Product Profile: Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core

Antelope Audio’s philosophy as a company is centered on developing products that are more than the sum of their parts, a concept that is well represented in the Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core audio interface. 

The first-generation Antelope Audio Zen Tour audio interface was first introduced in 2016 and offered recording artists and content creators access to Antelope Audio’s rock-solid clocking and recording technology. The second-generation ZenTour Synergy Core is the flagship desktop interface in the Antelope Audio’s Synergy Core range of professional audio interfaces and utilizes the same form factor as the original Zen Tour. 

Designed for portability and collaboration, the Zen Tour Synergy Core is a Thunderbolt 3 and USB 2.0 audio interface that features the same professional-grade analog-to-digital conversion found in Antelope Audio’s high-end rack-mount studio audio interfaces. Offering Mac and PC compatibility, the Zen Tour Synergy Core allows for recording 24 channels over USB or 32 channels over Thunderbolt 3. The Zen Tour Synergy Core incorporates a touch screen that allows for flexible front-end control from the hardware interface including assignable talkback, monitor, dim and muting levels, screens for setting monitor, headphone, and line level output and playback levels as well as access to other essential audio controls necessary for effectively managing your recording sessions. 

The Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core features four XLR/Line inputs, four Hi-Z guitar inputs, two dedicated reamp outputs, and two TRS mastering grade monitor outputs. There are also eight line outputs (accessible via a standard DB25 DSUB cable), S/PDIF in and out, ADAT in and out and two stereo headphone outputs. The Zen Tour Synergy core’s four discrete ultra-linear microphone preamps offer 65 dB of gain. The Zen Tour Synergy Core’s Maximum Sampling Rate is 192 kHz. The four TRS inputs on the front of the Zen Tour Synergy Core are switchable between Hi Z and Line inputs. The four combination inputs on the rear of the Zen Tour Synergy Core are switchable between microphone and line level inputs. 

The Zen Tour Synergy Core incorporates Antelope Audio’s industry leading Acoustically Focused Clocking technology as well as Antelope Audio’s latest generation Synergy Core chipset, which integrates four DSP and two FPGA (Field Programable Gate Array) audio engines. They combine to provide for extremely high real-time processing power inside the interface itself and allows for mixing and tracking at near-zero latency, as well as recording with the company’s growing library of AFX studio grade effects. An available AFX2DAW bridge software plugin works over Thunderbolt and allows you use AFX inside your DAW.

The flexibility of the Zen Tour’s control software, which controls all the Zen Tour Synergy Core’s hardware and software functions, is comprehensive in the extreme. Not just another front-end mixer to control basic digital recording parameters and set recording and playback levels, the Antelope Audio Zen Tour’s control software is a virtual patch bay that gives you the ability to route any input to any output while (for example) simultaneously recording dry and processed and re-amped inputs into your DAW (all at the same time!).This functionality includes the ability to route external ADAT inputs from within the software control software, a great feature which adds significantly to Zen Tour Synergy Core’s flexibility as a portable recording studio. Extensive metering capability is also available, as well as a set of diagnostics for troubleshooting and adjusting the inputs and outputs volume according to other equipment used. 

The basic functionality of the Zen Tour Synergy Core control software and how it interacts with your DAW at the top level is easy to understand. However, the available routing options are vast, and I found that it is relatively easy for your audio signal path to get “stuck in the pipeline” while tracking and playing back audio. That said, you should expect a learning curve to understand the full capability of the control software and how it interacts with the Zen Tour Synergy Core hardware, as well as how it interfaces with your DAW, before inviting your band over for a tracking session.

The Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core is a premium-grade professional level recording interface that requires at least some knowledge of recording studio techniques to operate effectively. To get the most out of the Zen Tour Synergy Core’s extensive routing capability some prior experience working with patch bays is a definite plus. That said, as a recording tool the Zen Tour Synergy Core is a flexible, portable, professional recording interface with extensive I/O capabilities and is quite capable of tracking full sized recording sessions. 

Guitarists will find the Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core great for tracking and reamping as well as for integrating outboard pre-amps and multi effect processors into their signal path. The included library of virtual amps and cabinets make dialing in great sounding DI guitar tracks easy. 

The Zen Tour Synergy Core, to sum it up, sounds great, and offers a level of routing flexibility I have not seen in any other audio interface currently available. 

Antelope Audio’s customers include many Grammy Award-winning sound engineers, celebrities, and some of the most renowned recording, mastering and post-production studios around the globe. All of Antelope Audio’s products are built and supported at the company headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Antelope Audio offers 21 hour a day tech support and are committed to offering comprehensive support for their products.

The Antelope Audio Zen Tour Synergy Core is available now for $2,150 MAP.

Find out more at: en.antelopeaudio.com/products/zen-tour