Cakewalk Z3TA+ 2: The Abandoned Classic Software Synth

Longtime Cakewalk fans may be familiar with Z3TA+ 2, the “Ultimate Waveshaping Synth”. It was one of the first virtual instruments I ever bought, and thus was a big influence in my early days of learning music production.

Sadly, Z3TA and many other beloved Cakewalk products are no longer available. So I wanted to look back on this fun synth and explore some of its history.

Cakewalk's Z3TA+ 2 software synthesizer

What is Z3TA+ 2?

Z3TA+ 2 was a software synthesizer created by Cakewalk. It used advanced waveshaping synthesis to create complex, evolving sounds. You could start with a basic wave shape, modify it, and add additional effects and filters to customize every aspect of the instrument’s sound. 

Z3TA+ 2 Features:

This instrument had a wealth of features that made it a dream to use. Here’s just a smattering of those features:

  • Advanced waveshaping synthesis with 14 unique distortion algorithms
  • Dual Waveshapers for each of its 6 oscillators
  • Over 2,000 presets and the ability to create custom presets
  • 7 built-in effects including distortion, EQ, delay, reverb, and more
  • Powerful modulation matrix with 16 sources and 50 destinations
  • Built-in arpeggiator and step sequencer

All in all, it’s a wonderful digital synth that I still revisit from time to time.

Why Was Z3TA+ 2 Discontinued?

In 2017, Cakewalk’s parent company Gibson Guitars was in financial trouble. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Gibson announced they were ceasing development of all Cakewalk products — including Z3TA+ 2.

A few months later, most of Cakewalk’s IP and assets were acquired by Bandlab Technologies. They’ve since rereleased Sonar as a free DAW for Windows (now known as Cakewalk by Bandlab). But sadly, Z3TA+ 2 has yet to reappear.

At this point, it probably won’t return. In the years since Bandlab took over, they haven’t announced anything regarding Z3TA or other legacy Cakewalk products. It’s possible they were left out of the acquisition and the rights are still with Gibson.

But, with the recent announcement of Cakewalk Next and Cakewalk Sonar, it’s possible they could make a comeback.

Can You Redownload Z3TA+ 2 If You’ve Already Bought It?

If you had a Cakewalk account between 2011 and 2017, you might be able to redownload it from the old website or the Cakewalk Command Center. 

That said, the website and Command Center aren’t actively being maintained. At some point, they’ll stop working completely (if they haven’t already by the time you read this). Thus, you won’t be able to legitimately use Z3TA+ 2 again.

But if you bought the Steam version, you can easily redownload it from your Steam account.

Regardless of where you redownload it from, it’ll be stuck on Demo Mode. To activate, you’ll need to follow the “Offline Activation” method outlined in our guide, How to Activate Z3TA+ 2 in 2023.

Modern Alternatives to Z3TA+ 2

While some will mourn the loss of the Z3TA series plugins, there are other options available. Each one of these synths is still available and has a mountain of support from their respective developers and communities.

  • Massive

    Massive is one of our go-to instruments. This powerhouse synthesizer is an uncompromising sonic monster. It's perfect for creating piercing leads, fat basses, and anything in between.

    Buy Now Get With Komplete 14

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  • Serum by Xfer Records
    Starting at $9.99/month

    The advanced wavetable synthesizer with a workflow-oriented interface that makes sound design fun instead of tedious. Design sounds from scratch or import your own audio to create something truly unique.

    Buy Now Rent-to-Own

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  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2

    One of the greatest software synths ever made. Omnisphere 2 comes with over 14,000 sounds and integrates perfectly with almost any hardware synth and MIDI controller.

    Check Sweetwater Check Spectrasonics

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