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User Reviews by KVR Members for Surge

Rate & Review Surge Now!

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.

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Discussion: Active
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :)

30 November 2014 at 10:11am


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.

18 August 2016 at 4:17pm


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

Good work.

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.


16 May 2019 at 6:14am

Thank you for synth and for opensource.

How about a portable version of one?

It'd be really great.

Big up.

18 June 2019 at 7:04am

Just wanted to say I've created a FB group:

A few people from the project have already joined -- hopefully the group will help the synth grow. I'm a big fan of the synth myself, I think the modulation system is absolutely brilliant, combining LFO and envelopes that way. I'll be spending a lot of time with this synth :).

22 September 2019 at 12:19pm

I am impressed with this synthesizer. Its wide possibilities impress me. This is one of the best synthesizers to date. Although free.

24 September 2019 at 7:57am

Oh wow, have just discovered Surge - as others have noted, it's a bit odd, but once you start playing around with it, the capability really shines. Early days for me yet, but just mucking about with the A/B dual and split scenes takes me back to the good old days of hard synths where it was a norm (at least on all the machines I've used). Add to that the arsenal of patches already available, quality of sound and and parameter controls it's awesome - and goddam it, this baby is free!!!! Despite only a couple of hours in, the control layout, which initially threw me off, is actually very intelligently designed - the patch management is very clear and functional (love being able to add a comment and add my own category), the FX management looks very comprehensive, love the routing / filter configuration approach) and the wavetable capability looks very comprehensive, very quick to create an interesting sound.


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Average user rating of 4.53 from 15 reviews

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