Even in 2012, one of the great wonders of computers is, they sure make some damned awesome synthesizers.

Z3TA+ 2, around for about a decade, is one of the soft synths you might fairly call a “classic.” (Not just in a press release, either – I’ll defend that moniker.) You’ve probably heard it used in productions. But unlike a sought-after piece of hardware, you can make it your own for a hundred bucks.

But what makes Z3TA+ 2 “news”? How about the combination, seen recently on Synthtopia, with the QuNeo controller? Here, all of those timbral parameters become touchable, aided by the colorful matrix of touch-sensitive controls Keith McMillen made available in this unique hardware. Check out the video at top; it may have you wanting to reach in and play the thing yourself.

And the one thing that kept this “classic” out of a lot of people’s hands has been, let’s be fair, the OS barrier. As the Mac has grown popular even with some ex-“PC people,” it’s just harder to talk about instruments that aren’t cross-platform.

So, the news today that Z3TA+ 2 is available on Mac means some attention can come from a lot of people right now saying, “zeta-what? or, uh, zuh-three-tee-uh-huh??!”

Z3TA+ 2 is now available on Mac – and stacks up nicely against other modern synths, especially at US$99. Go invent a replacement for dubstep (brostep?) with it, if you like.

Waveshaping synths are plentiful in number, and even the sound is something that a lot of instruments can accomplish. Z3TA+, now in its updated Z3TA+ 2 generation, sets itself apart with rich, balanced features and an easy-to-follow interface, so that you can get designing sounds right away – not just relying on presets – but delve deeper when you’re ready.

You need Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, and can run in any VST or AU host. (VST3 is even supported, Cubase fans.)

I hope to take a little synth vacation with the instrument soon, as I haven’t used it heavily since its first generation on the PC, but in the meantime, here are some specs:

  • Per-oscillator waveshaping
  • Morphing
  • Modulation matrix with effects routing – and access to waveshaping
  • Performance Mode with Adaptive Pitch Bend (that’s what makes the QuNeo vid so much fun)
  • New presets from some really great names in sound design: Nico Herz of Big Tone, Francesco Silvestri (FI Sound), Frank Genus (Pro Sounds), Chad Beckwith (FI Sound), and others
  • Visual envelope generation
  • Graphical LFOs
  • Graphical arps, gate patterns, more
  • Hypertube distortion
  • XY speed control
  • SRC sound engine
  • Ribbon controller
  • Scala microtuning support

The performance control mappings are to me especially exciting. That video in the top from Encanti – who also has presets for this synth available for sale – is mapped as follows:

Each square pad is sending MIDI CC data on X and Y axes using “Latch” mode. The CC messages are sent to different synth parameters within Z3ta+2. The MIDI notes and drum loop are both pre-recorded in this example

Poor Encanti had to use Boot Camp to run this on the Mac – no more.

$99/€79/£69, available for download. If you do have a “classic” version of this instrument, upgrades are US$49 / EUR 39 with VAT.


  • Chad

    Also check out Muz3uM 2 for z3ta+ 2:


    540 free patches for z3ta+ revised set from original 2004 set that uses all of the new features for z3ta+ 2. 


  • Guest

    To me the QuiNeo, similar to McMillan’s foot controller, seems fiddly.  The selling point of the foot controller was that you could modulate multiple parameters by rolling your foot around; however even their demo person at NAMM couldn’t get a smooth interpolation. 

    Which is why I’m skeptical that attaching 4 pressure sensors to a small pad really gives any sort of enhanced control to the user.  My MPD has 1 pressure sensor per pad, and it’s a feature I never use.  Most gear nowadays doesn’t ship with pressure-sensitive pads.  Hell, some DAWs don’t even support aftertouch!

    I don’t mean to be negative – I’m sure there are some very specific applications in which the QuiNeo can shine, and it’s nice to see product designers exploring new ideas.  I just think that too much emphasis is placed on capability vs. actual playability. 

    These days I’m becoming a firm believer in the “less is more” approach.

  • lokey

    to me, the quneo is basically a soundplane, with the added ability to had led feedback, and some different geometry, of course. The pads shouldn’t be looked at as individual pads, but part of a larger square surface, with the pad gaps simply serving to give some strong feedback about finger positioning, similar to the ridges on the soundplane. Most of the quneo vids to date are rather disappointing only because they have been so aimed at reproducing what has been possible on other pad devices. Once people start taking advantage, i think its real strengths will be obvious…