I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying using z3ta+ 2...
I've had all of Rene's synths since back in the RGC days and they have always been special creations for me...
We know that he's a genius and his ideas are groundbreaking and inspiring...
But I must say that the new mechanics who worked on z3ta+ 2 have done a wonderful job in both paying homage to the original and bringing some new features to the table and everything is working perfectly for me...
I like the new library system and the GUI layout - both a big improvement on the original...It's easier to "drive" the new model......
The architecture of the synth engine is very similar to the original,but there's some new coding in there and the synth engine sounds better ...Top marks
The new filters and all the extra doo dahs are so cool and once again they sound great....
z3ta+ has always had a great vibe - it's got character and a real "mojo" about it and the new version loses none of that vibe...It's sounds great by itself and it's got attitude in the mix......
z3ta+ 2 makes many other soft synths out there sound soft alright ! Like limp lettuce :)
This synth is really deep and extremely versatile...Loading a few waveforms can transform it into whatever you want it to be - as Francesco showed us with the Virus mod...So cool and so many great possibilities...
Thanks to all involved at Cakewalk for the great work and especially to Rene for the original inspiration...
I'm using Z3TA+2 almost every day and the deeper I dig into it,the more I like it...
It doesn't do everything,but what it does,it does very well :)
It's one of my main workhorses and it would be an asset for anyone involved in synthesis and music production...
This one's a classic and it deserves the highest rating that I can give it...
I quite like the way everything is laid out, especially in version 2.0, where the new GUI is larger, easier to read, and has a far better visual representation of what you are actually doing. At first, Z3ta can be intimidating to use, but with some practice, you'll "get" it pretty quickly, then programming new sounds becomes a piece of cake.
The Modulation Matrix behaves differently than in most synths, and that is the part that takes some getting used to. For example, in order to route the modulation wheel to close filter 1, it's not as simple as simply slapping "Modwheel" as the source, and "filter 1 cutoff" as the destination, then entering a negative value in the range slot. You have to put "ON" as the source, set "Filter 1 Cutoff" as destination like you normally would, THEN...you have to select a negative curve under the CURVE slot, select "Modwheel" under the CONTROL slot, then finally enter a POSITIVE value in the RANGE slot. Whew!! Man, oh man...when I first got Z3ta, I was tearing my hair out in frustration just trying to figure that out! The thing is, with added complexity like this comes added power. You can adjust the curve in how that filter modulation behaves. Select "Slow -" in the CURVE slot and then when you move the modwheel, the filter will close in a logarithmic fashion instead of a linear one.
It ain't an Access Virus and it ain't Sylenth. It's Z3ta. It has it's own sound to it and I definitely like it very much. You can run the entire range from warm and analog all the way up to brittle, cold and digital. However you program it, with enough dedication to learning its features, you should be able to nail whatever sound you're looking for with at least 95% accuracy. Pay particular attention to the filter buses to get those lush, wide stereo sounds. Hell, let's take it further: with that and 6 oscillators, who needs a chorus effect? Combine the filter buses, some LFO action on the pitch on a couple of the osc's, maybe some light LFO on filter panning, and you made your own chorus effect. Sounds great on pads. Definitely try it and see if that works for you. Synths like Z3ta and Zebra really have quite a bit of leeway in defining their sound because they have a sufficiently high number of adjustable parameters that you can "bend" it well beyond the type of sound that jumps out at you on first impression.
Having said all that, I've seen synths with much more analog sounding filters. The digital character of Z3ta's filters become evident when you crank the resonance up. Then again, there's definitely some use out there for that character and I'm not complaining.
When it comes to the Z3ta vs Sylenth debate, THIS is why I pick Z3ta any day. Everytime. I'm a "mad scientist" when it comes to synths and that means I like being awash in a bunch of parameters just sitting there begging to be tweaked. 6 LFOs and 8, that's right, EIGHT envelopes can be assigned to quite an impressive list of parameter destinations. The number of LFO shapes on offer are simply astounding. Same goes for the oscillator waveshapes, and OMG, I love this -- the waveshaper parameters -- which can be tweaked on EACH oscillator separately. In Z3ta 2, you can also modulate these shaper parameters via the matrix and THAT is pretty cool :). Z3ta has those onboard effects like reverb, chorus, phaser, flanger, distortion, delay, etc, and...."meh". I like the delays and distortions, but the modulated effects and the reverb I'm not wild about, personally.
There are some features still missing in Z3ta 2, though. If Cakewalk adds new features in a future update, my wish list is as follows:
-Ability to modulate Evelope Attack and Decay values in the matrix.
-Ability to modulate Delay time and feedback in the matrix.
-An "Alternate" or "Flip Flop" source in the matrix.
-Ability to set the Decimator BEFORE the filter. As it is now, I don't use it much.
They give you a PDF file that explains Z3ta's ins and outs pretty thoroughly, going over every single parameter and what it does.
They're good tutorial material for gaining an intuitive understanding of Z3ta's somewhat unusual mod matrix. From a musician's standpoint, there are a lot of them and IMHO, many of them are quite good, expecially the new ones in Z3ta 2. Check out the ones by Frank Genus ("FG"), BigTone ("BT"), and whoever "BC" is.
At their very heart, I believe the folks at Cakewalk are good people who want to make their customer's happy. In my personal dealings with them, they always replied PROMPTLY to any questions I had. Example: I had trouble downloading Z3ta 2 at the Cakewalk store, sent a message and BAM!, they were on it right away. In regard to Z3ta 2's bugs and all the talk about that, I know as a business owner myself that there are many not-publicly-known variables behind the scenes at work which make it harder to get what you want done as quickly as you would like, as thoroghly as you would like.
I got Z3ta+ during the $20 sale. It's easily woth more than the full price even as old as it is. There's a reason it's a classic and so many people swear by it.
Z3ta+ - 10/10
Z3ta 2 - 5/10...currently buggy, but I'm confident they'll fix it.
This is a nice synth esp. for trancey arps and leads, super saws, reeses and hoovers etc.
It has some good synthesis features including wave-shaping, fm, ring-mod etc.
It is ridiculously good value for money these days (I paid about 80 pounds for it but I still think it was worth it).
This synth is very cheap now but it became popular when it was much more expensive so people don't just like it because it's cheap - there is more to it than that!
It features oversampling and uses a low amount of CPU which is good because if you value sound quality you will probably feel the need to have the oversampling on and the quality set to the best level (beware! the offline and live modes have their own settings so make sure you change them both before you export sounds from it or you'll find your recording sounds very different!)
The only stability issues I have had from this have been when on the highest quality and oversampling whilst doing lots of program changes etc, apart from that it is very stable when compared to some, much more expensive synths.
It definately punches above it's weight in terms of usability and flexibility and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a value synth for trance and drum and bass leads etc.
EDIT: This review is for the first zeta, not z3ta+ 2
Looks professionally done and cool.
Actually it looks a lot easier to use and more simple than it really is in my opinion.
I'm not a pro but know some basic things about synth programming.
What is best in zeta is that it's so easy to create your own soundbanks,
fast to change presets back and forth and there are several very valuable features for live use.
It sounds good. In the price range it sounds very good, pops out from the usual VSTi crowd, mostly beacause of the good presets.
It comes with lots of patches. Majority of the sounds are leaning towards harsh digital coldness.
I would have wanted more simple VA type leads and basic pads. Also in my opinion too few of the presets utilize mod wheel.
It's not a one trick pony, it can sound very analog and very very digital if you want and know how to program it.
It has not great but ok effects section that gets the job done.
Customer Support and stability:
As I undestand it, z3ta is not being developed anymore and that's it.
Crashed only couple times when multiple instances loaded in FLStudio or something like that. Maybe once in standalone.
My only gripe is that the midi file import feature does NOT WORK! It just doesn't and
it's a known fact and I should have studied the product better before buying it because
Cakewalk is never going to fix what's wrong with it. I would never have bought it.
Cakewalk told me to use some kind of work-around but I wont.
Also some of the 3rd party preset banks that I load up sound like the low sound quality setting
is turned on or something like that. Very weird, this doesn't happen with the factory sounds though.
Value For Money
I got it for some sale price about 79€ from cakewalk couple of months ago.
I wouldn't pay the full 126 € that it costs at this stage. If zeta would be developed more, maybe then.
+ Some great presets
+ Good for live use
+ Standalone included
- For me, building a sound with zeta is a bit hard. Not so easy and straight forward.
- Not developed anymore
- No OSX support (not issue for me but for some)
- Some irritating "bugs" that are not being fixed ever
This instrument shows exactly why--with all the terrific freeware instruments available--there are commercial synths out there that are worth the money.
I own plenty of freeware and shareware synths, and I use them all on my productions. But Z3TA+ is going to push a lot of that stuff out of the way in the very near future. The sounds this synth produces are deep and engaging--they immediately produce an emotional response in the listener. I have done side-by-side comparisons on works in progress using both z3ta+ and other synths to play pads and leads, and z3ta+ simply makes the music sound a lot more emotionally profound from the first note. Even with only two or three oscillators engaged, z3ta+'s sounds are complex and evolving from the moment the key is pressed.
Ear-catching sounds are a characteristic of this developer from the earliest freeware offerings (Triangle 1 and 2), to Pentagon, to this synth. Rene just seems to know what's going to make the ear vibrate in a way that makes the listener pay attention. The sound quality is brilliant and highly varied.
The synth ships with a massive number of differentiated presets whose emotional contexts are immediately apparent. I have no doubt that many users making electronic music will find everything they need for a typical production--short of highly realistic acoustic instrument emulations--in this batch of presets. The instrument is highly programmable, and those who need more can create it.
One feature that illustrates the depth of the instrument is the arpeggiator. Not only does the arpeggiator ship with a huge number of shapes, the user has the option to include any arpeggiated figure desired via import of MIDI files. Now that's an arpeggiator to reckon with.
In short, this synth offers tremendous value for money straight out of the box. Highly recommended.
If you want a top sounding analog style synth, z3ta+ is the weapon.
It has a very good GUI, nice looking and easy to learn. You can turn off almost everything allowing the user to administrate the CPU usage directly. Is also very customizable from inside and out.
z3ta can do everything you want, additive, substractive and FM synthesis, also you can use a wide variety of arpeggios and on top of that, you can load tuning scales if you want to do more esoteric sounds.
It comes with lots of effects too, to add the final flavor to your patches, it can be used as FX processor too.
It has so many patches that I rarely do one from scratch, the palette is very complete so you'll surely get lots of patches that really fit on your mix.
It has a nice control matrix, with value limits and lots of different curves. X-Y controller with randomizing capabilities.
As I see, z3ta+ is not only one of the best sounding synths out there, is extremely complete, covering all your needs.
It's price is very fair, for the ammount of features it offers.
This has morphed into my main instrument of choice these days. The sound for me is superb...for the longest time, my keyboard/synth of choice was a Roland XP-80. Now that's become more the controller than sound generator.
The palatte of sounds to choose from is large, and it's fairly intuitive when it comes to tweaking the sounds. I tend to be one of the lazy ones that hunts for presets that I like and stick with them, with minimal tweaking. However, the ability to experiment with favorite presets has meant spending more time in the "deep end of the pool".
That it has a standalone mode is great too, I just use it to noodle around quite a bit. It's got some nice electric piano sounds that I'll use just for keyboard practice as well.
A nice instrument, low CPU usage, and RGC does a great job with support. Love it!
User Interface: Straightforward slider and dropdown design. Mostly intuitive for me. Fairly easy to save/rearrange patches, but does require move/cut/paste to do so. Something a little easier would be nice.
Sound: The words "sharp", "clean", and "present" come to mind. It's got a nice "in your face" sort of sound by default. Bass sounds are excellent, lots of character. Leads are great, they can cut through a mix if need be. Pads are very nice as well. While I don't think of this as a pad synth first, I find that a few of my overall favorite pads end up coming from z3ta.
Features: Beyond the excellence in synth sounds, the effects set is nice by my ears (distortion/reverb, compressor, modulation, EQ, delay). Also, has a usable spectral analyzer as well. I was also excited that it supports Scala microtuning. Really though, get the demo and read through the manual, this synth goes pretty deep.
Documentation: Well written pdf.
Presets: I was auditioning them for days. :-) I believe it ships with 1024 presets. I've got about 40 or so that I use faithfully, and that's a good number for me. I believe that there's something for everyone in the stock preset lib, and there are also some 3'rd party banks (free) that you can download.
Customer Support: Haven't had to use it directly, I've always found my answers on the tech support forum at K-V-R. However, judging by the timeliness and professionalism of the responses there, I'll happily make this a 10.
Value for Money: This is one of the few soft synths or effects that I've auditioned the demo and thought I "had" to have. Mind you, I first heard this through headphones on my laptop when I downloaded it on a business trip. Once I put it on my studio system, it was all over. Consider this a real value for the $.
Stability: Rock solid, never had a problem with either the DXi or VST version (or the standalone). Used mostly with Sonar 3.1 and Live 4. Check out the tech forum on K-V-R, you don't see many problems pop up.
I was originally hesitant about this synth as I thought it would be too complex to use but the abundance of fanstatic presets have shown me just how much I can do with just minor mods. There are so many presets that if you hear a sound that's 'kinda' what you're looking for just a few tweaks in the waveshaper will probably give you what you crave.
Multi-point envelopes are all the sexy rage these days [see Absynth, Sytrus, Rhino, Tera] but they aren't everything. They can literally be a `drag` to work with in trying to set 25 precise break-points to make a simple arppegio in a patch. I like z3ta+'s use of arp patterns... select between 200 groove patterns to hear rythmic variations on your sound, no envelopes to tweak. It's nice to get an actual piece of `music` from a single note with these arps. It's especially nice playing live if I trigger a MIDI note for the z3ta+ to play a melody. If I hook up my host to Arkaos I can triger different melodies in z3ta+ to match the shifting videos in Arkaos this way.
The mod-matrix is dead-simple to use (of course you have to know how synths work) and allows for the most wild hookups possible (you can even modulte the effects).
So z3ta+ certainly doesn't need any exotic new features (as evidenced by it's already fantastic sound, the synthesis engine is stellar). And the sound is really where it's at... it's very distincitive, not overly bright, it's organic-ish and yet `spacey`. Perhaps this is what synths sound like on zeta-reticuli?? It pulls you in to listen to it, and that's unique as some synths produce a sound so bold they put you off. The sound from z3ta+ is always `there` for me. It has an out-there spacial sound quality that really won me over from the other soft-synths in it's range. Hat's off to a great synth and effects system.
I use FLStudio as my host and z3ta+ automates perfectly in it... that means I can sweep effects, filters, envelopes, etc... outside of the mod matrix for even more incredible pads. I can also record the playing of z3ta+s `ribbon bar` essential for those smooth glissandos.
Another class-act synth and support as Rene is always here at the Forum.
p.s. I need to mention that you can use the FX as a VSTi. The FX section alone is better than what comes with most of the hosts I've used. All options are there in one screen for easy tweaking. The FX plugin doesn't take as much CPU as the synth and is quite reasonable if you compared it to loading 6 other seperate FX plugins to do the same thing.
Since this is my first review, I decided upon starting with this beast.
The "Zeta" is an astonishing, feature-rich, ultra-modern sounding monster of a synth.
It has six - SIX! - ocillators, two filters, six LFOs, a multi-mode arp, a huge mod matrix and a comprehensive effects section spread accross two main pages. all oscs, lfos, and filters have individual tabbed pages.
All features have multiple routing options, so you can have additive, subtractive, and FM in one patch, with two filters in parallel. Then you can get started with the mod matrix and the effects - wow!!
(I'm going use the sections to structure this review)
GUI: Great graphics and intelligent design means that little screen real estate is taken up, but everything is easily accessable, unclutterd and easy to understand. The only criticism I have (and this is a really personal one) is that the logical signal routing is not apparent from the layout. However, quick play with the parameters and all becomes clear.
Sound: Stunning. You can do hard edged leads, twisty basses, evolving pads, complex (VERY complex) arps and crisp drum sounds. The effects section is top notch, and FX versions are also supplied with the program. User waveforms can be imported, and the whole app can be modded with a bit of dexterity (check Franesco's Virus mod) to expand the sounds palette. You can do pretty much any sound with a bit of thought and a good deal of programming - retro sounds come as easy as cutting-edge shards of noise. And of course, if you want to strike out on your own, crack open the wave shaper, and create your own wave shapes for even more sounds!!!
Features: What can I say? Check the list at the top of this page - its comprehensive and fully formed. Crucially, it is not overwhelming at all. It never feels like there are too many parameters to control. Of great note are the wave shaper, effects section, X-Y pad and arp.
The wave shaper allows you to create your own wave forms using lots of options. The effects section is first class - check out Rene's free effects and see just a small taste of what these are like. The X-Y pad allows you to control linked parameters using a mouse of joystick - great for live messing. The arp have all the usual features, but also complex midi generated patters and a utility to create user patterns as well.
The spectral analyser looks nice and does stuff, but is not really needed, IMHO.
Documentation: Great .pdf manual that explains all the features and how they interact. Tutorials are available on the net and are well worth reading if you can find them.
Presets: This is a sound-designers synth and the presets reflect this. A huge range of sounds are provided in over 500 presets arranged into banks. Top notch banks are freely available on the net. You could use the synth as a ROMpler-style device. They are that good. The included ones are designed to show off the synth's abilities, but even though, they are very usable and will probably find a way into one or two of your tracks.
Customer Support: The forum on KVR is an invaluable place for help discussion and general chat. Rene is in there nearly every day will never let you down. If your problem is of a more "personal" variety, you can also email as well.
VFM: Well, I got this is in the recent Group Buy, so for me the VFM is waaaay off the scale. Yes, it is a pro synth and is at a pro price - but that price is at the very bottom of the scale. For what it can do the price is stupidly small. Compare it to synths in the same price bracket and then compare features - scary, eh?
Stability: It has never crashed. Ever.
However, due to the nature of the beast, it is a CPU guzzler, so be prepared to use freeze.
Overall, this is one of the most cutting-edge synths around. It is part of an elite group of megasynths that provide ineffable sound quality with stunning, intuitive features that just make you glad to be in this game.
zeta gets lots of praise and it deserves it. it has many strong points: fantastic routing possibilities, huge patch library, good arp, good filters, comprehensive built-in effects, excellent ergonomic gui, easy to learn, a good sale price.
overall i feel it has a slightly cold tone. that doesn't mean it is lacking in "emotion", but it doesn't sound like an old roland or korg, it's more "digital" than "analog". but still distintive, and very appealing.
the one facet of zeta which *is* weak is cpu usage. compare zeta to absynth for example and it is a most monstrous resource hog. given what is now being achieved by ni and developers like williamk, i think zeta is quite profoundly substandard in this area.
i also give zeta an 7 for presets, not for any lack of quantity or quality, but only because they are still so disorganised. i'd like to see a zeta bank library like ni has for absynth with sounds categorised into 128 banks. there are hundreds of great sounds available but they are hopelessly disorganised. patch chaos.
but overall one of my all-time favoutrite synths, versatile, rich & deep.
Some say this synthesizer has become a legend in its own lifetime; well what I would say is that it is starting to SOUND like that!
I have had zeta (the nickname those in the 'know' have gifted z3ta with) for about a year now and have gone through several phases of usage with it, I have to be honest and say I have never felt the need to get into any serious editing or patchmaking with it - the amount of patches that come with zeta allied to those that are avalible for free or purchase make me somewhat lazy in this regard.
The recent appearance of some top flight pre-set banks have taken this synth to the very top of the pile and zeta can only be matched IMO by a small handfull of equally essential synths like cameleon, rhino, symptaohm, vaz and tassman.
One of my early dissapointments with zeta was the relentless (and still quite prevelant) usage of ARP's used in many patches, these may sound nice for a quick play with but when any given bank has like 50% of the bloody things and then multiply that by almost every bank that comes out this does hinder your creative juices, and before you think; "can't you turn the ARP off" - yes you can - but have you ever heard a standard synth patch that is good for Arping, they tend to sound very similar and lifeless!
As stated though this has taken a turn for the better of late with a variety of banks coming out that ease up on the arp's and get creative without it.
Not everyone is a sound designer or an edit freak; this is sacrilege talk for some but I am sure many will agree
even the best synth served up without the necessary ammo is likely to be recieved with dissapointment.
The interface for zeta is a nice size; its not too big yet gives up enough on screen parametres to not have to be switching around too much - well, at least not for my undemanding needs, should you be a tweaker though you will have to get used to using a constant flip section to many of the parametres, no interface could show all that is avalible - but I think it is a good compromise.
The feature set is massive and more so should you want to fully take advantage of its hidden mysteries - I would be misleading you if I was to try to explain them in any depth because I have only scratched the surface of zeta; what is instantly obvious and intuitive though is the ease with which you can manipulate filters, envelopes anbd oscillators without much ado, the modulation matrix is equally easy to get some mayhem going and of cours a click on the fx button brings up a full (new) page dedicated to a wide variety of quality fx treatments that include comprehensive eq, reverb, distortion, flanging, phasing, delay and more.
I can't really say much about documentation; I have never used it, but I did have a quick look at it for this review and it is comprehensive although I think a tutorial or quick guide might be a welcome addition - I know a lot of smaller developers have probably got better things to do but an illustrated guide to the feature set would be nice as would the option of buying a printed manual, which I hazzard to guess would be a very welcome bit of real estate for those of us who need a kick up the rear to go deeper (with 'in hand' instruction).
Oh did I mention sound quality?
Well it is top notch, with a sparkling top end full middle and a rounded bottom; sound like a girl I used to know - I say rounded bottom because I have never thought of zeta as a bass synth and although it does basses they always sound controlled and refined - that isn't to say you can't program rough gut wrentching ones, but I haven't heard any and have found (without a great deal of effort I must say) quite elusive coming up with one.
Any one who frequents KVR will know that RGC are always around and respond to problems quickly - TBH I can't say I have experienced any major problems with any of the RGC range and think that they are extremely well coded and beta tested before releasing their products.
There is a small trade off with using zeta and that is one of fuel - some patches can be very gready on the old processing power and this has been something that has concerned users in the past - I have to say that I think the continued development along with ever faster computers has to a large extent dealt with this issue and unless your running a very underpowered (by plug-in standards) computer this should not be an issue or at least it shouldn't pose problems that can't be worked around.
Alternatives; its a matter of choice and preference, if I was starting over again I would want the synths I mentioned earlier rather than a folder chock full of cheaper synths - my reason being a few well learned synths will take you further than a large pool of even the best stuff.
I have found zeta to be very stable which certainly gives you confidence in the product, in short this is an essential tool for anyone that intends or uses softsynths, full stop.
~ "Reviews like "this thing rocks!!!!!"..." ~
Well, it does. I'm reviewing the new Virus Mod2 for the z3ta+ or "zeta". Rene you genius master. Fr4nk (the guy behind the Virus preset list is a frightening ninja sound design GOD!! Once you hit the "Fiv3 sid3 p0lyg0n" sounds and just tweek the mod-wheel you'll be floored and won't know what to do with yourself. This has most if not all of the characteristics of the hardware Virus synths. And with 2x oversampling set to be in version 1.4 this synth will own even that "fat" hardware sound.
Complex would be a good word to describe this puppy, but once you've entered the cool waters of the "zeta" you'll wonder why you've got so much useless hardware lying around (if nothing else they can be "pawned" to get a more powerful computer :)).
One last thing. I've never experienced customer service like what Rene offers. He's sharp and quick with a response and always eager to implement user adaptions if possible.
The z3ta+ has absolutely redesigned VSTi's and shown its competition just how a little care in programming and great customer service can change the way we both see and use soft-synths.
Z3ta is one of the very rare software applications that really deserve the title "instrument".
It really does stand up to the most popular of hardware synthesizers. The sheer performance of sound it delivers is mind-boggling. If there is one thing justifying the use of software synths, it would be z3ta.
The interface is very functional, easy and fast to work. It eats up little space on screen and won't get in the way while sequencing. Yet the sliders and knobs are big and comfortable to handle.
In regards to sound quality, versatility and customizability z3ta is literally playing in another league than anything else out there to this day.
It can play simple sounds, it can play big complicated moving sounds, and it does it all at a level where its not the tool limiting the sound.
Many people, including myself, put a lot of value and appreciation into unique but still usable sound. Z3ta can be setup to sound entirely different than someone else's z3ta does. Developing a signature sound to your music is a piece of cake when you have z3ta.
You can feed it custom waveforms, you can feed it your own arpeggios, you can adapt it to ANY hardware controller that is able to send midi data.
There also is the modulation matrix, which gives you 16 slots to freely route controllers with things they should control, how much they should control them, and how they should control it.
All the customisation work is made easy, as a standalone z3ta is supplied with the vsti version. That part of course is highly valid for live performances, too.
The documentation is a 35 page PDF, laid out in clean and easily comprehensible design. It is actually more useful than the manuals that come with most of the high profile hardware synths and workstations. Z3ta's controls and modules are explained in a way so that the average mortal musician quickly grasps how to make his own sounds without much effort. That manual is an entertaining and rewarding read.
The presets z3ta comes bundled with are insta-inspiration(TM) when you play along a project in your sequencer. They are very useful references for making your own z3ta patches. Needless to say it takes a while until you're through auditioning 768 presets, let alone remember them all.
I've never required technical support with z3ta, but had a question or two regarding programming it. And when I found a z3ta patch attached to the email reply, I realized that RGC's support goes as far as to help their users to achieve the desired sounds with z3ta.
The new hermode tuning is an addition that made, what I thought was the king of synths already, even better. It basically improves whatever attribute any given sound has, be it fat or transparent.
Z3ta has so many awesome details, is of such quality, stability and versatility, that you have to see and hear it for yourself to grasp it.
At that price, z3ta is a must have (I mean it). But I won't give you my copy! Its mine, my own! My precious!
Z3ta+ 1.2 is one of the most complete synths I've worked with. I have mostly hardware synths (Virus B, Juno, Matrix,..) and this is the first time I felt a software synth was on the same level!
You can combine up to 6 oscilators for a very powerful sound. The included waves can be fully edited with the WaveShaper. If that's not enough, you can even import your own (single cycle) waves!
There are now 100 arpeggio's included and these can also be replaced by user made midi files.
Most important change in V1.2 are the dual filters in serial or parallel mode, you can make a whole bunch of new sounds now and this can be heard in the additional soundbanks.
The modulation matrix is very complete but because of this also a bit complex.
Support is great and René is now doing a Clinic on the use of the modulation matrix.
I think the use of sliders was a great idea, very easy to change values.
Z3ta+ is a synth for programmers (thanks to the many options to change a sound) as well as for players (768 patches included + great sound quality)!
This is not your average synthesizer. It's capable of just about anything. Amazing sounds can be made with z3ta+'s flexibility. It's obviously designed for professionals, with the vast amount of flexibility and features it's capable of. It can be a bit intimidating at first as Rabid said, but it becomes comfortable to work with after just a little time with it.
BitPlants GUI design is wonderfull. It's very easy to read and use. I also find it visually stimulating, which for me is super important. I really wish all of Rene's synths could look more like this one.
The sound could not be better - It's the most advanced synth I've used, and while sometimes it takes me a little bit to get a sound I like from it, for the most part programming it is fairly easy.
z3ta+ is more than you ever expected in terms of features. There are lots of little things that help make it user friendly for everyone, that most of us don't even notice.
The included manual is great, and I would have probably knocked one off because it could use just a little bit more on some of the sections, but with the addition of the Online z3ta+ Clinic Volume 1, the doc's get full marks.
I'm not sure who made the presets for this but there's a ton of them and they're fantastic. I think they really show off the character of z3ta+, and they're great for tweaking too - a lot of these presets are really creative, and that's great but sometimes you might want to tame one down a hair to fit it in your mix better, and they're very easy to work with.
Rene's level of customer support is great. If you mail him you can expect a mail back within a day or so, and if you post on his Official Forum here on K-v-R, expect an answer within hours. He offers great synths for a great price, and he does update them frequently enough to keep everyone happy.
Value for money? Well, while he charges $150 for z3ta+, there are other guys charging the same or even more for stuff that in my opinion isn't worth half of what z3ta+ is. Your money is going towards something that really is useful - this is not a novelty synth. It's a very powerful synth that you will come back to over and over again.
While I've heard a few people say that this synth is a little CPU hungry, I haven't found it to be at all on my Athlon 2400+, and with the update to version 1.1 it has gotten even better. It's very light especially for what it does and you won't have any problems running a couple of them at the same time either. Maybe once you hit 6 or 7 instances it'll add up but honetly it's very good on your system resources.
All in all I give z3ta+ full marks, and would reccomend it to anyone looking for a good synth. It's really perfect, and I've realized that there isn't much need for any others once you have it. Since getting more familiar with z3ta+, I don't think that I will have much need for any more VSTi synthesizers for at least a while - or until Rene creates a new one ;)
For a long time I thought Pentagon was the most user friendly virtual synthesizer around. MIDI controller assignment that set the standard, lots of options, elegant coding and trouble free operation. Now Rene has released a new beast. Like a dragon this synthesizer sparks fear, awe, inspiration and curiosity. Z3ta+ has become the most recommended VSTi on the message boards.
I’m not going to list the features. What I recommend is that any prospective customer read the manual. After just a few pages you will realize that Rene is one of the most elegant and responsive coders in the business. The attention to detail is fantastic. Controller assignments, matrix modulation, flexible range specifications, user waveforms. It is all there in a very deep kit, waiting for someone to dive in and create THE sound they want.
So how is the sound? Very, very nice. As liquid and alive as the interface. Z3ta+ is my first call for synth leads. Whether monophonic or polyphonic you can program a special character to the sound that makes your notes respond to your touch.
Great patch and bank storage system.
The best LFO's.
All the little touches that make programming a dream.
Deep, deep, deep.
Trouble free, rock solid operation.
Can be intimidating.
Higher than average CPU usage.
Bottom Line – This is a first call synth. It matches up very well with Pentagon I. Great for when you need those complex evolving pads, or just a deep organic sounding lead. Get the demo, scan the manual, be amazed at all the options, then buy the synth.
Well what can I write about this synth that has not already been mentioned, the answer is nothing new I just wanted to reiterate the point that this is simply an excellent project by René.
The graphic interface I adore, a pleasure to work with. Everything is clearly laid out and for something so complex surprisingly intuitive.
WoW! The range of beefy, smooth, gritty, phat, lush and evolving sound that this thing can emit is staggering for the money.
Well documented and along with first class support not only from René but the other users on the support forum make learning this instrument much quicker. Stability is super! With a vast and ever expanding number of presets…
I think this VSTi is of a superior quality....so i'll give it a full 10/10.
The user interface is simple and clear, skinnable for every taste.
The timbre of z3ta+ is marvellous and precise.
The range of sounds u can get out of this monster is impressively wide, from analog classics to strange experimental stuff. In this area the huge modulation's opportunities are very useful and rich.
Documenation come in a clear form. And the presets are a lot and very well programmed. In addition Renè (the wizard behind z3ta+ code) is always ready to give a professional and intelligent user support.
....guys go and buy it....u'll be satisfied. ;)
I wanted a new flagship uber-synth so I bought Zeta, after looking closely at all the latest top rank competitors.
This is a playing musician's synth.
Zeta begs to be played like a musical instrument.
This is what got me about the demo. I could just sit there and play expressively and enjoy it.
For me Zeta has a magical tonal quality that I easily relate to, something that separates lesser synths from genuine musical instruments.
Many of Zeta's tones have an evolving nature, from fast vibrant solos to long motion pads that you can hold down for ages.
But while many synths are starting to do this, Zeta avoids the synthetic and often harsh sound that comes with multi-envelope pads.
The presets offer masses of choice, but I'd like to also mention the free Lunasol bank, which is really good and full of alternative interesting sounds that you wouldn't have guessed came from a Zeta.
The spec is almost bewildering. No matter how simple the gui, there's still a lot in there.
But if you're eager to get past the basic synth programming stage, then I could recommend no finer machine to refine your skills on.
FWIW my friends who have a Zeta love it too.
Zeta is beautiful.
I've been using this synth since beta and now we are at v1.1 of the DXi. Rene, the synths maker, has been very supportive and has tried to impliment a few of the suggestions I've made. Even down to the types of presets available! I'm sure this has been the experience of others. The support is excellent.
I love the presets and as I tend to tweek presets rather than create sounds from scratch I would like to see more than the 3 banks available now (I'm greedy I know!). I won't repeat what everyone else has said but I will agree that this is very much a sound designers synth and as such I would like to see a much more comprehensive manual with tutorials. I remember the manuals that came with the hardware synths I have - they were usually very comprehensive and covered everything from synthesis tutorials to more advanced applications of the synth. This synth really needs that kind of documentation if all levels of user are going to get the most out of it.
CPU usage has been optimised and as the releases have progressed I've notice a decrease in cpu usage. I've compared this synth with others I have and I would say that sound for sound it is very competitive regarding the amount of cpu resources it uses. I believe it will be optimised still further with future releases.
The arpeggiator is very useful and works very well but I would like to see a more comprehensive arp. I think this may be on the cards. One of the great things about buying a synth from rgcAudio is that they continue to develop their synths in relation to user feedback.
The interface could look more modern but it is easy to use.
The quality of sound is excellent. The sound seldom swamps the mix and is able to cut through because it is such good quality and so distinctive. I would urge people to try the demo as this synth may not be to everybody's taste. By which I mean that if you are after a high quality preset synth then you may be more happier with a sample based synth.
Simply put, z3ta+ is my favorite synth. As a prior reviewer mentioned, this is a programmers synth, although the included presets, and another bank released a few days ago do provide a good starting point. Not for the faint hearted, the feature list of this beast is extensive. The power does come at the price of potential high CPU use, but any self-respecting modern computer should be able to handle the load, which is pretty good for a synth of this power.
The user interface is the best I have seen in a synth. Elegant and intuitive. I hope the earlier RGC synths also get this UI. The pop-up windows for the XY pad and the waveshaper are just the way to do it.
Now for the main bit, the sound. With 6 oscillators, built-in FX, numerous waveforms and 2 sweet filters, this is one sweet sounding beast. The ability to morph the LFO's makes for some tremendous evolving pads and pulsing sounds. The apreggiator, amp modeling, etc are features that extend these abilites. z3ta+ is also excellent for leads and basses, but in my hands, fat pads and evolving pads are where it gets maximum use.
My favorite bit about the z3ta+ other than the sound is the control I have. MIDI learn up the wazoo and a fantastic mod-matrix give tremendous real-time control. The XY-pad also allows some very cool modulation to be done in real time. Of course the ability to alter waveshape in real time gives rise to numerous more opportunities.
Bottom line. This is a stable, powerful and wonderful sounding synth, which will take some time to master, but the endless possibilites will keep the user busy for a while. The support from René is excellent. Don't hesitate .. buy this one.
Read the feature list, there are simply too many to discuss here. What we have is one of the most versitile, well designed and implemented VSTis of 2002 if not to date.
rgcAudio has a deservedly good reputation for sound quality and great customer service. This is important when dealing with z3ta+ as it is a programmers synth. It is even marketed as such and honestly to get the most out of z3ta+ you need to understand how you make sound on a synthesizer. But even if you don't there are 400 ready to go patches which cover a good array of sounds.
z3ta+ excels at motion type pads and effects sounds although it does an equally top notch job of leads and basses, it's also a terrific drum synth.
The features I most appreciate are the modulation matrix which is especially powerful when dealing with the LFO and filter options available in z3ta+. Taking into account the six oscillators all fully controllable it is easy to create more organic Wavestation like timbres including a different way of approaching wavesequencing.
The effects are also top quality with a very important compessor. You need one when you have a lot of sonic information happening. The reverbs are rich, the delays are stellar. And then there is the waveshaping capabilities available in a pop up window (on all 6 oscillators). You might wonder, 'does waveshaping really matter?' to which I'd say try playing a note while changing the waveform, you'll hear it right away.
Think of z3ta+ as a more digital take of rgc's Pentagon 1 - on steroids.
At $150 it is not a inexpensive synth but if you want high performance and almost limitless quality and options the only thing that comes close is VirSyn TERA at an even higher price tag.
Some other nice features:
an all around synth with killer sound capabilities in all the major synthesis timbres
There are no bad points about z3ta+. Download the demo and be amazed.
My favourite synth. Period. Very versatile. Has a GREAT sound.
Do you want it fat? I can hear you.
Do you want it agressive? Oh yes, I can hear you.
You want it smooth as silk/cream? One of the easiest things.
Check out the 400 FANTASTIC presets. World class.
User interface: Well, I don't like the scrollwheel approach too much but I got used to it. Looks nice though.
Sound: Did I already say that this synth sounds absolutely awesome? Wanna replace e.g. your JP8000 with a VSTi? No problem with this one.
Features: Man, it can do a lot. 6 OSCis, 2 Filters with 10 different characteristics that sound great, 6 LFOs, 8 Envelopes, tons of FX, etc., etc.
Documentation. Good and nearly complete.
Presets: Awesome. Usable.
Customer support: One of the best in the whole world.
Value for the money: Compared to the (few) other top notch VSTis this synth is at the lower end of the price range. Worth every cent.
Stability: Didn't crash once. Super stable.
If you think that VSTis are toys: Check out this one and prepare to get shocked. One of the best shocks around. ;-)
This is the most "noble" sounding vstí available. Given good monitoring capabilities, there is
nothing which achieves to sound that brilliant and lush
at the same time, and i think there is nothing apart from the big modular synths which has an equal amount of
parameters (around 500) to sculpt the sound, and
so the possibilities - only hinted at in the hundreds of very good presets - are nearly endless.
Someone here talked about giving 12 points to N.I´s FM 7 on the "Sound" scale if only possible - honestly: z3ta+
sounds way better.
The other points:
GUI looks great and is relativly easy to understand, support is absolutely great, the price...it isn´t exactly cheap but then again, Native Instruments or Steinberg...and the manual..now this isn´t that convincing. While clearly laid out, some features
are missing - how do i change wave files to pcm files for use as user oscillator, for example.
Stability ? It never crashed once.
All in all, this is the best softsynth in a big virtual world of fine instruments, period.
The Pentagon was great.
So I expected a lot, but the z3ta+ is better than i expected.
The sound ist fantastic, the Options endless (6 osc's, 6 lfo's, arpeggiator, built in effects, two filters etc.)
And it looks damn cool, not comparable to the Pentagon.
I think this one is my best Softsynth, go and get it :)
This is the crown jewel in my setup that sets a new standard for synths, subtractive, hybrid, or otherwise. It boasts a GUI clearly superior to just about any other interface; a 16-slot modulation matrix unmatched right now; an overabundance of modulation options, functions, and parameters; X-Y pad, huge library of waveforms, waveshaping, etc. – the list reads like an expanded, comprehensive encyclopedia of modern sound synthesis.
Its sonic character is close to Pentagon, but with a much richer, more robust engine, and a much broader, more daring spectrum of sounds and possibilities. The abudance of stunning presets allow you to get a tiny taste of the myriads of z3ta’s potential flavours, from soaring leads and rich pads to clear basses, tintillating sweeps, and mystical cosmic ambience. Z3ta+ is like a beautiful lady: it begs to be played, tweaked, notched, doodled, and stroked…:^) And if you run out of inspiration, the built-in arpeggiator with the preset library turns it into an instant musicmaker.
It’s well suited to just about every flavour of electronic music, from ‘70s progressive electronica to New Age, trance to hard techno, and everything in-between. You can use it as a 'preset-player’, but make no mistake: it's a “tweaker’s synth”. The clear, functional organization of options allows even the beginner to get a relatively easy start, but it’s a mighty task: don’t underestimate it. It’s also addictive as hell, so be prepared to spend days tweaking instead of messing with your tunes…;^)
There are few VSTi’s out there that could be classed in the same category, much less compete with it. Vyrsin and Albino are right at the top with it, but these three have such unique character that it would be impossible to pick one over the others. I only gave it a 9 in features simply because I feel that in THIS class of synths, drawable envelopes should be the minimum standard; and less in documentation (which is great as it is) because you always need more.:^)
This is the holy grail of VSTi Synths - After two nights of playing, I have finally heard all the presets. It will probably take at least two weeks to really get a feel for how wonderful this work is. At this point I can say rgcAudio is one of the truely customer driven operations. Rene listens - and man! what a wonderful result.
Bottom line: The sooner you buy it, the sooner you will agree.
Latest 27 reviews from a total of 27