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Zebra

 My KVR
Synth (Modular) Plugin 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
Zebra by u-he is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin for macOS and Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin, an RTAS Plugin and an AAX Plugin.
Product
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
Product
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
Instrument
Formats
Copy Protection
Serial Number
My KVR - Groups, Versions, & More
967 KVR members have added Zebra to 47 My KVR groups 1283 times.
Not In Your MY KVR Groups
(or group limitation prevents versioning)
+42 in private groups

KVR Rank

Overall: 91   76   90

30-Day: 134; 7-Day: 120; Yesterday: 207

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%).

Learn how to use Zebra... in KVR Learn

Latest User Reviews

Average user rating of 4.81 from 21 reviews

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/

Read Review

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.

Read Review

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.

Read Review

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.

Read Review

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.

Read Review

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Comments & Discussion for u-he Zebra

Discussion
Discussion: Active
FarleyCZ
FarleyCZ
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.

proletkult
proletkult
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!!

Krakatau
Krakatau
18 October 2020 at 6:11pm

what a wonderful compliment to this synth and it inherent technology ...and so to it original conceptor that ihmo stood a humble man in it's manner .

Urs
Urs
18 December 2011 at 2:20pm

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

Cheers,

;) Urs

proletkult
proletkult
18 December 2011 at 5:16pm

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

Howard
Howard
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... ;-)

proletkult
proletkult
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.

liquidsound
liquidsound
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.

audiomac
audiomac
18 June 2012 at 4:35am

Thanks to everyone for sharing your Talent..

babyblue
babyblue
2 April 2013 at 9:31pm

hi,.

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.

Howard
Howard
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.

ontrackp
ontrackp
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.

THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED

babyblue
babyblue
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....

Howard
Howard
6 April 2013 at 7:00am

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

http://www.youtube.com/user/uheplugins.

ontrackp
ontrackp
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.

Phader
Phader
3 April 2013 at 11:04pm

@ontrackp.

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.

hollo
hollo
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.".

THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED

psydenis
psydenis
21 August 2013 at 8:55pm

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

clangorous
clangorous
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.

Howard
Howard
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.

clangorous
clangorous
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.

snigelx
snigelx
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.

clangorous
clangorous
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.

pdxindy
pdxindy
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)!.

snigelx
snigelx
20 November 2013 at 1:27am

@pdxindy.

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

snigelx
snigelx
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.

PUSHA
PUSHA
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!!!!!.

liquidsound
liquidsound
21 August 2018 at 2:04am

2 Stars....

And I thought Michelin was stingy.

I'm so sorry for you... so much bread and no teeth.

zygomatic
zygomatic
7 September 2020 at 9:40am

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

The manual is great to but I would like to know more about the Resolution parameter. It's 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.

Urs
Urs
7 September 2020 at 11:34am

For a technical explanation about the Resolution parameter, please check out the forum thread.

As to when to turn it up or down: Turn up for fast modulation of Warp or FX. Turn down to save CPU when the waveform requires less modulation. Commonly there's a sweet spot where "turning it up more" doesn't affect the sound in a positive way.

Some sound designers have used Resolution as means of creative sound design by turning it very low, which gives the oscillators some kind of "wave sequencing" timbre.

zygomatic
zygomatic
8 September 2020 at 6:19am

Thank you very much, Mr. Heckmann, for these tips and for the quick reply. Zebra's one hell of synth.

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