At NAMM 2018, pro audio contender Antelope debuted its newest product – Discrete MP. This is a dual-input, fully analog microphone preamplifier designed as the companion to the company’s Edge modelling condenser microphone. Technologically a perfect match for the Edge’s frequency response and styled in the same shades of black and copper, the Discrete MP borrows its transistor schematics from Antelope’s recent Discrete 4 and 8 audio interfaces to provide two inputs with 48V phantom power on combo XLR/TRS connectors, and two line outputs.
The mic/preamp system is adaptable to virtually any studio setup with its all-around minimalist design that’s stripped of any over-the-top functionality. Rather than a barrage of knobs, switches and several hundred dollars’ worth of lite-version audio software, the Discrete MP + Edge microphone – together comprising the Edge Strip bundle – the devices are fully dedicated to instrument and vocal recording. This doesn’t mean that recording is all there is to them, of course. Since the Edge is a modeling microphone, Antelope offers a plethora of virtual microphones, preamp simulations, and a bespoke compressor personally conceptualized by CEO Igor Levin.
While the Discrete MP does feature a USB port, it only exists to provide remote control from your computer – so again, the preamp is fully analog. The unit is quite compact, too, and weighs a little over a kilo with the adapter included.
As for the Edge microphone, it’s a large diaphragm condenser with multiple polar patterns, designed for accurate transient capturing and maximum linearity as to provide a clean slate for Antelope’s mic emulations. There’s a choice of 11 mic models, mostly 20-century German and British classics which any professional recordist ought to be intimately familiar with.
All in all, Antelope has come up with a powerful combination of analog preamp and modeling microphone that’s certainly up for laying down musical, “studio sound” vocals at virtually any recording location. With products like the Edge Strip, Slate VMS and Townsend Labs Sphere, it’s safe to say microphone modeling is here big time and could become the standard approach for recording instruments in vocals in studios of all sizes. What helps further is that the technology stays reasonably affordable, certainly much cheaper and easier to maintain than any mic locker. With music technology, the future is pretty much here, which is a wonderful thing – if slightly overwhelming at times with all the choice of software and hardware!
Price and availability
Antelope asks 1300 EUR for the Discrete MP preamp, Edge microphone, and mic emulations. This is slightly above Slate’s 1199 EUR VMS and below the 1600 EUR Townsend Labs Sphere, so there’s some nice positioning happening in the virtual mic market right now. While pristine sound quality is a given with all three systems, with their creators’ long-standing expertise in gear design, Antelope’s Edge Strip strikes us as a bit more boutique in terms of looks and build than the VMS, its closest competitor. Furthermore, the Edge microphone offers multiple polar patterns, while the Slate ML-1 mic is cardioid-only. However, the VMS with the paid Classic Tubes 3 expansion provides a choice of 13 microphone emulations while priced close to Antelope’s Edge Strip. So consider your options carefully before purchasing!
Disclaimer: Lyubomir Dobrev, the author of this article, is affiliated with Antelope Audio. This fact does not influence his journalistic integrity and opinion in any way whatsoever.