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Antelope Audio Zen Studio

Antelope Audio Zen Studio

4.8 4.8 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

Zen is a portable audio interface with 12 crystal clear pre's and up to 24 input zero latency recording over USB 2.0. On board EQ and compression as well as multiple monitor mixes thru antelopes software.


4th June 2015

Antelope Audio Zen Studio by maxwellcrespo

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Antelope Audio Zen Studio

This is my first review and its late so I'm going to keep it pretty short. I love this box!

The 12 Pre's are super clear and 3D similar to millennium and Zero latency recording is incredible.

Im upgrading from a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 so being able to play guitar, bass, or sing and hear myself with my waves plug-ins is something I used to dream of and now its a reality.

The software from the website isn't too hard to wrap your head around and the on board eq and compression like the pres are very clear and transparent sounding.

-MC

28th January 2016

Antelope Audio Zen Studio by marbla

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Antelope Audio Zen Studio

The Zen Studio may not be the perfect interface on all accounts, but if you need a lot of preamps that you can throw into a backpack look no further.


Why buy a Zen Studio

The market for mobile interfaces is as strong as ever. There is an abundance of interfaces with various amounts of channels. Unfortunately if you want more than eight channels the choice dramatically decreases. As far as I can tell, the Zen Studio is at a unique position in that it offers 20 analog inputs in total of which 12 include a mic pre. On top of that it is not a rack design, which makes it more portable for very light setups.

Why did I buy it personally

My goal was to be able to record a small band without having to use any additional boxes and also have some manner of expandability in the future. Having 12 preamps allows me to record my jazz quartet in full even if I do a large 8 mic drum setup. On top of that I always have a smart way of connecting something like a lunchbox via DB25

What are the specs?

The interface offers 12 preamps with combo jacks that can be either line or microphone, four of these also are compatible to high-z instruments. On top of that it also includes two DB25 connectors for another 8 channels input and output. The side features two optical ins and two outs. Connection is via USB 2.0.

On the technical side the specs are rather similar to the earlier Orion unit. The same convertors are used and as far as I can tell it also features the same clocking technology using an oven heated crystal.

The preamps are the same chips used in many competitors such as the current apollo series meaning they are very neutral.

How does it sound

Very clean but pleasant. There are rather good sound examples on youtube, soundcloud and the antelope site. At this level I really wonder if things are that different but the consensus seems to be that it sounds rather favorable in the midlevel pro segment but might be eclipsed by some (rather more expensive) units. For all intents and purposes I'd wager that it certainly won't be the part holding you back.

What makes the whole thing even better is that the DA is vey good as well and the headphone outs are more than respectable.

In use

This is pretty subjective. I had read quite a bit about the interface beforehand and found it rather easy to use, but the drag and drop scheme is a different paradigm than many of the solutions I had used previously. After investing a bit of preparation things worked out pretty well. The mixers are what you would expect and the reverb sounds pretty good. I have tried using the reverb as a outboard effect, but didn't feel like it added enough against my normal reverbs.

Everything else worked out pretty smooth. What some have disliked is that you have to register initially and the driver occasionally connects to check for updates. This was no problem for me. The stability has been great for me.

Against the competition

I was pretty torn between this and a apollo 8p. I have used UA gear and love the interface and stability, but I wasn't happy about the 8 channels that would have been instantly taken with my usual recording equipment without even thinking about additional channels. Beyond that there are no analog channels so anything added has to include convertors and might be inferior to whatever is in the main interface. This basically was the same with most other interfaces I checked, the ones that did include the same amount or more convertors all lacked the preamps.

The new Orion Studio really interested me and I love the two reamp ins, but really did not want to give up the DB25 input. Also the form factor of the Zen Studio works better for my use case.

Summing it up

In my position I am comfortable to say that if you are invested into recording your band with one very mobile interface and maybe want to be able to grow with your gear then the Zen Studio should be pretty high on your list.

30th January 2016

Antelope Audio Zen Studio by Stunt Double

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Antelope Audio Zen Studio

Last September my old interface suddenly died on me and I had to get another in relatively quickly because I was mid-project. I run my own professional location recording setup and I needed something that would fulfil the usual requirements for that (small and light but with enough features packed in). I'd been looking at the antelope zen for a while so ordered it with the racking kit. I don't like reviewing something until I've had a chance to live with it but I feel I've had it long enough to do it some justice.

Audio quality

The audio is absolutely superb on this unit across the board. The converters are pristine and have brought a level of clarity that I never got with my (admittedly) old apogee jobs. The quality of the DAC is what most impressed immediately. I have got an extra octave out of my small monitors that they aren't supposed to have.

The preamps are equally impressive. I did a location shoot for a choir this week and am amazed at the precision, clarity and noiselessness of the results but with nothing unpleasant in the top end. I was using two soundfield mics, one through my earthworks preamps and the other through the built in pres, and the built in fellas held their own well.

The headphone amp is also great.

Software

I'm not such a big fan of the software. I can understand with the amount of features that they've crammed in to the unit that it would be hard to design but I don't think they've nailed it. Setting the preamp levels can be frustrating and fiddly on location. Why can't these have a dedicated page with bigger controls.

The input/output allocation setup is also confusing in the heat of audio battle.

However, it's still usable and I've got used to it now. I'm happy to overlook these deficiencies in respect of the fantastic audio quality.


Build quality

The unit is very well built and is holding up well. However, mine is racked and will stay that way. I think the inbuilt handle is a novelty. Anyone using it with even half the in/outs will need something stable to hold it in place. It's a shame that the ADAT ports are inaccessible when racked as well. I'm having to use a light pipe extension to reach it and that's something I try and avoid if I can help it.


Overall

As you can probably tell, I'm totally pleased with buying this unit. I don't think anything in the price range touches it for quality and it's going to be a while before I feel the need to upgrade again.

Thanks for reading,
S2

4 weeks ago

Antelope Audio Zen Studio by Mario Super

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Antelope Audio Zen Studio

What can is say ? Impressive !

After using RME for over 10 years me and my Studiopartner decided to try out the ZenStudio after a mutual Friend recommended it. While the RME never gave me trouble, i never really liked the Totalmix.

UI and Routing
Antelope did an amazing job on giving you a clean, self explanatory UI that one can use instantly without reading the Manual.
Just drag and drop your INs and OUTs where you need them.
You can even use the built in Oscillator (440Hz and 1kHz) wich i found really helpful for Troubleshooting.

Sound

I would describe it as Invisible, the PREs are certainly on the clean side and that is a good Thing ! If i want colouration i will use an external Preamp or use a Plugin to add character.
The Preamps also provide more than enough Gain, i just wished the Headphone Amps had a little bit more juice.

Everyday use
It just works ! I don´t really think about using it, i just use it. So far ( had it for about 9 months) i had ZERO ISSUES.

 
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