Author Topic: Best bang for the buck ''middleweight'' audio interface  (Read 27 times)


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As you may know, I'm building a ''middleweight'' ambient recording home studio. I've been undecided since the beginning (about a year and a half ago), which interface to pick up, so I've been buying everything else, leaving the interface to the end.

First I was looking into a all in one solution, the Yamaha 01V96i, because of the tactile feel.
Then I was thinking that it would be better to focus on the conversion instead of a full kit, investing later in a Mackie MCU pro DAW controller.

Then I was interested in the RME Fireface UFX, the drivers are rock solid they say, but unfortunately it only has 12 inputs, to expand it I would had to buy another AD/DA converter and plug it by adat. So the price would be like the Antelope Orion or more...

As you may know, I own several digital and analog synths, 10 by now.

So I bought a lot of Mogami cables and a TRS patchbay and I've been doing some ambient recording tests using my synths with my 6 track Zoom H6. I'm so happy with the results, that I can't wait any longer for a proper audio interface.


I went back again to the Antelope Zen Studio, now that should be properly reviewed.
I've noticed besides the 12 inputs on the box, it has an additional 8 inputs by DSUB 25 connector, making a total of 20 inputs, perfect for my current array of synths, with no additional cost of another adat converter.

What you think of this kit:

Zen Studio

Mogami Gold Multicore TRS <> DSub 25 (Plugged into my TRS Patchbay)

RME Raydat

What do you think of the Orion 32?

Would it be a better investment? An alternative kit involving the Orion 32 maybe?

Then the Midas M32 is around the corner for 3K + euros, arghhh! :)

« Last Edit: Today at 04:00:18 PM by Crossing_The_Threshold »

Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: Best bang for the buck ''middleweight'' audio interface
« Reply #1 on: Today at 03:23:08 PM »
First of all, there is nothing middle weight about the Zen Studio or The Orion 32. Both units are full on professional grade.

Yes there are more expensive converters from Prism, Lynx and Apogee (which too be fair is my personal favorite), as well as really upper end pieces by Burl, Benchmark, Lavry and such, but the difference in quality gets pretty narrow once you hit any of these levels, IE over $2,000.

I have reviewed, tested and used most everything in the above list and more, with the exception of Burl and at this stage it becomes becomes a matter of taste as the sonic differences in units is in the 10-15% range, usually less. Most people I have had in my studio cannot tell the difference in side by side tests of the Lynx Aurora, Antelope Orion (or Zen) and an Apogee Symphony I/O. I hear nuance, air, sweetness and depth differences but again they are very slight and I am listening on a very expensive monitor set up.

Now between the Zen Studio and the Orion 32, the conversion is the same sonically. The choice comes down to inputs, cost and if you want/need 12 really nice mic pres.

If you do not ever see yourself needing 32 channels then I would go with the Zen. If you don't need 12 mic pres or plan on getting a selection of differnt outboard units then the Orion may be better. Also the Orion has 32 channels in, and 32 channels out. The Zen Studio has 20 analog inputs and 10 out.

Other factors are that the Orion is made to be a studio piece that lives in a rack. The Zen Studio is designed to be portable and cannot be rack mounted.

Anyway whichever one you pick it will be amazing for you! Best of luck!!!

"I liken good ambient to good poetry ... enjoyable, often powerful, and usually unpopular" APK


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Re: Best bang for the buck ''middleweight'' audio interface
« Reply #2 on: Today at 03:44:46 PM »
Thanks Paul!

Yeah you are right about the definition, it's all pro, but I was thinking high end above 5k mark, when I said ''middle weight'' :)

I've lost interest on the Zen Studio because a lot of users are reporting all sorts of problems @ gearslutz...

So back to where I started...

« Last Edit: Today at 03:47:16 PM by Crossing_The_Threshold »