Cakewalk’s Z3TA+ has long been a favorite virtual analog / waveshaping soft synth, so much so that it consistently hits top 10 lists of software classics, even as it’s been (in past, at least) a Windows-only offering. Years, later, though, it’s most definitely due for an update. Cakewalk has released a video of what’s in store this week, with a redesigned UI, new effects, deeper editing options (which, incidentally, had been my disappointment with the first generation), and improved sound quality.


  • New sound content, many from original Z3TA+ sound designers
  • New waveshaping functionality
  • New filter types (check out the “parallel/dual” routing visible in the video)
  • Enhanced effects routing, with drag-and-drop support
  • Graphical arpeggiator

Visible in the video, “time morph”, having something to do with wave morphing, is looking very interesting.

Correction: Cakewalk confirms this will remain Windows-only.

The soft synth market is a crowded one, but I like the straightforward look of the design here, and the emphasis on waveshaping and time modulation. CDM should get a chance to look at this very soon, so let us know if you have questions.

  • One of the guys from Cakewalk confirmed on the user forums that Z3TA+2 would also be Windows-only.

  • TweakingKnobs

    We have this in zebra2 since… a long time…

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, yes, I don't necessarily expect a whole lot of new ideas in synthesis at the moment — more different interfaces for doing the same things. But that, at least, counts for something. We're already spoiled for choice; we can be even more spoiled.

  • oh! it's been reduced to $19.99
    hope that's not a misprint.

  • Oh sweet, now some one's going to see how useful and easy it is to make dubstep basslines with.

    I feel like my generation of producers are just looking for the easiest ways to do things without actually learning about the fundamentals of digital music. They don't see a synthesizer as a tool to create arrays of dynamic sounds, but just something you load some patches into and start playing with. 

    I could be wrong though, I don't know. Maybe I'm just bitter over nothing. All I know is that synth looks really nice and I'm probably going to check it out.

  • @Dave No, I think you're right… presets are really good these days and it makes it really easy for people to choose something to match their intended style, rather than coming up with it from scratch. I used to think this was bad, but now I think it's just different tools for different purposes. The people who really want to dig down and learn what's going on are just going to be the ones making more experimental (and IMHO, interesting) sounds.

  • Peter Kirn

    You can definitely do things with waveshaping and morphing that don't sound like *every bassline on earth right now*.

    Keep the faith.

  • Dan Pat

    As a user of the first Z3ta, I've actually found its filter to be pretty inappropriate for the heavier kinds of dubstep wobbles. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I would actually be pleased to see presets that nail that sound just so that I can deconstruct them. The synth's strength is very obviously having lots of oscillators with lots of wave shaping abilities. If this update lets you modulate more of the osc shaping parameters, its going to be a hit for sure.

    Is there any news on upgrades for owners of the first version yet?

  • From the teaser video, it sounds like they're advertising it as getting into Lead territory judging from the TCM like sounds.

    Aside from the opening arpeggio.

    Looking forward to seeing what this brings.

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, I have to agree. This doesn't sound like what people are now generally calling "dubstep" synth sounds. We're talking some pretty conventional — and pretty useful, I might add — synth and lead territory. (Incidentally, that had originally been the goal of NI Massive, even if it's now been called the "dubstep" synth. I remember the first sales pitch I ever heard on it — cutting leads.)

    So I think people are too quick to associate genre here. It's a synth. It doesn't do everything some rival synths do, but then, you might qualify for a twenty-buck upgrade, and sometimes you don't want a synth that has the ability to warp space and time. There are a lot of different ways to design a synthesizer interface.

  • Looks pretty cool. If I was in the market, I might pick it up, if a Mac version is every planned (not likely, from Cakewalk).

    As far as interface goes, I agree that this is where current innovation comes in. Kinesis (for example) has a pretty cool modulation method, kind of like built-in automation.

  • Peter Kirn

    For what it's worth, Cakewalk has done Mac plug-ins — that's how I wound up (wrongly, for now) predicting they might here. Dimension, Rapture, etc.

  • Foosnark

    Z3ta+ was the first softsynth I purchased and I kept using it even after picking up bigger and newer things.  This seems like a good update!

  • Peter Kirn

    $49 is the upgrade price. Not sure on the full price. $19 was a promo on the old version…

  • Simon

    I just bought the synth for 20$…. can't believe I had passed on this before. Looking forward to the update, it's true that the filters aren't amazing, but the oscillators pack so much punch it's ridiculous.

  • Leslie

    "Cakewalk confirms this will remain Windows-only."
    Who cares, NI Reactor RAZOR is superior in every possible way anyway and IS OSX compatible…
    Sick and tired of this Windows vs OSX bullshit…
    Yawn, next…

  • Evelon

    Looks alot like ideas have been borrowed from Audjoo Helix VSTi.
    Who/what Audjoo got the idea from, I'm not sure.