Antelope Zen Q Synergy Core by CedricM
I bought the Antelope Audio Zen Q Synergy Core in a bundle with one Edge Solo virtual microphone + Bitwig + additional plugins. In my opinion, by far the best bang for the bug compared to UAD and other competitors.
I tested all inputs by playing 2 SPDIF and 8 ADAT channels @48 kHz/24 bits from Reaper on my FW-1884 Firewire interface, and recorded them, plus the analog inputs of the Zen Q, including one with the Edge Solo as a mic, and for laughs and giggles, 2 Sine test sounds (to use all 16 inputs of the Zen Q), in Studio One. With an 8 samples buffer size: flawless audio.
The interface itself is beautiful, with a metal body that looks solid, and the sound quality is outstanding.
There are a few imprecisions in an otherwise good documentation, I regret, like most customers, that the interface can't be used until it is registered. While it is understandable for the DSP/FPGA plugins, it would really help the setup/testing, especially with TB3, to be able to use the naked interface, at least in a basic mode without plugins.
The setup is not trivial, but then again it's a DSP/FPGA interface with plugins that can be used directly in the virtual mixer or as a plugin in a DAW through AFX2DAW.
I got help from the customer service, especially for the authorization/serial numbers/iLok (if you get the Edge Solo, since its mic emulations can also appear as a DAW plugin.)
One has to be aware that the interface only comes with ASIO drivers. While using an audio interface exclusively for music/audio work is probably a good idea, one may want to use it with Windows to listen videos or music on ones monitors, or perhaps to record audio for a video conference.
It's still possible, but a little complicated, with the Voicemeetter software.
It was the first time that I had an audio interface with a virtual mixer: it takes some getting used to, but it's quite powerful.
The Edge Solo comes in a beautiful case and, like the Zen Q, oozes sturdiness. The mic emulations appear very worthwhile, not a gimmick.
In the Zen Q, it's possible to record both the emulated signal and the naked signal, so one can choose later.
Or an emulated signal + FPGA/DSP zero latency plugin chain / naked signal.
So far, I'm really delighted.
Now that the Zen Q is also offered in USB, I'd perhaps have chosen the USB version, should it be able to do all that the TB3 version does.