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User Reviews by KVR Members for Surge

Rate & Review Surge Now!

Reviewed By inkwarp [read all by] on 21st April 2018
Version reviewed: 1.5.2 on Windows.
Last edited by inkwarp on 21st April 2018.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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just a 'bump' as this is a brilliant softsynth. i seem to be using it more than ever these days.

i have gotten more interesting sounds out of this than practically any other vsti i have used. I mean banks of all sorts. the modulation features are spot on.

the interface is a superb example of how to mix form and function.

if i was to restrict myself to just a few vsti, this would absolutely be on the list.

Reviewed By mat42291 [read all by] on 29th November 2014
Version reviewed: 1.5.3 on Windows
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I bought this synth in 2013. I love this synth. I've played around with a lot of other synths and I just always come back to surge. Why? I actually have fun programming sounds. I don't want to open up a synth and feel like making something is a chore. At the end of the day it doesn't matter how much power a synth has if I'm fighting with the interface. It seems like today people are so obsessed with the next big thing and power, that simplicity and ease of use is seriously overlooked.

Surge has it's own character. You either hate it or love it. I'll admit at first I was a little put off by its harsher sound, but with a little tweaking you can definitely get some warmth from it. I find it's incredibly flexible and a great all rounder synth.

The other thing that's great is Surge finds a balance between being too heavy in a mix and too thin. When I design sounds I want them to fit. When previewing a patch alone in surge it might not pop out at you, but 9/10 it'll fit in the mix with minimal tweaking. I'm not a fan of the presets that sound amazing on their own, but eat up the whole spectrum that happens a lot on other synths. With Surge it's like fitting pieces of a puzzle together and when the track comes together it's sonically beautiful.

This synth strikes the perfect balance between being complex enough to make some awesome sounds and being user friendly enough so you spend more time making music and less time fighting with the software.

If you're thinking about buying Surge, don't hesitate. This is a beautiful synth with so many possibilities and an interface that just makes sense.

Reviewed By Introspective [read all by] on 20th June 2012
Version reviewed: 1.5.3 on Mac
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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I've owned Surge for quite a few years.

I bought Surge as a replacement for Z3ta+, which I found I was missing after switching to OS X. In particular, I missed the ability to modulate the wave-shape the way Zeta used to. Surge is not as flexible as Zeta in this regard, but it's nice to have some of those features back. I also liked the wavetable capabilities.

That said, I found that I really loved the straight saw sounds out of Surge: they are "crispy"... and while they have a slightly digital feel to them, I really like the tone. Dial up the "Happy" patch for an example. (And though Surge offers three variants of tone toward the top of the interface, I never truly found this tweak to make a big enough difference to be worth using.)

Surge is also adept at handling a myriad of other "digital" sounds... particularly FM. Though this won't replace FM8, it does have some great capabilities in this department, making it my second-favorite FM synth.

The presets are good... though they are not going to make you jump out of your seat, they cover a lot of territory, including basic sounds and really far-out stuff. Claes did a good job, here.

The UI is reasonable. Strange colors, a blocky, windows-like feel... but puts most of what you need in a very small space. I don't especially enjoy editing the FX, however (and by and large, I don't like the FX compared to other synths). Modulation routing is brilliant... one of my favorite synths for this kind of editing. Modulation in general is Surge's trump card: great possibilities with strong LFOs, good envelopes, a decent step-sequencer, and other tricks up its sleeve. The two synths that I find Surge most comfortably compares itself to (at least that I own) are Massive and Largo. ...another two wavetable synths. I own both, and I find myself reaching for them more often than Surge largely because of their UIs. Largo also sounds better, in general (better filers, particularly with drive), and is more flexible. Massive has a larger bass presence, but sounds much more digital than Surge. Massive's modulation routing is also one step up from Surge's, since you can see destinations immediately rather than having to click on each source. ...That said, Surge is capable of modifying the same destination with more modulators, if you need that sort of thing.

The sound of Surge is, overall, good. Not stellar, and it has a hard time competing with more modern synths. As a result, I've really stopped using Surge much. I still have a couple of weird sounds waiting to throw into a track here and there, and I certainly haven't uninstalled it, but I generally don't find Surge capable of keeping up with its competitors. I think it sounds about as good as Massive (though not for bass, where obviously Massive wins). Largo sounds better (again: it's the filters), but when you put Surge next to the most modern synths (Diva, ElectraX, Dune, Zebra, etc)... it's just not as "sweet".

That said, there are a few "weird" lead sounds that I really love in Surge and would be hard to reproduce in other synths ("Back to Tyrel", for example), and will probably make me keep it installed moving forward. ...I also just find Surge "fun". :) It's a synth with an attitude of its own, and I respect that.

Lastly, I'll say that of all the synths I own (about 20), Surge is in my top three for the number of patches I've written for it. It's a synth that invites editing.

I'm glad I own it. ...But I'm afraid I would steer people away from it, unless you're already well-stocked with the better modern synths. If you're looking for something quirky to add to an already-robust collection, then I heartily recommend it: Surge has a character and "spunk" that I'm sure you would enjoy.

FWIW, you can hear Surge presets being used in some of Infected Mushroom's more modern stuff, to give you an idea of how professional it can sound. ...if you like that kind of thing.

I should also mention that I've never had Surge freeze or crash on me, even though I've certainly put it through its paces.

Reviewed By dasdeck [read all by] on 28th June 2010
Version reviewed: 1.5.2 on Windows
1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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User Interface
this is the part i like best about surge. the user interface is the best i've come across! its so fast to work with, yet i like its vibe.

Sound
The sound is high quality, thought i find it to tend to be a bit "hard" or "harsh" sounding. its very clean and precise, wich is good and bad. good if you like controll, bad if you like good sounding accidents.

Features
I find the future set quite complete. it has multiple synthesizing methods, wavetable, VA and FM, internal fx and flexible routing and modualation abilitys.

Documentation
never needed it as far as i remember. the userinterface's workflow worked quick with me. i'm very quick, when it comes to grasp ui concepts in general thought.

Presets
i did not like the presets at all to be honest. so i never use them. i find the style of them kind of sterile and computer game alike. there are 3rd party ones thought, plus you can get additional wavetables.
i may release some of my presets too!

Customer Support
mhh..i guess the company is not dead, but not that active either.
the last update was some time ago as far is i remember.

Value For Money
a solid product for a fair price.

Stability
i havily use this plugin almost dayly, so it should speak for itself that i can barely remember any issues i had with it. there where some thought. but non casual ones (aka. no crash, just little quirks). but i don't even remember what it was!

thats it for now!
if you want a nice, all over solid quality synth with a killer workflow, get surge!
Reviewed By megadeth [read all by] on 5th November 2009
Version reviewed: 1.5.1 on Windows
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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I wanted to review this synth because it is not like any other

The last review is old, so i wanted to say : it still alive ;)
I will not enter the technical domain, all is already written

This synth can do anything : bass, lead, arp, pad, FX ... and more :D
The versatility is very huge (i totaly dislike bass only synths or pads only)

It is sounding very huge and fat (that's the first thing you will feel)
But the modulations, arp, effects...can make it strange, mysterious, twisted...too

It is not the usual virtual analog with 70's feel, nor the cold digital modern sound, but all of them at the same time ;)

It is full of stock presets (1010 patches for now), so you will find anything from bread and butter sounds to experimental digital FX

Another important thing is inspiration : i found a lot of inspiring presets to start a song

Conclusion : this is a very good sounding synth, with a lot of routing and modulation possibilities, can do any kind of style or sounds...and the price is very nice too !!!

you don't need to trust me, you can download the demo and listen to demo samples ;)
Reviewed By kuniklo [read all by] on 28th January 2006
Version reviewed: 1.02 on Windows.
Last edited by kuniklo on 28th January 2006.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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Simply put, Surge currently occupies the sweet spot between features, ease of use and programmability in the vst world. It presents extremely flexible oscillators and a variety of very good filters in the most intuitive and efficient UI of any softsynth on the market. It's not a character synth like impOSCar and falls clearly on the VA side of the timbral spectrum but it's capable of a huge range of sounds in that flavor and is a sound designer and tweaker's dream.

Surge owes most of that flexibility to its oscillators. Unlike most synths that require you to coordinate two or more oscillators and a handful of modulation routings to move beyond a vanilla saw or pulse waveform, each of Surge's oscillators can do as much as most synths' entire oscillator bank. Each osc can run in a standard VA-style mode or in wavetable mode. In VA mode each oscillator provides modulatable shape, width, sub-oscillator level and width, self sync and detunable unison. In wavetable mode each osc provides modulatable shape, skew, saturation and format controls. This flexibility makes it a snap to create new timbres with a minimum of work. Surge also provides inter-oscillator ring modulation and limited FM routing to allow an even wider range of sounds.

Surge provides two multimode filters with arbitrary oscillator routing, several feedback loop modes and a complete array of filter types, from basic lp/bp/hp filters to comb filters and an unusual sample and hold filter for glitchy digital sounds. Sonically the filters aren't quite in the class of the very best vsts like impOSCar or Minimonsta but they still sound great. A bank of different wave shapers provides many options for dirtying up the sound.

In addition, Surge comes with one of the most comprehensive arrays of effects available on any synth, including not only the usual delay/chorus/reverb but also very useful pitch shifter and distortion effects. These can be used as inserts or routable sends and sound very good for onboard effects. Surge provides a simple preset system for effects which makes it quick to get back a favorite setting. Unlike most onboard effects, most effect parameters are modulation targets themselves.

Instead of hardwired lfos and envelopes, each modulation source can operate as an lfo or an envelope or as a simple step sequencer. The standard lfo waveforms can be further shaped by per-lfo deformation and envelope controls, making it possible to create the kind of complex modulation shapes that require multiple mod matrix entries in more conventional designs.

The thing that really sets Surge apart from other synths in this class with similar feature lists is it's phenominal UI. All the available modulation sources are laid out as small buttons at the bottom of the interface. Setting up a modulation routing is as simple as clicking on one of these sources and then clicking and dragging on the target control to set the degree of modulation. Suble highlights on the controls and mod sources give a quick overview of existing modulation routings. It's hard to appreciate how much faster and easier than a typical mod matrix approach is until you've spent some time working with it. It makes the whole process so effortless that you're much more likely to experiment with different routings and to come up with new sounds. In combination with the extremely flexible and modulatable oscillators there simply is no better synth for quick, on-the-fly sound design and tweaking. If you like to build sounds from scratch in the middle of a tracking session or you tend to extensively tweak sounds as you work them into a track you'll find Surge to be your new secret weapon.

CPU usage is quite moderate. The included documentation is somewhat minimal but covers all the features well enough and is more detailed and polished than that of most small-developers. In many hours of use I've yet to encounter a single bug or crash using Surge, in any combination of features. Surge isn't tied down by any annoying and counter-productive copy protection.

I can really only make one complaint about Surge, and it's that the bundled preset library, while good, doesn't really show Surge at its absolute best. There's plenty of good bread & butter sounds and a nice assortment of more exotic patches too but compared to synths like Blue or z3ta, the lack of top-notch professional sound designers shows. Hopefully Claes will be able to commision some sound design from someone like BigTone in a subsequent version. If you prefer synths with a big library of ready-to-use professional sounds then Surge might not be for you but otherwise Surge is simply a big step ahead of all the competition. It's not inexpensive but compared to everything else in its price bracket Surge is worth every penny. More than anything else released in 2005 it shows that the real innovators in the vst world are still the small independent developers.
Reviewed By Motion [read all by] on 15th November 2005
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows.
Last edited by Motion on 15th November 2005.
14 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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Whilst SURGE is clearly a complex synthesiser,using it is almost contrary to that sophistication,this is no easy feat and a lot of careful thought has gone into the GUI,it's implementation,presentation and navigation.SURGE is effectively 2 scenes,A and B which you work between if you wish to have splits and layers.

The 3 excellent sounding band limited oscillators each have 5 algorithms to choose from which are classic (pulse,saw/dual saw oscillators which are morphable with a sub oscillator and self sync),sinus,wavetable(about 150 included),SH noise or external audio input,you can also set them up to do FM and 3 carrier modulator configs are available,ring mod is also featured,depending what you select appropriate and extensive oscillator controls appear for the respective choice,I won't go into all the details but having the all important sub oscillator at 1 octave down is present for extra fat with syncable pulse width along with keytrigger/retrigger,the other 3 you see in the oscillator section are fixed x2 for ring mod and a seperate noise oscillator all with independant level control and a master gain stage on the output,there are also controls for oscillator drift to induce imperfections along with noise colour and a seperate high pass filter,you can route the oscillators individually to either or both filters,the wave shaper has 5 options and unlike many these sound very good indeed.

There are 10 filter types including a 1-4 pole selectable 24LP ladder that can go into self oscillation,these impressive sounding filters have 7 different configurations of various series and parallel routings including the waveshapers placement in the filter signal path with user controllable feedback.The 4 stage FEG and AEG are tempo syncable for the ADR portions.And while I'm on the subject of tempo sync portamento!is included.

The Lfos which are tempo syncable are extremely comprehensive with various modes such as freerun,retrigger,random and unipolar with 8 preset waveforms along with a drawable 16 step sequencer with a modifiable loop point and all
with,rate,phase/shuffle,magnitude and deform and finally 6 stage EGs with tempo syncable DAHDR portions.Be advised in advance regards self induced changes to your spatial awareness.You have been warned.

The FX are very flexible with 9 choices these cover various tempo syncable delays,phasers,frequency shifters but with vemberaudios quality algorithms and smoothness,you can bypass sends,scene fx or everything,the setups can also be globally saved with the patch.

The GUI of SURGE is beautifully designed and logically laid out that you always feel in control,this is a synth that works with you and for you,you never feel lost and everything feels so well tuned and honed that when you apply or change functions they precisely tally with your thinking and the sound goes exactly where you expect it to go,this is particularly noticeable when modifying the lfos because you can jointly see and hear what is happening as the graphic waveform changes providing accurate visual and auditory feedback that is very tight timing wise and in sync with the targeted parameters,there appears to be no perceptible lag or latency with whatever you are manipulating or ajusting,this I'm sure contributes substantially toward the instant feedback and responsive sonics that come about whilst working with SURGE and makes it such a joy to use.The precision of it all is fabulous.

A great strength is the rather unique mods,by pressing the middle mouse button after highlighting the respective mod source all the available destination controls become highlighted in blue which is just about everything for the hardwired ones and the 7cc's including fx controls,the 1st 6 "voice" lfos can't mod the fx but the 6 scene lfos can!!With a few flicks of the wrist just move whatever and the respective range is set,unclick job done.

Soundwise this is where SURGE really excels.Subjectively think ARP Odyssey,Oberheim Matrix Series,Oscar,PPG,Prophet VS,DX7,Alesis Ion and Clavia Nords come to mind.Yet despite this description SURGE still manages to sound it's own man,somehow tiptoeing in between the cracks and beyond.SURGE remains smooth and clean but not clinical due to the removal of interpolation artifacts and other aliasing nasties.

SURGE is an extremely versatile,creative and superb sounding synthesiser which is up there with the best.All this achieveable in a graceful and easy manner given the intuitiveness afforded by the great all round design.

If you don't think you need another synth then SURGE may just change your mind,if you don't own one and need one then SURGE deserves to be considered near the top of that short list.

Both stability and developer support are excellent and a good manual is available along with numerous presets.SURGE costs 180 Euros/Dollars and is excellent value given its comprehensiveness.A Mac port is also coming.

The above review is an edit.Please PM me for a copy of the original.

Latest 7 reviews from a total of 7

Discussion

Discussion

Discussion: Active
biomekk
biomekk
27 January 2012 at 9:23am

Had this one for a while now and it definitely fills the part of being the "odd VST amongst your normal ones".

What I like about it the most is the attack and the digital kind of grittiness.

And as said before the GUi is actually very user friendly. For example, the way you drag and drop assign things in the modulation matrix by "drag and drop" is something I really miss on more expensive plugins. Vember has really ignored fancy looks (yeah it's ugly ) and instead focused on making a practical tool.

liquidsound
liquidsound
7 April 2012 at 7:56pm

It just seat in every mix. It's truly a powerhouse and a learning tool for modulation and the effects routing is genius.

Architeuthis
Architeuthis
2 July 2012 at 9:16pm

I would like to say that Surge is the only synth I've used that I've been able to make crazy-scary renditions of acoustic sounds from woodwind to brass to dog vocal tracts. Surge is definitely one of the only synths on the market that allows you to explore these things because of its combination of featureset and tweakability. To tap into this, just enable the feedback routing, add feedback, add resonance in the filters, enable keytracking of filter, etc.

I will, however, agree that it does not sound sweet like modern synths. But what modern synths lacks, Surge definitely has. Its tweakability invites insanity.

dave40
dave40
3 August 2012 at 9:36pm

Hello everyone, just wanted to say I purchased Surge in Feb 2012 and haven't looked back yet.

Though it may not be the most technically advanced soft-synth out there it definitely has a certain something about it. I keep finding myself creating really exciting and attention-grabbing sounds whenever I just sit down and start experimenting with it. This is something I have not really found with the two other synths I have taken the time to learn in depth - Albino and Zebra.

Those 'in the know' say it is best to just pick one machine and learn to program it really well, as opposed to purchasing all the vsti's out there. So, following on from that I have made Surge my number one sound-software, along with Reaper and Halion 3. Surge seems to do a really good job of most of the basic sounds like bass, drums, keys and fx.

I think what makes it for me is it's fundamentally rock 'n' roll sound quality, everything sounds so fat and juicy with a great attitude - it seems incapable of making bland sounds. Claes, the developer, really has done a great job on this synth - it looks like he really knows about programming nice sounding oscillator and filter algorithms.

That's all for now, I've just got to go and program a totally overdriven, pulse-width-modulated, digitally aliased, resonant-comb-filtered, waveshaped, step-sequenced and delay-drenched monstrosity! Dave.

PUSHA
PUSHA
13 May 2013 at 12:36pm

This Synth is an absolute BEAST!!!!! How this doesn't get more attention or credit is beyond me. I cant wait to see what Vember puts out next cause I'm a huge fan of theirs. Anybody who hasnt tried this synth out needs to ASAP!!! Amazing work to those involved in the development of this great machine. Please tell me you guys are working on VST's to release soon or in the near future.

inkwarp
inkwarp
30 November 2014 at 12:13am

+10 from me. probably used this longer than most other synth plugs but i still find things it can do. once you know your way around it can pretty much fill any sound needs. a brilliant bit of kit :)

medicor
medicor
30 November 2014 at 10:11am

+1.

I agree, for me too, this is the synth that i have been using for the longest time. It has a unique sound and a great user interface, and even if it can't really compete with modern synths like Spire and SynthMaster, when it comes to modern edm sounds, it still has "it" and is great fun to play around with. To bad Claes/Vember Audio doesn't develop it anymore. I guess that Bitwig took all of his time.

Mattvk
Mattvk
18 August 2016 at 4:17pm

+1.

An evergreen in Software Synthesis with his a own digital character. Intresting how many still using these synth.

Good work.

torridgristle
torridgristle
28 September 2018 at 12:33am

Surge is now free and open source, the price and links should be updated.

Purple Six Recordz
Purple Six Recordz
22 October 2018 at 12:46pm

This VST is a keeper. So many sound presets and options for free VST is amazing. Love that there are a lot of sounds with dark, creepy vibe to them. :).

I also made a demo video for the VST for people to check out before downloading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uetcIvY0fbg

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Surge

Average user rating of 4.29 from 7 reviews

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