Antelope Axino Synergy Core Hands-on Review: A Mic of All Trades

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Hands-on with the Axino Synergy Core
Hands-on with the Axino Synergy Core
(Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Since the pandemic hit, there has been a surge in online content creation and a huge increase in market demand, leading more and more people to jump on the bandwagon. What's more, the exponential growth of video conferencing has driven office workers and content creators alike to seek for better microphone solutions, and to go beyond the mere pin-hole microphones on their laptop.

As microphone makers around the world realize the market for USB microphones, it becomes harder and harder for a new release to stand out. However one trend that we've noticed is the implementation of software suites that add functionality to the microphone. For example, enhancing the microphone sound, like in the Shure MV7, or adding recording functionality to the RODE NT-USB Mini.

One microphone that sets itself apart is the Axino Synergy Core from the Bulgaria-based tech company Antelope Audio, which comes with a microphone suite so powerful that, with one microphone, you can effectively model multiple microphones in different recording situations. Can the Axino really be the microphone that satisfies all the needs of a content maker? Let's dive in to find out.

The dual layer mesh wrapped around the large diaphragm (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Premium Built Condenser Microphone

My first impression when coming face-to-face with the Axino Synergy Core is that it felt less like a consumer product, and more like commercial audio gear. The body of the microphone is a full metal build with a professional, matte-black finish, and has a double-layered metal mesh that acts both as a pop shield, as well as physical protection for the large 34 mm gold-sputtered, membrane diaphragm inside.

The overall build quality of the Axino is both rugged and meticulous, exuding a professional, no-nonsense aesthetics. You won't be finding any fancy LED RGB lights here, just a robust, all-black work horse of a microphone.

Onboard controls are professionally implemented (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Onboard Controls

Though the Axino Synergy Core has a professional design, it includes plenty of consumer appeal. One important feature is the onboard controllers, which provide convenience and functionality that professional gear doesn't usually offer.

There are two volume knobs: The top knob controls the input volume, and the bottom knob, digitally controls the headphone volume, and is linked to the software volume setting. There are also two toggle switches near the top, one a high-pass filter, and the other, a toggle to drop sound sensitivity by -10dB, giving the user even more control over by picking up less unwanted noise.

There is the 1/8-inch headphone-out which provides the monitoring needed for both recording and video conferencing. Even this minute detail is well implemented and has a metallic gold socket that gives me the confidence to say it will last the lifetime of the microphone.

The included shock mount and desktop stand (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Full Hardware Package

Together with the well-built Axino microphone, the package also includes a very sturdy desktop stand with a shock mount - again, all in matching matte black. The shock mount is especially well-built, suspended using rubber O-rings, completely blocking vibrations that would reach the microphone. Since it comes with a standard 5/8 female socket, it can also be fitted onto most microphone stands.

The Antelope Launcher that runs the Axino Synergy Core Control Panel (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Powerful Software Suite that Launches in 30 Seconds

Despite being beautifully built, its aesthetics are not what make the Axino Synergy Core a must-have but rather, the amazing software technology that powers the hardware.

The first time you use the Antelope Launcher it could be a little daunting as it is more involved than other USB microphones, which are mostly just plug-and-play. For the Axino there are slightly more steps in its software installations to get it started. The launcher takes around 30 seconds to fire up each time you connect it, since it launches the Axino Synergy Core control panel. This is probably the only downside that I've found with this microphone, but it's quite a small price to pay for the power that it offers.

The Control Panel interface of the Axino Synergy Core (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Microphone Emulator

First of all, the Axino Synergy Core includes 18 microphone emulations that allow it to emulate classic, iconic microphones. Though each of the microphones are not blatantly named, it's quite obvious what each of them are. (You can get the full lowdown on Antelope's website)

There are 18 different microphone emulations that comes included with the Axino (Photo: Antelope Audio)

For me, what is immediately recognizable is the Shure SM7B, and from my own testing and comparison, the emulation is very on point. The emulated sound captures the presence and warmth of the classic microphone very well. At the click of a mouse button, the emulation can easily switch between the 18 microphones, opening up new ways for recording singing, narration, instruments and more.

Another impressive feature is the low latency of the emulator, which might not be a big deal for Mac users, but as a Window user, I was really impressed by it, especially since I'm using the Axino Synergy Core for video conferencing on Zoom and Google Meet. I found no issues with delay-time whatsoever.

The AFX stack where audio plug-ins can be implemented and tweaked (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Audio Effect Plugins

The microphone emulations are further tweakable with audio effect plug-ins. With the Axino Synergy Core purchase, there are 10 AFX already included. Compressors, EQs, preamps and dynamic processors can significantly enhance the microphone's output. Furthermore, each effect is graphically represented with knobs and switches where you can adjust its variables.

If the 10 included plugins are not enough, there are even more effects that can be purchased on Antelope's effects store, making it possible for even more effects to be used with the Axino, further expanding its versatility.

The Presets are very useful for people who are just looking for simple effects to enhance their recording (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Very Useful Presets for Starters

If all the microphone emulation and sound effects seem a little overwhelming to you, you needn't worry. Antelope has included very useful presets that the user can start with. The preset I mostly used was 'Voice over', which uses the SM7B emulation. I've also used 'Acoustic guitar', which adds a nice reverb for guitar recording. Male and Female vocals are also great to start off with, which you can then tweak according to your own preference, either changing the microphone model or adding more plugins and changing the audio effects of the sound.

The Axino Synergy Core from Antelope Audio is truly a mic of all trades that will be enough for most home content creators (Photo: IBTimes / Jeff Li)

Final Verdict

We're in the era where content creation is no longer reserved only for professionals. Thanks to social media platforms, everyone gets a voice, and the Axino Synergy Core offers a very versatile way to capture it. It's well-built and it distinguishes itself from other USB microphones in the market with its low-latency, wide range of emulators and audio effects. This is a must-have microphone as for those who need to cover a wide range of applications.

For its quality, versatility, and future expandability, we're awarding the Axino Synergy Core the IBTimes Best Product badge.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move, but since the lock-down is on a mission to explore gadgets to improve his 'home work'. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Home Productivity.

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