment below - I now understand this to mean an "afx" buss. So you need to send something to the "in" and then post-effects, to the "out".)

The issue that remains is the convoluted way in which you have to drag and drop channels in the control panel such that the effects can be appropriately routed. For me, this is not at all intuitive at the moment. First - the option should exist to select either AFX IN or AFX OUT in the "effects" section of the mixer. Currently this is locked to AFX IN - which is visually confusing. Second - I can't see the reason for having to select an "unused" line to instantiate the effect. If, for example, I have the horns bus being output to a stereo hardware "send" in the DAW, why can't I strap an EQ or compressor across that same send (as both send/receive) within the interface Control Panel? As it stands now, you have to drag unused line "outs" to the "AFX IN" line in the control panel - then go to the effects tab and instantiate effects. Then, in the DAW, you setup a hardware insert to that unused line out and return it to the channel in question. It can quickly become difficult to bounce between displays on the Control Panel to figure out what's going where and what applies to which source without either extraordinary memory or copious notes.

These are small niggles, but given that I seem to maybe be the only one with one of these interfaces, I thought I'd keep the conversation going as information for others.

For the positive notes - I just want to say that the USB2 drivers for this box continue to be *rock* solid. Not a single dropout/crash/issue yet. Granted, I'm mixing through it - so I have latency at a relaxed setting with plenty of buffers for CPU/DAW ease while doing the job. That said, everything - software and hardware - instantiates quickly and works properly. The preset ability is fantastic - both allowing signal routing options and enhancing workflow.

Secondly, it just sounds pristine. I absolutely love the monitor outs on this box - and that's in comparison to the RME UFX+'s main analog outs. They're both incredible, but (subjectively of course) I have to give the nod here to the Orion's converters/outputs in this regard.

Anyway, hopefully others will chime in at some point. I still need to take pictures (next week) of the setup as it stands.

Last edited by vicenzajay; 10th May 2019 at 06:08 PM.. Reason: changes in understanding
Old 10th May 2019
  #3
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Still working on the afx integration for mixing outboard. In theory it shouldn't be difficult, but I'm having a hard time communicating what I'm trying to do (or folks are having a hard time understanding me, in any case). Which is perplexing as what I want to do is really how studios tend to use effects...as mix tools. Everything online and through tech support seem to be fixated on 'recording through' the afx on the fpga chip. That's nice (and great for tracking) - but usually hardware effects (in this case, hardware emulation software pitched as occupying the same "studio space" as hardware) are leveraged more during the mix phase of things.

They pointed me to a user who has posted videos on the control panel and its use. He's going to contact me offline to walk me through what he thinks is an easy solution.

More when I know more....
Old 15th May 2019
  #4
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Some really good news tonight! I have the effects working just like using hardware (and no insert business in the DAW either)!

I'm routing it like this - USB play to AFX IN....insert effects in control panel on effects tab.....AFX out routed to Line Out.

Voila' No latency - just great signal flow and easy tweakability on the plugin interfaces. All my signals get summed by the Speck X-Sum and sent back to be 'printed' as a stereo return, so there's no need for channel inserts or any weird routing "stuff" within the host itself.

This was a good night - I'm really happy to have these as virtual hardware processors to complement my outboard suite.
Old 16th May 2019
  #5
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I should also have mentioned that Plamen, Nas, and others have been super responsive to my emails and questions. In each case, even if my query has just been for how-to advice, they have followed up immediately and assigned a trouble ticket to the question. The process then continues until we resolve how to do/accomplish what I'm looking to do - at which time they send a ticket closure opportunity for me to provide feedback, etc. and to ensure everything is working well.

This state of affairs has really helped my transition to working with the 32+.
Old 16th May 2019
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by vicenzajay View Post
They pointed me to a user who has posted videos on the control panel and its use. He's going to contact me offline to walk me through what he thinks is an easy solution.

More when I know more....
Any chance you could post links to the vids?

I need more IO than I can get with my raydat, and would like to avoid having two totally separate totalmix windows with no routing between in order to get more I/O.

I do LOVE totalmix though, and Antelopes program would have to be pretty darn good to come close to what I already have.
Old 17th May 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xmission View Post
Any chance you could post links to the vids?

I need more IO than I can get with my raydat, and would like to avoid having two totally separate totalmix windows with no routing between in order to get more I/O.

I do LOVE totalmix though, and Antelopes program would have to be pretty darn good to come close to what I already have.
Of course - this is the link to the main one I commented on....we then took our conversation offline in order to not spam everyone while working it out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjhkM6LjBVQ&t=179s

Cheers,
Jay
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Some quick pictures of the unit racked up (and the gear it's connected to)....
Attached Thumbnails
Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6226.jpg   Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6234.jpg   Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6226.jpg   Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6228.jpg   Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6229.jpg  

Antelope Orion 32+ 3rd Gen. thread-img_6233.jpg  
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Addict
What was corrected in the 3rd gen to fix the usb2 using all 32 channels?
I have a 1st gen with win 10 and it will not give me 32 with usb2.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaqu View Post
What was corrected in the 3rd gen to fix the usb2 using all 32 channels?
I have a 1st gen with win 10 and it will not give me 32 with usb2.
Wish I could answer that....I have not used or worked with that unit. I wonder if it depends on the latency you select and the streaming priority?

I have had no issues selecting (and using) all 32 channels over USB. That said, I am primarily mixing, so my buffer sizes and priority settings are relaxed accordingly.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Sam Antelope Audio's Avatar
 

@ phaqu - Please send me a private message here or get in touch with our technical support team, we will be more than glad to help you.
@ vicenzajay - Wow! Thank you very much for all the detailed feedback, this is very useful and we greatly appreciate the time that you took to write all of this down. I will forward all of your notes to our engineers. If anything comes up - feel free to message me directly.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Antelope Audio View Post
@ phaqu - Please send me a private message here or get in touch with our technical support team, we will be more than glad to help you.
@ vicenzajay - Wow! Thank you very much for all the detailed feedback, this is very useful and we greatly appreciate the time that you took to write all of this down. I will forward all of your notes to our engineers. If anything comes up - feel free to message me directly.
@ Sam_Antelope_Audio - will do. I am really enjoying using the FPGA effects as outboard processors for mixdown. At this point, I have 5 of the vintage ones in addition to the included utility effects (hoping to have more of the premier ones soon).

I will have some GUI/functionality feedback to share here on some of the effects. This is not negative - just some ideas on things that seem a bit odd with a few of them. They sound great, by the way...:-)

I also have some ideas about making preset selection (and periodic saving) a bit more intuitive/easy/quick on the control panel as well. Given that working with the effects seems integral to really unlocking the power of this box, being able to do "1-click" preset saving on the go (kind of like hitting Ctrl-S as an after-thought continuously through a mixing session) is crucial. I create presets for each song I'm mixing (of course), and it would be nice to just update that preset with one click "while I'm mixing" to avoid the workflow stoppage of clicking "save" on the control panel, then making sure all the boxes are checked, then hitting "save as", then highlighting the name of the preset for the song, then hitting "yes" to overwriting it, etc....

Hope that makes sense.

What's ironic is that I have the "high" power mixing computer kind of in "time out" as a result of enjoying the 32+, 3rd gen. as the primary/only interface on the other, more recording-focused machine.

Can I say again just how much I love the monitoring outputs on this unit?! Just beautiful.
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