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Beginning Sound Design with U-he's Zebra2

RoguePianist

New Member
I've read the manual...many times...but for the life of me, I can't figure out to accurately design a sound I hear in my head! What would you recommend is the best way to learn the synth?
 

wst3

my office these days
not sure - are you familiar with other synthesis techniques or synthesizers?

There are certainly many worse starting points, but Zebra may not be the best entry level synth.

Let us know your background and I'm sure we'll come up with suggestions.
 

GiuseppeS+OS

New Member
I'm not a Zebra user (well, not yet!) , but probably if you enjoy the synth and its workflow , just give yourself some time to explore it and understand it. There're some basic synth principles that can be applied to all synths, some are more beginner-friendly than others, but only when you will gain some familiarity then you can specifically pinpoint what's the kind of sound you want to obtain and how you can use the synth to achieve it. A lot of it is pure trial and error! :D
 
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RoguePianist

New Member
I'm not a Zebra user (well, not yet!) , but probably if you enjoy the synth and its workflow , just give yourself some time to explore it and understand it. There're some basic synth principles that can be applied to all synths, some are more beginner-friendly than others, but only when you will gain some familiarity then you can specifically pinpoint what's the kind of sound you want to obtain and how you can use the synth to achieve it. A lot of it is pure trial and error! :D
That’s what I feared...I guess I’ll devote a month to learning this synth...!
 

DerGeist

Active Member
There are a couple of things that once I figured out Zebra became second nature. They are also, to me, Zebra differentiators and things that made a huge difference in creating sounds.

1) Oscillators have built in FX. Add an oscillator and select an effect from the OSC FX tab on the OSC. Turn up the amount. At this point you may already have an awesome sound with nothing but a single oscillator.
2) Use the Oscillator stack feature. This duplicates oscillators (I think you can get up to 10). The magic here is that when you detune the OSC it detunes all of the stacked OSCs differently making a huge sound.
3) In the OSC tab at the bottom, draw the first waveshape, then draw the last waveshape. Select the first, hold alt (windows), and then the last. Zebra interpolates the wave. Sweep the wave table using the WAV knob on the osc.
4) Use the spectro options under the oscillator tabs to create sounds less suited to wave tables. I find it works great for organs, flutes, etc. Anything that needs specific tones/overtones.

Doing all of this, you can make amazing sounds with nothing but a single OSC. The rest of Zebra I find is pretty similar to other synths.
 

Markus Kohlprath

Active Member
What I always find very helpful are the AskVideo Courses. You can purchase single tutorials for Zebra or subscribe and have access to everything they have. They are structured and go step by step from beginner level to advanced. This is way much better than watching hours of yt vids just to find out that most of them are not very helpful to say the least. I have the ipad app and subscription. Learned a lot with it. Groove 3 might be of similar value.
 

visiblenoise

New Member
As an also-beginner, I don't think there's a way to get to designing the sounds in our heads. It's not unlike learning music composition - you have to start from a few basic building blocks to learn what is even possible. Eventually you start to make connections between what you imagine in your head and what you know how to make.

Also, for a more interactive way to learn, I recommend finding a preset in your synth that you enjoy, loading up a default instance alongside it, and trying to recreate it. Along the way, you intuitively figure out what the involved parameters are doing to create that sound.
 

GiuseppeS+OS

New Member
That’s what I feared...I guess I’ll devote a month to learning this synth...!
Yes, starting with synthesis can be a bit daunting at the beginning but trust me, once you just open yourself to experimentation you will discover more and more. It's an endless journey really, which imho has an immense discovery potential from both the artistic as the 'technical' side. Also, I'd suggest to not be too 'attached' to the kind of sound you have in your mind, sometimes the best things happen as happy accidents. :)
 

DerGeist

Active Member
Normally I'm all for learning from presets but think this may be a harder approach for Zebra. Many of the patches are very deep and the preset designer (forget his name) is pretty amazing. I'm not saying you can't do it and learn a lot in the process but I think Zebra benefits from a more bottom up approach. One of the strengths of Zebra is that very minor tweaks can have a huge impact which is why it is so easy to end up with hundreds of user created patches that sound very different even though structurally they are very similar.

If I were to teach someone to use Zebra (which I should never do) I would start with the init patch and build rather than deconstructing a patch. YMMV.
 
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