Cakewalk has shared some of the details of their upcoming Z3TA+ 2 soft synth. Z3TA has long been a favorite on Windows as a per-oscillator waveshaping synth with extensive modulation, filter, and envelope features – it’s just one of those nice, balanced soft synths to which you can return. But as the years have passed, it’s also faced a lot of competition. Z3TA+ 2 could put it back on the map. Cakewalk today made public some of the new features.

I think it’s also important to note the design of the new UI. It’s nothing revolutionary, but what it is to me is really elegant and clean, visual without being overly distracting. I’d describe it as “refreshingly conservative” — stuff is kind of where you’d expect.

The highlights really boil down to:

More waveshaping, and waveshaping in the modulation matrix.
Graphical envelopes and LFOs – not just virtual knobs.
More pattern fun with a graphical arp.
Drag-and-drop effects, plus a new Hypertube distortion.
Better sound.
… and various other UI, layout, and control enhancements, too.

At US$99, that could make a new go-to synth for Windows users. We’ll be testing it soon; the final version becomes available August 4. Upgrades for existing users will run you $49.

Here’s what Cakewalk says about it:

  • Waveshaper is now an integral part of the Oscillator section with 4 new Waveshaping modes. All Waveshapers are now accessible via the modulation matrix opening up an enormous amount of new sound shaping possibilities
  • 4 new Filter modes bringing the total to 14 filter modes with separation control for tweaking resonance peaks on stacked filters. Both filters are readily accessible and visible simultaneously.
  • New Graphically controlled Envelopes providing visual representation of all envelopes, mouse controlled ADSR, and improved naming and interface arrangement.
  • New Graphical LFOs clearly show the resulting LFO shapes when morphing between 2 waves and the new AMOUNT fader quickly scales an LFO’s intensity.
  • New Graphical Arp provides visual display of Arp patterns, including 100 new patterns from Dance MIDI Samples. 50 new ‘Gate’ patterns, also from Dance MIDI Samples, instantly apply trance gates to synth pads and leads and Humanize and Swing controls increase total Arp flexibility and expression.
  • Effects enhancements include: Simple drag and drop routing of all effects, more control over routing of the distortion module allowing distortion modes to occur in the filter busses, the effects section, or both, as well as the new Hypertube distortion algorithm
  • Real-time Expression is enhanced with Adaptive Pitch Bend which allows for the bending of notes within the key and mode performed; automatically learns key based on performance.
  • All Waveshapers can be mapped to the modulation matrix opening up a whole new world of expression when mapped to velocity and bend controls.
  • XY Pad speed control allows users to adjust the morphing speed of XY coordinates.
  • Z3TA+’s legendary sound engine has been improved with a new ‘HIGHEST’ SRC algorithm providing smoother, more accurate interpolation of wavetables.

  • This synth, like I said before, looks great. I think I may have to actually get my hands on it. It seems to do everything I'd want a synth to do.

  • Peter, I'd like to re-blog this, with link and credit natch. But do you have a preference on how people reblog your material?  

    Looking forward to demos etc.


  • aje

    Z3TA+ is a fantastic synth, so I can't wait to try this new improved version. Thanks for sharing some more info on it 😀 

  • Jim Aikin

    I've read a rumor that they removed the ability to do alternate tunings. I emailed Steve Thomas to ask about this, but he hasn't replied. Even without this feature, the new version looks very good!

  • blindelf

    That 'Joystick Enable' button immediately made me think of dusting off my old Novation ReMote controller and setting it up as a dedicated keyboard for this synth.

  • Dan Pat

    A better filter and waveshaping destinations in the mod matrix might just be enough for me to cough up the cash for the upgrade. Those were definitely what I considered to be the synth's major downfalls. I'm looking forward to more audio demos!

  • Emery

    Anyone know if there's a chance it will be ported to Mac?  This update looks amazing! 

  • Siike92

    Cakewalk sure is on their game, between how awesome an improvement Sonar X1 is and this new Z3TA+.

  • j:l

    No doubt this will be an impressive update as far as timbre goes, but the truth is, all Cakewalk VSTi, including Z3TA, Dimension and Rapture, have always had a poor and incomplete implementation of the Scala SCL microtuning format, in that they were not designed to work with the KBM (Keyboard Mapping) files that specify the reference pitch and 1/1 of the intonation system, which in this case, basically means that every microtuning has it’s reference pitch and 1/1 mapped to C60 @ 262 Hz.

    Any softsynth that uses the SCL microtuning format and does not include the use of the KBM files as well is crippled for doing serious work with microtonal music, because it makes it excruciatingly difficult to do arbitrary full-keyboard microtuning, where musicians and composers may freely choose both the reference pitch and the MIDI note on which the 1/1 of the tuning will fall.

  • So is waveshaping finally officially back in style?  Could my Ensoniq VFX-1 soon be worth 1000’s?  Hope so. 

    Nice to have some competition for Massive too.  Too bad Roland doesn’t slap the their name on this  though… it would instantly make it sound better.  Even better if Roland would build this type of thing into hardware synth.   

  • tet

    @Emery I'm guessing no on the Mac port, although you could try wrapping the windows version with wacvst to run under wine emulation on osx.  I successfully did this with Zeta+ so hopefully this method also works with the new version.

  • The Dude

    Will this actually work with Ableton Live 8.2.2??

    All the previous versions were pretty but no grunt with DAW's that actually matter