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Antelope Zen Studio - thoughts and comparisons

Member for

7 years 2 months
I just got my hands on an Antelope Zen Studio today..

Cool unit.. very easy to use.. I'll be comparing it to a M audio Profire 2626 and Behringer Ada 8200 through an ancient RME digiset that was sold by Steinberg back in the day.

So far.. I've just had a chance to listen to some speaker test songs and I'm shocked that the difference in D/A between the Ada 8200 and Zen Studio is the same...

I didn't do a test tone.. just level matched as close as I could.. I had to set the output of the Zen to minus 19.. and the Rme to minus .5 To get things as even as possible.. will do a test tone tonight..

I'll also record some drums with all 3 units to see what's up with them..

So far I hear a big difference between the Profire 2626 and the RME/Behringer but none between the Zen and Rme/Behringer D/A wise.... I'm kinda shocked..

More tests are needed..

Any songs suggestions to listen to that would be good for comparisons showing depth and clarity?

Comments

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Sat, 09/24/2016 - 12:43
So... I moved some mics around overhead wise.. I was using that Weathervane method.. I went for a wide stereo pair.. and a mono over the kick and snare on the cross section angle, splitting the kit up on a diagonal..

Completely different story.. The Zen winds up being much better.. I was doing a test at 48 vs 44.1 I'll post some results when I get a chance..

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Sat, 09/24/2016 - 13:00
I didn't even try and play the same stuff to match as the difference is so huge..
Weird how mic placement can even the odds.. with gear.. Mic placement that compromises your potential apparently..

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.org/atta…

[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.org/atta…
Attached files Behri 48.mp3 (1.7 MB)  Zen 48.mp3 (1.4 MB) 

Member for

12 years 1 month

kmetal Sat, 09/24/2016 - 15:29
Chris Perra, post: 441518, member: 48232 wrote: Weird how mic placement can even the odds..

Mic positioning is sooo important. It's can make things go from good to great or vice versa. It's one of those things that can't be compensated for, or undone in the mix. You get only that one shot to take advantage of it.

I've spent at least a handful of nights experimenting w room mic placement and pickup patterns over at the studio. You can really effect the decay time and smoothness of the reverb trail in room mics.

Fwiw I think I like A best in the latest example.

Member for

8 years 6 months

pcrecord Sun, 09/25/2016 - 07:21
Chris Perra, post: 441518, member: 48232 wrote: Weird how mic placement can even the odds.. with gear.. Mic placement that compromises your potential apparently..
Maybe you had some phase issue with your previous setup and it was cancelling out the good stuff the zen can grab.. just guessing ;)

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Sun, 09/25/2016 - 07:31
Phase wise it was fine.. Just tonal character was more midrange and the stereo field was too small. I hadn't record at 48 previously as well.

Some people say certain sample rates are the core resonances of the crystal and the work better at certain sample rates..

More study is still needed..

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Sun, 09/25/2016 - 12:18
Alright.. I did a mono mic set of takes at 48k with an Akg 214. To remove the mixing level factors.. Doing the mic splitter thing would require 2 daws.. running 2 sound cards or 2 computers.. Might do that later,,

Still not the same performance etc. It's weird.. do I want sheen to the almost point of brittleness or do I want stuff that is a little duller..

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/q9ef3e8o1qhx8/Mono

A
[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.org/atta…
B
[MEDIA=audio]http://recording.org/atta…
Attached files Mono A.mp3 (3.4 MB)  Mono B.mp3 (3.4 MB) 

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Mon, 10/03/2016 - 14:09
I wound up getting a Motu 16A.. To me the 16A is better sounding than the Zen..

They are somewhat apples to oranges as the Zen has 12 mic pres and if you needed 12 mic pres then it's a no brainer..

I found the Motu to be wider, and has more depth. The Zen has a bit of highs added that sound good,.. but not as natural sounding vs the 1248 to me.. D/A wise the Motu was better as well.. More detail with reverbs etc.. "Rise" by Katy Perry was a song that I could hear a huge difference in reverb/delay tails..

The Motu sounds great, I was very surprised..

Member for

21 years

audiokid Mon, 10/03/2016 - 14:35
Chris Perra, post: 441842, member: 48232 wrote: wound up getting a Motu 16A.. To me the 16A is better sounding than the Zen..

They are somewhat apples to oranges as the Zen has 12 mic pres and if you needed 12 mic pres then it's a no brainer..

I found the Motu to be wider, and has more depth. The Zen has a bit of highs added that sound good,.. but not as natural sounding vs the 1248 to me.. D/A wise the Motu was better as well.. More detail with reverbs etc.. "Rise" by Katy Perry was a song that I could hear a huge difference in reverb/delay tails..

The Motu sounds great, I was very surprised..
Well done. (y) Thank you for sharing all this with us.

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Mon, 09/26/2016 - 06:28
Anybody out there use one of the new Motu units?.. Like a 16 A?.. I think I can rent a 1248 and see what that sounds like.. I'm hoping they have the same guts..

I think the Zen is a cleaner sounding interface than the Behringer/Rme but I'm not completely sold on the upgrade yet.. 3 Grand CAD.. Motu 16 A is 2 Grand..

So far the Zen has been flawless driver wise.. Super solid on an older Quad core asus p5q somputer.. I think I had Xp on it when I started..
The RME as well flawless..

Member for

12 years 1 month

kmetal Mon, 10/03/2016 - 17:45
Cool man. Congrats on your new score!!!!

Where did you hear/see MOTU was using the same comverters as the symphony? Just curious.

I was looking into the MOTU stuff a while back and the new avb capable stuff is a new design, versus just another mk 'x' version, according to my salesperson. The only one that isn't an umpfated design in the traveller which is a basic Asian brand components type thing.

I was having a tough time dechipering the differences among things on the iPhon which is what I've been using for quite a while now. 'A' from Thursday's post seemed to be the only one that sounded noticeably different, just a little. The others were super subtle.

It's interesting the MOTU outperformed the zen. One reason I can think of is the MOTU has less features/design hurdles i.e. The pre amp section. So it can focus more quality on what it does do. This is another case of less is more. It's seems the more a peice of gear does, the less well it does each thing.

Fwiw I did notice recently the Orion+ has come down $500 to $3k even, that seems like a no brainer to me vs the zen. Vs the MOTU it adds another thousand bucks and 16 channels which may or may not be worth it. I can't attest to the quality.

The only other consideration would be the thunderbolt connection. These are cool becuase they run straight to the pci bus on the computer so are capable of similar performance specs, on paper. TB cards are like $40.

Anyway man, I'm glad you found something you like. I'm looking forward to re vistong this thread when I have something better than a phone to listen on!!! Cheers!

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Mon, 10/03/2016 - 19:38
A Motu rep was on the purple forum discussing the newer Motu AVB stuff.
He said they were using these. http://www.apogeedigital.com/ess-sabre

I don't know how it works yet but they have Ethernet stuff that you can link up many units together.. I think without sample rate restrictions like Smux
The control panel is web browser based so you can used anything with a web browser at a distance to control stuff.

For me I don't care about any of that stuff at this point in time.. Just that the fidelity is noticeably better than my Behringer/RME Digiset set up..

The Zen wasn't really an upgrade fidelity wise.. Maybe a bit... Mostly a bit more highs and perhaps a bit more depth.. However if you are starting from scratch and want 12 pres and 20 ins.. It packs alot of punch. There's nothing out there that does that for the money.

It's interesting because every sales/rental person said that the Zen should blow away the Behri/Rme and Motu units.. I spent 350 bucks to rent the Zen and Motu 1248.. I'm glad I did..

Member for

7 years 2 months

Chris Perra Mon, 10/03/2016 - 19:57
Which "A" did you think was different because they aren't all the same unit.

I think if you are on a budget,.. this test has shown me that the playing field of converters/interfaces is much smaller than it used to be. Get what you can afford and be happy that if your music sounds like crap. It's not your converters... Preamps, mics, and mic placement make way bigger differences.

For me,... I made this jump as I have some drum track clients that require 96k. I already have stand alone preamps and the 16A is perfect for what I need and is 1000 dollars cheaper than the Zen.
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