Zebra 2.0 is the deep, rich “everything, plus the kitchen sink”, “next-generation” synth. It was a wildly powerful subtractive + additive synth when it first came out, and version 2.0 adds FM capabilities, basic modeling, and wavetable, plus a mini-synth for learning and quickie programming called the Zebralette. All of this is packaged into a truly attractive and innovative UI from one of the masters of musical UI design. Now out of beta, the full-blown Mac/Windows instrument (AU, VST, Universal Binary for Mac) is just US$199.

The result is a powerful “modular synth without wires.”

Here’s CDM’s Adrian Anders’ take: “I tried out the demo during its beta period. All I have to say is wow. It sounds great, and at $199 it carries alot of bang for the buck when compared to other semi-modulars like Tera and Absynth.”

Or, as BT says: “the new Zebra s*** looks aaaaaamazing!”

Throw out that old synth?

Adrian points out that Urs Heckmann is doing something a bit unorthodox: featuring a gallery of vintage, synth hardware that’s supposedly been retired by Zebra2.

I’m hoping that this “retire-your-synths-for-Zebra” thing catches on, so that dumpster diving leads to finds like this.

What qualifies as a dinosaur? “Not all synthesizers qualify for the Dinosaur Crossgrade offer. As the name implies, Dinosaur stands for a piece of musical hardware that has a certain vibe to it just when you say its name. It’s easy to imagine that such a piece of synthesizer history must have cost thousands of dollars back in the seventies or eighties. It certainly has a bunch of knobs on the panel and it certainly has a 3-5 octave keyboard. Well, maybe it has no integrated keyboard but a weird bunch of spaghetti hanging in front of it. Or patch cords, as they called it.”

Okay, let’s be honest. This is all supposed to be a marketing gimmick, and sending in a photo of the right kind of synth will earn you a US$50 coupon off of Zebra. Theoretically, the whole thing could be a statement about how software synthesizers allow richer sonic capabilities via a more programmable interface at a far cheaper price than pricey, bulky hardware synths once did — and that would be true.

But what you get, of course, is pages of gear pr0n:

Dinosaur Crossgrade Gallery

Hey, we can be software synth aficionados and still love that old hardware, right? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pull up a beach chair and sip a Cosmo with an old E-MU.

Wow, that E-MU really is out of date. Everyone knows Cosmos are, like, totally over.

Software Ubersynth Shootout: It’s heating up a bit here, with Native’s just-announced Absynth4 and Massive, VirSyn’s TERA, Zebra2, and synths like Cakewalk’s Rapture. Each has a different take, but each seeks to redefine how synths work in software. Which synths would you want to see duke it out in this category?