- Trinity level Clocking
- 32 Channels Analog I/O
- Pro Tools HD and Native connectivity
- Built in real time DSP Effects
- MADI, HDX, USB 3.0, ADAT Lightpipe
- Virtually Future Proof
I was excited to review this unique new unit from Antelope Audio, famous for their high-end Atomic studio clocks. This new piece is great news for both HD and Native Pro Tools users. It has 64 channels of HDX connectivity. It’s just as happy to work with all other DAWs as well.
OUT OF THE BOX:
The Orion 32 HD is a one-space steel chassis unit with a sleek black satin finish. It comes in a well-packed hip Mac-ish box along with a standard IEC power cable, USB 3 cable and a compact 22-page manual. The Software is on the website for Download. The Front Panel is full of features. From left to right: Power Button, three clocking indicators, Internal Oven, External, and 10m for High-speed Atomic. Next are the Up & Down Sample rate frequency buttons with seven choices from 32kHz to 192kHz, with an LCD Display making it easy to see the current rate. Adjacent is a detailed mini I/O display that doubles as a menu display via the Antelope button on the right. Lastly are five Preset buttons to quickly access your custom I/O setups.
The Back Panel is jam-packed. There’s an IEC connector, Word Clock & Atomic Inputs, Word Clock Outputs, S/PDIF I/O, Mastering grade Monitor Outs, 2 HDX Ports, ADAT Toslink ports 2 In & 2 Out, MADI I/O, USB3 port, Four D-SUB 25 analog Ins and Four D-SUB analog Outs w/8 lines each.
The first step was to download the HD Launcher software from the Antelope site. Next, it was time to set up some analog gear. I picked up some extra D-SUB 25 connectors to start hooking up my outboard gear. They sell them at places like Sweetwater and Amazon. Once the physical connecting is done, the software Routing page is quite flexible with Drag & Drop features. If you are familiar with Pro Tools it’s a no-brainer, and if you are using another DAW it’s still logical once you get your head around it. I do recommend watching the videos. There are two ways to view routing, a traditional Antelope Routing view and a Matrix view that might help visualize what’s going on. You can label your outboard stuff in the I/O Routing page to keep it organized. Orion HD allows you to hook up the analog gear you like for tracking and create alternate routing templates in the box to access the same gear for tracking, overdubs, mixing or mastering. There are five I/O routing presets accessible via software or front panel buttons. This is really genius.
The Orion HD 32 comes with its own internal hardware effects based on Antelopes 64-bit FPGA chip. There is the beautiful Auraverb, and at writing, I counted 12 Vintage compressors and 21 Vintage EQs. They can be used real-time for tracking, and boast of only 2 Milliseconds of latency. Antelope has taken a different approach to their FX. There are 16 mono effects sends that can be paired with up to eight effects per send at one time. That’s a lot of DSP. What separates them from other company’s plug-ins, is that these are included free. They’ve modeled some very unique pieces of vintage gear I haven’t seen with the majors. They also have all the usual suspects. Every time you launch the program it checks for updates and new plug-ins.
My Pro Tools, 12.8 Sierra rig loves the Orion HD32. It’s been flawless. I spent a bit of time figuring out the physical set up, and deciding the location of outboard pieces with so many analog I/O channels. I can now access lots of rack gear that I’d not used in a long time. I was also able to incorporate my UA Apollo via the Toslink ports, and the Antelope clock is superior. When switching projects I did check the front of the unit to make sure everyone was at the correct Sample rate. There’s no fan so it’s dead quiet, and I can keep it close. The internal Effects sound great. The Lang EQ is one of my favorites. I also like the Altec Compressor and the Stay-Level, and coming soon is a Distressor. Antelope also plans on making their Amp & Cabs effects available in the future.
The Orion HD32 marks quite an accomplishment for Antelope. For Pro Tools users it offers an amazingly compact high-end solution. It’s future-proof, in that Native PT users who do upgrade to HD don’t have to buy new hardware, it’s 64 channels of HD ready. If you’re not a PT guy, it’s still a perfect choice with MADI options if you choose. Because of the price point, it’s perfect for anyone serious about taking your home studio to a pro level. As you grow your hardware collection, you can be organized, with a professional workflow. You’re also able to access your outboard gear or analog console within your DAW like the big boys. There is nothing I’ve seen with this many channels of I/O, internal effects, killer clock, and superb A/D-D/A conversion with HDX & MADI near this price range. At $3,495.00 the Orion HD32 is a game changer.