U-He Releases FREE Zebralette 3 Public Beta


U-He’s new Zebralette 3 synthesizer public beta release lets us get hands-on with the highly anticipated freeware update.

U-He’s legendary Zebralette has long been one of the best free synth VSTs available, and as such, any hint of an update generates a lot of buzz in the freeware world.

The excitement peaked when Urs Heckmann previewed Zebralette 3 at Superbooth early in 2023. While the thought of a potential 2023 release had us on the edge of our seats, discussing what we know already and speculating on what might be has kept us going.

Finally, we can get our hands on the first public beta of Zebralette 3. Although this release isn’t the finished article, it’s an exciting step forward for several reasons.

First of all, we can put core features, like the spline-based wavetable editor, to the test and see how deep this single oscillator beast really goes.

Furthermore, it’s a chance to share opinions and suggestions with developers who want constructive feedback, which means you could see some of your ideas implemented in future releases.

Zebralette 3 is a highly ambitious synth, and it’s important to remember that this public beta is just one step, albeit a significant step, in the process, and you should expect the unexpected (bugs, crashes, missing/limited features) on the journey to a full release.

Urs Heckmann put together a great introductory video detailing the core features of Zebralette 3, including:

  • The powerful spline editor
  • Wavetables and additive synthesis mode
  • Stamp tools and wavetable snapshots
  • Oscillator effects slots and spectrum
  • Wavetable export

There’s a detailed user guide to accompany the introduction video, and although it’s tempting to dive straight in, it’s worth reading first.

Zebralette 3 might be far from a polished product, but the new fully-vectorized GUI looks fantastic. The awesome U-He team has already crafted some excellent early presets to demonstrate the potential of Zebralette 3.

There’s no definite end date for the beta period; it will last as long as it takes to get it right, but these are exciting times!

To make it easier to share your feedback and ideas, U-He has created multiple threads covering various topics:

  • Spline editor & usability
  • Wavetable engine discussion
  • Bug reports
  • Tips & tricks

Zebrelette 3 will be available with support for 64-bit AU, VST3, AAX, and CLAP formats.

As we’re more than halfway through the month, it’s a good time for a reminder that you can grab UADs PolyMAX for free with any purchase at Plugin Boutique during February 2024.

Download: Zebralette 3 Beta (FREE)


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James is a musician and writer from Scotland. An avid synth fan, sound designer, and coffee drinker. Sometimes found wandering around Europe with an MPC in hand.


  1. What am I looking at? Is this a synth or advanced CAD software? It looks amazing, but also as if it’s alien technology. I am looking forward to Zebra 3, but my hope that it would be more accessible than Zebra 2 is out of the window. I think I’ll just order a labcoat, because I’ll be doing science, not merely making sounds. First job: dissecting the Bullfrog, because what’s happening in that thing?

  2. Zebra 2 (incl Zebralette) was released as far back as 2006, a plugin waiting now almost two decades to step up to the next version

  3. Just as an FYI, James…

    Zebralette 3 has been in talk for many years now. I did not attend Superbooth 2021 because of the global pandemic. However, U-HE definitely showed off Zebralette 3 at Superbooth 2022 already. The UI back then was a blend of green and gray, and did not feature the keyboard section. Users that were interested, could check out the “alpha build” (which was more than stable!) without any restrictions and it was among the biggest booth magnet for two years in row.

    Also, this is not a mere update”, it is a whole different thing.

  4. It’s just a beta, GUI and functionality will evolve.
    It’s not that hard to use either, actually fun and a really powerful free synth.
    Check KVR forums for more news.

  5. Zebra2 is my favourite synth, but I’m not particularly interested in all that mathematical oscillator manipulation. No natural sound looks like those far too clean bezier curves, and for a synth to sound good, the life has to come from filters, noise, physical modelling (of various degrees of complexity) or complex saturation.

    I always turn off the effects in Zebra2 and instead put it through SDRR, vocoders, speaker impulses, randomly fluttering gates, the more lo-fi Airwindows saturators and amps, notch filters, varying microdelays, etc. So I’d much rather see those kinds of things inside Zebra3, so that I could run them on a per voice basis and before Zebra’s filters when needed.

    All the new oscillator and modulation source “craziness” is likely to be unnecessary in my work. In the Zebra2 factory presets and the third party soundbanks I have, 80% of the sounds are too obnoxious and cheap to use in anything except obnoxious music, which I don’t make. And it’s always because of too much “crazy” modulation instead of tasteful, subtle character.

    I will of course eagerly buy Zebra3 the moment it’s out. I’m sure the improved filters alone will be worth the price. And perhaps they’ll have done some magic with the physical modelling. I loved the comb filter in Zebra2. Spent months learning it inside and out, making hundreds of presets from koras to basses to plucks to frame drums. Great fun. But ultimately there’s no character or grit to the comb filter, and even the most rudimentary recorded kora, bass or frame drum samples beat Zebra2 every time and end up in my songs instead. Even Zebra’s plucks usually get replaced by palm-muted string instruments, prepared pianos, kalimbas, rulers, popsicle sticks or pizzicatos, because they’re just so much more delicious and substantial than a physical modelling synth, so far. Perhaps Zebra3 will do better? I’m cheering them on!

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