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u-he: Zebralette

A free, easy-to-use spectral synth plugin.

By

9 November 2023

Initially starting as a one-man show, the u-he company has been designing synths and effects since 2001. It now consists of a team of dedicated developers, musicians, designers, and creators, whose many viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences provide it with a rich, dynamic landscape. u-he’s plugins have the depth to satisfy the most discerning musicians, composers, and producers. The company also boasts an active and passionate group of customers and fans. This community is a place where users can get inspired or learn something new. 

Zebralette is u-he’s version of a Trojan horse — a free synthesizer that introduces users to Zebra2’s daunting, yet fantastic oscillators. But even though it’s been stripped down to a single oscillator and a few core modulation options and effects the Zebralette is still more than a teaching tool. Zebralette features unison options (think ‘supersaw’, but as Zebralette is not limited to saw waves, it is referred to as ‘superwave’), 16 voice polyphony, and two different envelopes, that give users everything required to create complex sounds.

It resembles many other oscillators, in that you can choose a waveset from the included library, or use the waveform editor to draw your own shapes, but here is where things start to get interesting. The Waveform Editor manages up to 16 different waves and lets you rearrange, duplicate and morph between individual waves. Use one of modulation sources and the WaveWarp control to scan through the 16 waves and create unusual, dynamic sounds.

There are four drawing modes: GeoMorph, SpectroMorph, GeoBlend, SpectroBlend, each offering a different approach to creating and manipulating waveforms. Using the two Geo modes you draw the waveform shape using up to 32 points, while the Spectro modes let you create the harmonic spectrum over 128 columns. When using WaveWarp to scan through the waveset, Morph alters the waveform, whereas Blend blends (crossfades) between adjacent waves. To add further complexity, use one of the 24 Spectral Effects to warp, mangle or add subtle harmonics to your sound.

Features:
  • A single Zebra2 oscillator with a 16-slot waveset. Read more below
  • Oscillator waveform editing with geomorph, spectromorph, geoblend and spectroblend modes
  • 24 spectral effects including filter, sync, scatter, phase distortion and many more
  • Polyphonic (up to 16 voices), monophonic and legato modes
  • Stereo VCA with pan and volume modulation
  • VCA oscillator stacking with adjustable stereo width: single, dual, quad and eleven modes
  • ADSR envelope with fall/rise (sustain slope) and velocity controls
  • Modulation options including. Modwheel, velocity, pressure, breath, key follow, gate and more
  • 2 LFOs. One global, one per voice
  • A 32-stage MSEG (multi-stage envelope generator)
  • 3 built-in effects. Chorus/phaser, EQ, delay
  • MIDI learn / unlearn of hardware controls (CC)
  • Polyphonic aftertouch support
  • 300 factory presets
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