Surge is a deep multi-engine digital soft synth – beloved, then lost, then brought back to life as an open source project. And now it’s in a beta that’s usable and powerful and ready on every OS.
I wrote about Surge in the fall when it first hit a free, open source release:
Vember Audio owner @Kurasu made this happen. But software just “being open sourced” often leads nowhere. In this case, Surge has a robust community around it, turning this uniquely open instrument into something you can happily use as a plug-in alongside proprietary choices.
And it really is deep: stack 3 oscillators per voice, use morphable classic or FM or ring modulation or noise engines, route through a rich filter block with feedback and every kind of variation imaginable – even more exotic notch or comb or sample & hold choices, and then add loads of modulation. There are some 12 LFOs per voice, multiple effects, a vocoder, a rotary speaker…
I mention it again because now you can grab Mac (64-bit AU/VST), Windows (32-bit and 64-bit VST), and Linux (64-bit VST) versions, built for you.
And there’s VST3 support.
And there’s support for MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression), meaning you can use hardware from ROLI, Roger Linn, Haken, and others – I’m keen to try the Sensel Morph, perhaps with that Buchla overlay.
Now there’s also an analog mode for the envelopes, too.
This also holds great promise for people who desire a deep synth but can’t afford expensive hardware. While Apple’s approach means backwards compatibility on macOS is limited, it’ll run on fairly modest machines – meaning this could also be an ideal starting point for building your own integrated hardware/software solution.
In fact, if you’re not much of a coder but are a designer, it looks like design is what they need most at this point. Plus you can contribute sound content, too.
Most encouraging is really that they are trying to build a whole community around this synth – not just make open source maintenance a chore, but really a shared endeavor.
Check it out now: