Zebra... This is an extremely unique product that far surpasses any other u-he product, as well as most other synthesizer plugins. Its versatility and usability are impeccable.
I never find myself truly lost in what I do in Zebra, and I've been able to create some creative and amazing sounds! There's such a wide amount of sounds anyone can create with Zebra. Synth Leads, FM Basses, Resonant sweeps, and even some organic stuff, like Brass, Strings, Weather effects, Keys (Rhodes, EPs, etc.), Organs, etc. Your limitation is your experience.
Let me analyze this plugin in more detail.
The sound is pristine quality. I've managed to find and create sounds that need 224kbps and above to sound like it should. ;)
Customizable skin. It comes with the default and Unempty Dark Horse. Dark Horse is a neat skin, and if I had used that more, I would keep using it. The reason I emphasized that is because the two skins have different colors AND structure. Alas, I got used to the default skin, so I'm more comfortable making patches on that. My advice is to pick one you like best first, and then use that from that point on. ;) And of course, people make skins for that, so check that out at: http://www.u-he.com/PatchLib/skins.html
The default patches that come with Zebra are enough to write a few full songs with literally all Zebra instances. But what if you want more? Over 45 FREE soundbanks have already been published to KVRAudio's Zebra Patch Bank page, and 125 FREE soundbanks at the Zebra patch library page! Want to know how inspiring Zebra is? There's your evidence.
From what I've managed to do in Zebra, it's capable of FM, RM, Modular, Additive, and Subtractive Synthesis; PWM, Sync Mod, and Waveshaping; and many others. There's nothing more I'd want from Zebra than what it already has.
It's about 11 MB on the physical memory on the initialized patch, and it can get higher depending on what patch you use or make. AFAIK, most patches usually reach about 11~30 MB physical memory, which really isn't that much at all.
What I love most about it is that it only shows what you are using, nothing more and nothing less. That way even the least advanced person can know that what he's looking at is what he needs to edit to have a noticeable change. I seriously believe the GUI is unmatched. It's probably because Zebra gets so much respect. ;)
It initializes with a raw, monophonic saw wave as one oscillator and one envelope. From there, you can do many things:
- Modify the oscillator with Detune, Sync, Pulse Width Modulation, Envelope Restart, Effects (16, I think. Might be more.), or Modulation using Envelopes/LFOs/MSEGs/Velocity/etc.
- Add an FM oscillator module and feed the VCO through the FMO to get a classic FM sound. Maybe you can add an envelope with no attack, little decay, no sustain, and default (15%) release (that gives you a rhodes-like keypressing sound). Maybe you can raise the pitch and modify Envelope 1 to have no attack, little decay, no sustain, and a long release (that gives a plucked sine wave).
- Add a Comb Filter module and feed the VCO through the Comb. From here you can mess with the Feedback, Distortion, Tone, Flavour, etc. I've witnessed woodwind, orchestral strings, brass, and picked string instruments (i.e. guitar, banjo, etc.) trying out the Comb filter.
- Delete oscillator 1 and start with FMO, Noise, or something else instead, and challenge yourself!
- And plenty more.
Many people have made patches for this product, with a bunch of free ones on http://u-he.com/PatchLib/zebra.html. Check it out on that page, and you'll find some amazing stuff!
I highly recommend this to anyone with the money on hand. Eventually, it'll be your favorite plugin of all time!