Antelope Audio interfaces offer plenty of powerful features such as high-quality conversion and clocking, a suite of included real-time effects and DSP mixing. The new Zen Q Synergy Core ($899, Mac/Windows) embodies that tradition.
The Zen Q is a tabletop unit that’s a shade under 8 inches wide and weighs less than 2 pounds. Antelope considers it the “big brother” of the Zen Go Synergy Core ($499) released earlier this year. Both are portable and bus-powered, but the Zen Q has a higher I/O count and features Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, making it even speedier than the USB-C Zen-Go.
The top of the unit features digital meters and several key control buttons. The included Control Panel application provides access to the unit’s complete feature set.
The Zen Q has four analog inputs, including a pair of mic/line/Hi-Z combo jacks on the back panel and two ¼-inch Hi-Z instrument inputs on the front. Outputs include two ¼-inch TRS monitor outs and a pair of ¼-inch TRS line outs. Two independently adjustable ¼-inch TRS stereo headphone outputs round out the analog connections.
On the digital side, the Zen Q sports two channels of S/PDIF in and out on RCA connectors and an ADAT In port (no ADAT Out). If you’re wondering how Antelope got to 14×10 for an I/O number, it breaks down like this: Four analog inputs, eight ADAT inputs, plus two S/PDIF inputs add up to 14. A pair of monitor outs, a pair of line outs and two pairs of headphone outs (which they’re counting as four outputs total), along with two S/PDIF outs, get you to the output count of 10.
Antelope interfaces are known for their excellent conversion and clocking. For the latter, the Zen Q, which supports up to 24-bit, 192kHz audio, features the company’s 64-bit AFC (Acoustically Focused Clocking) technology. Its AD/DA converter chips provide up to 127 dB of headroom, according to Antelope.
Another inviting aspect of the Zen Q is the collection of 37 free plug-in effects that come with it. These include Auraverb (Reverb), VCA160 (VCA Compressor/Limiter), FET-A76 (FET Compressor/Limiting Amplifier), BA-31 (Germanium Mic Preamp), Tweed Deluxe (Tube Guitar Amp), Plexi 59 (Tube Guitar Amp) and many others.