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PopStarWannabe

Are Z3TA 2, Rapture Classic and Dimension Pro still functional and good sounding compared to actual established names ?

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I have bought these synths back in the day but never made any music with them. I just fooled around.

Now I picked up making music and would like to know if these are still functional and sounding comparable (quality-wise) to the more flashy and expensive VSTs out there (Native Instruments, U-He, Arturia, etc).

Or do I have to write them off and spend new money for something actual and more modern sounding? 

Please advice me.

Edited by PopStarWannabe

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Hi PopStarWannabe,

Absolutely!  Those Cakewalk/SONAR synth are excellent compared to other 3rd party synths.  It's just a matter of your creativety.

Kind regards,

tecknot

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Z3TA is a very capable synth that I originally tended to overlook because of the EDM heavy leanings of presets. If you get down and dirty with the programming it has incredible potential that few others match. 

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Even though they are rather old and no more outdated as the ones you already. mentioned, you should keep your eyes open for deals on AIR synths! These are the plugins used in Pro Tools.

You can find Xpand 2, Velvet, etc., for unbelievable cheap prices but they are very powerful for the money!!

They do require the ILok software licensing but that is nowhere near a problem as a hardware ILok to me.

This time of year, you should be able to find them really cheap.

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Most of the old synths still run really good. In fact, most run better on current hardware than they did when new! 🙂

I think a lot of the difference in modern synths is UI design, preset browsers, and programming workflow. And factory presets. The synth developers try to keep making them easier to use.

But soundwise, it is mostly up to the sound designers who designed the preset collections for the perceived quality of a given instrument's sound. Any of those synths in the hands of a skilled sound designer can make nearly any sound. When you use a label such as "modern" sounding you may be referring to newer synths that toss in wavetable and granular synthesis in addition to virtual analog, which may contribute to a perceived modern sound such as those synths that emphasize EDM in their preset libraries.

For example, using virtual analog, a saw wave is a saw wave (or same for sine, square, triangle). It's how you filter it, shape envelopes (ADSR), assign LFOs, and effects, etc., that define a sound. Any particular synth architecture may set limits on how many choices of oscillator sources you have, how many voices, how many layers, filter and envelope designs, how you route modulations, etc.

My take is that if you are looking for "modern" sounds, choose a synth that includes wavetable synthesis. And if you are not interested in programming, choose one with a lot of factory presets. Or a money pit with lots of sound expansions for sale.

My biggest annoyance with the old stuff is generally the UI size, and that many have not been updated to be scalable for high res screens.

But bottom line answer is Z3TA 2, Rapture Classic and Dimension Pro are still functional and good sounding. The UIs are a bit dated though. I still think Rapture classic has some fantastic sounds that I have not heard anywhere else!

Edited by abacab
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I'll compare Rapture and Dimension to Xpand2. It's one of those things that don't quite click when you're using the plugin by its own, but then you realize that you can create a multitude of sounds by combining the various presets and such with a bit of tweaking.

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So far I've only scratched the surface of the said Cakewalk synths, looking through presets, learning to play with the cut-off, adding effects, changing envelopes, etc. And now I wanted to dive deep, learn programming.

And I don't want to invest time in, say, learning the waveshapers in Z3TA 2 and one day wake up and find out that it stopped working due to a change in Windows 10, or who knows, because it's not supported anymore.

Also, I compared presets of new, expensive synths from YouTube presentations to those in Rapture and Z3TA 2 and the former seemed more... clear, more vivid, more spectacular, dynamic, etc than the latter. That's why I was wondering if the old Cakewalk synths are capable of yelding simliar results.

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19 minutes ago, PopStarWannabe said:

So far I've only scratched the surface of the said Cakewalk synths, looking through presets, learning to play with the cut-off, adding effects, changing envelopes, etc. And now I wanted to dive deep, learn programming.

And I don't want to invest time in, say, learning the waveshapers in Z3TA 2 and one day wake up and find out that it stopped working due to a change in Windows 10, or who knows, because it's not supported anymore.

Also, I compared presets of new, expensive synths from YouTube presentations to those in Rapture and Z3TA 2 and the former seemed more... clear, more vivid, more spectacular, dynamic, etc than the latter. That's why I was wondering if the old Cakewalk synths are capable of yelding simliar results.

I agree that spending a lot of time to learn an end of life synth could be a risk. If it's an oldie synth that you already know how to program well and love, have used in many projects, or just don't have the budget for anything new, stick with it.

Otherwise, instead of YouTube presentations, I would suggest picking out one synth you are interested in and install the demo or trial to see how you get along. Maybe try several. Then buy just one and dedicate your time to explore learn it fully before you buy any more. Once you know one synth end to end, learning another should fall into place more easily.

I will add that saying one synth is more clear, vivid, dynamic, etc., than another is rather a subjective exercise. Are we comparing apples/apples the same type of sound, on-board effects on/off, stand alone or sitting in a mix? Most factory presets come drenched in effects by the sound designer, and can add a tremendous boost to the stand alone sound. But they will likely sound like crap in a mix. Proof: take any preset you like and disable all effects. Now listen to it dry. Did that magic and sparkle just go away?

There are a lot of ways to make the same synth sound good, or bad. But some of the new generation of synths do have better oscillator and filter models than past generations. So they should still sound better without any effects turned on.

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Hey Cakewalk by Bandlab how about a nice Christmas surprise for us and update Rapture Pro etc.....

 

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While you're at it don't forget about Z3ta to version 3. 

Serious now- how many downloads does CbB have that would be interested in purchasing this classic synths?  Especially if they had some refreshed content.

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Only complaint I'll voice towards Z3tA+, Z3TA+ 2, Rapture, Dimension Pro and other CW VSTis is that almost every single sound goes over 0 dB. So much in fact that all plugins have a limiter button you can activate and many presets have that button on by default and the sounds still are very loud.

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Dimension pro/Rap pro were always cutting synths to me.  With their clean, anti-aliasing engines they jumped out in front of most alchemy lines.  Alchemy was a much thicker, more analog sound.  They worked well together, texture wise.  They still sound great.  I wish they’d release new libraries, tho.

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28 minutes ago, Alan Tubbs said:

Dimension pro/Rap pro were always cutting synths to me.  With their clean, anti-aliasing engines they jumped out in front of most alchemy lines.  Alchemy was a much thicker, more analog sound.  They worked well together, texture wise.  They still sound great.  I wish they’d release new libraries, tho.

I agree that that those synths are great as is!

My first virtual instruments actually... And to better acquaint myself with them, I acquired the book "Cakewalk Synthesizers, from presets to power user" by Simon Cann. He covers those synths, as well as the others by Cakewalk. First edition published in 2007. I believe it's out of print now, but I did snag the 2nd edition, published 2010, with an update for Z3TA+2.

Simon has made a free e-book available here on synth programming. It covers z3ta+ and a few others, including Surge (now an open source freeware synth): https://noisesculpture.com/how-to-make-a-noise-a-comprehensive-guide-to-synthesizer-programming/

But I doubt that there will be any new commercial libraries created for them however, as the VI market today is flooded with free and cheap synths.

Edited by abacab

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This is a timely thread. I was working on a recent project and needed a bass. I have some pretty hard hitting basses like MODO bass. 

Since the project was getting heavy on my cpu I used a Dimension Pro bass patch thinking I would later swap it out. Turns out the dimension pro bass sounded better in that mix. I like to use Z3TA+2 locked/synced to other synth tracks when I'm working on those types of genre. In that capacity it's really tough to beat. I can usually get some great things happening pretty quickly using the existing patches in it.

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If you wanted to try a modern synth for little money it might be worth checking out Rob Papen's Go2 - I got it very cheap with loyalty points I had but even at £21 I would say it was a good buy.

Also second what people say about the Air synths - just make sure you get them cheap as they are almost always on offer! There's a couple of £10 packages at PlugIn Boutique at the moment. I really like Xpand2 and Hybrid & Vacuum pro are entertaining too. I suspect they may be a bit long in the tooth now but work fine for me in CbB

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On 12/23/2020 at 9:21 AM, JoeGBradford said:

Xpand2 and Hybrid & Vacuum pro

Yes, all excellent as well as inexpensive. I'd recommend checking out Surge as well. Vacuum Pro, Hybrid 3, and Surge are great for diving in and learning programming.

Development stopped on the AIR products a few years ago, but they sound great. Surge is open source and gets better with every release.

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7 hours ago, JoeGBradford said:

Yes Surge is another good 'un!

See my post earlier in this thread for a link to the free e-book "How to Make a Noise - a comprehensive guide to synthesizer programming" that covers many aspects of programming synth sounds.

The author uses the original version of Surge from Vember Audio, along with 5 other synths, including Cakewalk z3ta+ classic (many thoughts here  should also apply to Z3TA+2). Gives examples and comparisons of synth features, covering topics such as envelopes, filtering, sound sources, wave shaping, LFOs, and modulations.

Hard to believe that Surge was a $150 synth back in the day (2005 - 2007)!  Now free! Even z3ta+ classic was $99.

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