Synthesizer plug-in (previously released as Vember Audio Surge)
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This is the synthesizer plug-in Surge which I previously sold as a commercial product as the company vember audio.

As I (@kurasu / Claes Johanson) am too busy with other projects and no longer want to put the effort into maintaining it myself across multiple platforms, I have decided to give it new life as an open-source project.

It was originally released in 2005, and was one of my first bigger projects. The code could be cleaner, and certain parts better explained, but it is reliable and sounds great.

The codebase was migrated from before an unfinished 1.6 release, which improves on the last released 1.5.3 in a number of ways:

  • It uses a newer version of the VSTGUI framework
    • This has caused a lot of graphical bugs, with some still needing to be fixed
    • But it will enable the creation of a port for both 64-bit macOS and Linux
  • Support for VST3
  • Support for MPE
  • New analog mode for the ADSR envelopes

Surge currently builds with Windows and macOS (AudioUnit,VST2), and getting it to build on Linux again should be doable with some effort.

Releases available here - this page currently has Windows builds only.


First you need to grab all of the git submodules (these are needed to get the VST3 SDK)

git submodule update --init --recursive


Building with Windows


To build with Windows, run


Or you can just generate the project files by using

premake5 vs2017

After which you can open the Visual Studio solution which has been generated.

To build the installer, open the file installer_win/surge.iss using Inno Setup.

As of Jan 2019, Microsoft is making free Windows 10 VM's available which contain their development tooling and are capable of building Surge at this Microsoft page. To setup, after starting the VM for the first time run visual studio installer, update, and then make sure the desktop C++ kit, including optional CLI support, Windows 8.1 SDK, and vc2015 toolset for desktop is installed. Then proceed as above.


Build Pre-requisites

This process expects that you have both Xcode and Xcode Command Line Utilities installed.

Install premake5 by downloading it from Unzip the package. Install it in /usr/local/bin or elsewhere in your path.

cp premake5 /usr/local/bin

Clone the Surge repo to a path of your choice, and init submodules

git clone
cd surge
git submodule update --init --recursive

Building with has all the commands you need to build, test, locally install, validate, and package Surge on mac. It's what the primary mac developers use day to day. The simplest approach is to build everything


this command will build, but not install, the VST3 and AU components. It has a variety of options which are documented in the ./ --help screen but a few key ones are:

  • ./ --build-validate-au will build the audio unit, correctly install it locally in ~/Library and run au-val on it. Running any of the installing options of ./build-osx will install assets on your system. If you are not comfortable removing an audio unit by hand and the like, please exercise caution.

  • ./ --build-and-install will build all assets and install them locally

  • ./ --clean-all will clean your work area of all assets

  • ./ --clean-and-package will do a complete clean, thena complete build, then build a mac installer package which will be deposited in products.

./ is also impacted by a couple of environment variables.

  • VST2SDK_DIR points to a vst2sdk. If this is set vst2 will build. If you set it after having done a run without vst2, you will need to ./ --clean-all to pick up vst2 consistently

  • BREWBUILD=TRUE will use homebrew clang. If XCode refuses to build immediately with error: invalid value 'c++17' in '-std=c++17' and you do not want to upgrade XCode to a more recent version, use homebrew to install llvm and set this variable.

Using xcode

premake xcode4 builds xcode assets so if you would rather just use xcode, you can open the solutions created after running premake yourself or having ./ run it.

After the build runs, be it successful or not, you can now launch Xcode and open the Surge folder. Let Xcode do it's own indexing / processing, which will take a while.

All of the three projects (surge-vst3, surge-vst2, surge-au) will recommend you to Validate Project Settings, meaning, more precisely, to Update to recommended settings. By clicking on Update to recommended settings, a dialog will open and you'll be prompted to Perform Changes. Perform the changes.

XCode will result in built assets in products/ but will not install them and will not install the ancilliary assets. To do that you can either ./ --install-local or ./ --package and run the resulting pkg file to install in /Library.

Using the built assets

Once you have underaken the install options above, the AU and VSTs should just work. Launch your favorite host, get it to load the plugin, and have fun!

To use the AU in Logic, Mainstage, GarageBand, and so on, you need to do one more one-time step which is to invalidate your AU cache so that you force Logic to rescan. The easiest way to do this is to move the AudioUnitCache away from it's location by typing in:

mv ~/Library/Caches/AudioUnitCache ~/Desktop

then restart Logic and rescan. If the rescan succeeds you can remove the cache from ~/Desktop.

Finally, the mac devs can't recomment hosting au highly enough for development. Open it once, open surge, and save that configuration to your desktop. You will quickly find that

./ --build-validate-au && /Applications/Hosting\\ AU ~/Desktop/ 

is a super fast way to do a build and pop up Surge with stdout and stderr attached to your terminal.

Packaging an installer

./ --package will create a .pkg file with a reasonable name. If you would like to use an alternate version number, though, the packaging script is in installer_mac.

cd installer_mac
./ myPeculiarVersion
mv installer/Surge-myPeculiar-Version-Setup.pkg wherever-youwant

is an available option.


Building a Surge.vst (VST2) with Linux

Some discussion at

Building a Surge.vst3 (VST3) with Linux

Some discussion at