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Zebra2 User Guide

Draft Version 2.2   7 Feb 2010
Zebra2 User Guide Introduction to Zebra2
What is Zebra2?

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Zebra2

What is Zebra2?
Zebra2 is a virtual (VSTi version 2.2) synthesizer plugin. Among thousands of these plugins
available today, Zebra2 stands out for several reasons. It’s not an ordinary virtual synthesizer.

Zebra2 is one of the easiest-to-use yet most flexible synthesizers imaginable. The design con-
cept is based on the idea of providing a vast number of options and limitless capability while
hiding all the complexity that’s behind the scenes. Zebra2 presents you with as much complex-
ity as you need to get a particular sound, but not more. It’s designed so that interface elements
you need are always convenient, without less-used options cluttering the work area.

Zebra2 is a wireless modular synthesizer. You can choose from lots of different types of syn-
thesis and sound manipulation, and you can mix them up in yet unprecedent ways. For
instance, you can easily combine additive synthesis with phase distortion and frequency mod-
ulation. Or you can recreate the structure of your favourite analogue synthesizer. All this is
done in an intuitive drag-and-drop fashion, without cluttering the user interface with cables
and what not. Instead, Zebra2 always stays tidy, behaved and accessible.

In terms of sound and quality, Zebra2 hardly ever offers any compromise. All digital algo-
rithms are highly optimized for both speed and sound quality, but if design constraints ever
required a decision to be made to prefer one of these attributes, it was always made in favour
of sound quality. Nevertheless, for each CPU hungry functionality there’s always a lighter

If you’re experienced with synthesizers you’ll hardly need to look into this manual. The
majority of things are self explanatory, even though there might be a hidden gem here and
urs heckmann - www.u-he.com / www.zebrasynth.com

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Zebra2 User Guide Introduction to Zebra2
Document Overview

Document Overview
This User Guide is divided into five chapters.

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Zebra2 introduces Zebra2, summarizes its theory and philosophy
of operation, explains some details of the files and directories it uses, and introduces the main
elements of the GUI.

CHAPTER 2 Preset management explains how to select, load, save and navigate Zebra2 pre-

CHAPTER 3 Synthesis Workspace explains in detail how to create and modify sounds in

CHAPTER 4 Performance Mode describes the Zebra2 features that allow external control
devices to modify sounds while you’re playing them.

CHAPTER 5 Advanced Topics explains in detail

• Zebra2 WaveSequencing

• the Arpeggiator

• Multisegment Envelopes (MSEGs)

• Advanced modulation techniques

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Zebra2 User Guide Introduction to Zebra2
Zebra2 Prerequisites

Zebra2 Prerequisites
TABLE 1:Zebra2 requirements

Macintosh Windows
Architecture Universal Binaries compatible with  Intel or compatible processor
Apple PowerPC or Intel CPU
Operating System MacOS X 10.4.11 or newer Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7
CPU speed 1 GHZ minimum 1 GHz minimum
SSE2 support
Host software  Audio Units, RTAS or VSTi‐compatible  VSTi compatible audio software
application  audio software

Considering its extreme power, Zebra2’s CPU requirements are low and its playing respon-
siveness is high.

Download and install

You can download the latest version of Zebra2 from

as of this writing. Zebra2 works with MacOS X and versions of Windows from 2000.

The demo version is limited in that after 10 minutes of use, Zebra2 will have its own mind on
which notes to play...Otherwise, it's fully functional, but like every software can contain bugs -
use at your own risk!

Once you have decided you can’t live without Zebra2 in your VST direc-
tory, you can order the license online. Click on the “Buy Now!” button
which will take you to the Share-It page.

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Zebra2 User Guide Introduction to Zebra2
Getting Started with Zebra2

Getting Started with Zebra2

When you first instantiate Zebra2 in your VST host, you will see FIGURE 1. “Perform”
mode screen

FIGURE 1. “Perform” mode screen

Zebra2 has three primary operation

modes: Perform, Synthesis and Presets.
The mode is selected using the three but-
tons in the upper left hand part of the

Perform mode provides a huge number of options to control the details of Zebra2 operation
while playing. You can assign any MIDI control signal, playing velocity, aftertouch, etc. to
Zebra2 Synthesis for manipulation in real time.

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Zebra2 User Guide Introduction to Zebra2
Getting Started with Zebra2

Synthesis mode is where the patch is created. Zebra2 has an efficient GUI in which only the
modules you specifically create get loaded into the “racks” in the upper left and right subpan-

FIGURE 2. Zebra2 GUI (Synthesis Mode)

The Presets mode allows you to choose, organize and browse all the factory, user-created and
imported presets.

In this view, the GUI is divided into 4 main areas or subpanels. The top left subpanel shows
the main Preset directory structure, and the top right subpanel shows the individual presets.
Clicking the left and right arrows surrounding the display strip selects the next or prevous Pre-
set in the current list.

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Zebra2 User Guide Preset management
Getting Started with Zebra2

CHAPTER 2 Preset management

Clicking the preset tab in the top left corner activates Zebra2’s Preset mode.

FIGURE 3. Zebra2 in Presets mode

The Presets window is laid out in two columns on each side of the central synth construction
grid. The left column shows the folder structure and the right column shows the presets in the
selected folder.

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Preset folder locations

To create your own Preset group you need to create folders using the Finder (Mac) or Win-
dows Explorer (Windows).

Preset folder locations

This tree is also used to store presets for the wavetables and MSEGs (Multi-segment Envelope


There are two different preset locations:

• Global

• User

In the current version of Zebra2 there is a folder named “Zebra2.data” located in the same
folder as the zebra2.dll file. Presets are located in Zebra2.data/Presets/

Loading Presets
• Directly loading a preset: In the preset pane click on a preset name to load it.

• To initialize Zebra2 to minimal basic setting with only one activate Oscillator and no
effects, choose the “initialize” preset. Click on the “Local” collection in the left pane of
the Preset GUI, and scroll to the bottom of the right pane.

Alternatively you can click the big value display at the top to get a pop up list of all pre-
sets in the current directory. This way you can quickly load presets without going to the
presets tab.

• Right clicking the big value display shows the preset format.

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Saving presets

• Step through: Use the arrows to the left and right of the display to skip to the next/previ-
ous preset of the currently selected folder. Once you reached the last preset of a folder
Zebra2 will automatically load the first preset of the following folder. This way you can
quickly audition all of the available presets.

Saving presets
Presets are saved in the currently selected folder. Clicking save will open a dialog box asking
the name you would like to use for the currently audible preset. If there is a preset by the same
name in the current folder you have the options to either

• backup the old preset and save the new one

• don’t save the preset, so you can go back into the preset pane and navigate to a different

• overwrite that preset file.

Preset types
Right-clicking on the Status Bar will reveal the Preset Mode. At present this is either “2.3” or
“2.5 (native)”.

By default presets are stored in the native preset format according to the type of plugin. That
means, the VST version will save .fxp while the Audio Unit saves .aupreset.

There’s also a proprietary preset format that all newer u-he plugins understand: .h2p - you can
turn this on for preset storage below the Grid on the preset page.

Presets saved in .h2p-format are text editable. That means you can open them in a text editor
and have all the settings written down like in a configuration file. If you choose “.h2p
extended” you get a lot of extra information in the text that clearly shows which line works for
which purpose.

Why another preset format? - Simple: First of all, it makes patches interchangable between
VST on Windows and Audio Units. Then, all new u-he plugins consist of a Virtual Machine

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Zebra2 User Guide Preset management
Preset types

that enables scripting inside of presets. It’s not yet really visible, but the possibilities are vast!
- You’ll see it when the documentation and examples are set up, in a hopefully not-too-distant

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Preset types

CHAPTER 3 Synthesis Workspace

This is where the fun of Zebra2 sound design starts. Enter the Synthesis mode by clicking the
Synthesis button in the upper left corner of the GUI.

FIGURE 4. Zebra2 Synthesis Panel.

The preceding graphic shows the synthesis workarea for a somewhat complex patch. In terms
of the GUI schematic shown in FIGURE 5. Zebra2 GUI sections, the work area is divided
into several rectangular areas or Subpanels.

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Preset types

In Preset Mode, the upper left subpanel shows the main Preset directory structure, and the
upper right subpanel shows the individual presets. In Synthesis Mode, the Upper Left block
contains oscillators and filters, the Upper Middle Subpanel contains routing, mixing and mod-
ulation controls, and the Upper Right Subpanel contains envelope generators and LFOs (Low
Frequency Oscillators.

FIGURE 5. Zebra2 GUI sections

Mode Select Main Info Display Appearance

Upper Panel

Upper Left Subpanel Upper Middle Subpanel Upper Right Subpanel

Advanced Feature Tab Bar
Lower Panel

Lower Left  Subpanel Lower Middle Subpanel Lower Right Subpanel

A Zebra2 patch may consist of up to four oscillators, two noise sources, four VCFs, four FM
Oscillators, two Comb devices, Shapers, Mixers and Ring Modulators. All sound generation
or sound modification devices are collectively referred to as “Audio Modules.”

Figure 1 shows a Preset in which the four

X-Y controllers have been assigned to
different parameters of the instrument.
Note that the name of the currently
selected preset is shown in the Main Info Display.

The Appearance controls in the upper left area allow you to adjust the size of the GUI for dif-
ferent configurations. You may wish to use a smaller magnification on a laptop, and a larger
one when using a large display.

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Synthesis Patch Grid

Synthesis Patch Grid

The Patch Grid consists of an array of slots which can contain Audio Modules.

FIGURE 6. Patch Grid and Lane Mixer

There are four vertical “Lanes” in the Patch

Grid (Figure 6). Clicking on an empty Slot in a
Lane displays a popup menu with the list of
available Audio Modules. (See graphic on the

Each Lane can contain an independent synthe-

sis algorithm, but inputs to slots can be derived
from modules on other Lanes. The regular sig-
nal flow on each Lane is from top to bottom.
This can be changed by choosing a different
inputs for a module. You can always see the
signal flow by following the thin white line.

Below the Patch Grid is the Lane Mixer. From

top to bottom are the following controls:

•Main/Bus assignors You can assign the out-

put of each Lane to either the Main output or
either of Bus1 or Bus2.

•Mute button Clicking the red square mutes

the output of the corresponding Lane. This is
extremely useful when designing complex Patches to isolate the contribution of each
part of the synthesis.

• Pan position and modulation The Pan dial sets the pan position, and the Mod dial
allows you to modulate it with the input selected from the control directly beneath.

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Synthesis Patch Grid

Modulation Basics Modulation 

Throughout Zebra2 you will see dials labeled either “Mod” or “...”. These
are controls to apply modulation to an adjacent function. In the case of the
dials labeled “...”, clicking on those dials will show a popup menu of all
the possible modulation sources. (See list to right; there are a few more
sources which are clipped at the bottom of the graphic.)

Modulation assignment and routing is discussed throughout this chapter

and in the chapter titled Advanced Topics.

Operations on modules in the Patch Grid

• Click on an empty slot to choose a module from the context menu

(see chart on next page)

• Double click on a module to turn it on or off.

• Right-click a module to choose its input from the context menu

(see example in above graphic)..

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Synthesis Modules

This lets you fundamentally change the signal flow. By choosing Audio Module 
“input 1″ for a module that is currently active on channel 2 the Catalog
sound that was previously generated on channel 2 is no longer
audible. See preset “Signal flow ex 1″.

• Drag modules to rearrange their order. If you drag to an empty slot,

the module will simply reside on that slot. When dragged on a cur-
rently active slot the module’s position is exchanged.

Synthesis Modules
Clicking on an empty slot in the patch grid will show a popup menu
(right) which allows you to choose the module for that slot.

Once a particular module (e.g. OSC1) has been assigned to a slot, that
specific module will not appear when you click on a different empty slot.

Elementary Oscillators (OSC1-OSC4)

Zebra’s oscillators are pretty powerful beasts. As these introduce new
forms of synthesis it is a good idea to read this section even if you under-
stand how a basic oscillator works.

Oscillator waveform types

If you’re familiar with other software synths you probably wonder where
the waveform selector is. This is done in a somewhat unusual way in

By default, the waveform for each oscillator is a simple down-saw, as

show in Figure 7:

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FIGURE 7. Default OSC waveform

Although this waveform appears simple, it does have a little ringing and overshoot when it
gets used in the VST host:

FIGURE 8. Default saw waveform as displayed in Ableton Live

The actual spectrum which results from this waveform is the following (Note played was C2):

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FIGURE 9. Spectrum created from Figure 8

This waveform is a very good base to build patches on since it has a lot of harmonics up to
high frequencies. However, you can use an infinite number of other waveforms, using tech-
niques that are described in CHAPTER 5 Advanced Topics. In summary, you can:

• create a waveform by drawing it or its harmonic structure

• import, save and load waveforms

• create a waveform that is represented by a spectral response that you can draw

• create a family of up to 16 waveforms that can be dynamically morphed between (wave


Oscillator module
The oscillator module contains control over the tuning, mix, effects and phase of the oscillator.
The module is partly collapsable to save space in the rack.

Figure 10 shows three oscillators with their Mix, effects (FX) and Phase tabs selected. When
collapsed (click the “-” to the right of the Phase tab) the controls for mix, effects and phase are
not accessible. Clicking on any of those tabs in the module will expand the module again to
show them.

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FIGURE 10. Oscillator tabs





Oscillator presets
In Zebra2 it is possible to create presets for the oscillators themselves to speed up the process
of creating sounds. Click the box “default” in the oscillator module to bring up a file selector
and choose the preset. This feature is advanced and is discussed further in the Chapter
“Advanced Usage.”

Zebra 2.5 includes a number of wavetable presets and more will be available in the future on
the Zebra2 download page.
Please be aware that if you have set up modulations (like WaveWarp modulated by an LFO),
the modulation source and the modulation amount will be saved but the settings of the modu-
lation source will not be saved with the oscillator preset. That’s why recalling a preset may not
sound 100% the way it was, when it was saved.

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To save your own oscillator setup ctrl-click or right-click the box “default” to bring up the
Zebra2 save dialog.

FIGURE 11. Oscillator waveform menu

The module presets are located in these folders:


MacHD/Library/Application Support/u-he/Zebra2/Modules/Oscillator/
~/Library/Application Support/u-he/Zebra2/Modules/Oscillator/


[to be added]


Each oscillator can be tuned in a range of -48 to +48 semitones, in steps of 1 Cent. So, if the
tune display reads “7.24″, the oscillator is tuned 7 semitones up, plus 24 Cents.

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Tune has a direct modulation source. Without needing to go through the Modulation Matrix,
you can directly set a modulator. The tune modulation controls the oscillator’s tuning modula-
tion in a range of -48 to +48 semitones.

Vibrato assigns LFO1 to modulate tuning by +/- 1 semitone.

Keyscale determines how the comb filters pitch reacts to the note played. At 100 it is standard
semitone per note.


This oscillator tab controls the output of the sound.

The Volume knob controls the output volume of each oscillator.

In addition to the volume there is a Volume modulator ready to use, set the modulator source
from the mod pop-up menu and the modulation value with the mod knob.

Choose the Unison mode from the pop-up menu, the options are single, dual and quad. The
width knob determines the position in the stereo panorama.

Set the pan with the Pan knob. This can be modulated by choosing a modulator from the pop-
up menu and setting the modulation amount on the knob.

OSCillator Phase Section

The Phase tab allows you to add an inverted version of the current waveform to the signal.
Turn up the phase knob to determine the phase of the inverted wave. For instance, a sawtooth
waveform with an added inverted sawtooth will result in a pulse waveform.

OSCillator FX Section

The FX section is another highlight of Zebra2s oscillators! The FX section is revealed by

clicking the button between Mix and Phase.

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FIGURE 12. OSCillator FX setting Oscillator FX 


You can apply up to 2 FX (FX1 and FX2) based on one of 17 effects algo-
rithms to the generated waveform. There are vast possibilities ranging
from crude to very subtle depending not only on the effect but also the

Resolution and Normalize parameters

These effects are calculated right into the waveform. For this reason the
resolution (see the “more OSC” submenus) parameter is essential for the
speed and precision of the result. Higher resolution allows for faster
effects modulation. Values of 7-8 should be sufficient for most uses.
In addition to these effects there is a normalize parameter. This works
almost like a third effect. Normalize analyzes the level of the generated
waveform (not the peak level but the RMS). At 100% normalize will out-
put at 0dB. This is very desirable for some patches to make up for wide
amplitudes. However, this can also lead to very loud output in the higher
frequencies. Fortunately this is controllable.

Oscillator FX options

• Fundamental: Adjusts the fundamental sine wave of the sound at

pitch played. Ranges from -200% (inverted) to +200% (boost)

• Odd for Even: Shifts the volume of even harmonics towards

uneven harmonics for positive values resulting in more pulse like
waveforms, because a pulse wave only contains uneven harmonics.
For negative values the even harmonics become more apparent
resulting in a softer more nasal sounds.

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• Brilliance: Boosts or reduces the higher harmonics resulting in Oscillator FX 

brighter or darker sounds. options

• Filter: Behaves like a low pass filter for negative values and a high
pass filter for positive values. This filter works on the spectral level
and filters at more than 100dB per oactave. It doesn’t feature a res-
onance parameter but still sounds very wet.

• Bandworks: This is a spectral bandpass filter for positive values

and a bandreject filter (notch) for negative values.

• Registerizer: Boosts the harmonics that are octaves to the funda-

mental. This produces an organ-like character

• Scrambler: This effect is similar to the selfmodulating oscillators

of FM-synthesizers: the phase of the waveform is being modulated
by itself. This creates sounds with lots of harmonics that can really
scream. For warmer sound you woud use it without modulating it.
If you like dirty sounds, this is where you get them.

• Turbulence: Turbulence shuffles the hamronics randomly. This

effect is highly dependable on the resolution parameter. It can
sound very lively but also very sharp.

• Expander: Expands or contracts the spectrum. This may sound

similar to brilliance if the harmonics are distributed evenly. But try
the expander on a spectrum like this:

• Symmetry: Squeezes the waveform towards the beginning or the

end of the waveform. Sounds like pulse width modulation and with
a square wave that’s exactly what it is.

Phase Xfer, Phase Root and Trajector: In these modes a sine wave is
influenced by the waveform.

• Phase Xfer creates a sine wave and adds the waveform that is
being ringmodulated by another sine wave to the phase.

• Phase Root multiplase the phase of the sine wave with the wave-

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• Trajector adds the waveform to the phase of the sine wave. Oscillator FX 
All of these can sound very subtle or very noticable. Because of mecha-
nism of each one of them these can sound like the phase distortion synthe-
sizers from the 80s.

• Ripples: Multiplies the waveform with a sine wave consisting of a

variable amount of vibrations. Results in sort of resonant sounds.

• Formanzilla: Multiplies the spectrum of the waveform with a sine

wave consisting of a variable amount of vibrations. Results in nasal

• Sync Mojo: Simulates hardsync right in the waveform by contract-

ing the time axis and repeatadly writing the waveform back into the
wave memory.

• Fractalz: Similar to Sync Mojo contracts the waveform and repeats

it, however the repetitions are included in the following waveforms
resulting in a fractal waveform containing even more harmonics
than hardsync.

The remaining options (Exophase, Scale, Scatter, ChopLift and Hyper-

Comb) are in newer versions of Zebra2 and documentation will follow

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Noise (Noise1-Noise2) Audio Module 


There are 4 different kinds of noise that you can choose from:

• White Noise: Random signal with a flat power spectral density.

• Pink Noise: Noise with the volume of the higher frequencies grad-
ually reduced by 3db/octave.

• Digital Noise

• Crackles

The noise modules can be used either mono or stereo. The channelization
is set using a button above the Pan knob.

In stereo mode Width controls the spread of the two channels. Use Pan to
set the stereo position of the modules output and volume to adjust its
level. Both pan and volume can be modulated directly from within the
module using the usual knob/popup menu (see “Knobs” in “User Inter-

There are two filters built into the noise module. Filter 1 is a lowpass and
Filter 2 a highpass. Both filters have direct modulators using the usual
knob/popup menu(see “Knobs” in “User Interface”).

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Voltage Controlled Filters (VCF1-VCF4) Audio Module 


Zebra’s Filters work straightforward like analogue filters, based on Cut-

off, Resonance and Overdrive parameters. However, some are special.
There are 4 filters available for each voice, as selected in the Grid.

• Cutoff The Cutoff parameter determines the edge frequency at

which the filter operates. Like all frequency parameters in Zebra,
this is determined in Semitones, which in a musical sense corre-
spond to MIDI Note Numbers (one octave below that, actually). -
hence, if the Cutoff is set to 81.00, the Cutoff frequency is that of a
middle A, which is 440Hz. - This can be used to tune the filters in a
musical sense, rather than prompting you with scientific or physi-
cal means.

• Resonance The resonance determines the internal feedback of the

filter, which is the emphasis the filter adds to its cutoff frequency.
In most cases (depending on filter type), the resonance can be set to
values that invoke self oscillation of the filter. It is used as q-factor
for certain filter types (i.e. peaking) to determine a frequency range
around the cutoff/center frequency.

• Drive (not all types) Commonly, the drive parameter of a filter adds
some smut and distortion to the sound, usually making it fatter.
Zebra’s filters however use the overdrive more in a flavourish way,
which leads to more musical qualities than just plain thickening.
The actual effect is explained with the filter types below.

• Modulations Up to two modulation sources can be routed directly

to the filter cutoff. In filter types like “LP Formant”, the second
modulation source targets one of the other parameters.

• KeyFollow This parameter adds the actual note played by the voice
to its filter frequency, meaning the higher the note, the higher the
cutoff frequency. - If key follow is set to 100%, cutoff is 12 and

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resonance cause self oscillation, you can perfectly play the filter VCF Filter Types
with your keyboard, in correct tune!

• Gain (not all types) The gain parameter in vcf3 and vcf4 is used on
some filter types (i.e. shelving, peaking) to specify an amount of
boost ot cut for a certain frequency range, as determined by cutoff
and q.

Filter Types
The current version of Zebra2 offers 20 different types of filters.

• LP Xcite This is a 24dB lowpass filter with a saturation stage that

actually acts like a frequency dependent exciter. On high drive val-
ues, the saturation stage adds a lot of even and odd harmonics to
the signal, which results in a boost of high frequencies, and a very
rich sound.

• LP allround This is a very cpu friendly 24dB lowpass filter, much

like one can find in other virtual synthesizers. The drive parameter
has only little effect here, but is useful to colour the sound.

• LP midDrive The midDrive variant mainly boosts midband fre-

quencies with the drive parameter, which is good for strong lead
sounds that ought to jump out of the mix.

• LP oldDrive The oldDrive filter is a lowpass that mainly adds even

harmonics to the spectrum, which gives it a vintage sound, that
often can be cheesy, like old tape recordings.

• LP Formant This filter is very special. It combines a non-resonant

12dB lowpass filter with a vocoder-like resonant formant stage.
Here, the resonance parameter controls the depth of the formant
stage, while the Drive parameter lets you morph between 5 vocal
formants: A-E-I-O-U - This filter is suited for “singing” lead
sounds and vintage vocoder like pads.

• LP 12dB This is a 12dB resonant version of the Lowpass Allround,

but without the internal overdrive stage.

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• LP 6dB This is a very simple lowpass filter with a very flat rolloff. VCF Filter Types
It is non-resonant, hence the resonance knob shows no value.

• BP rezBand This is a resonant 12dB bandpass filter.

• BP Qband This is a resonant bandpass filter with a slightly differ-

ent sound than the previous bandpass.

• HP 24dB This is a resonant 24 dB highpass filter.

• HP 12dB This is a 12dB version of the highpass filter.

• BR Notch This is a 24dB band reject notch filter type

• EQ Peaking The peaking filter uses the res / q parameter to deter-

mine the steepness of the frequency peak at the cutoff. It ranges
from a very narrow peak (q = 0.00) to a range of 4 octaves (q =
100.00). The gain parameter ranges from -20dB (gain = 0.00) to
+24dB (gain = 100.00). If gain is set to 50.00, this filter has little to
no effect.

• EQ LoShelf / HiShelf The shelving filter types can be used to

emphasize or cut parts of the spectrum, much like you’re used to
from equalizers.

Like the peaking filter, the gain parameter is used to determine the
boost or cut of the high / low frequency range, while the resonance
filter is used to influence the slope or steepness of the frequency

• AP Phaser4 / AP Phaser8 The 2 phasing filters utilize 4 or 8

stages of allpass filters respectively to create the typical sonic expe-
rience of phasing effects. Cutoff and resonance are typically used
to determine the center frequency of the phasing effect, and their

For Phaser8, the gain parameter is used to detune the frequencies of

the 8 stages which allows for interesting flavours of phasing.

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FM Oscillators (FMO1-FMO4) Audio Module 

FIGURE 13. FM Oscillator GUI

Zebra2 features 4 frequency modulation oscillators (FMO). The FMOs

are very basic oscillators generating simple sine waves. But unlike the
other oscillators they can be modulated at audio rate in different ways (see
“Modes” below).
FMOs can operate in mono or stereo, but not quad. Choose this by click-
ing on the mono button left of the tune knob (outlined in yellow in
Figure 13, “FM Oscillator GUI,”


Use the Tune knob to adjust the fundamental of the FMOs. The range for
the tune is -48 to +48 semitones. Use the tune modulation to modulate this
fundamental. Vibrato assigns LFO1 to modulate tuning by +/- 1 semitone.
Keyscale determines how the comb filters pitch reacts to the note played.
At 100 it is the standard semitone per note.
Some of the FMO’s Modes replace the signal on their channel, just like
filters do. Some add to the channel, like oscillators do.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

FMO Modes Audio Module 

FIGURE 14. FMO Popup

• FM by Input Takes the input signal to frequency modulate (FM)

its sine wave. This is much like a carrier in FM synthesis, but the
modulating signal can be anything, as determined by the modular
structure in the Synthesis Grid.

• FM by self (+) Takes its own output to frequency modulate its sine
wave. This is much like FM feedback. At modulation depths >50%
this will start to generate plenty of aliasing until only white noise is
produced (100%). Because this mode is kinda “self contained”, it
will add to the channel rather than replace it.

• RM Input This mode ringmodulates the sine wave produced by the

FMO with the signal previously created on the channel the FMO
resides at the moment.

[ xxx is this correct?]

• FM Filtered The FilteredFM lowpasses the input signal instead of

attenuating it by depth. In this case the FM knob is just the cutoff of
a lowpass filter while the actual FM Depth is 100%. The result is a
smoother sounding FM that automatically scales down for high fre-
quencies, thus produces less artifacts like aliasing, but it can also
not be as brilliant as normal FM. It’s better suited for the subtle

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

Comb Filter/Oscillators (Comb1-Comb2) Audio Module 


The comb devices are basically very short delays that operate at audio
rate, i.e. only a couple of samples or milliseconds. If you just feed a short
noise/impulse into such a delay and add some feedback you will get a
tone much like an oscillator.

Zebra2’s comb devices offer several modes. Up to 4 such short delays

work together, in various circuits and always stereo. You can build enve-
lope driven flangers, plucked strings, flutes, percussions, bowed strings,
metallic sounds, weird sounds, strange stuff and generally a whole range
of sounds not possible in a typical synthesizer.

Comb Device Modes

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

Underneath the title (Comb1 - Comb2) is a popup which sets the Comb Audio Module 
device mode. Catalog

• Comb is a simple stereo delay, tuned to the played note. The Tone
and Flavour parameters have no effect in this mode.

• Split Comb In this mode 2 delays feed into each other. The input is
summed. The tone parameter controls the legnth ratios of the
delays. The flavour parameter inserts xxx the input signal directly
into the second delay. Outputs of each delay are left and right.

• Split Dual In this mode 2 stereo delays feed into each other like
with the split comb. The difference is, that in this case there is true
stereo operation.

• Diff Comb works just like the split dual mode but in this mode the
second delay is an allpass filter. This resulst in weird dissonant
sounds. The flavour parameter controls the feedback of the allpass
filter. The dissonant frequencies can dominate the fundamental fre-
quency, thus you may have to tune this one accordingly.

• Dissonant This mode creates a 4 x 4 Feedback Delay Network.

This will always sound metallic and dissonant. Tone and flavour
determine the ratios of each delay line.

It is inpossible to create any “nomal” sounds in this mode.

• Cluster & Blown (These are new modes in Zebra 2.5 and their
functions will be described in an update to this document.)


The parameters in the first roware pretty much the same as the ones found
in the other oscillators.

• Tune ranges from -48 to +48 semitones, modulateable via the mod-
ulation knob next to it.

• Detune changes the microtuning of the stereo signal.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

• Vibrato assigns LFO1 to modulate tuning by +/- 1 semitone. Audio Module 

• Keyscale determines how the comb filters pitch reacts to the note
played. At 100 it is standard semitone per note.


• Feedback controls the delay feedback. A Comb filter is a delay so

this controls the amount of filtering.

• The Damp parameter is a lowpass filter xxx db/octave

• The Tone parameters function changes from mode to mode, see

below for details. Normally this determines the ratio of several cas-
caded delays.

Distort: Add later.


PreFill feeds white noise into the comb. This parameter is useful when
synthesizing plucked strings.

Input controls the amount of signal from the channel i.e. noise, osc, etc.
into the comb.

The Flavour parameter like the tone parameter depends on the mode of
the comb, see below for details. Typically this controls injection of the
channels signal somewhere in between several comb stages/cascaded


The Dry knob sets the level of the passed through signal of the channel as
it was before going into the comb.

Volume sets the volume of the combs output, the dry signal is not
affected. Pan controls the panning of the signal. In split dual mode, width
pans the two signals to the left and right channel.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

Shapers Audio Module 

The shapers are basically distortion units, but of course, as you would
expect from u-he software with a little twist.

The shapers are available in both the Synthesis grid and the Effects Grid.

There are four different kinds of distortion for you to choose from using
the pop-up menu on the left where it says Shape in the screenshot. (Not
Shaper1, that is the name of the module.)

Shaper modes

• Shape This type of distortion will add subtle overtones to the sig-

• T-Drive This mode has a deeper characterisitc. Of course you can

balance this by turning up the HiOut

• Crush works like a bit-reduction distortion.

Wedge is the mode that emphasizes the lower frequencies more than the
other modes. Use this if you need to get that low-end distortion sound.

The shapers have 5 controls two of which are modulateable.

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Synthesis Modules

• The Depth parameter controls the amount of distortion. This can be Audio Module 
modulating by selecting a modulation source from the popup-menu Catalog
of the knob next to the depth knob.

• Edge will control the type of overtones created, the higher you set
this parameter the higher the resulting overtones will sound.

• Input and Output control the amount of signal going into the dis-
tortion and the level of the signal after applying the distortion.

• HiOut is a special feature not found in regular distortion devices. It

amplifies the level of the resulting overtones creating a very rich

Mixers (Mix1 - Mix4)

FIGURE 15. Mixer module

The Mixers let you combine inputs on the Patch Grid. Right click on the
slot in the Patch grid to select the Mixer module’s inputs.

Ring Modulators (Ring1 - Ring2)

Right-clicking on a ring modulator in the grid opens a popup menu to set
the ring modulator’s input and side-chain input. Instead of adding these
two signals the ring modulator nultiplies the signals, this creates the usual
ring modulated sound. The ring modulator therefore does not have an

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

Cross-Modulation Filters (XMF1 - XMF2) Audio Module 

FIGURE 16. XMF module

FIGURE 17. XMF Mode Popup in XMF module

This processor was first introduced in Zebra V2.1 - it’s an extremely pow-
erful filter module that does a lot of analogue stuff, including input depen-
dent distortion and FilterFM. Plus, it’s self-oscillating even without any
input signal!

Filter Modes

The basic mode of the filter is set with the first popup chooser right below
the “XMF” label. There are 5 modes available: LP4 (Lowpass 4 pole),
BP4, HP2, BP2 and BR2

XMF Modes

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Synthesis Modules

• XMF Audio Module 
• Analogue

• Biased

• Eco Folded

As it’s a stereo filter, it basically processes both stereo sides indepen-

dently. Fortunately these two filters can be detuned without hitting the cpu
much more, so there’s now a modulatable Offset control that detunes left
vs. right in semitones. That makes for nice panning effects.

Cutoff and Resonance controls and corresponding modulators are avail-

able as in many other filter types.
FilterFM lets one modulate the Cutoff frequency by a side chained audio
signal. It takes any signal from any module that sits before it in the Grid,
but typical usage would be routing an oscillator into the XMF’s side
The Click parameter lets one inject a short impulse into the filter when a
note is pressed. This makes for harder attacks and for faster build-up
when using self oscillation.
To control the amount of distortion, the first way to go is always to adjust
the level of the audio that goes into the filter. Don’t be afraid to set oscil-
lator volumes to less than 10%. This makes for warm & clean sounds. If
you need some coloration, move up the Bias parameter which controls the
asymmetry of the distortion and adds more even harmonics. But if you
need it phat, simply use the Overload knob - just make sure you turn
down your speaker’s volume before you do that!

(The other parameters on this filter need to be documented as well)

(SB1 - SB2)
Documentation to be added.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Global/Effects settings

Global/Effects settings
The Global/FX section sets, you guessed it, the global parameters for the patch.

Activate by clicking the leftmost tab on the lower tab strip.

FIGURE 18. Lower left subpanel: Global/FX section

Global/FX Controls

• Voices The Voices pop-up menu sets the approximate amount of voices Zebra2 will
play. The options are few, medium and many.

This parameter doesn’t use exact numbers because of Zebra2’s intelligent voice alloca-
tion. Sometimes it may be useful in a section that requires 4 notes to have one note hang
over a bit. But you can generally control the amount of CPU Zebra2 uses with this menu

• Mode popup menu sets the play mode.

1. Poly - Zebra2 will play chords up to the amount of voices set by the voice
2. Retrigger - will start the envelopes with every new note
3. Legato - will continue the envelopes as long as the notes are played legato
4. Arpeggiator - turns on the arpeggiator mode. The Arpeggiator is discussed in
detail in CHAPTER 5 Advanced Topics.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Global/Effects settings

• Use the pop-up menus under PitchBend to set the range of the pitch bend. This can be
set differently for Pitchbend up and down. So you could pitchbend 7 steps upwards but
only 2 steps downwards.

• You can toggle the attack behaviour with the Attack Smoothing switch. With attack
smoothing enabled some sounds may not sound as aggressive as desired, in this case try
switching it off.

• Zebra2’s Portamento settings are divided into two parameters. The portamento that
determines the length of the portamento and the range. Currently Zebra2 is one of the
few synth (if not the only one at the moment) that will allow you to set the portamento
range. This is very useful for adding little glides into the notes that don’t cover the
whole range between two intervals played.

• Use the Tune pop-up menu to choose the basic transposition and register of Zebra2 and
the fine tune to fine tune 50 cent up or down.

• Zebra2 allows you to use Tuning Tables. Turn on the use of tuning tables by clicking on
the on/off switch above the Voice Tuning Table. Click in the box “default scale” above
the the voice tuning table to open up a browser and select the desired tuning.

Currently Zebra does not ship with tuning files, but as soon as the user area is up there
will be a place to exchange tuning files as well.

• The Swing parameter applies to anything that is based on a note value. Set the desired
note length from the pop-up menu and use the knob to set the swing percentage. This
parameter affects the LFOs, the multistage envelope generators (MSEG) and the groove
of the arpeggiator.

Effects Grid

There are several effects available in Zebra2 to apply to the sound after it is generated in the
synthesis grid. These effects have their own modular playground: the effects grid.

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Global/Effects settings

FIGURE 19. Effects Grid with modules popup

These are the effects available:

• 2 ModFX, these can be a chorus, a flanger or a phorus

• 2 Delays

• 1 Reverb

• 2 Waveshapers

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Global/Effects settings

• 1 Ringmodulator Global Effects 
Grid Catalog
• 2 Compressors

• 2 four-banded parameteric equalizers

These modules are discussed further down in this chapter. The wave-
shapers and the ringmodulator are the same as the ones discussed in the
chapter “Audio modules”.

The effects grid

FIGURE 20. Effects Grid

The effects grid basically works like the synthesis grid:

• Click on an empty slot to add a new module.

• Doubleclick to switch a module on/off.

• Right-click to select the modules input or remove it from the grid.

The effects mixer consists of a stereo master channel and two stereo bus
channels. The amount of signal going into one of the busses is controlled
by the send knob while the amount of signal going into the final output is
controlled by the return knob. This has a couple of advantages:

• you can set up an effects channel and either route all of the gener-
ated sound through the effects or

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Zebra2 User Guide Synthesis Workspace
Global/Effects settings

• you can set up one of the channels of the synthesis grid to output Global Effects 
directly to a bus and apply effects to that channel only. Grid Catalog

Of course you can also have a combination of the two options, sending
one channel directly into a bus and also send the master channel to that

As the sends can be modulated you can dynamically alter the amount of
affected signal over the duration of the sound. This gives you great flexi-
bility and is one of the many reasons that make Zebra2 such a powerful
tool for a broad range of sounds.

When using effects on a bus channel it is advisable to turn the mix param-
eter in the effect itself to wet only. This is of course up to your taste and
sound vision. If you don’t the dry signal is going to be proportianally

(addendum for modulation of effects parameters (last voice takes


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Zebra2 User Guide Performance Mode

CHAPTER 4 Performance Mode

The extremely extensive options in Zebra2 for performance are described in this chapter.

Perform mode is displayed when Zebra2 is started, or you can always switch to it by clicking
the “Perform” tab which is always displayed in the upper part of the GUI next to the “Synthe-
sis” and “Presets” tabs

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Zebra2 User Guide Performance Mode
XY Assignment

FIGURE 21. Zebra2 Perform mode

To set up the Performance mode, click the “XY assign” tab in the “Global/FX” tab strip.

XY Assignment
This replaces the bottom panel of the GUI with one which looks like this:

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Zebra2 User Guide Performance Mode
XY Assignment

FIGURE 22. XY assign subpanel (XY1 controls selected) l

This panel may appear a bit overwhelming at first, but the flexibility it controls is impressive.

The eight circular controls to the left correspond with the 4 large XY pads in the Perform GUI.
As shown, the top row of controls correspond to X movements, and the bottom row to Y

To the right 16 sets of controls are displayed for each XY controller. In this case since “XY1”
is selected above the rows of dials, the controls to the right are controlled by the dials X1 and

The first column of controls are linked to X1 (green), and the second column to Y1
(magenta).The X-axis in this case modulates the Comb1 Tone parameter and the Y axis the
Xomb2 Flavour and OSC1 Tune parameters simultaneously.

FIGURE 23. Modulator settings

The white triangles above and below all of the modulator range bars represent the maximum
and minimum amount for each direction. The triangle with the tip down corresponds to axis
movement to the right (X-axis) or up (Y-axis), while the triangle with the tip up corresponds to
axis movement to the left (X-axis) and down (Y-axis). Together these two determine the range

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Zebra2 User Guide Performance Mode
XY Assignment

of the modulation. This way one axis can modulate completely unrelated parameters. Examine
the Y-axis of this example and how movement above the middle modulates the Detune param-
eter while movement below the middle line influences ENV3 decay time and OSC2 tune.

The Y-axis setup in this example is a little more interesting to study because it shows the influ-
ence of the range definition using the triangles on direction and modulation.

The colored bar shows the maximum modulation range of a parameter. If the colored section
only goes to the right, the parameter is already at its lowest possible setting. This way, as soon
as you picked a parameter from the parameter selection box you will immediately see its mod-
ulation range. Very handy.

To determine the target of the modulation, click on the label (“none” by default)

FIGURE 24. XY modulator target popup.

A multi-level popup menu appears which allows you to set the target for the specific control.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

CHAPTER 5 Advanced Topics

Advanced features of Zebra2 are discussed in detail in this Chapter.

• Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp (Wavesequencing) features

• Advanced Modulation Usage (the ModMatrix)

• Multisegment Envelope Generators (MSEGs) (MSEGs)

• The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

By default, each oscillator you create uses a simple waveform.However, Zebra has the addi-
tional capabilities of

• custom created waveforms

• waveforms with specific spectra

• creation of a family of waveforms you can “morph” between (wave sequencing)

To access this power, you can click on the “default” button in an Oscillator module, or click
one of the “more OSC” buttons in the Advanced Feature Tab Bar.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

FIGURE 25. Oscillator wave design panel

The waveform editor allows access to Zebra2s advanced synthesis. This is where you can
draw waveforms or additive spectral shapes. There are 4 different modes you can choose from
using the Waveform parameter to the upper right of the drawing area. There are 16 Waves
available per oscillator, as indicated by the small boxes at the bottom of the middle part of this

The left part of the display allows you to modify the response of the oscillator according to the
Key or Velocity.

The Keyscale control is represented by the pictogram in the upper left of this panel. This
allows you to control the volume accross the keyboard. This is useful if you’ve programmed a
sound that has a high peak as a result of a resonating filter around a particular pitch area. With
this you can lower the volume for that area. Of course there are other applications, like split
sounds where the lower registers are used for a bass sound and the upper register for leads or
Below the keyscale is a Velocity scale controller. Use this to exclude or scale certain key
velocities. For example if you want one oscillator to sound when played softly and one for
loud playing. The lines and dots represent the highest velocity the OSC reacts to. In other
words this works like a velocity filter: it filters out all notes played above the set velocity.

Waveform Modes

The middle lower subpanel to the right of the Velocity and Keyscale controls is the Waveform
manager. This operates in one of four modes, selectable by the popup selector at the top of the
right third of the panel: GeoMorph, SpectroMorph, GeoBlend or SpectroBlend.

“Wave 1” is a downsloping saw wave, and is the default wave that every oscillator will use if it
is not edited (see Figure 7, “Default OSC waveform,”). With filtering, EQ, shaping, etc., a
large number of sounds can be created.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

You can very easily draw another shape in this window; such as a square wave, triangle, sine,
or anything else you can imagine.
1. GeoMorph
You can draw a waveform for the oscillator to use that has up to 32 points. The first and
last point are identical to insure smooth cycling.

Editing options:
Click: select a point (green)
Shift + Click: adds/removes points from selection
Drag: freely moves points
Drag across several points: selects by drawing a rectangel.
Alt or command (Mac), Ctrl or Alt (PC) + drag: change the slope to the left (right respec-
6 Right-click on one selected point: opens a context menu to remove a point or to change
it’s slope.
7 Right-click with several points selected: access a context menu to apply functions to the
selected points.
8 Right-click in empty area: add point or apply functions to the whole waveform.
9 Ctrl + command + click (Mac), alt + right click (PC) in empty area: add point.
2. SpectroMorph
This mode resembles GeoMorph but is a completely different animal.
In this mode the display doesn’t show a waveform but an additive spectrum consisting
of 1023 harmonics. The harmonics are logarithmically distributed accross 10 octaves.
The lowest 10th of the display controls the fundamental, the next 10th the first two har-
monics etc until there are 511 harmonics in the right 10th. The highest point is always
set to zero. The volume is also scaled logarithmically. A horizontal line creates a saw-
The remaining controls are the same as before.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

3. GeoBlend

FIGURE 26. GeoBlend waveform mode

GeoBlend mode draws a waveform using 128 evenly distributed points.

• Option-drag (Mac), ctrl-drag (PC) draws a straight line.

• Command-drag (Mac), alt-drag (PC) to reset the points.

• Right-click: opens a context menu with options to blur, sharpen or maximize the wave-

4. SpectroBlend:
Identical to SpectroMorph except the waveform spectrum consists of 128 harmonics
that are scaled linearly both in frequency and amplitude. In this mode you have direct
control over the harmonics even though it’s more complex to adjust specific harmonics
than in the Morph modes.

Waveform Selector
The Waveform Selector is located below the waveform editor. This is where you choose one
of the 16 waveforms to edit. The currently selected waveform is colored differently.

Edit controls for the Waveform Selector:

• Option-drag (Mac), ctrl-drag (PC): is used to rearrange the waveforms.

• Command-click (Mac), alt-click (PC) on a non-selected waveform will result in the

waveforms morphing from the selected to the command-clicked waveform. This way
you can quickly create a whole set of waveforms to edit later.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Custom Oscillator Waves and WaveWarp

• Option-command-click (Mac), ctrl-alt-click (PC) on an unselected waveform copies the

currently selected waveform to the clicked one.

Right-click brings up a context menu to exchange, copy or morph waveforms. Basically

the same options as above.

Blend <--> Morph

Zebra2 offers four different synthesis strategies: two different wavetable synthesis modes
(GeoMorph and GeoBlend) and two kinds of additive synthesis (SpectroMorph and Spectro

“Geo” just stands for geometry regarding the wavefrom display. GeoMorph and Spectro-
Morph both create sound using Bezier curves, known from graphic and 3d software. If you
have created a waveform set (or load the preset Doc waveform morph) and turn the wavewarp
parameter on the left the waveform display will split. Zebra2 smoothly interpolates between
two waveforms resulting in soft transitions between the waveforms, hence the term “morph”.
As you select successive waveforms in the Wave display, red lines show the intermediate steps
between each wave. Figure 27 shows an example of an intermediate step between Waves #1
and #2 for one particular waveset.

FIGURE 27. Example of Morphing Wave

The two “-blend” modes on the other hand consist of fixed points and the steps between the wave-
forms are only morphed according to their content and contain their original forms like in traditional
wavetable synthesis or vector synthesis.

WaveWarp and Resolution vs. CPU usage

This dynamic form of synthesis is very CPU intensive, as you may have guessed. After all, the
waveforms can be morphed smoothly using the wavewarp parameter.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Advanced Modulation Usage

It is all the more surprising that Zebra2 is still very CPU efficient compared to other synthesiz-
ers that calculate their waveforms in realtime. This is achieved using a simple trick: the wave-
forms aren’t constantly being calculated but at certain intervals. So in effect Zebra2 is a kind
of granular synthesizer that uses the grains resulting from the just discussed synthesis.

The resolution parameter determines the length of the intervals between calculations. Higher
resolution results in more exact (and faster) transitions from waveform to waveform.

The range of the resolution is between 4 seconds and less than one millisecond. Extreme set-
tings can either significantly increase CPU use (at values closer to 9) or can introduce artifacts
such as aliasing (at values lower than 4) with fast pitch modulation.

As a general rule: for faster modulations and more intense pitch modulation the resolution
should be at higher values.

See “Resolution and Normalize parameters” on page 21 for more information about these

Advanced Modulation Usage

Mod Mixers

FIGURE 28. ModMixer

The two ModMixers allow fiendishly complex modulations to be applied to modules in the
Patch Grid. As you can see from the graphic above, the ModMixer allows up to three modula-
tion sources and a constant value (Const) to be selected.

ModMixers are not created by clicking on an empty slot in the Patch Grid; rather, you need to
select a ModMixer from the Modulation popup. When you do that, an instance of a ModMixer
is inserted into the right-hand side rack.

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Advanced Modulation Usage

Underneath the ModMixer label

(ModMixer1 or ModMixer2) is a popup
control which selects one of the three modes
of operation for this device:

• Sum modulations

This simply adds the modulations

together, and then adds (or subtracts) the value set by the Const control

• Scale sum by const

The modulations are added together and then scaled (rather than offset) by the Const control

• fade 1/2 by 3xC

This mode is a bit more complex but allows for really nice modulations: On the output
modulation you have only modulation sources 1 and 2. They are mixed relatively to
each other, controlled by modulation source 3 and the constant value.

As an example of the “fade1/2 by 3xC mode”, you can use an LFO (source 1) and an envelope
(source 2) to control a filter cutoff frequency (i.e. MMix1 assigned to Filter1 Cutoff). Assign-
ing the ModWheel on slot 3, you can smoothly fade between the envelope and the lfo for cut-
off modulation by turning the modwheel. That means, if the ModWheel is in its minimum
position, the cutoff is only affected by the LFO. The more you turn it up, the more envelope
comes into play. In the maximum position, the cutoff is only affected by the envelope and not
by the LFO! - But of course, you can use any modulator in any place, and you can modulate
any modulation target

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Mod Matrix

Mod Matrix
FIGURE 29. ModMatrix

Use the ModMatrix to set up Modulation sources and targets in addition to the many modula-
tions that can be set up within each of the modules. There are four separate modulations avail-
able. Additionally the ModMatrix features a “via” parameter that allows you to modulate the
modulation intensity. This is a very dynamic and powerful feature.

Choose the modulation target from the target popup menu. This menu only shows the modules
that are currently activated in the grid.

Choose the modulator by right-clicking on the mod knob next to the target. Use the knob to set
the modulation amount.

The via parameter is available to set a secondary modulator that changes the amount of the pri-
mary modulator.

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Zebra2 User Guide Advanced Topics
Multisegment Envelope Generators (MSEGs)

Multisegment Envelope Generators (MSEGs)

FIGURE 30. MSEG (Multisegment Envelope Generator)

There are 4 Multistage Envelope Generators available in Zebra2. Access the MSEG editor by
clicking “MultiStage EG” in the bottom section of the interface. Select the MSEG you would
like to edit from the four tabs at the bottom of the MSEG editor. Once you have assigned more
than one MSEG as a modulation source the MSEG editor displays the currently editable
MSEG as a white line and the other MSEGs as shaded red lines for your reference.

Multistage EG presets

In Zebra2 it is possible to create presets for the multistages to speed up the process of creating
sounds. Click the box “default” in the MSEG module to bring up a file selector and choose the

(Currently there are no multistage presets included, but these will start to appear in future
updates and will also be available from the Zebra2 download page.)

To save your own multistage setup ctrl-click or right-click the box “default” to bring up the
Zebra2 save dialog.

An MSEG is basically a complex envelope with up to 32 segments. Instead of the regular sus-
tain you can loop through several segments. Every segment has it’s own slope.

The units on top represent quarter notes at the tempo of the host application.

The most important feature are the points that can be dragged to adjust for time (unit) and
value. Depending on how you would like to see the MSEG there are 3 modes available to help
you create the sound you want.

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Multisegment Envelope Generators (MSEGs)

• Independent draw: This moves the point without influencing the adjacent points. Of
course you can’t drag past the adjacent points.

• With time draw: This mode is best used to achieve regular envelopes. By moving a
point all the points that come after that one move also.

• Fixed time draw: All points are horizontally fixed. You can only move the points up
and down to change their value. By click-draging across several points all points passed
will snap to the value of the mouse’ position. Very useful for creating rhythmic structure
sort of like in a step sequencer.

• Add/remove points Use command-click (Mac), Alt-click (PC) in the empty space of
the MSEG editor pane to insert another point into the envelope. If you click on an exist-
ing point it will be erased. Keeping this modifier pressed and dragging across several
points will erase them.

• Drawing Option-drag (Mac), Ctrl-drag (PC) on a point allows you to freely move an
envelope node

Context menu on point

• Right-click on a point to get the context menu that lets you set that point as the loop
start/end point or remove the point.

Context menu in the editor pane

Right-click in an empty area of the MSEG editor to get a context menu with the following

• Half size the MSEG runs at double time

• Double size the MSEG runs at half time

• Upside down inverts the amplitude of the envelope.

• Unit snap determines whether the points snap to the time units and also the resolution
of the snap. These are rhythmical values: triplets, sixteenth, sixteenth note triplets and
thirtysecond notes.

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Multisegment Envelope Generators (MSEGs)

• Value snap several modes that control the vertical snap values of the points. For exam-
ple if the MSEG is modulating the pitch of the oscillator you can set the snap to 24 to
create tonal arpeggios using the MSEG.

• Quantize to snap snaps all points to the currently selected unit/value snap setting.

• Unit spacing distributes all points to the quarter notes (vertically)

• Even spacing distributes all points evenly throughout the overall length of the enve-

• Pointer off/coarse/fine the MSEG visually displays its current position with a vertical
line moving left to right for the last played note. Because of the complex curve calcula-
tions involved this can be turned off or set to coarse to conserve CPU power. On a fast
computer you may as well leave it set to fine.


Click-drag on the curve itself instead of a point lets you change the slope.Vertical dragging
results in parabolical slopes. Horizontal dragging produces S-curves.

Click without drag resets the segment to a straight line.

Hint: sometimes vertical and horizontal values may be superimposed so that the curve jumps
back and forth between parabolical and s-curve. Simple click the segment and it will revert to
a straight line and you can continue editing.

Loop Region

The loop start and end point are red to quickly distinguish them from the regular points.

The envelope will jump back to the loop start point if the note is held longer than past the loop
end point.

If loop start and loop end ar the same point that value will be held until the note is released.

If there is no more point after the loop end point the loop will be passed through during the
release phase.

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The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

At the top of the MSEG editor pane you can see the looped region. You can drag the loop start
and end point here also instead of designating a point using the context menu (see above).

Zoom and navigate

Click-drag in an empty space in the MSEG editor pane to zoom in or out by dragging verti-
cally or navigate left or right by dragging horizontally.

Double clicking in the MSEG editor pane completely zooms out so you can see the complete

The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

FIGURE 31. Zebra2 Arpeggiator

Left half

Right half

The arpeggiator in Zebra2 is very powerful and you can think of it more like a small step

Turn on the arpeggiator by setting the Voices mode to arpeggiator in the Global/FX section

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The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

Then click the Arpeggiator tab in the horizontal strip of tabs. This displays the arp control win-
dow at the bottom of the GUI.

• Arp Sync sets the basic speed of the arpeggiator. Note that the 16th note of the length
parameter (see further down) is the note value of the Arp Sync setting.

• The Arp Order parameter changes between two behaviours for choosing notes. In
“note” mode the lowest played not is considered the first note. In “as played” mode the
note received first is considered the first note.

• Arp Loop determines the direction of the arpeggio loop. You can either permute the
notes in following directions (example patter using a chord in a minor, a-c-e)

• # F –> this loops from first note to last (a-c-e-a-c-e…)

• # B –> reverses the loop, plays from last note to first (e-c-a-e-c-a…)

• # FB < -> plays forward then backward (a-c-e-c-a-c-e-c…)

• # BF >-< play backward then forward (e-c-a-c-e-c-a...)

Note: The Arp loop parameter refers to the progression within the notes that are held,
i.e. a chord. It does not refer to the step control sequence which always moves forward!

• The Oct selector sets the range of the arpeggio. You can choose between

• # 0 all notes played at the pitch they were originally played

• # 1 original pitch plus one octave

• # 2 original pitch plus two octaves

The Steps pop-up menu sets the amount of notes the arpeggio plays before jumping back to
the beginning. This can be between 1 and 16.

If Porta, the portamento switch is turned on, then portamento will only happen on the notes
that are actually played legato (see the gate parameter further down ). The amount portamento
is set in the Global/FX section

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The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

The Step selection row shows a couple of triangles resembling play buttons. These are also
pop-up menus and their function can be changed to the following:

• # > or next –> the next note of the pressed notes is played

• # “ or same –> plays the same note as the one preceding it

• # |< or first –> plays the first note as explained for Arp Order

• # >| or last –> plays the last note as explained for Arp Order

Length - this is the row with the note value selection and lets you set the note duration for
each step. The pop-up menu contains numbers from 1 to 4 that correspond to these values. The
note duration is relative to the Arp Sync as follows:

• # 1 - 16th –> this is the Arp Sync value

• # 2 - 8th –> this is twice the Apr Sync value

• # 3 - dotted 8th –> one and a half times the Arp Sync value

• # 4 - quarter –> 4 times the Arp Sync value

If you set the Arp Sync to 16th notes then the length parameter represents the correct note val-
ues. That way it’s easy to understand what’s going on if the Arp Sync is set to anything other
than 16th notes. As is often the case with music, it sounds way more complex describing it
than it is once you used it.

The Gate row sets the length of the note. The values go from 0 to 5, with 0 being very short
(but it is played) and 5 being legato into the next note. For legato the envelopes will not be
retriggered. There is one exception though: if the next step plays more voices (see next para-
graph) the envelope will be retriggered.

Voices sets the number of notes that are played per step. 1 plays only the first note , 2 plays the
first and second note and so on. This way you can have single note and chords mixed and
matched in the arpeggio

The Transp selection row with the little keyboard pictograms sets the transposition of the step
relative to the played note. The played note in this case is the one that the arpeggiator would

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The Zebra2 Arpeggiator

play at that step so it is also interdependent with the setting of the Step parameter. Again, the
best thing is to try it out using a very simple setup and playing an interval.

The arpeggiator also features two modulators that you can think of as step sequencers and that
can be assigned to modulate anything that can be modulated. They run at the speed of the Arp
Sync and just drag each step up or down to create a positive or negative value.

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