I'm an ex RME UCX user.
And i have used also Apollo (the first version not the Black faced or MK2).
Many times i've worked also with Metric Halo ULN8
I've used also Audient ID14
while mixing for a friend.
I had also the Motu 8pre
so i know only the preamps of that unit.
And i've also worked with NAGRA VI
(which is only a portable recorder).
So i know these devices quite a lot to have a perspective view.
I got Zen tour for replacement, while i was waiting for my Prism Sound Lyra 2
I use it with Win7 and USB2.
For the moment the drivers are not very stable.
Multiple times i got clicks.
Sometimes the device got disconnected by itself without a reason.
I needed a lot of time to find how to install it.
In that case it's the opposite of RME.
Which are the most stable drivers i've ever encountered.
But i'm sure that these issues will be solved in the future.
The routing is quite confusing and i think it could be better thought.
It's a bit complicated in some stuff.
It's not very usefull like the RME or Apollo.
The Monitor output has no Mono, phase invertion, M/S possibilities.
On the other hand, the mixer is really easy to undestand it.
It's just confusing because you can't rename the channels
and you have to recognise them by the colours.
The reverb and all the FX's are cool.
I think if anyone needs to make a live recording it's a very handy device.
Convertion Quality: 2/5
The most important subject.
Well... I'm quite disappointed from the result.
I thought it would have been much better than my old UCX.
In the convertion quality of the Main Monitor it's in the same level with my old RME UCX.
A tiny bit better but it's very close.
It's a bit more clear in quality of sound but worse in the sound field (it sound even more Mono than the RME). Which was my main problem.
And while mixing you can have the tendency to open up the stereo-field of the mix more than it should.
On the other hand, the headphone amplifier is good. Much better than the UCX.
Preamp Quality: 2.5/5
It's like the UCX and Apollo and Audient on the subject.
Zen is a bit thiner but less aggressive than the Apollo of the 3K-5K area,
bit more flat than the the UCX.
It sounds a bit plastic but the quality is correct.
By the way. Motu 8pre
is excellent for it's price.
Whoever have worked with real preamps knows that the internal preamps of these devices are not serious preamps.
They all sound a bit fuzzy and plastic. Except the ULN8
I have worked with DAV BG1
, UA610 solo + MK2, UA 710, Avalon, Neve 1073, Chandler, Grace 201.
I would give ULN8 3.5/5 in preamp quality next to the big boys.
It's a bit faster sounding and a bit thiner than real preamps but it has this analog vibe.
ULN8 is in a different category from RME, Apollo, Antelope for the moment.
The price doesn't justify the sound it produces.
It's a good unit if you want to record big sessions.
Connect it with an external preamp via ADAT and use the internal FXs that are pretty cool.
If you're an electric gtr guy then it's your thing.
The sound of the internal cabinet and re-amplifier is the only thing that it's really unique in that device and it sounds very good.
Here Antelope have done a great job.
Apollo plugins are awful for el gtr cabinets for the moment.
But in general terms Zen Tour is not the unit i would buy to mix and record instruments seperetely.
The convertion sound is very mediocre. Preamps are OK but nothing special.
In terms of sound quality i would put these interfaces in the row:
1) Metric Halo ULN8
= best by far from anything else.
2) Apollo version 1 & 2 = good overall quality, easy console, excellent plugins, good sound.
3) Audient = because it's really cheap and produces very good results for that price.
Very good semi-pro device. I would chose it over RME for sure.
4) Zen Tour = Quite expensive, mediocore sound quality, quite good for guitarists and live recordings.
5) RME = Great drivers easy to use and superbly robust. Sound quality is close to the others except the DA convertion which it's not well.
I think it's even worse than Audient which costs half.
--I haven't tested the Lyra 2
yet. When i get it i'm going to tell you about it--
P.S.1: Special mention for the NAGRA VI
I compared it with the ULN8 at the preamp quality and the AD quality @ 192KHz.
I can say nagra is a clear winner by far.
I couldn't imagine my microphones could sound like that.
The sound of this unit is incredible.
It's the closest thing i've ever heard to the term "natural sound".
What a pitty that it has only 6 channels.