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.