Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by jonnybutter » Wed May 03, 2017 6:22 pm

Hey Mojo,

I thought about PMing you this, but then thought it might benefit others thinking along the same lines, if you are willing....

I am investing in a new audio interface, and am leaning towards the Antelope Zen Tour. Since you've had the Zen Studio for a while now - this thread is from April of last year - anything to add? How is the build and durability (since I do plan on taking it out of the studio at times)? Anything else?

thanks

EDIT: I guess The Docta isn't in. Oh well, I'm pretty much sold anyway. Looking forward to the big bump up in quality, and to the ability to carry an interface this good around with me.

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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by mojobone » Tue May 16, 2017 10:49 am

I didn't mention, but the build quality appears rock solid reliable and there are very few knobs/buttons to break even if you did treat it roughly. (I have both the soft case and the custom rack for the Zen, in case of remote operations) OTOH the unit produces a bit of heat, and I've heard their customer support has taken some criticism. I had some issues with a firmware update, opened a support ticket and heard nothing back, but eventually found part of the solution in their online knowledge base, and figured the rest out myself. I was unable to access the control panel for about a month, but the hardware unit continued to function; I could control the monitor volume from the front panel which luckily is within easy reach above the mix station. Had it been a real emergency, I woulda been more persistent and maybe consulted their chat support, which has kinda limited hours. So I've had some bleeding edge moments, but that firmware update included some vintage preamp/compressor emulations, so overall, I'm still mighty satisfied.
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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by mojobone » Tue May 16, 2017 2:12 pm

Oh and also worth noting, the price has dropped considerably.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ZenStudio

There's also a pricier Antelope Zen Studio Plus; I theenk the original can't quite handle all the new virtual FX plugins, and you also get Thunderbolt connectivity, which is handy.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ZenStudioPlus
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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by jonnybutter » Tue May 16, 2017 5:31 pm

Thanks for taking the time Mojo! Very helpful. Will report back when I actually get the sucker and put it through paces for a while.

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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by mojobone » Wed May 17, 2017 10:48 am

There are new preamp/EQ models; I haven't delved as of yet, but I'm ecstatic to report that scroll wheel support is implemented in the latest Control Panel update. It's super easy to navigate, now and it probably didn't hurt to also replace the dodgy wireless mouse that Yosemite hated, but that's a story for another day.
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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by jonnybutter » Wed May 17, 2017 11:47 am

I'm thrilled to be upgrading my interface. Think I will go with the Zen Tour, since 4 mic pres is all I need. Has 2 reamps, 2 headphone outputs and 2 monitor outputs. Plus all that other I/O. Gonna work great for me in the studio and out picking up stuff. I'm assuming the software will just get better.

Thanks for the heads up last year on this line. There are other good choices for portable interfaces, but to me this is the better mix of features for price (compared to UA, e.g.).

I am superstitious about wireless input devices, esp mice. Gimme a big ole wired trackball with scroll ring

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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by jonnybutter » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:28 am

OK, I was a little delayed in getting my Zen Tour (not Zen Studio, FWIW), but finally did get it late last week, and..

Wow, what a difference! Mic pre's have tons of clean, delicious gain, and everything sounds better, including VIs - clearer. The plugs the unit ships with sound really really good so far, and - most importantly - latency is very low, i.e. very manageable. I can track with only a few ms latency. This new interface in addition to a new-old 6-core mac (a Vader) has really changed my flow for the better.

The software side of things with the Zen Tour is a little fiddly and nerdy, but being a fiddly and nerdy person, that's not a problem.

I haven't tested all of the plugs yet, but everything sounds great so far.

Thumbs way up.

EDIT: After another good long day with the thing, I just have to say I am so happy. I love to just play through it and make tracks. Compressors and EQs all good or great so far.

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Great sound but...unfinished on the software side

Post by jonnybutter » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:21 pm

[edited for calmness]

OK, I have to qualify my review a little. Not sorry I have the zentour, but not 100% glowing.

The unit sounds brilliant, and the plugs are definitely good and lots of them, and latency is indeed low, BUT..

Sometimes using the software interface can feel like slippery ice. The routing page is not well explained conceptually, at least for me, and the way presets are handled is unfortunate and not predictable. There's also no way to zero the routing panel out and start over, which is kind of unforgivable.

It's a fantastic audio interface, and I use the LED and wheel most of the time. But the main UX is not great. Maybe it's the mac os (Sierra) that caused some problems. Anyway, I flashed the firmware and nothing worked the same. It's just boring to have to jack with it.

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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by mojobone » Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:33 am

Some good points, there, but of course you can save the defaults as a preset, if you need to get back to zero.
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Re: Antelope Audio Zen Studio; The Difference Isn't Subtle

Post by jonnybutter » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:49 am

of course you can save the defaults as a preset,
True enough. That is what I'm doing, sort of. But it's never completely clear exactly what is going on in the presets- when you quit the app it asks you if you want to save the changes you made to the preset, but tells you they will be saved whether you hit 'save' or 'don't save'! (you can 'load last session' next time and presumably it includes changes you didn't save when you quit); And there are presets you save to the little buttons 1-5, and presets you save on your hard drive, which seem to be different. Just not obvious or predictable - this aspect is really is a mess.

Such a fantastic piece of hardware deserves software better than this. I would say it's borderline arrogant to actually ship this software. Apparently not a new problem either - there have been similar complaints since Orion, which is a few years old. As I said, I'm definitely not sorry I got the zentour, but..to have this truly exceptional hardware and all these great plugs running on a half finished software platform is just weird. It's like putting old bald tires on a new Porsche.

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