Vember Audio has announced that its Surge virtual hybrid synthesizer is now re-released as open-source software. It is currently available for download as a VST and VST3 plugin for 64-bit digital audio workstations on Windows.
Surge was released in 2006 and was priced at €99 back in the day. It was developed by Vember Audio, the company whose developer Claes later started the Bitwig project. Despite its old age, Surge is still a monster synthesizer in every respect. Obviously, the fact that it is now open-source means that you can download and use it completely free of charge. This also means that we will hopefully see some long-awaited updates such as a larger user interface and support for 64-bit workstations running on MacOS.See also: Best FREE Synthesizer VST Plugins
Let’s take a quick look at some of Surge’s most impressive features. It is a hybrid subtractive synthesizer boasting a dual synth engine, three oscillators per voice with eight oscillator algorithms (analog, FM, wavetable, audio input, and more), 183 wavetables, two filter units with eight filter types, twelve highly customizable LFO modules per voice, eight FX slots with ten FX types to choose from, and a modulation matrix. The instrument comes packed with 1,010 presets which are organized into categories for easy browsing. The presets are nothing short of astounding. I literally spent three hours playing around with Surge before writing this article, most of which consisted of me going through the available sounds and jamming out like crazy. I was also happy to notice that the CPU hit is surprisingly low for such a complex virtual instrument.
The biggest issue with the current version of Surge is the GUI size. It is incredibly small by today’s standards. The complexity of the user interface doesn’t help this issue, either. Here’s hoping that someone skilled at developing plugins will use the available source code to come up with a more modern graphical design for this otherwise impressive virtual instrument. Better yet, make it a resizable GUI. And yes, compatibility with different platforms is another aspect that can be improved upon. At the moment, only 64-bit VST and VST3 plugin hosts on Windows are supported.
To download Surge, visit the GitHub page linked below and click on the Releases tab. Download the latest installer and run it on your Windows machine. Once installed, you will find the plugin files in the Program Files/Common folder on your C drive. The destination directory can’t be customized with the current version of the installer. For more info about the instrument, check out the product page on Vember Audio’s website. A big thank you goes out to our reader Drew Lake for letting us know about the news!
Surge is available for free download via GitHub (7.47 MB download size, EXE installer, 64-bit VST/VST3 plugin format for Windows).
This is great – I remember trying it many years ago.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work properly in Live 10 on Windows 7 – the plugin loads OK, but no GUI appears and the button to open the GUI is missing from the instrument box for the track.
What OS\DAW did you get it working with?
Tested in MuLab on Windows 7, works like a charm.
The github has that issue logged, seems kurasu (which is Claes I think) already fixed in the source code. Ah wait, seems there is a new build release too (v1.6.0b2), cool.
Synapse Orion, and ok. The problem do not seems to be the plugin ;)
Tested in Tracktion 7 and works great.
Wow, this is an amazing and powerfull soft synth, hopefully we’ll see some improvements and bug fixes soon! Unfortunately in the VST3i version, the pitch bend doesn’t work, in the VST2 version it works just fine.
I’m on Win 10 64, Reaper v5.96pre11 64 bit.
Thanks for letting us know Drew Lake and of course, thanks for posting Tomislav!
AWESOME… Would love to see Shortcircuit go the same way :)
Ah, same here. Shortcircuit is mind-blowingly good.
Would be still my No.1 sampler Plugin if it just have FLAC support. Hopefully it will be opensource too and someone implement FLAC support.
A Drum N Bass musician I personally enjoy and respect posted a tutorial in 2013 on how they use this particular plugin:
Hoping I’ll have time soon to practice this tutorial and test the amazing number of good sounding presets i could hear so far!
thanks a lot BPB
Great video, thanks for sharing it here.
It looks and sounds amazing. I’m loving it. The only problem is that it keeps closing my Daw (FL Studio 20) when I’m switching presets. Is anyone with the same issue?
I’m using Windows 10 x64 bit
No issues to report in my DAW (MuLab).
Hoping for a resizable interface, right now its too tiny. Sounds good tho.
This thing just cranks out weird noises, really into the oscillators and FM and RM systems.
May want to link to the manual from the Vember Audio website, even if some of it may be a little different now.
Hopefully Shortcircuit will also make a comeback as Open Source eventually! I have not found a sampler that works as fast and intuitive as SC and I also like the beta version of SC2.
Hi everyone, Am I the only one for whom the wavetable selector (menu) doesn’t appear when I click on the wavetable name? (In Cantabile Lite 2 and 3.)
sounds great, but that small interface please make a big gui so it’s so easy to work on, then everybody make tons of free presets!
That’s really cool! I remember Surge being one of the best VSTi at the time, with a clean sound and lots of functionalities (for the time). I hope it will continue to live on as an open source software. Hopefully, a Linux port will be added to LMMS!
Hopefully a ton of presets get made for what a nice free synth.
I love surge. Made some great tracks with it, amazing for trance. Need a 64bit mac version ASAP!!!!
Need a ZIP version where you only have to copy a .dll into your VST-Folders and that stores everything (Patches, files) in a single subfolder if needed. Makes Backups much more easier.
You said install folder isn’t selectable. Can I move the VST elsewhere after install or it’ll break? I like all my VSTs in one folder for portability’s sake.
Haven’t tested it myself, but I believe some users reported GUI issues after moving the VST folder. Could be wrong though.
Wonderful news! Hopefully Surge’s development won’t stop.
Its amazing that this is for free, love the vst and use it for My beats. :)
I also made a demo video for people wondering how it sounds.
Wonderful news, people! Surge is now available in 32-/64-bit VST/VST3/AU plugin formats for Windows, Mac OS and Linux! It is now quite stable and it has a resizable GUI. Get this freebie synth diamond here: https://surge-synthesizer.github.io/ . =)
Yes, amazing freeware synthesizer. I will update the article with the new supported formats.
Hell yeah so cool that the GUI is zoomable now. And it sounds great.
I think the guy from Bitwig reworked the engine.
I can see this getting some use for sure.
Surge is fantastic. Great job. All those tweakable presets….
idk what this “Surge” used to be at the time this was written, but now all it is is a block of effects. Nothing remotely like a synth. In fact, I think this site has to be a joke, it’s spam. Going elsewhere to find a REAL list of synths that wasn’t put together by flat-earther man-buns who are trying to be, like, y’knew, SEW ironic…
Surge most certainly is a synth.