Even in 2012, one of the great wonders of computers is, they sure make some damned awesome synthesizers.

Z3TA+ 2, around for about a decade, is one of the soft synths you might fairly call a “classic.” (Not just in a press release, either – I’ll defend that moniker.) You’ve probably heard it used in productions. But unlike a sought-after piece of hardware, you can make it your own for a hundred bucks.

But what makes Z3TA+ 2 “news”? How about the combination, seen recently on Synthtopia, with the QuNeo controller? Here, all of those timbral parameters become touchable, aided by the colorful matrix of touch-sensitive controls Keith McMillen made available in this unique hardware. Check out the video at top; it may have you wanting to reach in and play the thing yourself.

And the one thing that kept this “classic” out of a lot of people’s hands has been, let’s be fair, the OS barrier. As the Mac has grown popular even with some ex-“PC people,” it’s just harder to talk about instruments that aren’t cross-platform.

So, the news today that Z3TA+ 2 is available on Mac means some attention can come from a lot of people right now saying, “zeta-what? or, uh, zuh-three-tee-uh-huh??!”

Z3TA+ 2 is now available on Mac – and stacks up nicely against other modern synths, especially at US$99. Go invent a replacement for dubstep (brostep?) with it, if you like.

Waveshaping synths are plentiful in number, and even the sound is something that a lot of instruments can accomplish. Z3TA+, now in its updated Z3TA+ 2 generation, sets itself apart with rich, balanced features and an easy-to-follow interface, so that you can get designing sounds right away – not just relying on presets – but delve deeper when you’re ready.

You need Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, and can run in any VST or AU host. (VST3 is even supported, Cubase fans.)

I hope to take a little synth vacation with the instrument soon, as I haven’t used it heavily since its first generation on the PC, but in the meantime, here are some specs:

  • Per-oscillator waveshaping
  • Morphing
  • Modulation matrix with effects routing – and access to waveshaping
  • Performance Mode with Adaptive Pitch Bend (that’s what makes the QuNeo vid so much fun)
  • New presets from some really great names in sound design: Nico Herz of Big Tone, Francesco Silvestri (FI Sound), Frank Genus (Pro Sounds), Chad Beckwith (FI Sound), and others
  • Visual envelope generation
  • Graphical LFOs
  • Graphical arps, gate patterns, more
  • Hypertube distortion
  • XY speed control
  • SRC sound engine
  • Ribbon controller
  • Scala microtuning support

The performance control mappings are to me especially exciting. That video in the top from Encanti – who also has presets for this synth available for sale – is mapped as follows:

Each square pad is sending MIDI CC data on X and Y axes using “Latch” mode. The CC messages are sent to different synth parameters within Z3ta+2. The MIDI notes and drum loop are both pre-recorded in this example

Poor Encanti had to use Boot Camp to run this on the Mac – no more.

$99/€79/£69, available for download. If you do have a “classic” version of this instrument, upgrades are US$49 / EUR 39 with VAT.