What is it?
Zen Go is the latest, most affordable audio interface from Antelope’s Synergy Core range and again includes internal DSP to power its minimal latency onboard processing and support mic modelling for its Verge and Edge modelling mics.
The 4-in, 8-out USB-powered design has great specs including discrete mic preamps with up to 65dB gain, high quality 64-bit AFC clocking, 24-bit operation at up to 192kHz, two separate headphone outputs, mirrored main outputs on both TRS and RCA connectors, and minimum latency monitoring via the Control Panel app.
The stylish compact desktop design has a robust metal case and the top panel includes a large rotary encoder and three buttons (Gain, HP/MON, Antelope) alongside an eye-catching multipart display for monitoring input and output levels, sample rate and clock source. On the back you’ll find two XLR/TRS combo inputs for mic/line/instrument connection, the monitor outputs and S/PDIF in/out. On the front edge are the two headphone outs.
USB connectivity is via type C connector and though I powered it from both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections, USB 2.0 doesn’t really provide enough power. However, there’s also a second type-C connector so you can power Zen Go from a hub or charger, widening your hardware options to include iPads and iPhones. Although at the moment there’s no iOS control app for Zen Go.
Performance and verdict
Zen Go, like other Zen devices, is a tech-driven interface and the streamlined top panel controls can access multiple functions including input gain, 48V phantom, output level, headphone levels and output muting. Though not as immediate as dedicated controls, this works well.
Still, for more extensive controls you’ll need the Control Panel app. This includes mixer panels for setting up not only headphone cues but also general routing including internal loopback. It’s also where you can add Synergy Core processing via the Synergy Core FX Rack (AFX) available on the first four faders either as four mono or two linked stereo streams with up to eight inserts on each.
Of course, this is one of the Zen Go’s USPs and it ships with 37 effects, including mic preamps, EQs, compressors, guitar amps and cabinets, and their Auraverb reverb.
You can also purchase further Synergy Core effects as required, tantalisingly listed in the plugin list. Among the included 37 are plenty of analogue emulations based on trusty favourites such as FET-A76 (Urei) and VEQ-1A (Pultec) and some more esoteric examples such as BA-31 preamp (RCA). There are also some rather good guitar amp and cabinet effects.
Unlike Antelope’s Thunderbolt interfaces, Zen Go can’t use its AFXDAW plugin, which lets you access Synergy Core plugins from your DAW. However, if your DAW supports hardware inserts you can actually use the flexible routing in the Control Panel mixer to route signals via the plugins.
Overall Zen Go Synergy Core is a fantastic portable interface that provides not only an audiophile front end but also impressive onboard processing – and all at a very competitive price.
MusicRadar verdict: Zen Go brings Antelope’s impressive Synergy Core system to a much wider audience in a more affordable and impressively portable USB bus powered interface.
The web says
"The Zen Go boasts audio specifications that would be impressive for a mains‑powered interface, with an A‑weighted dynamic range of 120dB on the inputs and 127dB on the monitor outputs."
Sound on Sound
"Accessibility and portability are Zen Go’s selling points for me — the first because of its pricepoint, and the second because it’ll slip straight into a shoulder bag."
- I/O: 2 x mic/line/instrument, ¼” TRS and RCA mirrored, 2 x ¼” jacks, 1 x S/PDIF
- Mic preamp max gain: 65dB
- A/D Converter Dynamic Range: 120dB
- D/A Converter Dynamic Range: 127dB (A-weighted)
- DIMENSIONS: 198 x 117 x 57.5mm
- WEIGHT: 0.7kg
- Contact: Antelope Audio