Well, ultimately that’s up to you, but there are plenty of reasons to argue that it is.
First and foremost is the legacy of Z3TA+ Classic. Released over 10 years ago, Z3TA+ set the bar for modern analog style soft synths with unparalleled tweakability and waveshaping control. Z3TA+ was pumping out synth leads and fat basses back when EDM was know to most as simply “Techno,” and Dubstep was in it’s infancy. It’s impossible to quantify the impact of Z3TA+ on the EDM/Synth universe, but from what our users tell us, there are likely tens of thousands of musicians still using their trusty Z3TA+ 1.5 waveshaping synthesizer in music today.
Secondly, Z3TA+ 2 includes over 1000 new sounds AND all 1,093 that ship with the original. Frankly speaking, Z3TA+ 2 is a preset goldmine. These sounds hold up against any synth on the market. Listen to Z3TA+ 2 sound examples for a taste.
But of course there is also the UI redesign and usability overhaul that came with the second version. Z3TA+ 2 now has the sleek, modern interface that is easier on the eyes and easier to navigate. Controls are more spread out, intuitively placed, and easy to access. Plus new controls have been added to allow even more sound design possibilities. New features for performance and playability raise the bar again for soft synths. Plus, Z3TA+ 2 is now (at last) available for PC & Mac.
While working as a Quality Assurance Engineer for Cakewalk I have the privilege and duty to test the latest builds before they are available to the public. While testing SONAR X2a and the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier I decided to work on an MGMT inspired remix of new song written by Cakewalk Graphic Designer Dan Kaplan. Dan gave me the stems from his studio sessions and from there I remixed the song using SONAR X2 Producer, the CA-2A, and Z3TA+ 2.
When I first listened to Dan Kaplan’s song Sink or Swim one of my favorite things about the song was the dynamic between the male and female vocals. I thought it would be interesting to try and approach the song more as a duet or at least feature the female vocal more than in the original. I started by putting the original stems in one folder in SONAR and began setting up tracks for the remix in another. I created some instrument tracks for Session Drummer 3, Studio Instruments Electric Piano, and Z3TA+ 2. I then brought in sections of the bass and piano stems and began working on the first chorus trying to get the vocal dynamic working. I added Kick samples and built a pad to fade between chords using Z3TA+ 2. The Bass needed to be a lot more aggressive and the saturation knob in combination with some EQ got the sound I wanted. I used a synth sample from the original stems for the instrumental sections that reminded me of a MGMT riff and layered some different snares and claps to add more energy. Things were already moving well towards the end of the song but I needed to figure out how to get to the first chorus. I found a great background vocal sample from the end of the original track that reminded me of something the band FUN might do and thought that it would be a cool way to start the song. Using 4 different instances of SD3 I built the giant drum circle intro and added some of my own guitars using TH2. I put some rhodes and strings in the intro as well which to me kept the space that was there but left some nice texture. The strings also really helped the transition into the first chorus when the pad comes in and takes over.
I’ve always liked well planned vocal arrangements in pop music and wanted to build a 3 or 4 part vocal section for the end. I copied and moved the original chorus to the end and began playing around with other vocal samples to see where other phrases could come in without hurting the melody. It started with the female sample “There’s one more step” which besides adding to the context of the song helped setup the lead vocal when Dan repeats the same lyrics. I then used it for the bridge as well. I cut up the lyrics “Sink or Swim” that Dan sings and also layered that in a few choice spots.
I added some splashy electronic cymbal hits for added effect throughout the song and chopped some of the kick and snare samples to give it some life and not be too repetitive. I found a great long kick hit in the included sample library that I reversed for the sub swells along with reversing some other samples and sections of the guitar. Each track went through the A-Type console emulator which I think adds more air to the track and used a lot of the BREVERB SONAR plug-in for reverb on tracks and busses. To get the weird watery effect on the female vocals in the bridge I pulled out the original Z3TA+ which can be used as an audio plug-in also and found a preset to start with and tweaked it so the words were still understandable.
When people ask me what I do for a living, it is often difficult for them to grasp the words; I record sounds and musical instruments that musicians use to create music. At Digital Sound Factory we breakdown the instrument to the fundamentals and capture the sounds that make up its character. Each note and playing style is recorded. We are essentially creating a ‘digital archive’ of musical instrument sounds that render playback on modern computers.
Creating sound expansion packs for Cakewalk synthesizers involves many steps in the development process. It’s a long journey from defining the scope of the sound set to hearing a sound when playing a MIDI note. This is an overview of how an expansion pack is born and what goes on behind the scenes.
Defining the Project
First we take a close look at the scope of the project and define the instruments and samples required.
Musicians, engineers, and studio time are not free, so the better prepared we are, the more we capture. Each instrument requires different considerations. Sampling drum’s is different from sampling synthesizers is different from sampling brass or winds. In the case of drums, how the drum should be tuned, number of velocity hits on center to the edge of the head, matching rim shots, various microphone placements, to name a few. Sampling brass or woodwinds will entail multiple volume levels of sustain, more breath, less breath, breath only, mutes, staccato, and more.
The Recording Process
Sampling is similar to recording music in some ways, but in other ways it is very different. The similarities are musicians are recorded in professional sound environments using microphones, mixing console, speakers, etc. The very different part is we are not there to record music. We record the instrument and its characteristics. I can’t begin to tell you how many sessions I have walked into and the musicians are ready to impress with great music. In these sessions we focus on the technique, not the music.
Each note the instrument is capable of playing is meticulously recorded at various amplitude levels and styles (ie: sustained, mute, fast attack, slow attack, soft, loud, etc.) using 4 – 16 microphones, fast computers, and Sonar. It is imperative that any addition sounds that are not part of the instrument, such as squeaky chairs, breathing, or noise from the musician are identified and eliminated during the recording process. Occasionally there are sounds that make their way into the sample and need to later be isolated and removed using software tools. All microphones, takes, tracks, hard drives, etc. are documented for use during the editing process.
Selection and Editing
After days, weeks, or months of recording, the tracks are reviewed and the best takes are sliced and copied to a new project. This may include as many as 4 to 16 tracks of microphones that can be mixed or separated to create the final individual .wav files for each pitch/velocity/etc. Selecting the best ‘takes’ involves a lot of listening and is essential to delivering the highest quality instruments. Any additional DSP (Digital Signal Processing), such as leveling, noise cancelation, equalization, and amplitude fades are completed at this stage. Sustained notes require looping the recordings to create a seamless pitch at the loop points. Loops are adjusted to lengths based on memory size targets. Each .wav file is tagged with the instrument name, style, and pitch identification.
SFZ files are created and used to map the incoming MIDI controller note number to the correct .wav file and location. The SFZ files are text files and use ‘opcodes’ or operation codes that are used to control various synthesizer program parameters. It contains relevant information about the instrument such as velocity, filter types, envelopes, LFO’s, and others. SFZ files are programmed for each playing style and sometimes combined to create layers.
This is where the instruments develop personality and flavor. SFZ files can be combined as elements to create layers. Filters, modulation sources and destinations, and effects are assigned. The program is named and saved to the relevant style folder.
Digital Sound Factory Recording Video
This video includes recording sessions for orchestral strings, winds, brass, and percussion in the concert hall and studio, drum kits and percussion, ethnic instruments, and grand piano.
Download DSF Expansion Packs for as low as $19.95
Stock up this weekend on DSF expansion packs for Dimension Pro/Dimension LE. The DSF collection features thousands of sounds for all types of music and genres. Included are Grand Pianos, Guitars, Basses, Classic Keys, Orchestral, Hollywood Sound FX and much more. Buy one or buy them all and save big during this special offer. Ends February 28th, 2013.
If you weren’t able to make it to sunny Anaheim California for the 2013 Winter NAMM show, you missed out on quite a show from Cakewalk and Roland. Ballroom A was packed with press, dealers, artists, and engineers hoping to get a look at our latest technology and new products.
Cakewalk kicked off the show by announcing the new CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier – now available for download at the Cakewalk Store for only $99/£79/€99. This legendary vintage electro-optical tube compressor, originally released as a ProChannel module, is now available in VST or AU format.
The other big showpiece at this year’s show was touch support in SONAR X2. We had multiple experience stations where users could reach out and touch SONAR X2 for themselves. Station setups included a 27″ touch display, Z420 PC from HP, 2 Intel Ultrabooks with built in touch screens, Roland A-300 PRO MIDI Keyboard Controllers, Roland Octa-Capture Audio Interface, and a brand new Roland Studio-Capture USB 2.0 Audio Interface.
We had some special guest demonstrations as well. Our friends at Overloud joined us to show of TH2 Producer and BREVERB SONAR.
We also had TC, Paul Oakenfold’s main engineer, discussing techniques for remixing and vocals in SONAR X2.
As usual, Cakewalk’s NAMM booth was surrounded by all the other the other members of the Roland family. We were fully impressed with all the new Roland product announcements. You should be sure to check out the entire lineup for Roland Connect 2013.
Z3TA+ 2 Sound Design By Timothy Swartz Digital Sound Factory
Digital Sound Factory veteran sound designer, Timothy Swartz takes us on a tour of Cakewalk’s Z3TA+ 2 software synthesizer and how to quickly create interesting sounds. The video begins by explaining basic programming of Z3TA+ 2 envelopes, LFO’s, filters, modulators, and effects. As the tutorial progresses, Tim explains Z3TA+ 2 program parameters and takes us through the process of creating synth pads, synth bass, synth leads, and electronica synths. We hope you find this video informative and will stimulate your imagination. (40 min. running time)
Digital Sound Factory offers a collection of over 1,000 Z3TA+ 2 programs, designed using these concepts, now available on the Cakewalk Store.
A decade in the making: Z3TA+ 2 now available for Mac – only $99/£69/€79
For 10 years, Z3TA+ 2 has only been available for Windows…until now. We are pleased to announce that Z3TA+ 2 is now available for Mac OS X 10.6.8 and higher in VST3 and Audio units format. This is huge news for Mac owners who have been asking for Z3TA+ to come over the Mac platform. Z3TA+ 2 for Mac includes all the ground-breaking features of the Windows version plus all the updates and improvements in Z3TA+ 2.1.
Z3TA+ 2 features 1000 new sounds from top sound designers including:
Limited-time offer: Save 50% off additional sounds for Z3TA+ 2
In honor of the Z3TA+ 2 for Mac announcement, we are slashing prices on all Z3TA+ 2 Expansion Packs. This is a great time to stock up on more sounds from leading sound designers like Xenos Soundworks, Digital Sound Factory, Loopmasters, and more. Choose from 13 individual expansion packs that span many different genres of music. Offer ends August 31st, 2012.
New Z3TA+ 2 Explained video tutorial now available for only $19.95/£14.95/€19.95
To help you learn all there is to know about Z3TA+ 2, we are also offering a brand new video tutorial from Groove 3. Whether you are familiar with Z3TA+ 2 or a first-time customer, no other video offers you a comprehensive look at the amazing Z3TA+ 2 waveshaping synthesizer.
Z3TA+ 2 Explained Highlights:
24 tutorials / Over 2 hours of total runtime
Perfect for beginners or more advanced synth users
Written by DAW master instructor Doug Zangar
Simple to use video control interface for Mac & PC.
Electronic music producer Encanti has a brand new toy. Watch as the Z3TA+ 2 preset designer takes the new QuNeo controller for a spin with Z3TA+ 2. Z3TA+ 2 is currently available as a VST for Windows, and it’s coming soon for Mac, so it can be used in other hosts like Ableton Live as pictured below.
Encanti: “In this example, all of my square pads on my QuNeo are set to “latch”, which means where ever my finger goes on the x-y axes, the value will remain there once I take my finger off. The notes are pre-programmed and playing back on the sequencer. This gives me 16 x-y controllers, which I can use to fine-tune values across the board. QuNeo’s XY pads are immediately useful with Z3TA+ 2 because once you’ve set up some interesting routing settings in Z3TA+ 2′s modulation matrix, you are free to explore their potential by dialing in many different values at once with the QuNeo pads. When I find a “sweet spot”, I save a preset in Z3TA+ 2 and keep on exploring. Later on, I can revisit all my variations, and explore them further, add/subtract ideas, make pads into leads, and keep ideas flowing until starting the process over again with new routings in Z3TA+ 2′s modulation matrix or possibly binding my QuNeo to different controls.
Two sweeping resonant bandpass filters are at the soul of this gnarly bass sound. While most traditional x-y setups typically control “filter freq” and resonance, I’ve opted to control filter frequency and pole separation width as my x-y, on two different x-y pads. I’m also modulating these filters with two envelopes, while I control the duration/volume using two different x-y pads. This opens up a huge range of expression – because 3 sweeping poles on two filters (that’s six points of resonance all moving together) is easier to keep track of since I can define their movements all at once with the QuNeo. I’ve also got an envelope opening a delay effect, which I can control the attack/sustain and duration of. With a soft attack on my delay volume, my bass womp has a nicely compressed-sounding impact when the note hits, but I can still add lots of variation to how spacial it sounds, lending me the ability to make those long notes sound really massive.
The QuNeo is controlling the same parameters as the last preset, except I’ve added a few things: each filter has it’s own LFO modulating the frequency along with the envelopes – and again what’s also true with this patch is that the soul lives in the filter modulation settings. There’s also a quadruple-phaser modulation, with pad control over speed, depth, volume, and feedback, which sounds good with all the LFO sounds happening. I also have the ability to change the octave of different oscillators independently. One of my faders are also controlling the key of my chords (via Ableton “pitch” midi effect), allowing me to easily explore different range potentials for the patch.”
Watch the promo video to see Z3TA+ 2, Rapture, and Stutter Edit in action. What you hear was made exclusively with these 3 plugins!
Cakewalk and iZotope have teamed up to bring you three inspiring tools for electronic music at a price that will make you think you are dreaming! Save over 50% when you download the Electronic Musician’s Dream Bundle which includes:
Z3TA+ 2 (regular price: $99)
Rapture (regular price: $99)
iZotope Stutter Edit (regular price: $249)
Regularly $447 if purchased separately, you can download this special bundle for only $199.95 through July 24th – save over 50% off the regular price.
Z3TA+ 2 has been a huge hit with musicians since its release in August 2011 but we still get that one persistent question: When will it be available for Mac? We are happy to announce that day is coming soon.
Z3TA+ 2 will be available in VST3 and AU format for Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher and VST2 for Win7/Vista in early August 2012. Customers who have already purchased Z3TA+ 2 for Windows will receive the new Mac installer at no charge when it is released. We will have more information on Z3TA+ 2 for the Mac in the coming weeks.
If you love Z3TA+ 2 and know a friend or family member who is using a Mac, please let them know about this exciting news. They can also sign up to get updated information via email and to be notified
when it goes on sale.
One of the great aspects about SONAR X1 is that it’s a very diverse D.A.W. There are so many different ways to create music and it’s great for people who like to experiment with sounds and develop unique sonic pallets. One of the main reasons why many pro users choose SONAR is because there are a lot of veiled jewels and tools that help musicians to sculpt a unique and individualized sound.
Similar to the Beatscape Content articles that were posted, I decided to dive into another one of my favorite hidden treasures of SONAR of which some people may not be aware; the pristine and fat FX engine of Z3TA+ that can be used as a standard VST effects unit.
When I first started using SONAR I loved the fact that it came with so many great VST plugins. It wasn’t until 6 months into using the program when someone pointed out to me that you could use the Z3TA+ synth as an actual VST effect anywhere you use regular plugins – on clips, in bins, on busses… etc. After dragging Z3TA+ onto a track I was instantly surprised at what I heard. (more…)