Surge VST Synth Redesign

15 September, 2023

The Story Behind It

Surge was the first synthesizer on which Voger founder mastered sound-design and learned how to make his first sound presets.

So when we saw it getting a new life and going from a commercial product to an open-source project it was one of the reasons we wanted to give it a better look.

Surge is the first open-source VST synthesizer that rivals even its most high-end commercial VST competitors in terms of features and functionality. And as it is an open-source synthesizer, using this tool will cost you almost nothing.

The Story Behind It

Key Features

  • Free and open-source VST instrument with constant updates;
  • Over 1800 sound presets;
  • 14 effect algorithms (including 48 Airwindows effects);
  • 8 versatile oscilliator algorithms: Classic, Sine, Wavetable, Window, FM2, FM3, S&H, Noise and Audio Input;
  • Advanced LFO section with innovative MSEG modulation;
  • Skin engine for GUI;
  • Micro tuning and MPE support;
  • 14 filter types: LP, Legacy Ladder, Vintage Ladder, HP, BP, Notch, Allpass, Comb, S&H, K35, Diode Ladder, OB-Xd, Cutoff Warp & Reso Warp.

Skin Engine

Our goal was to make an old outdated and unscalable plugin look and feel up to date. Thanks to the Surge Team guys, the old graphics platform was completely reworked into a new convenient hybrid platform opening an opportunity to create unique GUI skins based on vector graphics. And now the entire Surge GUI is fully scalable.

Skin Engine Image 1


Since we mainly specialize in 3D audio designs, obviously our first concept was completely done in 3D namely in Blender 3D which is also an open-source project.

Skin Engine Image 2


But after the Surge vector platform was implemented we had to render practically all the graphics in SVG as accurately as possible (the only exception was the background). The problem appeared where we least expected it.

Challenges Image 1

Unfortunately, this new Surge GUI platform turned out to be unable to render soft semitransparent shadows, radically change the object positions, and most importantly, the proportions of almost all objects should have remained unchanged (especially concerning faders).

Challenges Image 2

That is why all the GUI shadows are either hard or simply baked into a raster background as in our design. Faders, buttons, switches, and other graphic elements remained within their positions and cannot be replaced with other graphic elements of similar functionality. For instance, a fader cannot be replaced with a knob although we still made it as an example for waveshaper.

Challenges Image 3

Final Design

And while the result may not be 100% what we wanted it’s still great and definitely worth the efforts. You can download the latest version of Surge via Github.

Final Design Image 1

Design is the process of solving obstacles you didn’t even see coming and that’s what makes it more exciting.

Final Design Image 2

Download our Surge Reaper Project here. All the sounds in it are made on this great open-source synth.

Final Design Image