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Synth (Modular) Plugin by u-he
€ 99 (with Zebra Legacy)

Zebra has an average user rating of 4.79 from 19 reviews

Rate & Review Zebra

User Reviews by KVR Members for Zebra


Reviewed By moonchunk [all]
October 17th, 2020
Version reviewed: 2.9.2 on Windows

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:


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.


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Reviewed By zygomatic [all]
September 7th, 2020
Version reviewed: 2.9.1 on Windows

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 [all]
March 29th, 2019
Version reviewed: 2.8 on Windows

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 [all]
August 20th, 2018
Version reviewed: 2.8 on Windows

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 [all]
August 4th, 2018
Version reviewed: 2.8 on Windows

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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Reviewed By ZaBong69 [all]
June 9th, 2016
Version reviewed: 2.7.2 on Windows

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 [all]
November 19th, 2013
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

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 [all]
July 26th, 2013
Version reviewed: 10.8 on Mac


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 [all]
April 2nd, 2013
Version reviewed: 10.6.8 on Mac

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.

UPDATE: The latest build with revised graphics is fantastic. Also, get HZ - it's worth it for the extra modules.

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Reviewed By fisherKing [all]
April 29th, 2012
Version reviewed: 2.5.2 on Mac

first, a disclaimer: i've reviewed 3 other synths here in the last few days, almost all "10"s. i mean, i OWN these plugins, and live (or die) by them, so am writing what i feel, but...i REALLY love what i use; that's WHY i own what i own. so "10" is the right number for zebra.

i've been using it for a couple of years now; added it when a friend showed it to me; i was immediately impressed with the sound.

i haven't been using it so much lately, but yesterday spent the day REALLY exploring it, and…was reminded of how good zebra really is.

the architecture is logical, intuitive. the GUI is great. there are also a lot of soundbanks for zebra (i own quite a few).

the sound is the thing, of course, and it's awesome. zebra is more metallic, rounder-sounding than my other plugins (which i value for their buzzier 'analog' sound). so, zebra is great for animated pads, hard or melodic leads; exceptional soundscapes. i made 2 tracks with only this plugin (and drums) and it's great. there is a lot of color and depth in the sound (some plugins sound very flat, very 'grey' to me).

presets can be busy, dense (they can have several things going on at once, i.e. a drone, chimes, an evolving filter). so it takes a…different approach to layer parts; 3 busy parts together can be like 9 parts on a simpler synth.

i find this makes me think differently about what i'm doing; that's a good thing, i don't want to always work the same way.

the bottom line for me is this: nothing else i have sounds like it, and that's what i want from a plugin, for it to justify it's place in my arsenal: to be distinctive.

u-he has some amazing synths (diva is ridiculous), but this one is my fave (probably because my other 3 synths are all 'analog'-inspired). zebra is just different, musical, and very modern.

i've sold several plugins recently on kvraudio; i wanted to 'change my game up', challenge my workflow. this one you'll have to pry from my cold dead hands...

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Reviewed By proletkult [all]
December 16th, 2011
Version reviewed: XP SP3 on Windows

I have never written nor cared to write a review about a synth before. Partly because my relationship with them was simply "find a preset that's close and (perhaps) tweak it". After ten days with Zebra two I am completely obsessed with oscillators, X/Y pads, comb filters, VCFs and so, so much more. The online library of thousands of presets that have built up over a short space of time is a clear indication of how inspiring the instrument is to players of all standards.

Brightness, depth and clarity of sound were the first things that struck me as better than any other synth in my arsenal. Following that, the range of sounds prompted me to retire several synths in that arsenal straight away.

This flexibility is down to a confounding number of ways to generate and manipulate countless wave forms. The multi stage envelope generator and user definable LFOs can set the sound moving both rhythmically and organically long before engaging the arpeggiator/sequencer and oscillators have their own effects long before reaching the very well equiped effects stage.

The UI is stunning, never leaving you confused with aspects you don't need and keeping everything you do need nearby. It's hard not to marvel at the programme's architecture. It even allows you several versions so you can change the size of the image.

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(Zebra - get it?)

I have set up five or six instances of Zebra 2, armed them all with their more CPU demanding presets and played concurrently. Inside Cubase (XP-32bit, i7chip, 3 gig of RAM) the strain was VERY MINIMAL(APPROX 6%)!

The rules for reviewing here say; "Review the product on what it is supposed to be able to do and not on what you would like it to do." That's easy here as Zebra 2's potential completely outstrips my mere-mortal imagination. But with each day my imagination is pushed much further. THOROUGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Reviewed By Sendy [all]
October 24th, 2010
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows

Combine the best audio engine ever with the simplest and coolest GUI ever and you have Zebra 2.5, the shortest way to get from ideas to sounds, whilst absorbing fresh inspiration along the way.

The big eye opener for me is the oscillator section, which comprises four morphing wavetable oscillators with unison, phase, synch, drawable waveforms, additive synthesis, and the ability to use one or two of dozens of 'oscillator FX' which do things like filter odd or even harmonics, mess with the waveform geometry, do spectral filtering (either with a break-point, or noise-reduction 'aphex twin' style burbles), PWM, fractal synch, phase distortion... the possibilities are not only mind boggling but also easy to use and explore.

Add this into a modular environment with the most amazing sounding filters, waveshapers, FM oscs, studio effects, resonators, etc... many types of customizable envelopes, and an easy and uncluttered interface to string it all together, any you have not merely a synthesizer but an instrument which is as fun and inspiring as it is powerful. As someone who is interested in exploring sound for it's own sake, Zebra is like a laboratory where you can conduct experiments in sound and push your understanding forwards. It's just plain addictive.

Half of this addictiveness is undoubtably because of the UI which is a stroke of genius, but the other half is because of the consistently amazing sound quality. While many synths sound strained at the extremes of sound design or when pushes, Zebra has a fat and confident sound throughout, which means making it sound BAD is the challenge :). Zebra produces the sort of sounds you'd expect from a huge wall of modular analogue gear costing thousands of pounds, and in some cases goes even weirder and more liquid.

Looking at the price, this is worth more than the asking price alone, but given that you also get Zebralette (a mini-zebra with just oscillators), Zebrify (the built in modular effects section of zebra as a stand-alone effect) AND Z-rev (the unusual and mysterious reverberation doohickey with lots of strange knobs and no instructions, which makes a wide variety of really nice sounding reverbs, from realistic to platey to downright odd!)... buying this was a no-brainer.

This is quite possibly the one synthesizer to eclipse them all. People have been making sounds on this ranging from highly realistic imitations of accoustic instruments, to undeard of synth sounds at the cutting edge of cutting-edgeness. Examining the oscillator output spectrally and via my ears leads me to believe this thing NEVER aliases unless you explicitly tell it to. I may be proven wrong about that one day, but I'd be suprised. This is in part what contributes to the 'analogue-like sound' of Zebra.
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Reviewed By FarleyCZ [all]
April 8th, 2010
Version reviewed: 2.8 on Windows

Ok, my original Zebra review was really crappy. Also I've used this synth for ages now, so I thought I re-iterate.

Zebra is one of the most versatile synths out there. It hits perfect balance between usability of pre-wired synth and capabilities of modular. Experimenting wit all kinds of signal route topologies is so easy and so much fun in Zebra. You can filter your OSC, then mix another OSC to the filtered signal, then filter it again... It's really awesome.

There are also some really cool modules. FM-modulated filter, keytracked tuned Comb filter, some cool distortions were added lately...

It has few flaws though. Recent skin-design fixed a lot of them, but I'd still love to see a little sample playback module, granular one, perhaps and the Unisono engine could use some inspiration from U-he's own Hive synth.

All and all, though, if you give it few days to understand this beauty, you'll find it's one of the quickest way for experimental sound to leave your head and end up in your actual project.

I Love Zebra. ...and absolutely understand why Hans Zimmer loves it too.

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Reviewed By DrWashington [all]
February 7th, 2010
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows

Zebra 2.5 is an unbelievably powerful synth. This, Camel's brilliant 'Alchemy', and the bread-&-butter 'Sylenth 1' are becoming my go-to instruments lately.

As for Zebra, this is a semi-modular synthesizer with a unique grid that makes routing and keeping track of your modules very easy indeed! No messy, animated cables to get in the way. This is a very modern, futuristic take on synthesis--it's its own beast, not emulating anything, a truly novel instrument.

The sound? Well, to say it's bloody amazing wouldn't really nearly do it justice.

If you're a preset-maven, go elsewhere. Nothing to see here. Not to say some of the presets aren't very good; they are. But, buying this synth for the presets is like buying a Ferrari for the cup holders.

This is a programmers dream--once you LEARN it, it's freakin' DANGEROUS! The comb filters and oscillators alone are just so amazingly powerful, I really don't know where to start. There's just too much to talk about, far more than would fit here. From the oscillator effects (that's right: you can add preset effects to the oscillators themselves, and with unreal results), to the brilliant, brash, and fantastic-sounding comb filters, you'll be in synth heaven for days, nay, months, before you even get a handle on what this thing can really do! And don't even get me started on the filters--Urs Heckmann is a genius. This much is totally obvious.

Let me put it to you straight: you're much, MUCH better off having a lone ACTUAL GENIUS devoloping your soft synths than a whole army of 9-to-5ers who must all coordinate with one another and STILL can't get it quite right.

But, with this one you've REALLY got to get your hands dirty... putzing around with a few presets here and there will tell you NOTHING. Nada. If you buy this synth to fiddle with some presets, I feel bad for you, I really do! Just bite the bullet and RTFM: it's online, it's easy, it makes sense. You'll thank yourself a thousand times over once you get how easy and powerful this thing is.
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Reviewed By VitaminD [all]
June 27th, 2007
Version reviewed: 2.5 on Windows

If I, for some odd reason, was stuck on an island with nothing to do but eat fruit and write music and then ONLY could pick one synth to use.. Zebra2 would be my pick.

The capabilities of this synth are rather incredible to me.. It has a very full sound naturally, but has the ability to sound thin and digital or even harsh if so desired. There are so many features packed into Zebra2.5 that I'm unsure I'll ever need any other synth. ever.

Stability has been good in my host of choice (Orion Platinum) and cpu usage is acceptable for me (aging Athlon x2 5600+ [2.8ghz])

Zebra2 can be a very complex synth if you want it to be.. at the same time, I've made several stunning sounds through much less complex patches. And the amount of presets that are available for Zebra2 means even if you aren't looking to be a synth sound designer/programmer, you will still have no trouble pulling out tons of fantastic, usable sounds.

If you want it to be complex, you can have your way. With the ability to load 3rd party Oscillator waveforms, means Zebra2 never gets stale. As of version 2.5 we now have the 11 voice mode for each oscillator and some great filters. The Envelope Generators are super powerful and the effects are solid.

In short, Zebra2 is one of the few software synthesizers I feel is actually worth it's asking price. Value for Money is extremely high -- The abilities are so large in Zebra2, I'll probably never dig to the bottom of the sound palette. And, compared to some of the other larger hardware synths, this one is rather easy to program too.
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Reviewed By JacK_SoliuM [all]
March 20th, 2007
Version reviewed: 2.1 on Windows

very easy to use.
very easy to understand.
very clear interface.

this synth have a perfect sound , very professional.
you can do everything with it!! (synth, pad, bassline, ambient textures, fx...and many more!! )

the best thing of this synth are the X Y controllers (crazy realtime modulation , very useful in live)
but it had a lot of different great features like : Arp , modmatrix , and many others...

no problem , it's clear and very full ( but Zebra is so easy to understand that you dont need docs!!)

there are a lot of presets , but they aren't all excellent ( some are really great ,
some aren't ) .
but the most important thing is that you can do everything with this synth so you can create your owns presets very easily !!

go in "u-he" forum at KVR for support, Urs is always ready to explain something if you
need help or if you have a problem !

no problem in my host (FLstudio) ,

and value for money is excellent !!!!

Zebra is really an awesome synth, very easy and with a perfect sound !!!
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Reviewed By vic_france [all]
June 27th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Mac

Zebra is one of the reasons I love making music on computers! It is a pleasure to use...while looking kinda familiar to "classic" synths in some ways, it also has its unique way of luring you into unsuspected territories..all of them interesting.
Interface: The only reason stopping me from giving a 10 here is that there are a couple of areas (notably the matrix) which are a bit hard to grasp without the manual ( but this is such a novel concept anyways, I don't see any way of making it graphically more immediate). Also minus one, possibly, because although there is a choice of "skins" available, I find they all slightly lack a bit of definition/contrast in the choice of colours. At least a real zebra is black 'n' white, not beige 'n' darker beige! :-)
Sound: O.K let's just borrow the available 10th position from the Interface rating, just so that I can give Sound an eleven! It may be a zebra, but it ate a Maserati for breakfast! For versatility, this is pretty close to the Virsyn Tera (and that is a compliment!).
Features: surprise after surprise after surprise! The matrix, the X-Y controllers, the multistage modulations..etc, etc.
Documentation: dropped one point for being late to the party with the doc for v1.5 ( if I get the chance to do so, I will update this when the 1.5 doc arrives:-)
Presets: Do these inspire you to go on and make more of your own, or is there no need to do so?
Customer support: Urs = President of the Universe!
VFM: Can't say all that about Zebra, then complain about having to get my wallet out! I've seen (and have bought!) instruments at twice the price, which offer far less.
Stability: Rock solid, of course. But more than that, because we are lucky enough to have Urs frequently in this, and other, forums, we can see the extent to which this guy really knows his stuff!
I'm also using the ZebraShell VST beta in Cubase SX without problems so far.
I'm looking forward to reading PC users' comments in the (hopefully) near future:-)
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Reviewed By tribalogical [all]
June 18th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Mac

Having used Zebra from its first beta, I have to say the latest 1.5 version is a significant enhancement from the previous version, and well worth the price.

The addition of the new modulation routing alone has me in fits (the good kind :). But it doesn't stop there. It brings a deeply expanded flexibility of programming throughout, with added features laid out in 'tabs", which bring the new controls into play without making it any harder to use. That's quite a feat, from a UI point of view.

I usually find programming patches a rather tedious process, but I enjoy -- actually, get kind of enthusiastic -- tweaking sounds in Zebra. The way the controls are laid out just make a solid, intuitive sense, and is quite simply a fun process. You can easily jump from "planned, fundamental sound creation" to "wild, experimental, surprising results", which happens often, as the nature of this beast is playful (and even mischievous sometimes).

Ultimately though, it's about the sound, and the Zebra has few equals in the soft-synth realm. I own a few dozen synths (soft mostly, but a few old-skool hardware synths as well), and I reach for Zebra more often than any other... and that's including all the fab eMagic plugs built-in to Logic Pro.

It can be subtle or extreme, smooth or harsh, and is capable of being incredibly variable. I like it most of all for "morphing" type patches, and use the XY controls extensively (you've got to try those to "get it"). I've discovered sounds -- and performances -- I simply cannot duplicate on any other synth. Not simple nuances in the timbral differences, but broad, rich, unique sounds that no other synth seems quite capable of.

It also has no issues at all with stability in Logic Pro. It's rock solid and dependable. I would happily use it in a live situation.

Other comments:
The presets are plentiful (I contributed a *very* few to the massive 500 included), and most are quite useable. Urs' support is direct, responsive, and amazingly friendly... you won't find better!

The only downside for some might be that the docs for 1.5 are still at v1.0. The 1.0 manual covers all the basics though, and as I find it easy enough to use the Zebra without them, it isn't really an issue for me. I give it a 9 *in principal* in the docs rating, but as they are written so well and clearly, I give that a 10 in reality anyway... :)

In short, if you use AU at all on your OSX Mac, this one is a must-have...

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Reviewed By wonshu [all]
February 20th, 2004
Version reviewed: 1 on Mac

When I first got my hands on Zoyd (Urs' first synth) I already thought: Wow, what a fat sound and what cool features. Then Zebra came out and I have to say WOW!

Modulations galore (and I really mean it, this is amazing stuf, but to describe it doesn't hit it, you have to see it!) unprecedented stability, but that all doesn't matter. Because this is the thing:

The sound of this synth is warm, strong, clean and just unbelievably phat.

I'm very thankful for this thing to exist, it carried a good 20% of my last job!

Thank you Urs for programming this and I think we can only be very excited about what this guy thinks up next!
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Latest 19 reviews from a total of 19

Comments & Discussion for u-he Zebra

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 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 .

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!!!!!.

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.

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.

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.

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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