Surge Synth Team updated the Surge synthesizer plugin (VST3) to v1.7.0 with hundreds of new features and a brand new user interface design.

Surge is a versatile hybrid virtual synthesizer in the VST3 plugin format for digital audio workstations on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It was initially priced at €99 before being discontinued in the early 2010s. Years later, the developer Vember Audio (aka Kurasu) re-released it as open-source on GitHub.

Being that Surge is an incredibly powerful synthesizer, the re-release attracted a lot of attention, and a team of developers gathered under the name of Surge Synth Team to continue the development. First, they updated the code to be compatible with modern-day DAWs, following that up with more and more new features and GUI refinements.

The latest update is the most epic one so far, making Surge a one-of-a-kind free synthesizer.

Surge v1.7.0 – What’s New?

Let’s start with the visuals. Surge is now skinnable (in-depth documentation on the skinning engine is coming soon) with swappable GUI assets. The plugin now includes a brand new dark skin (pictured on the screenshot below), which is a godsend for those late-night synth programming sessions.

Surge now features a dark skin.

Surge now features a dark skin.

The old light skin is still the default one, so you’ll need to activate the dark skin from the main menu. Also, being that the plugin is now skinnable, we can look forward to some great-looking third-party skins in the future. Bring it on, GUI designers!

Next up, Surge v1.7.0 brings tons of improvements on the FX front. The plugin now features s a new reverb mode, a flanger effect with extreme tuning and feedback options, and a ring modulatorAlso, the old phaser, reverb, rotary speaker, and EQ effects were improved.

The sine oscillator was improved as well, with more quadrant waveforms, a unison mode, a pair of filters, extended feedback range, and negative feedback that results in a square-shaped waveform. As the developers described it in the changelog, the sine oscillator is now a mini-synth on its own.

There are dozens of other improvements and added features in the latest version of Surge, so I won’t list them all here. Check the official changelog on the Surge project page for detailed information about each update.

One FREE Synth To Rule Them All

For a very, very long time, Synth1 by Ichiro Toda was commonly regarded as the best freeware synth plugin. Back then, ask for a free synth recommendation on any music production forum, and you’d always get the same response – Synth1.

As time went by, free VST plugins kept getting better, and so did the freeware synths. There came a period when it was hard to say which freeware synthesizer was the best. Amazing freeware plugins like Tyrell N6, TAL-Elek7ro, Helm, Atlantis, and several others, were sharing that number one spot in the realm of free synth plugins. It was simply impossible to say which one was the best because each of those synths was great in its own right, and none of them really stood out.

Now, once again, it’s perfectly clear which freeware synthesizer is the best. Nothing comes close to Surge, and there’s simply no discussion. What’s crazy is that Surge keeps getting better with each update, and the developers at Surge Synth Team seem unstoppable. These people are doing a massive favor to the music producer community in general, and we can only thank them for the fantastic job they’ve done so far.

Download Surge

You can download the latest version of Surge via Github. The software is available in VST3 plugin format for 32-bit and 64-bit DAW applications on Windows. As for macOS and Linux, only 64-bit plugin hosts are supported.

If you’re interested in helping with Surge development, check out the details about this open-source project on the product page. The developers are also looking for help with logo design, presets, and testing.

More info: Surge (35.8 MB download size, EXE installer, 32-bit & 64-bit VST3 plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)

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About Author

Tomislav is a journalist, music producer, and web designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief here at Bedroom Producers Blog.

41 Comments

  1. Finally! Been waiting for them to add a skinning engine, glad to hear about the update. Thanks Tomislav!

  2. Virus Total is reporting 4 detections for the Surge-1.7.0-Setup.exe file:

    AegisLab: Trojan.Win32.Generic.4!c
    Avast: FileRepMalware
    AVG: FileRepMalware
    Bkav: W32.AIDetectVM.malware5

    This is an open source project so I’m almost sure that are false positives, but…
    What’s your opinion about this?

    Thanks

    • Same here. Did the check on virustotal, aswell. Installed it anyway…. My system is still up and running. I guess they used some suspicious install routine. On a side note: there is no VST2 support nor an option to choose a path to install to.

      • Official VST2 support is indeed gone, while it’s still technically possible to compile. But let’s face it, it’s gone. :-) Don’t forget to uninstall older version(s).
        C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3 is where it’s at now.

  3. https://surge-synth-team.org/

    More goodies from Surge Synth Team.

    Includes forked Dexed, Tuning Workbench Synth, Surge Rack (for VCV rack), Surge FX as separate VST, Surge Tuning Library (code for implimenting microtuning in a synth).

    Great team work is what they are doing!

  4. I had to clean out older installations I had of Surge, it seems not the new version deletes them. So FL Studio would just want to see the old versions I had installed. But after manually uninstalling v162 and v165, I finally got FL Studio to see v170
    The new dark skins looks beautiful, and the plug is very little CPU hungry, so I am happy with this upgrade

  5. There isn’t much to say. Wow. Surge is indeed becoming unavoidable.
    Since the point was raised, and rightly so, Synth1 still has the advantage of being fast and fun to use and having some awesome musical preset banks made over the years by so many people, from bread and butter, vintage to more modern styles, both being useful as starting points or for the ones with less sound design skills.
    I can only wish Surge the same fate.

  6. Hey thanks for the lovely review! We are all chatting about it over on surge synth team slack! More coming in the next 6 months too.

    One thing I would add: if you are a c++ programmer and want to join the fun we would love more developers!

  7. Also a correction – rotary speaker effect was already there for quite some time now, it just got some more parameters now. :)

  8. hopefully this version doesnt crash ableton LOL. Obviosly they did that on purpose, ex ableton dev.. Bitwig, ect..

    • Conspiracy theory? This early in the morning? °_°;
      Anyhow, v1.7.1 with some various fixes is out, nothing big, but who knows…

    • Tomislav Zlatic

      on

      As always, use your own judgment and antivirus software that you trust. VST plugins are often falsely flagged as malware by AV programs, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether you want to install something or not.

  9. I wonder, if I delete the older installations and install the new version will it replace all the instances of the old version with the new and keep the settings on existing projects? I’m running Ableton 10

  10. I know why they’ve done it/had to do it but for what is a FOSS synth which is being supported via the Linux community it’s madness to go VST3 only when none of the Linux DAWs (apart from maybe Bitwig) support VST3!

  11. Just randomly saw this. It’s super awesome now. I remember checked it few years ago and it had not that much presets and they were a bit generic. But now it has presets from various authors and it has really great ones.
    Thanks so much for letting know about this!

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