Zebra is on my mind with all the news of Dark Zebra. Zebra is all about pure synthesis – no samples. I found the interface a bit daunting at first but once you push through the initial learning curve it makes a lot of sense. It’s perfect for those who want to a strong set of sound shaping tools in a semi-modular form. The layout exposes a lot of flow and params on one page. That being said there is just a crap load of features under the hood as well so I encourage to RTFM and/or click on labels and explore.
For example, in the Oscillator Module there are sub-menus.
If you select the “Osc FX” the panel to the right allows you to select two different internal spectral effects "routed in series (left > right) for processing the oscillator waveform
To select an effect, click on the label. Adjust the value and/or modulate to taste. The speed/smoothness of most spectral effects, when modulated, is highly dependent on the value of oscillator Resolution.
List of Spectral Effects
Keep Poking Around
As you can see Osc FX alone provides a staggering amount of possibilities. Time to explore.
U-He has released a new soundset for Zebra 2.5 called Dark Zebra which includes over 400 presets resulting from a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr . Here is a video teaser.
Why This is Worth a Look
Even if you are not interested in having the Batman soundtrack palette, there are some reasons to consider this $99 update. First off you get a special version of Zebra made just for Zimmer called ZebraHZ (more on this next). Second, there are some very cool patches by Hanz Zimmer and Howard Scarr that will both inspire and teach you new ways to use Zebra to create your own signature sounds.
What is ZebraHZ?
ZebraHZ is a customized version of Zebra 2.5. According to the manual, ZebraHZ adds “classic analogue filter models like in Diva, a resonator effect module like in the old Polymoog, polyphonic compressors (especially good for drum sounds) plus two more modulation mappers.”
Yum! Of course yum with more of a CPU hit – but as with DIVA you can throttle accuracy.
I really like this idea because I’m much more fluent in programming Zebra than DIVA so it’s pretty fantastic to get to those DIVA bits through the familiar Zebra GUI.
A Precursor to Zebra 3?
Over on KVR someone asked if this was a fully supported product and that would continue to be maintained and Urs’s reply was:
Yes, we'll keep a parallel build available with Zebra2 updates/maintenance/compatibility fixes.
Then the question was asked will ZebraHZ provide any features Zebra 3 won’t. Ur’s replied:
Well, Zebra3 won't exactly have Diva's filters. We're merely aiming at filters of same quality but not necessarily very same authenticity, so we can make them process stereo and less cpu draining.
I think Z3 will sound much more refined (if that's audibly possible), with more options to add character. Z3 won't sound the same as Z2, and presets might not be easily transferred.
I think most people will use both - Zebra2/ZebraHZ for the vast existing library, Zebra3 for things new and things to come.
Screen Grabs from Manual
Here are some screen grabs from the manual to wet your appetite. First the Low Pass filter.
Next the compressor.
“Each lane in the main grid has its own polyphonic (i.e. per voice) compressor.” !!!
And how about this? A resonator!
”One of the very first polyphonic synthesizers ever included a 3-band peaking filter that could be used to dramatically shape the overall sound… The ZebraHZ version is similar, but has an extra full-range band. To see the Resonator, click in the effects grid and select the Res1 module from the very bottom of the list.”
Back Story – Turn to P. 9
Page 9 of the Manual documents the back story of how all this came about and is worth a read.
Coexistence with Zebra 2.5
You need a Zebra 2.5 license to use this update. So how does the install work?
Although you will need a Zebra2.x license to run ZebraHZ, they will appear as separate plugins with separate preset folders. You should never try to install them in parallel. If you already have installed Zebra2.x, simply install ZebraHZ over the top. No worries, the ZebraHZ installer also contains Zebra2.5, Zebrify, Zebralette and Zrev. Note: Whenever ZebraHZ-specific updates are ready, they will be available in the user area at u-he support. We recommend setting up an account there.
Last But Not Least Here is “What you need to know”
you need a valid license of Zebra 2.x to use these sounds
upon purchase you will receive an email with the download link
the download contains installers for Mac and PC
The Dark Zebra and ZebraHZ install alongside Zebra 2.x
ZebraHZ is VST2 and AU only (no RTAS, but AAX and VST3 are in the works)
presets have been made to suit Hans' workflow - read patch info on how to use them!
Although ZebraHZ has prototype character, it worked flawlessly during scoring sessions
ZebraHZ features CPU-expensive Diva filters but does not have Diva's multicore support
Well kids – 64-bit is finally on horizon for Ableton Live!
We are pleased to announce the beta version of Live 8.4, featuring native 64-bit support. With 64-bit support, Sets in Live 8 can now accommodate much larger memory usage, and third-party plugins that support 64-bit. Registered Live 8, Suite 8, Live Intro or Live Lite 8 users can download the beta now.
The 64-bit version of Live works with PCs running Windows Vista/7/8 (64-bit) and with Intel-Macs running OS X 10.5 and up. The 64-bit version of Live 8 does not support Max for Live, video, or The Bridge. We are currently working with our partners to add support for these features.
The release version of Live 8.4 will be available later, as a free update for registered Live 8, Suite 8, Live Intro or Live Lite 8 users.
A few key notes about this that I’ve pulled from the web site:
64-bit version of Live can use a theoretical maximum of 16 exabytes of RAM - much more RAM than computers actually have.
You can use the 64-bit version of Live if you are running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, or Mac OS 10.5 or higher on an Intel-based Mac.
The 64-bit version of Live 8 will not support Max for Live, video, or The Bridge. We are currently working with our partners to add support for these features.
All 64-bit plug-ins can be used in the 64-bit version. 32-bit plug-ins cannot be used directly in the 64-bit version, but there are third-party tools (such as jBridge) that will allow 32-bit VST plug-ins to be used within the 64-bit version.
You can have 32-bit and 64-bit Version installed at the same time.
Live documents made in 32-bit versions of Live will work properly in the 64-bit version of Live, and vice versa. If the Live Sets use features which are not available in the 64-bit version, those features will be limited or disabled as described below:
Max for Live - the Live document will load and play, but the Max devices will behave as if they were bypassed.
Video - the Live document will load and play but clips containing video will behave as if the referenced video file is missing.
Plug-ins - Live documents that were created using 32-bit versions of plug-ins will work normally, but only if 64-bit versions of the same plug-ins are installed.
We've been working on a DEVO movie with director Tony Pemberton for years and now it's time to get it edited and into the eyes of spuds world wide. This Kickstarter page is an important step to making this film a reality, comrades!