Superbooth 23: U-he gave visitors a Zebra 3 preview with the upcoming new Zebralette 3, an all-new version of its popular free Synthesizer plugin.
Zebra 2 from the German software company U-he is one of the most popular and well-known plugin modular synthesizers. Many producers worldwide, including Hollywood composers such as Hans Zimmer, use the plugin.
Zebra 3 has been announced for a few years. We are in the middle of 2023; the plugin is not there yet. At Superbooth 23, however, Urs Heckmann from U-he showed a Zebra 3 preview showing the first features of this massive new version.
U-he Zebra 3 & Zebralette 3
How U-he showed the first new features of Zebra 3 at Superbooth 23 was clever. The developer decided to use a free version instead of directly promoting the commercial Zebra 3. Yes, besides Zebra 3, there will also be a Zebralette 3, a new version of their popular free Synthesizer plugin. Made for the users to get used to the engine and the possibilities.
Zebralette 3 will feature part of the new Zebra 3 engine. In the same quality and with fewer features. More precisely, a super versatile oscillator, MSEG generator, LFO, ADSR envelope, and VCA. Just like Zebralette 2, users know the plugin. In v3, with significantly more features and a newly developed engine.
Zebra 3 and Zebralette 3 will feature an all-new oscillator module developed from scratch with a massive feature expansion. A single oscillator has various synthesis options, including wavetable, spline wave, morphing, VA, and additive. The powerful thing about it is the built-in editor, which is reminiscent of a super powerful math program.
In this, you can draw your waveforms, generate wavetables or work with additive synthesis. Thanks to the spline technology, you can generate wavetables that morph smoothly together. On top, there will be a plethora of different oscillator FX with which you can achieve wilder oscillator timbres. All this will also be available in the free Zebralette 3 Synthesizer
The multi-stage envelope generator (MSEG) has also been renewed and is now even more versatile and easier to use. The engine is made to geek out. And what you see here is just a drop on what Zebra 3 will have regarding features. Here is my first look at these new features.
What Urs Heckmann showed visitors to Superbooth 23 is impressive. Without exciting too much, the engine will probably be the deepest and most versatile synth engine ever in software. The depth you can dive into is crazy. The same applies to Zebralette 3. The free plugin will make a quantum leap with this upcoming new version. You can probably spend years with this and not yet go through all the waveform possibilities.
U-he Zebralette 3 is coming at the end of 2023 as a free plugin download for macOS and Windows. Zebra 3 availability and price TBA.
More information here: U-he
That’s a nice chat with Urs! Thanks for sharing it!
Some things made me smile, as a Bitwig user.
CLAP development may not be on everyone’s radar, yet it’s possible that it’ll spur something bigger. There’s something liberating about that plugin format, both in terms of technical features and in terms of licensing. So, the collaboration between u-he and Bitwig is quite interesting at that level.
Also, when Urs described and demoed the harmonized editors for waveshape/MSEG/seq, it strongly reminded me of the flagship feature in the BWS5 upgrade. Actually, it’s more than a feature. It’s a “paradigm”. When you conceive of MSEGs and sees the same way you think of oscillators (including LFOs), there’s something which happens. In a modulation-intensive DAW like Bitwig Studio, it changes something quite profound about the experience.
Of course, the editors in BWS5 are even more minimalistic than the first one Urs demoed. Very limited tools to draw shapes. When he went on to the “Freehand” editor, that made me dream of having the same thing in my main DAW. Or, at least, a way to import those shapes as .bwcurve files (which are used in BWS5’s unified editor).
The next step from that would be the morphing done for the wavetables. That’s futuristic!
Then again, since Zebralette 3 will remain free, using that oscillator as a CLAP plugin in Bitwig’s device chain opens up a lot of possibilities. Though it won’t be as deeply integrated as the Wavetable and Scrawl Grid modules, it’ll still be able to “do a lot of damage” through the per-note automation and modulation afforded the CLever Audio Plugin format.
And since Zebralette supports the MTS-ESP tuning system, it’ll be even more useful to me than a Grid-based oscillator.
So, thanks again for sharing! Best news from Superbooth, as far as I’m concerned.