Welcome to my first blog of 2021, today I’m starting off the year with a review of one of my favourite pieces of gear; the Antelope Audio Satori monitor controller!
WHAT IS IT?
The Antelope Satori is an analog Mastering Grade Monitor Controller with a bunch of very usable and practical features that can be suited to all types of studio setups. It allows you to connect multiple sets of speakers allowing easy switching between them, it has great headphone preamps and even has an inbuilt analog summing mixer! A lot of features packed into a single rack space unit! The purpose of a monitor controller is not just to switch between speakers, but to maintain sonic integrity and accuracy when you are switching between inputs etc. Coupled with a high quality audio interface and converters, it really does give you the most transparent and detailed monitoring of your source material.
The Antelope Satori features mastering grade analog circuitry and a wealth of connectivity options. Including 8 stereo ins, 4 stereo outs all on XLR, 1/4” TRS, D-Sub and also a dedicated sub-woofer output. I utilize the 8 channel analog summing mixer via d-sub from my Antelope interface and it works great with real-time monitoring, providing you set your inputs and outputs correctly from your DAW and interface. The Satori also has a remote control (called the RS4) available as an add-on accessory, I personally don’t use it, as the front panel is easily accessible at my studio desk. Also, the Satori easily connects to your computer via USB 2.0.
Starting with the front panel, you have the power button, then you have your 8 input buttons and your sum button (which allows you to listen to the analog summing from the Satori). You have your volume knob, which is a fantastic stepped attenuator, super accurate and very high quality. You then have your mono and also mid/side listening options plus a dim switch. Next to that is the talkback button, which allows you to communicate with musicians during a recording session via the headphones. You then have your 4 monitor selectors, I have my HS8’s connected to one, my NS10’s connected to two, my Eve SC205’s on three and a single Avantone Mixcube on input four. It’s also important to set the gain on your speakers/amplifiers at the same level to allow for accurate level matching during monitoring. Finally, you have your 2 headphone inputs and a further 2 inputs on the rear panel.
Another very useful feature is the software app which can be used on your desktop computer. It has a number of very important controls that actually are not available on the hardware unit itself. To start with, you have the gain control for the summing mixer. You also have the channel selector and sum buttons, which are the same as on the front panel of the hardware. You also have dedicated trim dials for the left and right channels, also not available on the front panel. Another handy feature also only available on the software app, is the FX dropdown menu which has options for inverting the phase to check the phase in your audio. You have the main attenuator, the mono and dim switch (interestingly no mid-side button here), but the most important switch which I’m still not sure why this is not on the hardware itself, is the mute button! Unfortunately, the software is the only way to mute the Satori (without switching it off at the power). I must say, this is a bit of a frustrating thing, as you do have to continually have the software open if you intend to hit mute at any stage during monitoring. There’s also an inbuilt high-pass filter with only one option of filtering at 110hz, I don’t use this feature and if you have any intention of monitoring the low-end of your audio, then I suggest leaving it in bypass at all times (unless you have a sub-woofer connected, as this is can be utilized as the crossover).
You have a bit more flexibility with the talk back via the app also, you can actually set your microphone source to be either via USB, the rear panel, or the microphone built into the front panel. You can also control the level of the talkback volume. The headphone management section offers a lot more than the front panel of the hardware, in that you have your gain controls for each separate input, plus a dropdown menu for selecting which channel of audio you are sending to that particular headphone input, you also have dedicated mute buttons plus the option to activate or deactivate the talkback function for each headphone input. Finally, you can also save up to 5 different presets, which is very useful if you have specific settings for recording sessions, for example, that you can easily recall before a session.
MY FAVOURITE FEATURES
Personally, I love all the features of the Antelope Satori, but the ones I find myself using the most are the speaker switching function and the headphone inputs. I must say, music is an absolute pleasure to listen to through these headphone preamps, they are one of the cleanest, quietest headphone amps I’ve heard, even at high levels there is very little noise. I’ve had the Satori for a few years now and when I first got it, I was very interested in the analog summing feature and spent a lot of time experimenting with that. I spend most of my time in the box these days and summing within a DAW has become so good that the differences between the two are really quite minimal. The sound of the Satori summing, in my opinion, is best suited to audio that is perhaps lacking slightly in separation or is a bit dull in the top-end. If you have something that is already quite bright in tone, the summing function in the Satori might over-accentuate that and it has a tendency to get a bit brittle and sizzly up top. If you push the gain of the Satori summing, you can also add a bit more depth and weight to the low-end of your mix. It still is a very handy feature to have access to and a worthwhile addition.
I hope you enjoyed today’s review of the Antelope Satori! Remember to stay tuned to mnproductions.com.au for more detailed information on the topics of music production/mixing/mastering. You can also find me on the usual social media channels (links can be found on the home page). I often feature artists that I have worked with on my channels, so be sure to check it out and I look forward to catching you again soon.
Until next time,