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Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017

Antelope Orion Studio 2017

4.4 4.4 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

Fastastic AD/DA conversion and clocking, flexible IO, zero latency routing, real time processing powerhouse, crippled by bug ridden software


7th November 2019

Antelope Orion Studio 2017 by rmri

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.75
Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017

TLDR: A missed opportunity: great hardware, horrible software


Antelope had a brilliant concept with this product.
- 12 Class A preamps
- Amazing clocking
- Fantastic AD/DA conversion
- 16 outputs on D-Subs
- 2 re-amp outputs on the front
- Flexible internal routing
- Tons of emulations of legendary hardware EQs and compressors free of charge, all running without any latency

I could not find any other product with this type of flexibility, but it turned out to be too good to be true.


Hardware

I think they did a great job with the hardware, it does what was advertised.
Pros:
- 4 inputs accessible on the front
- nice big detented knob to set monitor/line/headphone levels
- 2 headphone outs
Cons:
- look out for display burn in: I personally use the black screensaver and set it to the lowest value to extend the lifetime of the display
- there's no way to edit the preamp input type from the front panel (Hi-Z, line, mic), it would be really handy
- There are some buttons with no labels that you have to figure out every time you use them, kind of annoying
- only 2 rack screws, meh

Overall solid build and usable interface.


Software:

This is where the problems begin. All the processing power in the world doesn't matter if you cannot easily and conveniently access them. And that's where this product falls apart.

There are three components of the software stack:

Drivers
- I'm running MacOS with a Thunderbolt connection and had no issues with the drivers
- People on Windows are reporting flaky drivers on Thunderbolt, but that can be either Antelope or Thunderbolt port related. Look into the forums to get more info on this.

Antelope Launcher
- On Mac it will run a web server on your machine all the time even if the app itself is not running
- It will always be in the background consuming resources even if you are not doing anything related to the unit, I'm definitely not happy not having control over this especially on a laptop I take everywhere
- There's no way to turn off launcher updates in the app. It means that if Antelope releases a new version that has bugs, it will be installed and you can not roll back easily. Very annoying and unnecessary. You have to turn off your wifi or have to use other solutions to prevent updates.
- In a recent update the options were added to prevent driver, control panel updates, but not the launcher itself.

Control Panel

This is the software where you can set up your routing matrix, set levels, assign effects.

- Mixers: you have 4 mixers that you can route any inputs to and route the mixer out to any other mixer or to your recording channels

- Built in reverb: nice reverb, but only available on Mixer 1 and you don't have separate output from it that you could route. I ended up dedicating Mixer 1 to just the reverb so I can use it flexibly. Unfortunately this only leaves you with 3 mixers left.

- No send channels/ auxes. If you want to create busses you have couple of mixers left, no too flexible for realtime use, but you can do that after recording in your DAW.

User interface annoyances are everywhere:

- Mixer fader issues: dragging the mixer fades will step in 3-4 dB increments. There's a shortcut to fine adjust it by pressing CTRL, but it's very annoying you have to do that in the first place, so you end up holding CTRL all the time

- Preset saving: You have 16 effect channels with 4 slots each. You can assign a lot of real time emulated effects to them, but you can only save the whole effect channel at once, no way to save presets per effect. So you cannot have a list of your own settings per compressor to speed up workflow. Very annoying

- Preset saving not reliable: You can save your 4 effects together but unfortunately recall is not reliable. Some effects come back bypassed even though the visuals indicate it being active. After 3 month of use I concluded it just cannot be trusted, so keep that in mind while spending hours with fine tuning.

- Annoying animations: every time you switch to another mixer or effect there's an panning animation horizontally, it's extremely annoying, disorienting and just slows down your workflow

- The app doesn't follow UI conventions: you can drag the window grabbing it anywhere, not just the titlebar. The problem with this is you end up dragging the window all the time: you want to change an EQ but don't hit the pot with your mouse properly? Dragging the window. Since the plugins mimic a wide variety of hardware EQs with funky controls and pots, with different hit areas, you will drag the window a lot.

- Level monitoring: there's a wide range of compressors available, but I found the refresh rate of the gain reduction indicators are just not fast enough to consider them usable. They just become a distraction because they don't really give you precise information. In some cases they don't even work.

- Saving device presets: there are 5 preset slots on the unit that you can recall on the hardware. The idea is that you would have 5 presets with different routings for your use-cases, mixing, tracking etc., good thinking.
You can save presets to these 5 slots on the Control panel, but there's no mention how. You have to hold CTRL then click the preset number. If you forget to hold CTRL or hold any other modifier key, you just recalled the previous preset stored in that slot, no undo, no confirmation, you just lost everything you wanted to save. What were they thinking?

- DEL ALL: the interface has many DEL ALL buttons, usually very close to frequently used functions, like Bypass. If you accidentally hit them, you will delete your effects that you tweaked so carefully, no confirmation, no alert, nothing. You lost your work.

- AFX2DAW: this is the software that enables you to use the plugins from your DAW like you would with UAD. However it's only available for MacOS, and it costs an extra 2-300 Euros. It suffers from the same preset saving problems, so don't even bother.

I probably forgot some other annoyances, but the point here is that the user interface is just very annoying and frustrating, if you had a good creative flow it will probably disrupt it.
But hey, nothing is perfect, so I reported all of these issues to support with detailed explanations, but that just leads me to my next point.

Support

Online support: Antelope has chat support on their site and they seem to be responsive, they will solve setup issues, even using remote sessions. This is all great, they will get you up and running in reasonable time.
However I cannot recall any product in this price range where I had to contact support so many times. Even if you get an answer in half a day, you just wasted that day of productivity.

- Tickets: I mentioned I submitted tickets for the issues with the Control panel, dozens of them.
They all got closed with a simple answer "Forwarded to developers". No follow up when any of them were fixed, nothing.

- Issues just don't get fixed: I was hoping these easy fixes would be out in no time, but that's not the case. None of the mentioned issues were fixed in the 3-4 month since I reported them. Other users had the same exact issues reported even years before me.

Antelope Facebook group: this is a place where users share ideas, workarounds, issues. However if you say too many negative things about the products, you will get banned being "negative", even if it is completely valid. They seem to want to paint a rosy picture of this company. There are many Antelope employees in this group and they just don't reply to any valid concern. Extremely frustrating.

Manual: just an afterthought, don't even bother.



Verdict:
I would never buy anything in the future from this company.

They have a winner on their hand with the hardware but they are just arrogant and not fixing anything after years of complaints and def to user feedback.

This is by far the worst experience I ever had with any pro audio company and product, especially in this price range.

This company is in denial of the fact that they have serious issues and seem to be focusing on new sales and not keeping existing customers.

My suggestion: only buy their products if you are buying it for just the conversion and don't plan to do any serious mixing with their plugins. You can setup one routing that works for you and never touch the control software again.
But if you want just that there might be alternatives from more reputable companies, so look around.

I really wanted to like this product and still think the concept is amazing, but all the bugs combined with the way they treat their customers completely reversed my opinion.

  • 11
5th December 2019

Antelope Orion Studio 2017 by shamanrock

  • 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 Orion Studio 2017

My thoughts on the Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017 Thunderbolt and USB Audio Interface!

I’m NOT going to go into all the techs specs this amazing product comes with. You can find a ton of info on all the features it provides.

I’m going to tell you why I choose Antelope products and NEVER even think about switching to a different company.

First note: I started with Apogee Rosetta 200 and the Apogee Big Ben clock when I used a PC. Then Apogee decided to make their products only for Macs.

I then switched to UAD, not knowing Antelope Audio even existed.

Once I came across Antelope Audio I quickly learned about Antelope is known for the best clocking out of all the competitors. I also needed 16 outs for I was just getting into summing and my UAD interface only had 8 outs.
And Antelope Audios price point was around the same for the UAD interface in which I had with only 8 outs.

To top it off Antelope started to create their own STELLAR Vintage plugins and these plugins were all FREE when you own one of their Stellar interfaces!!

I then couldn’t wait to A/B between the 1st original Orion Studio and the UAD interface I was using at that point. I A/B the two interfaces and could immediately tell the difference when I recorded a track thru each interface. The Orion Studio sounded like the dirt on the car windshield was wiped clean off compared to the track I recorded thru the UAD interface.

Sold the UAD, kept Orion Studio and NEVER looked back!!
Also at this point I switched to a Mac, hooked up an SSL X Desk for summing.

Soon as the Orion Studio 2017 came out I immediately upgraded and got it because once again Antelope stepped up there game again with their quality AD/DA conversion. Get this! Also included, is over 50 Real-Time FX models of legendary EQs, compressors, guitar amps & cabs - FOR FREE!! Nothing beats Antelope Audio interfaces!!

Then Antelope launches another great surprise! Their AFX2DAW!! Yes it is an add-on purchase, but the convenience it offers is well worth the extra couple of hundred bucks!! Yes currently the AFX2DAW software only runs over a Thunderbolt connection on Macs, but apparently a Windows version is in the works.

As far as the CONS go from the very 1st Orion Studio.

Yes being the company is based out of Bulgaria and the time zone change was a bit frustrating at times. And their USA tech support was hardly existent in the earlier days. This being said when I had issues (always with their software-launcher) but Antelope tech support ALWAYS came thru and got me up n running!

But now Antelope tech support has changed way for the better!! Their tech support is available 20 hours a day Monday thru Friday!!! Yes telephone support answering USA phone calls and if not will get back to you pretty quickly, also Antelope has a chat line to connect with them to trouble shoot as well. Antelope finally has real solid tech support, as good as the rest, thank you Antelope!!

Now beware Antelope plugins are NOT free anymore BUT like I said above they do offer 50 of their stellar plugins when you get say the Orion Studio 2017- which is still an amazing offer!! Also note: Antelopes stellar plugins are much more reasonably priced than UAD, Softube, and Antelope also offers plugin sales too. I will say so far no-one beats Waves plugin discounts, yet anyway… But in fairness to Antelope imo, Antelope plugins sound better then most Waves too.

My sum up is:
If I were you I would choose Antelope hands down for everything I listed here and compare their specs with the competition and at their price point. You want a professional interface that’s ahead of the pack. Do yourself a favor and get Antelope. You will be happy…

And THANK YOU Antelope!!

Cheers

  • 2
16th March 2020

Antelope Orion Studio 2017 by StephenPope

  • 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 Orion Studio 2017

I've owned RME, UAD, Apogee and Focusrite FireWire/Thunderbolt interfaces in the past, and each had some feature (or missing feature) that really bothered me. I also ended up using a Chord Mojo as my monitoring DAC/headphone amp because none of the above devices really did the job well enough. (I'd test by playing 24/96 and 16/44 copies of the same mix and see if I could hear the difference; with most of the systems, I couldn't. [sad face])

The idea of the UAD plug-ins is such a good one, but I never liked the ones the offer (e.g., no modern channel strip, really?), and the ones I did like are expensive, both in terms of purchase price and processor load (i.e., you can run only a few instances on a quad-processor Apollo).

Then (shortly after NAMM 2020, where I was struck by the sound of their DACs), I saw a sale for the Antelope Orion Studio 2017 with 50 free plug-ins, so I chanced it.

The start-up was rough, mainly because I was running with a case-sensitive file system on my Mac (don't ever do this), but I was impressed by the time that their support team took to help diagnose the problem, including remote logging in to my machine to trouble-shoot the installation. After that, I updated all the firmware, drivers, etc. and it's been smooth sailing every since. (But yes, it's strange that the driver runs a web server all the time.)

I had watched all the uTube videos, so I wasn't put off by the control panel software. It is, in fact, the best software patch bay I've used for a device with this much flexibility. You can (and should) make presets for each style of working and for each session. It has a few limitations (can't see more than 2 FX at a time, why?), but I use it all the time now.

I also bought the AFX2DAW add-on software (yes, annoying that it's another $200), but now I can use the FPGA hardware plug-ins directly from within the DAW (Harrison Mixbus in my case). The included EQs, compressors and guitar rigs are truly great, and I've re-done several mixes comparing them to Waves, Metric Halo, Eventide, iZotope, NativeInstr, Brainworx, Softube, TokyoDawn, Voxengo, etc. plug-ins.

The zero-latency processing is priceless for recording vocals; I can't believe how easy it is to put a gate and an EQ on a vocalist, add some reverb, and send it to their monitor, all in the interface! (Apogee, are you listening?)

I'm using the Orion Studio with an Audient ASP 800 mic-pre/ADC (with dual ADAT outputs), so I can get 20 mic ins (6 of them Hi-Z-enabled) at 96 kHz sample rate; gotta say, it sounds wonderful!

I guess my only complaint is that Antelope has started charging for the plug-ins (let's see if they have periodic sales).

Next time I have a big client, I hope they'll buy me a Goliath!

Sooo, anybody wanna make me a offer for the used Chord Mojo DAC/headphone amp???

Attached Thumbnails
Antelope Audio Orion Studio 2017-afx2daw-mixbus32c.jpg  
29th April 2020

Antelope Orion Studio 2017 by ajschot

  • 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 Orion Studio 2017

Best bang for buck!

I have the Orion Studio (gen1), the Orion Studio Rev.2017 and the new Orion Studio Synergy Core.
Well the gen1 is not a goid buy because the Rev.2017 is 2nd hand the same price and new still aviable at Antelope Audio for really a very low price €1395!
The sound quality is really mind blowing, the plugins are very good and 12 fantastic clean sounding preamps with fantastic A/D conversion is fantastic.
Why not the new Synergy Core version?
Well the DSP has this time (i review this Rev.2017 spring 2020) besides 3 plugins (that are expensive) not any benefit over the Rev.2017. Also pre’s and converters are the same. The new SC version does not have Sample Rate Conversion which even the 1gen has.
For €1395,- you get a unit with beautifully sound, a lot of connections! Up to 16 channels ADAT in and Out, 12 mic/line inputs (4ofvthen are also Hi-Z) 16line out, 2 sets monitor out, 2 reamp out, 2 headphone connections and SPDIF in/out (with Sample Rate Conversion)

This is really an amazing deal, forget the Synergy Core it is really snake oil. I am going to sell mine it was the worst buy ever, less bang for the bug of all interfaces that are out there.

AFX2Daw: don’t buy it is a lot of money just for an easier routing, that is very easy to do your self in most daws.

I read a lot about issues i never had really serious issues i see above in other reviews but i not update every version i most wait a week or 2 and if there is now new version i update. Also most of the problems above are fixed now.

Also like other reviews the network is strange but well people want to use their ipads etc. I really don’t care about this but tea it is weird that it is always running antelope netwerk server even if you don’t have your unit on and not startet the launcher. But since last update it does not use 20% of your computers recourses anymore that was a fault in the launcher.

The Orion Studio Rev.2017 is really recommended and the very very very best bang for your bucks! €1395! Really cheap! With all the great plugins!

21st August 2020

Antelope Orion Studio 2017 by BrianFM

  • 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 Orion Studio 2017

A MUST-HAVE center piece for any pro, or home studio. If you're not quite familiar with Signal Flow, chances are this boy will give you a great headache for sure, so get those audio books and call the pros, you may need them to unlock the beast

The positive

Plenty of assignable paths. This thing acts like a giant patch-bay inside the system. You can send pretty much everything in any single way you may imagine.

Top AD/DA. This thing sounds just amazing. Had Apollo 8p for several years and never heard music the way I did with Orion; very detailed, and cristal clear reference.

Plugins sound just amazing; I own UAD ones, but man! I do not miss them at all. You can route outside protools to feed any of the available gear inside Orion's dsp just like you would do with analog, or even record with a true chain of plugins in real time; preamps, vintage eqs, vintage compressors, guit. amps... you name it.

Possibilities are endless; built in talkback (routable), reamp, four HIz inputs, st insert point, 16 line outs, A/B monitoring... woooo

The negative

Sometimes felt like preamps have not enough headroom when something's really loud; they tend to distort quite easily with a percussive sound, so, an assignable pad would be so handy to fix this; you better know how to manage a good capture, and have a good mic technique and well treated room for that matter.

Overall Antelope is a top company, but they're still working hard to get the best results out of their software reliability. Sometimes trying to understand how Antelope works can result a bit frustrating, so you gotta have patience.

This is not a "plugand go" interface, so you better understand how signal flow works first; there's not so many basic information regardless of the ones found on youtube, so get ready to dig a little inside the "matrix".

Get ready to speak a little english and have a phone call one of this days. Antelope guys are such nice dudes; they will solve any problem you may face. We just wish we didn't have to write so many articles regarding how hard it's been to transition from whatever companies stable software to Antelope's.

 
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