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Zebra My KVR

Synth (Modular) by u-he
Zebra
Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra Zebra
Favorite Developer - Best Audio and MIDI Software - KVR Audio Readers' Choice Awards 2020Favorite Developer - KVR Audio Readers' Choice Awards 2019
What is it?
Format(s)
Instrument(s)    
Operating System Availability
Operating System Latest Version
 2.9.2 
System Requirements
Mac OS X 10.7 or newer
Windows 7 or newer
Linux 
1GB RAM, more recommended
50MB free disk space
1000 × 600 or larger display
Modern CPU (Sandy Bridge or newer recommended)
Host software
 2.9.2 
System Requirements
Mac OS X 10.7 or newer
Windows 7 or newer
Linux 
1GB RAM, more recommended
50MB free disk space
1000 × 600 or larger display
Modern CPU (Sandy Bridge or newer recommended)
Host software
License & Installation Method
Instant (Serial Number)
What does this mean?
For related news items, downloads and more please see the full KVR product page for
Zebra

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.

Features:

  • 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%).
User Reviews Average user rating of 4.81 from 5 reviewsAdd A Review

Reviewed By moonchunk
October 17, 2020

I just picked this up a week or so ago, and i agree with the sentiment here that this at the top of the list of synths I've researched (dozens - but for music tech research more so [unfortunately] than spending time to master them creatively), and I couldn't be happier. It has a certain quality about it that transcends the divide between the more digital and more analog synths, with a pleasing warmth but at the same time potentially having a cutting edge precision.

Kudos to the people who came up with its signal flows and interfacing and filters and algos. (There should be a documentary about its development really. I'm not clear on whether They really knew what they were doing.

Really the only thing I can find about the history of its development comes from this article:

https://www.attackmagazine.com/features/long-read/u-hes-urs-heckmann-on-synths-celebrity-endorsements-hardware/

I personally own over 20 softsynths, and have been toying with some lesser-known ones because innovation always fascinates me.

But nothing in the Zebra package would be particularly obvious to me as a programmer. I'm sure there synths with bits of brilliance that could be mentioned as excelling in one element or area or another, but Zebra is particularly unique in that it never loses the high standard of musicality from the beginning of its signal flow to the end. I know recently musicians have begun to be impressed by more organic and analog processes, while being also spoiled by some very good well-crafted digital softsynths. Exploring the confluence of these two evolutions in taste and creativity seems to be at the heart of our current electronic music scene. At the time I made my purchase of Zebra I was considering purchasing Diva first. This was because I had watched some of the few Zebra tutorials out there, and the synth didn't really look "familiar" or directly compare with the common and basic synth flows I had worked with. I've experimented with ANA 2 (very good), Serum and Massive (and a few of the other Komplete synths) and the Image Line product line, Dune 3, Phase Plant (as a demo for 14 days - really loved it), Omnisphere (somewhat of a hybrid rompler synth but some well-worth-it features IMHO despite its price tag), Spire, Adam Szabo's Viper (a phenomena and over-looked synth really), Cycle (Amaranth - an orphaned synth unfortunately), Quik Quak's Glass Viper, Auddict's Hexeract (a disappointment since it seems to have been abandoned, along with Fxpansion's Geist 2, lol), AIR and KV331's synths, the Madrona Labs stuff (very good for "unexpected and artsy"), IK Multimedia's Syntronik (nice), etc. So much variety, and a lot of interesting specific features in here for most of these, that I can't go into for lack of time.

But frankly I wish I had tried and learned Zebra long ago.

Zebra actually seems worthy to focus on more so than any of these, because I literally can not make it sound bad or uninviting. I can make it sound dangerous, ugly, menacing, and so on, but it creates such a steady illusion that I'm playing with organic electric juice, that it, more than any other synth, reminds me of playing with high end electric guitar gear. Expressive. Musical. Often stunning.

So I was just going to write a short review to go along with what's already here. This is not a new product - but I had to add my two cents and I hope the developer knows how much I appreciate the fine thought process and heroic standards, and I most definitely look forward to Zebra 3. Good work U-he.

As an aside, Plugmon Neumann (as more than a skin really) looks incredible and I'm checking it out - to make understanding and working with Zebra easier. $35 at the moment. Interesting.

https://plugmon.jp/product/neumann/

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Reviewed By zygomatic
September 7, 2020

I love it. Just bought it and spent this whole weekend playing with it.

The manual is great to but would like to know more about the Resolution parameter. It not really clear how it interacts with other parameters. Which parameters does it interact with? What are the downsides of turning the Resolution parameter up or down? In which cases should I turn it up and when to turn it down?

Thanks in advance.

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Reviewed By Clifton
March 29, 2019

I just simply wanted to say this is the most outstanding VST synth I've ever played and I was totally blown away by the sounds of this virtual instrument. Very versatile and the sound quality is beyond normal for importing even your own wavetables just in case if your using the right separate utility for importing your own waves. The sky's the limit you can only imagine what you can do and what unusual sounds you can come up with. Price wise it's kind of high but you'll soon realize you'll be quite happy that you've made the purchase after all.

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Reviewed By Relja
August 20, 2018

Compared to other u-He synths, this thing is unusable.

The competition that it has (Bazille, Repro-5, Diva etc.) is really a strong one tho.

I know that this thing is really versatile but I can't find the use in the sound quality that it doesn't deliver.

I hope that Zebra 3 will actually sound good.

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Reviewed By rasputin
August 4, 2018

If you're new to Zebra and research a bit you'll notice that it is over 10 years old. The last update (before 1/2018) was in 2015.

That is said not to imply that its sound is in any way dated. As you'll see over and over from reviews the sound engine is powerful and infinitely flexible, along with the modulation capabilities.

A huge advantage of a supremely well-designed synth of this age is the terrific number of sound banks available. In fact there may be TOO many and you'll have to spend some time picking through them to find the best ones.

Some people go overboard and design patches that have infinitely complex evolving sounds that are entire compositions in 120 sec; and it's great to know this can be done, but better are the incredible pads, basses, leads and incidental sounds you can create with Zebra. They asset themselves in a mix without being overbearing. Amazingly light weight in terms of CPU/RAM use; I am using an 8GB Windows 7 system and can load a stack of these up in Ableton without it even noticing.

Really, try the demo. 15 minutes is admitted too short a time to really get into it, but it's a chance to try a bunch of presets and get a handle on the power of this amazing too.

The most recent (2.8) demo even further improves the already excellent manual.

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