Surge XT 1.3 Introduces New Effects, OSC Support, Command Line


One of the best free synthesizer plugins, the open-source Surge XT, recently received a 1.3 update with new effects, Open Sound Control (OSC) support, and a command line.

Surge XT is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. With the 1.3.0 update, Surge XT can now be controlled entirely with the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol. 

You can also now use MIDI Program Changes to load patches, and a command-line-only version is now available for embedded and headless applications.

The Surge Synth Team has debuted a new effect with the release: the Bonsai tape and saturation model. 

The team describes Bonsai as “an organic sounding distortion effect, combining a highly non-linear bass boost with an emphasis-filtered waveshaper and noise AM.” 

Bonsai is designed to deliver beefy, gnarly sounds and nail more subtle tones. 

A Vintage FM feedback mode has been added for the Sine, FM2, and FM3 oscillators. This uses the average of the last two samples to calculate feedback, which mirrors the operation of the first FM synthesizers.

Another new feature is expanded ring modulation options in the mixer, which can produce “a myriad of growls, squeals, boosts, and signal combinations.”

Concerning modulation, the release adds handy maths functions (parity, signum, sign, rescale, etc.) and a slew limiter to the Formula modulator prelude.

Surge XT now also features an expanded Tuning Editor, which has real-time visualizations for tunings and scales.  

The 1.3.0 release also includes several other improvements and bug fixes, which you can check out in detail at the Surge changelog here.

If you want to hear the Surge XT in action, the product page linked at the start of the article features several embedded tracks from the KVR One Synth Challenge.

All the synth parts you hear on the tracks were done with the Surge XT, and they’re a great showcase for the versatile sounds that the instrument offers. 

The feature-packed Surge XT has been leading the charge in terms of what is available in the open-source synth community for a while now. If you haven’t dived in to see what it can offer yet, then with this big 1.3.0 update, there’s never been a better time. 

The synth was initially created as a commercial release by Vember Audio’s Claes Johanson.

However, as he was too busy with other projects, Johanson eventually turned it into an open-source project – and the Surge community has been knocking it out of the park ever since!

Download: Surge XT (FREE)


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Steve is a musician and journalist who hails from Melbourne, Australia. He learned everything he knows about production from Google and used that vast knowledge to create a series of records you definitely haven’t heard of.


  1. Surge XT is great and I’m glad it’s still being consistently updated. I am a little confused why BPB used a photo of the Surge XT VCV Racks though.

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