Zephyr Hybrid Synthesizer Sneak Preview

This video offers an audio sneak preview of the upcoming Zephyr Hybrid Synthesizer – described as ‘the best of the digital and analog worlds’.

According to the developer, the Zephyr-1 brings you the flexibility of digitally controlled synthesizers, combined with the ‘warm sound from the analog multimode filters on each voice’.

And it has no fixed modulation paths – you can connect any modulation source to any of the modulation destinations. 

Preliminary Specifications:

  • 32 voices polyphony (one voice card per voice) maximum
  • 8 oscillators per voice maximum
  • Full MIDI CC & NRPN control
  • Flexible Modulation Matrix
  • Dedicated Analog Low-Pass, Band-Pass and High-Pass Filters per Voice
  • Fast LFOs and Envelope Generators
  • Wavetable Synthesis
  • Frequency-Modulation and Ring-Modulation of all Oscillators

Here are the official audio demos:


Pricing and availability are to be announced. See the Zephyr site for more info.

via Zephyr

28 thoughts on “Zephyr Hybrid Synthesizer Sneak Preview

  1. It is becoming very clear that real innovation will come from a newer generation of synth makers. From Futureonus’ Parva to Modal on the high end and now this. This will not be a popular opinion yet the likes of Dave Smith and to a lesser extent Moog (Moog seems to be trying to move forward from Bob’s formidable legacy) and even Korg are still rummaging through their back catalogue to offer anything “new”.

    DSI’s sound is hampered by Dave’s sound profile sensibilities, which to my ears sounds brittle and retro. Moog piece meals their development progress and Korg first gave us a diarrhea of retro synths, and then surprisingly developed something fresh with the Minilogue. However I wonder if for a few hundred quid more perhaps something really special could have been produced.

    Personally I’m looking forward to this synth and the Behringer Midas designed polyphonic synth unveiling at Messe.

    These are indeed interesting times.

    1. people buy DSI products because of those sensibilities you are trying to say to your ears sounds brittle and retro. please if you are saying the prophet 12 is brittle and retro your senses are being hampered by your own prejudices.

      1. I gave your comment a thumbs up because your opinion matters…to you and those whom agree. Whilst I do not, I respect the right to differ on this point. And I assure you I am not alone in my opinion of Dave’s instruments. I worked for DSI as a consultant. Dave is a brilliant man still very talented. Yet I do believe his penchant for his “sound” does not allow his synth line to progress. To evolve. That is the reason why the recent OB-6 has garnered so much praise. Tom’s influence of course is reason and the improvement in the tonality….

        Again, just my opinion.

        And just to set the record straight, I have never been a pony….I like to think I’m pretty however.


      2. I’ve heard a few people say the same thing about the DSI line but, I’m almost certain that their opinions are based on the lackluster presets made available on the P12. As far as raw power is concerned, I’ve ran many shootouts in my studio… P12 v Virus TI2, v Virus KB, v Nord Lead 3, v Waldorf Blofeld, Pulse etc* and the P12 has simply crushed everything that I’ve thrown at it. If you’re looking for huge, try stacking two programs in unison and engage the pan spread feature on both programs. Nothing stands a chance against 48 oscillators slamming into that Curtis filter. ???????????

        That said, I’ve still been wanting to get my hands on a Matrix 12… That would be a nice comparison.

        *note : I’m excluding the various monosynths from the versus list. Apples / oranges etc.

    2. while i am not arguing that the innovation will come from the new generation, neither this or parva seem to have anything innovative about them, except perhaps for the more accessible price. Having said that, the only recent synth i liked and thought was good value from d.s.i was evolver.
      After that i just see the same structure repeating itself….

  2. the sounds are nice, it could be great if the modulation scheme is as good as they’re advertising. way too many synth producers are letting us down with the limited amount of modulation possibilities creating a world of everything sounding virtually the same. F presets!

  3. Having used synths for over 32 years now , I am not particularly excited by much on the market.
    Synth sounds overlap so much it is not worth getting too excited. Cost and programmability are important. I have bought everything from a voyager to a dr synth etc in my time.
    The budget end of the market is whats helping people getting into synths and the choice is fantastic.
    I would like to see more 19 inch racks made as those of us traditionalists need good reliable studio gear , racked up and ready to go.
    This sounds like a ‘SYNTHESIZER’ so that is great in itself.

  4. For a synth that boasts a flexible modulatoon matrix, those audio demos all sound very similar. And there’s not much innovation in putting analog filters on digital oscillators, that technology has been around since the early eighties. But I’m very curious in what form factor they will be selling it, as the pic on their website hints at a modular approach to the voice card system.

    1. Yes, but not many companies do this at all. Outside of DCOs which are still analog, who is putting analog filters on digital synths? (Unless you’re doing yourself with pedals and such.)

      1. Analog filters on digital synths? Dave Smith Instruments (Prophet 12, Pro-2), Modal (002, 001), Roland (JD-Xa, JD-Xi) So there are a few.

      2. Half the synths from the early to mid 80s were configured like this.

        Korg DW series and DSS-1
        EMU Samplers (up to the EIII)
        Waldorf Wave/Microwave
        Ensoniq Mirage and ESQ-1/SQ-80
        Sequencial Prophet VS, Prophet 2000 and Prophet 3000

        I’m sure there are more that I’m not thinking of at the moment. This doesn’t even include modern stuff like the Mutable Instruments Shruthi-1 and Ambika, or the DSI Evolver family. I’m not saying their offering is not valid or welcome. Just that It’s far from the first time someone’s done a digital/analog hybrid.

        1. What a lot of people fail to realize as well, is the fair amount of really great analog filter desktop boxes out there now too. Moog, Waldorf, Vermona… etc…. Some are attempts at classic hardware emulations, faithful emulations, or with added features, some are new analog filter breeds all together. When you hear people squawking about vintage or new synths its always about the program ability, modulation ability and the filters are always at the top of the critical list.

          I’m about to buy a few desktop filters, $150-$400, I already have a sherman filter-bank, and plan on buying up cheap to shitty toy synths too play with my new filters, digital sound source, funky samples, dusty old shitty wonky sounds, pushed through creamy analog filters….

          Fuck buying up all these $1500-5000 “hybrid synths” unless your going modular, I just dont get it honestly, name brand loyalty I guess? A distinct sound you love? cool alright…

          I tell myself every time I go into the studio, “remember Steven, people back in the 70-90’s and now even, have and do make wayyyyyyy better music than you can, on some of the most basic of outdated junk.”

          then I fire up ableton with tears in my eyes

  5. tbh with a demo like this no chance im getting one. get some good sound designer liek don solaris to do some patches and really show what your machine is capable of. this demo does sound reallly generic and does not make my lift my credit card.

  6. This is pretty mch just what I’ve been wanting, a complex digital synth through analog filters and VCAs. As long as the digital stuff is running at a high enough sample rate to avoid aliasing (DSI fails at this) then I’m in. Sounds good so far, the demos are great.

    1. R7, I completely agree with you. DSI’s digital resolution is embarrassingly low @ 48khz. To compliment the analogue bandwidth, at a minimum the res should be 96khz! Minimum. Now Clavia does some clever programming in their older units that were 48khz (all digital synths) to overcome or minimise the aliasing issue however they have to simply increased the resolution of their synths.

      1. It’s something more designers should pay attention to. Aliasing is unacceptable in 2016. Modal with the 002 have a great idea with the variable sample rate per pitch approach but their hardware is ridiculously priced.

        Weren’t the Nord’s past the 2X running at 96kHz or was that just the DAC?

  7. R7, with regards to Nord I believe it was the DAC’s only. And I would take it one step further and say since 2012 using anything below 96khz is unacceptable. The sample resolution will not address all undesired artifacts however it is a “sound” starting point. With regard to Modal, they are using very high grade components, that coupled with the low production run, yields much higher price point.

    1. Modal’s sound is an acquired taste. I went to their booth at NAMM at least half a dozen times and tried both their 002 & 008. They are built rock solid, are well-thought-out and have so much to offer. I just find their sound out-of-the-box to be like some describe DSI’s stuff: brittle. I don’t know how to describe it… thin, emphasis on higher frequencies, almost too tame…? I soooo want to embrace their products, but when I’d go play the OB-6, or even Elektron’s Analog Keys, after the Modal stuff, it felt like I was coming home…

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