u-he Zebra2 (199 €)
German software developer u-he makes some of my favorite synths, so choosing which to recommend was a difficult decision. Everything they make is excellent, but I’ve decided to go with Zebra2 for its versatility and popularity. It’s kind of a modular synth construction kit that stakes out its own paradigm. Clicking through Zebra’s generous collection of more than 500 timbres loads the custom-made synthesizers they spring from. That gives you a chance to check out the handiwork of some of the world’s finest synth programmers and sound designers.
When you build a synth from scratch, you’re presented with a grid containing three row of a dozen blocks. Clicking on any of these blocks summons a menu for selecting the modules you want in your synth. As you choose from among oscillators, filters with 23 modes, and other components, audio modules appear on the left and modulators on the right. You get four LFOs per voice as well as two global LFOs, and you arrange effects on a smaller grid.
As a bonus, Zebra2 comes with Zebralette, which is also available as a free download. You may be surprised at the power and sound of Zebralette, despite its single oscillator and its lack of a virtual analog filter. Grab it now, and check out u-he’s other great synths while you’re at it.
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