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Software Review: Cakewalk: Z3TA+ 2 Synthesizer

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The waveshaping sound of Z3TA+ (Zay’-ta Plus) has returned and is now more powerful than ever before. It comes with new filters, more flexible effects, modulatable waveshapers, more expressive control, and a totally redesigned interface. While the Z3TA+ has been a mainstay synthesizer for electronic artists for more than a decade, now Z3TA+ 2 wants to take that classic synth to new heights.

Z3TA+ 2 is a software synthesizer and can function as a stand-alone or a plug-in that integrates with the SONAR X1 DAW or other VST compatible host. It will give you the ability to use preset sounds, or create your own sounds to add to your musical creations. You should examine the Z3TA+ system requirements to confirm your system is ready to handle it.

Cakewalk Z3TA+ 2

A softsynth – sometimes known as virtual instrument, is a software plug-in that attaches to musical sequencers or to digital audio workstations (DAW). Softsynth’s have been taking the place of the traditional hardware synthesizer more and more over the last ten years and in fact many of these older hardware ones have been emulated exactly in software and many times with better sounding results.

So what is new with the Z3TA+ 2?

Redesigned interface has had a complete makeover. It now has a totally new graphic look and feel to it and will make sound design clear and much more comfortable to work with. It still retains that signature sound creation ability that has made it a favorite of producers and musicians from around the world. But now it has a much more spacious feel through its more logical enhancements, and quick access to needed controls.

New sounds are now included with Z3TA+ 2. Along with the 1093 classic patches, there are an additional 1000 new crafted sounds that include bubbling Arps, sequences, pads, leads, and basses. To make it easier to find this group of 2000+ included patches, the patch library has been organized into an all new patch browser that is sorted by library, bank, and patch.

Sound of a classic but much improved through a wealth of new sound design capabilities that includes 14 dual-staged filter types (4 new), 16 waveshapers (4 new), a new Modulation Matrix, highly flexible FX section, and 6 oscillators. You have drag-n-drop routing of all effects as well as a new flexible distortion module that includes the new Hypertube algorithm and can affect the filter busses, the effects section, or both. There is a new graphical low-frequency oscillation (LFO) that shows the resulting LFO shapes when morphing between 2 waves. The new graphical Arp provides a digital display of Arp patterns including 100 new patterns and 50 new ‘Gate’ patterns from dance MIDI samples.

Cakewalk Z3TA+ 2

Expressive playability capabilities have been raised through the new performance module, redesigned layout, and Adaptive Pitch Bend. The Performance Module gives quick, hands-on control of the analog-simulating Burst and Drift parameters as well as Portamento and in-depth X/Y pad control. New speed control for X/Y Pad adjusts the morphing speed of X/Y coordinates. The Adaptive Pitch Bend allows for the bending of notes within the key and mode performed and automatically learns the key based on performance.

Using the Z3TA+ 2 is as easy as it was installing it. I was using it in SONAR and once installed you just select it from the synth rack. Make sure your MIDI connections are all in place then it is just a matter of choosing which of the many sounds you want to select from. I plugged in an audio track and routed the Z3TA to the input for that track and popped out a couple loops (Groove Clips in SONAR) – all nice and straight forward.

Cakewalk Z3TA+ 2

If you want to modify some of the sounds, it is a matter making changes through the interface, getting the sound to where you would like it, and then you can save it for future use through the program save as feature. If you want to explore the new interface more, Cakewalk has some graphical walkthroughs or if you want to listen to some of the sounds that the Z3TA+ 2 is capable of there is a really in-depth demo of that as well.

Z3TA+ 2 is $99 for new customers, and $49 for upgrading from Z3TA+ from the Cakewalk website. If you are looking for a new synth that encompass’ both a bit of a classic style with state-of-the-art controls as well as many new features or if you already have Z3TA+ and are contemplating an upgrade, then Z3TA+ 2 is a must have product and I very highly recommend this product.

Cakewalk Z3TA+ 2

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.