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 Zebra by u-he is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin, an RTAS Plugin and an AAX Plugin.
Product Zebra
Developer u-he
Price (MSRP)
$199 (with Zebrify)
Type / Tags
Plug-in, App & Soundware Format(s)
Operating System Availability
Download Released
Downloads Released
Downloads Released
Miscellaneous Information
Copy ProtectionSerial Number
Important Note
RTAS version is Mac only

Zebra is a wireless modular synthesizer that combines subtractive and additive synthesis with a powerful modulation engine and built-in effects section. Version 2.0 adds the sonic capabilities of FM, modeling of natural sounds and advanced wavetable synthesis.

Zebra 2 offers many different types of synthesis and sound manipulation options, and you can mix them up in any way you choose. For instance, you can easily combine additive synthesis with phase distortion and frequency modulation. Or you can recreate the structure of your favourite analogue synthesizer. All this is done in an intuitive drag-and-drop fashion, without cluttering the user interface with cables.

Zebra is meant to be the most flexible yet easy to use synthesizer one can think of. Zebra presents you with as much complexity as you need for a particular sound, but not more. It's layout is arranged so that nothing gets in your way, unless you explicitly want it.


  • Modular architecture with up to: 4 oscillators, 4 dedicated FM oscillators, 4 filters (19 types), 4 VCA/pan, comb filters, wave-shapers, ring-modulators, noise-generators for each voice -- 24 audio modules, 28 modulation sources, thousands of parameters to tweak; accessible via an intuitive user interface.
  • Drag and drop circuit building.
  • 4 syncable Multi-Stage envelopes/step-sequencers.
  • 4 ADSR envelopes, 4 LFOs per voice.
  • Play-modes: polyphonic, single trigger, legato modes and arpeggiator/step sequencer.
  • Spectral Editor: Unlimited number of Waveforms (including additive synthesis).
  • Flexible Modulation Matrix.
  • 16 on-board Effects: ModFX (Chorus, Flanger, Phaser), Delay, Reverb, Ring-modulator, Filters, Waveshapers, Mixers.
  • 2 internal send busses and flexible effects routing.
  • Many effect parameters can be modulated.
  • 4 XY-controls, allowing for deep realtime sound morphs.
  • MIDI Learn: All knobs remotely controllable by MIDI Control Changes, also with relative/incremental controllers.
  • Drag and drop ModMatrix.
  • Configuration menu to set preferences and assign MIDI controls.
  • Thousands of presets available.
  • User interface zooms in 10% steps (70-200%).
Latest User Reviews Average user rating of 4.94 from 16 reviews

Reviewed By hivkorn
December 5, 2016

I think everything has been said.This is just the best synth of all the time.
Light for the CPU and powerful if you understand modular synth.
I think it deserve a better GUI, but i can pass on that...
you want powerfull synth ? it does it well !
An insane dark synth ? it does it well .

if you have the luck to have the DARK version...You don't need another synth.

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Reviewed By ZaBong69
June 9, 2016

It took me a while to appreciate Zebra 2. While it's sound engine still is awesome - a remarkable feat for a synth that was first released in 2007 -, its user interface appears (in 2016) to be somewhat dated. However, using the Massive Modular skin (sold from an independent developer), the GUI instantly goes into Serum territory, with the serious advantage that Zebra's skins are fully scalable, while Serum's GUI is on the (too) smaller side for my taste. My review below refers essentially to this Zebra 2 with improved skin.

Zebra's sound engine is extremely flexible with its semi-modular design. You have access to 4 wavetable oscillators and 4 FM oscillators, as well as 2 comb filters, 4 standard filters and 4 cross modulation filters. As each filter can self oscillate and the comb filters come with three waveforms, you have access to 18 (!) OSCs - per sound! Oscillators, filters and auxilliary sound design modules (including, for instance, ring modulation, frequency shifters, distortion) can be arranged in three lanes and connected. Oh, and then comes an feature rich effect section with its own main path and two sends/returns. You can control all this with with standard envelopes (that not only have four stages, but can also init, delay and are loopable) or go with drawable envelopes. Did I mention that each wavetable oscillators can load your own single cycle waveforms and comes with an incredible set of wave mangler effects on its own? Add a very cool sequencer/arpeggiator, thousands of really cool presets and... well, I will stop here. I should add that Zebra is by no means a resource hog, if you want you can use 20 instance of it or more on a fast computer. I sometimes apply Zebra as a luxury drum synth in Ableton drum racks, with 8 instances just for the drums.

In conclusion, this thing is a sound designers wet dream, if you can not get the sound you want from this, you probably have not tried enough. I would wish that Zebra 3 (annoinced in 2013!) would come this year, but Zebra 2.7 still holds its ground rather well in 2016, more than 10 years after Zebra 1's introduction.

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Reviewed By SLiC
November 19, 2013

Simply the best software synth; people lust after the DS prophet 12- this does more and sounds better. If your a present basher it has some of the best banks available (many free) as there is an active and friendly community. If you like to program sound it will make your ears smile.

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Reviewed By lsc9x
July 26, 2013


Zebra2 is an amazing synth, and it's exactly the way u-he describes it in the manual: A semi-modular synth that is as simple as you want it to be, or as complex as you need it to be. I would add: HUGELY flexible with TONS of features and parameters at your disposal, not the least of which are 4 32 point Multi-Segment Envelope Generators (say goodbye to "ADSR"!), a fantastic OSC creation section with no less than 4 user-CREATABLE wave tables, a full featured arpeggiator, scads of filter types between the VCF filters (like your typical analogue filter with about 10 times as many options) and the XMF filters, and numerous effects. not to mention that the entire synth is a giant cross modulation monster. Almost every parameter in Zebra2 is modulate-able by almost any other section of Zebra. I haven't even scratched the surface of the performance section of Zebra2 and I'm already in love with it.

I am not exaggerating when I say that there may be BILLIONS of possible sounds with Zebra2, at least from a math point of view. From a sound design stand point, Zebra2 is in a category (almost) all it's own (along with Reaktor being another, far more complicated, and less user friendly alternative, imo).

But the genius of Zebra2 is that it makes handling all of those possibilities straight forward, visual, and EASY to do.

Zebra2 can be as simple as creating 1 oscillator, throwing a filter on it and you're done. Heck, you don't even need the filter if you don't want it! On the other end of the spectrum, you have no less than 8 oscillators, (4 custom wavetable OSCs and 4 FM OCS) for sound generation that can be routed many different ways across 4 main buses, and routed into 3 effects buses (1 stereo and 2 auxiliary) in the effects section. That's not even touching all of the other modules you can throw on each of the 4 main busses.

Each section of Zebra2 is like a smorgasbord of possibilities. For example, in most other synths I have tried, if you create or use an oscillator, you often get a boring "tone" that you have to try and wrench into something a lot more interesting. In Zebra2, just playing with 1 oscillator gives you a fully creatable wave table with multiple modes of sound generation, plus you get two on board FX sections, just for the oscillator! You can either pick a wave-table, or DRAW your own! I can't stress the coolness of the multi-segment envelope generators enough! You can draw both the waveform of the sound AND of the filter (and dozens of other things as well).

What does all this mean? Well, for me it means that I can get some really interesting sounds within seconds of firing up Zebra2, and even making small changes in the parameters produce really good, clean, and usable sounds. It takes very little effort to get very good results. And, you are on complete control over the creative process because you aren't just trying to cram a sound through some pre-defined routing structure, you are creating the routing as you go.

You are going to find that your work flow keeps getting interrupted by "Oh my God that sound is awesome! I have to save that for later!" and as you get deeper into it and start playing with various parameters, your sound design goes in whole new directions at every corner. You may start off trying to create a pad, which quickly turns into a crazy bass or some screaming lead. Creatively, Zebra2 is just downright fun, and I can, and have, literally spent hours in it just saving one good sound after another like I did just last night. It might seriously interrupt your music making.

So, as a creative tool, it's second to none in my book. But it's also one of the "cleanest" sounding synths as well. Don't get me wrong, you can get some heavily effected sound coming out of Zebra2, but overall any sound that comes out of it is going to be clean and dry (if those are even the right words) meaning that you have a very NICE signal to work with if you want to throw any other effects on the sound. There aren't any wave-table "samples", the wave tables are made of actual waves generated in real time, which sounds just great.

The arpeggiator in Zebra2 is probably the best I have seen so far in a synth. It is also very flexible, allowing for gating (or note length) as well as other parameters that just don't exist in other synths, but to be honest I spend so much time now using MSEGS that I don't usually bother with the arpeggiator, but it's there in full force if you need it.

In addition to the tons of modulation options directly available on the main screen, there is another complete modulation section which not only allows for more modulation possibilities. You can actually modulate two modulations by another modulator in this section. You get all that? Basically means that you can sweep between two completely different types of modulation by using a 3rd modulation source for the "sweep". (Head explodes at this point).

In addition to all of the "static" features, which aren't really static at all, for live performance, you have 4, yes FOUR complete XY grids that you can assign to almost any parameter in Zebra2 that you would need to. I am not that good at playing keyboards, but if you are someone who IS good at playing a keyboard and using and/or using controllers, the amount of live expression you can get going is really incredible.

Did I mention that there are multiple skins available for Zebra2? And about 8 or 9 different "zoom levels" for viewing the Zebra2 user interface that means you can blow up Zebra2 on a 27" screen and create without straining your eyes to do it? Man is that cool! Most other synths I have to squint to see, but with Zebra2, I can kick back in my chair and just create.

Finally, and this is no small point, there are literally THOUSANDS of free presets you can download for Zebra2 as soon as you get it. You will probably spend a lot of time just listening to the possibilities before getting your hands dirty. I would highly recommend downloading the factory sound banks from versions of Zebra2 prior to version 2.6, but there are some awesome sounds there.

Now, having said all of that, there are hundreds of other features in Zebra2, that I just don't have time to detail in this article, but I'll just give you my bottom line:

If you want a very powerful, easy to learn and use, great sounding synth, that lets your creative sound design juices flow like "the force" flows from a Jedi Master, Zebra2 is an absolute MUST HAVE synth.

Or, if someone told me I could only have 1 synth to work with for the rest of my life, I'd be happy working in Zebra2. (In fact, I kind of want to do an entire song in Zebra2, using it for everything from the percussion, to the pads, leads and basses just to see what it would sound like. Awesome, I am sure.).

If you are even thinking about picking up a copy of Zebra2, it's the right decision. Period.


PS: Thank you SO much, u-He! Wow.

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Reviewed By ontrackp
April 2, 2013

I bought Zebra to replace some old favorites that were becoming expensive to maintain -- an Oberheim Xpander, Korg/MonoPoly and Roland MKS 80. After trying demos of several software synths including SynthMaster and Electrax I chose Zebra for it's combination of great sound (the presets are interesting and show off it's capabilities but are generally over-effected), the impressive modulation potential, and clever interface.

Zebra2 is semi-modular which means that sounds are made by creating relationships between all sorts of modules -- morphing wavetable oscillators, FM Oscillators, self-modulating resonant filters, comb filters and some others. There are modulators including traditional envelopes (with some extra twists), LFO's, and incredible multi-stage envelops. There are also modulation modifiers, an arpegiattor, step sequencer, arp modulation and a robust effects section.

The brilliant aspect of the interface is two-fold. First, the center section of the screen contains a grid showing the entire signal path, provides an easy way to turn modules off and on and allows you to quickly and easily setup the equivalent of layering in other synths. In a quick glance you can see the full structure of extremely complex sounds. Second, only modules in use are displayed. If you are using only one oscillator, an envelope and an LFO, that's all you see. Add a VCF and it appears on the screen -- turn it off and it disappears. As you build a sound from simple to complex and add modules your screen goes from empty to full, which is very, very intuitive.

From day one I have loved this synth. I've been programming patches and designing sound for more than 25 years (pre-midi days) and this software has the potential to go as deep as any sound designer could want.

I would not recommend this for someone new to synthesis and sound design -- it can probably overwhelming, but if you are experienced with different synth techniques, it's a joy to usel It took a little while to get used to how powerful just a delicate touch on some controls (especially the spectral effects) can be, but after only a couple of months of practice and experimentation I'm finding it very, very easy to come up with very useable, fantastically different sounding patches very quickly. Once you get a handle on some favorite wave tables making great, useable sound is FAST and intuitive.

For me, the biggest downside of this synth is that it's easy to get so involved in the fun of experimenting with sound that you lose time getting work done.

I'm finding it to be very easy to mentally envision a sound and then execute, which is pretty much everything that a sound designer can ask for.

The support community is fantastic -- the online tutorials are nicely done and demonstrate useful programming tips.

My wish list for the next version -- an easy facility to copy and past modules in the grid with duplicate parameters. A warmer analog filter mode.

I highly recommend this for experienced synth programmers who are making the switch form hardware to software.

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Discussion: Active
16 December 2011 at 11:33pm

Yep. Agreed! :) When you got Zebra and you can't imagine any new sound to make, something's wrong with your imagination. (Perhaps tired...)

Love this one too!... so much! Got it around second year now and I can promise you this fascination with OSC's, OSCFX, MSEGs etc etc doesn't end.... AMAZING synth.

18 December 2011 at 12:17pm

Glad you agree Farley. Should have added that there is a very clever promotion going on... after taking a photograph of what ever analogue synth you are retiring because of Zebra and sending it in - you get a $50 discount!! Good for your pocket and their ego!!

18 December 2011 at 2:20pm

Thanks so much proletkult! Happy that you like it :)


;) Urs

18 December 2011 at 5:16pm

You're welcomed, Urs and congratulations on a stunning product.

22 December 2011 at 8:45am

"So inspiring is the whole experience of discovering Zebra2 that the manual (which has been critised by some) works, quite rightly, more as a great reference point as you venture through this sonic jungle".

Ha! I reviewed Zebra in 2007 and criticised the documentation as well as the presets. Since then the manual has been completely rewritten, and the presets have been retired/replaced... ;-)

22 December 2011 at 10:53am

I'll be honest with you, Howard. I'd tried Zebra 1 and found it fun but no replacement for other synths I had. The development since then has been on a scale you'd expect from a big set up like Spectrasonics. Fantastic acheivement.

30 April 2012 at 2:04am

There are two synth I can't live without, Zebra and Surge.

if I had to choose, I'll keep Zebra.

18 June 2012 at 4:35am

Thanks to everyone for sharing your Talent..

2 April 2013 at 9:31pm


i just bought zebra today, because i like some of its sounds, but i agree, many sounds are over-effected. When turning the wet knob down, the sound is not really good anymore. In my opinion, the reason is first of all the looppoint of the waveforms. Especially with Pad Sounds, you can hear the loop of the used sample, the higher note is looping faster than the lower, resulting in an unsteady, not smooth sound. But this i heard nearly with every Softsynth. But i heard a few sounds, where this is not so obvious. So i hope, it is possible, to create really smooth pad sounds.

Is there a tutorial online "How to make Sounds with Zebra"? The userguide is not sufficient for me: The interface is really overwhelming.

2 April 2013 at 9:50pm

@Babyblue: There are no samples in Zebra2, and therefore no looping or loop points.

BTW Zebra2 Tutorials are here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8B3F7A60F7C76BA
... but I would recommend that you study the manual in more depth first - start at the beginning, read very carefully, understand.

2 April 2013 at 10:53pm

I agree with Howard completely. Read the manual carefully, tweak the various parameters to understand what they do, and turn modules off and on to hear the results. You might also want to research some basics of different types of synthesis so you can really understand. I also recommend that as you go thru the presets you focus on the simpler structures so it is easier to understand what is going on.

And watch every single one of the tutorials! More than once....

You may have to dig around a little to find the waves that "speak" to you -- and remember, each wave has 16 possible iterations, some of which are completely different as you cycle through them.

Zebra is a beast for sound design, it's worth the time to learn how to use it.


3 April 2013 at 8:42am

thanks Howard and ontrackp for your constructive words! I will do my best and dive into the secrets of zebra. When you say there are no samples used as groundstructeres for tweaking them with the different oscs, LFOs, envs etc., i must believe you. I came to that conviction, when i played a (one) note, i heard a repeating cycle, playing this note lets say 3 notes lower, i hear this repeating cycle too, but this cycle lasts a bit longer, resulting in an unsteady, not smooth sound, when playing both notes together.

But as i said, i try my best, to achieve what i am looking for. Thanks again for your advice and the link.

uups! just tried the Link, doesn't work....

6 April 2013 at 7:00am

True Babyblue, the direct link to the YT playlist doesn't work (strange!), so here's the channel:


3 April 2013 at 2:44pm

The cycle speed of a LFO or MSEG can be modulated by key follow (or by specific notes for that matter) so the speed can change as you go up or down the keyboard. My advice is to deconstruct the patches. Go thru module by module and double click on modulation controls, zero out modulation amounts in the matrix and you'll start seeing how the modulators can affect cycling of filter cutoff, pitch, etc....

Just search on youtube for the tutorials, they come up all over the place.

3 April 2013 at 11:04pm


you say you want warmer filters in the next version,,,.

Have you thought about getting the dark zebra upgrade?

it has a few additions, DIVA filters being one of them.

4 April 2013 at 12:22am

Hehe, this was my fav because it's so presonal to me :).

"For me, the biggest downside of this synth is that it's easy to get so involved in the fun of experimenting with sound that you lose time getting work done.".


21 August 2013 at 8:55pm

How to choose the right directory where the data of zebra will be installed.

13 November 2013 at 2:22am

Disappointed in the Zebra2 demo. The synth seems good but it's hard to tell because as soon as I start tweaking it starts dropping out. First time I tried it was just the static which is annoying but not too bad. But now I have to keep reloading a new instrument track to get it to even play more than one note. Evidently I am in the minority here, because I do not find anyone else posting similar. But had to be honest...it's hard to evaluate it when I can't really use it for even 15 minutes. If I have to use presets, and cannot create big sounds with it, then it's not going to be as useful to me. Would rather have a time limited demo...even one day would be better than this. Not meaning to be disrespectful or overly bitchy because obviously a lot of work went into it and I respect that. But that does not automatically mean it will be good for me personally.

Having got that out of my system, it seems to work in Studio One 2 so I'll probably buy it based on the stellar reviews of most everyone.

13 November 2013 at 9:21am

@bksherwood: Zebra2's demo restriction is quasi-random notes (not "static"), so I'm wondering what happened there. Anyway, 15 minutes per session should be plenty of time to find out whether a product suits you. You just have to bite the bullet and reload, or purchase a license.

13 November 2013 at 4:20pm

@Howard: Then it sounds like what I was experiencing were not the demo limitations. I did purchase Zebra2 last night and I am VERY happy with it. Was able to take what I know and create some pretty awesome initial sounds. So far none of the notes dropping out or static etc. After working with it last night, I think Zebra2 is going to be like moving from a Model T to a rocket ship; it will drastically accelerate my progress and capabilities.

But I must say...wow! I never expected a response from you directly. I see that as a huge value of owning Zebra2. The community of Zebra2 is something you can't really put a price on, especially as someone who wants to excel at this stuff. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.

13 November 2013 at 5:42pm

Well, you absolutely made the right decision then. You've just ensured yourself a long winter with a fat grin. Not only do you have a deep synthesizer in your possession, you have a deep and active Zebra user community and lots of freely available and commercial patch banks at your fingertips (Check the official KVR U-he forums). Check out U-he's YouTube profile while you're at it. There are tonnes of excellent official pointer videos for consumption. Enjoy your striped synth-beast.

13 November 2013 at 8:48pm

Thanks snigelx. Spot one with the fat grin! Honestly, I am not sure I will need another synth for a long, long time...except Dark Zebra...that I am definitely buying. My interest is primarily big, unique orchestral sounds and DZ surely fits the bill.

So far I have reviewed the manual, downloaded the free patches from http://www.u-he.com/PatchLib/zebra.html, started on the Youtube tutorials which are awesome, and started to decompose some awesome HS patches. I see also some of the patches from the community are designed to teach you things like FM. Very cool.

Thanks for the lead on the KVR U-he forums. Just starting to realize how much is here on KVR. Been missing out for sure.

19 November 2013 at 10:50pm

I have had Zebra for close to 8 years and I still discover clever new tricks... and of course it keeps getting better. Zebra just received a sweet new distortion module (actually 4 of them)!.

20 November 2013 at 1:27am


Thanks for the heads-up on that. It's been a while since I've stopped by the forum. Nice news.

19 November 2013 at 7:46pm

Re: 19th November 2013.

Great that you feel the need to review such a wonderful sound design tool, but I own the Prophet you speak of (why you compare software to this I have no idea) and no Zebra does not sound better. It is rather apples and oranges you attempt to compare my friend (which was not much of a comparison and much less a review). Of course Zebra has features more routing options because it is a piece of software relying on the computational power of the computer system that hosts it and a developer can add tonnes of bells and whistles into the software. For being a hardware unit the Prophet 12 is an amazing piece of gear capable of many a timbre, but the sound is VERY different between the two synths you mention in your blurb. Furthermore, a synth's sound will most usually reflect the level of skill and creativity possessed by its programmer and much less often the deficiencies of the synthesizer. Please, if you should write a -review- people then take the time to discuss the finer points. If you just wish to post that you like a synth then do that on the forum. Cheers.

5 August 2015 at 1:00pm

The sounds that Zebra produces is just incredible!!!! I cant imagine what Zebra3 will sound like......It will be tough for anybody to top this synth in my opinion. Possibilities are endless with this synth. I LOVE YOUR WORK URS!!!!!.

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Average user rating of 4.94 from 16 reviews

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