The Zen Studio interface took Antelope’s technology and offered a USB-based interface, complete with a few surprises. When it was released, the original Zen Studio was ahead of the game offering a greater I/O count than the competition in a smaller footprint. However, the interface market is a fast-paced environment. Antelope are renowned for their audio quality having started out producing mastering grade solutions. The Zen Studio+ sees some interesting new additions to the feature set, but will it be enough to tempt a new wave of users?
Antelope Zen Studio+ Interface
What’s new? Well, there isn’t a massive difference compared to the original red Zen Studio, perhaps because it was already a feature-full product. The key points are the dual connectivity options of Thunderbolt and USB, guitar re-amp outputs and – presumably – more DSP power. The new Thunderbolt port is the big one here, as we are seeing a significant rise in demand for this low latency connection. The transformer-based guitar re-amp outputs are very interesting, highlighting once again Antelope’s attention to guitar players and bands. The inclusion of their DSP effects with the Zen Studio+ is major attraction here for guitarists and audio professionals alike.
I’ve been really tempted by several of Antelope’s products for a while, and this release strengthens my interest in their products even further. I remember when the Zen Studio first came out how impressed my colleagues and I were with it on paper. However, this release will also push down the price of the original Zen Studio. If you don’t need the Thunderbolt connectivity or the guitar re-amping, then the original unit now looks even more interesting.
Is there anything else they could have included in this new release? As I’m frequently saying at the moment, it’s interesting to see they’ve opted out of adding any AoIP technology. This would have increased the channel count significantly and given rise for more applications with live sound users. The DSP is a key difference between the Zen Studio+ and Focusrite units, for example. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if they continue to develop and release more emulations and plug-ins. UAD are obviously the first point of call if you’re after a DSP solution, but their tech is also due an update and is fairly pricey. This appears to be another canny product by Antelope, hopefully keeping other players in the market on their toes.
Antelope haven’t announced a price for the Zen Studio+ yet, but if the existing Zen Studio cost around 2,000 – 2,500 EUR, I think we can expect a similar price for this new interface. There’s certainly a lot on offer here, but ultimately they will need to keep this priced under a UAD Apollo 8P. For more details, visit the Antelope Zen Studio+ webpage.
Here’s Antelope Audio’s promo video about the new Zen Studio+, as seen on their YouTube channel: