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Best Filter VST Plugins

Best Filter VST Plugins

One of the most useful yet underrated VST plugins is the filter.

The beauty of filters is that you can automate and manipulate your sounds in several ways. You’ll hear filters in everything from lo-fi hip-hop to indie music to EDM, as they can alter the sonic qualities of your song’s elements, changing their emotive qualities. 

Of course, while you can certainly use an EQ for this type of effects processing, there are certain filter plugins that offer unique parameters all their own.

Come dive in with us as we explore the top 10 best filter VST plugins on the market today! 


If you're in a hurry:  


Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I would receive a commission - at no cost to you - for any products you purchase


VST Filter Plugin





Versatile filter plugin, flexible sound shaping options


Wide range of sounds, user-friendly, versatile None

Arturia Filter Mini

Emulation of classic analog filter, flexible sound shaping options


Warm, classic analog sound, user-friendly May not have as many features as some other plugins

Arturia Filter Sem

Emulation of classic analog filter, flexible sound shaping options


Warm, classic analog sound, user-friendly May not have as many features as some other plugins

Arturia Filter M12

Emulation of classic analog filter, flexible sound shaping options


Warm, classic analog sound, user-friendly May not have as many features as some other plugins

Arturia Filter MS-20

Emulation of classic analog filter, flexible sound shaping options


Warm, classic analog sound, user-friendly May not have as many features as some other plugins

FabFilter Volcano 3

Versatile filter plugin, flexible sound shaping options, built-in effects


Wide range of sounds, user-friendly, versatile None

FabFilter Micro

Simple filter plugin, flexible sound shaping options


User-friendly Very limited

Mutronics Mutator

Emulation of classic analog filter, flexible sound shaping options


Warm, classic analog sound, user-friendly May not have as many features as some other plugins

Filter Shaper Core 3

Versatile filter plugin, flexible sound shaping options and excellent integration with their other shaper plugins


Wide range of sounds, user-friendly, amazing sound shaping options if you have lots of Cable Guys plugins May not have as many features as some other plugins; best with other Cable Guys plugins

Sound Spot Fat 2

Filter plugin specifically for adding weight and character to sounds


User-friendly, great for adding weight and character May not have as many features as some other plugins
Reason Sweeper

Simple filter plugin, integrates with Reason DAW


User-friendly, integrates well with CV routing in Reason DAW Need to buy whole Reason DAW, which is expensive


What Is A Filter in Music?


A filter is an effect that gets rid of certain frequencies in a sound. It is the main effect found in an EQ plugin. Producers and mix engineers will use filters to alter the harmonic content within a signal, changing its tone or timbre. 



What makes these filter plugins unique and amazing is that they not only change the frequencies, but many of them also add saturation, colorful resonance, and modulation. Filter effects have become iconic in almost every genre of music, so making sure you have a good one is essential.


Main Filter Controls


A filter consists of three main controls, plus modulation.

  • Filter type
  • Frequency
  • Resonance
  • Modulation


Some might have a lot more bells and whistles, but those are the basics.


Filter Type


The first control is the type of filtering you are applying. The most common examples are high pass and low pass filters, but there are also other options, like band pass filters. On top of that, there are variations among filters including slope and style. You can dig into all the types of filters here.


Filter Frequency


This is where the filter starts to work. So with a high pass filter, for example, it would be where the filter begins to cut off the sound.


Filter Resonance


This determines if there is a peak at the filter frequency. At subtle levels the resonance may be unnoticeable, while with certain classic filters modeled below, you can create intense self-oscillating resonances that can become a key part of your sound. There is also frequently a drive knob associated with the resonance to add some grit at this frequency.




As we suggested earlier, though, at its basic level, a filter is just an EQ. A filter plugin doesn't really start to do its "thing" until modulation is applied, which leads to the characteristic movement and interest that filters bring to an instrument.

There are four main ways that movement can be added to a filter, and every plugin will include a different combination. The modulation sources for a filter plugin are:

  • Manual playing or automation of parameters
  • LFO
  • Envelopes
  • Sequencing



#1 Best Filter VST Plugin: Soundtoys - FilterFreak


FilterFreak is one of the best filter plugins for those who want automated filter effects. We constantly talk about Soundtoys on our site, as the company makes some of the highest-quality and most critically-acclaimed plugins on the market. 

FilterFreak provides everything from clean, modern filter curves to fat, analog filter curves, delivering warmth, richness, compression, distortion, and everything else you could possibly want.



Plus, when you buy FilterFreak, you also get FilterFreak 2, which gives you two filters for even greater sonic flexibility. With rhythm editing capabilities and seven different saturation styles, it’s one of the best filtering plugins around. 



#2 Arturia Filter Mini


Arturia Filter Mini is Arturia’s fantastic emulation of the famous Moog 24dB/octave low-pass filter. Of course, as with all Arturia emulations, you get the same analog sound with new and exciting features to give flexibility to modern producers. 

The Mini modulation section consists of a step–sequencer, LFO, and envelope follower, bringing your filters to life. Beyond that, you’ll find 30 legendary presets to get you started.



One of our favorite things about Filter Mini has to be the Drive parameter, which adds a bit of analog grit to any signal that passes through the plugin. 

Note that you can save hundreds of dollars by buying the exception Atruria FX collection bundle from Plugin Boutique or ADSR that includes all of these filters, plus a ton more amazing effects.



#3 Arturia Filter Sem


The Arturia Filter Sem plugin emulates the beautiful 12dB/octave filter found on the Oberheim SEM, which was one of the most advanced analog synthesizers of the 1970s. As with the Arturia Filter Mini, you get tons of great presets to get started.



All of the vintage tone that you love is combined with modern flexibility. You get a noise oscillator, soft clipping, and mod sources, all within a simple and concise mod matrix that is easier than ever to navigate. 

This one-of-a-kind plugin is part of the Arturia FX series, which we find ourselves using all the time for just about any genre of music.



#4 Arturia Filter M12


The Arturia M12 filter plugin emulates the filter found on the Oberheim M12 synthesizer, which is one of the most iconic analog synths of the 20th century. One of the reasons every synth lover wanted to get their hands on this synth was the filter section.  

In the filter section, you’ll find modulation options, parallel flyers, and multiple envelopes, all of which provide the warm, analog vibe that we know and love. 



This M12 plugin is certainly best for creative sound design, especially if you want to maintain an organic edge. 



#5 FabFilter Volcano 3


FabFilter Volcano is another ultra-versatile filter plugin with a range of filtering possibilities to take your creativity to another level. Open the plugin up, and you’ll immediately fall in love with the wide and interactive visual display, which allows for drag-and-drop modulation. 

It’s one of the most intuitive user experiences we’ve found in any complex plugin. 

There are four multi-mode features, ten filtering characteristics, panning, and delay. Beyond that, the modulation possibilities seem nearly infinite, with 16-step XLFOs, envelope generators, and more. 



Click here to check the price of FabFilter Volcano 3 on Plugin Boutique or ADSR 


If you need a filter plugin to throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks, we can’t recommend FabFilter Volcano 3 any higher.



#6 FabFilter Micro


Micro is FabFilter’s lightweight (and affordable) filtering plugin, offering smooth and creamy filtering capabilities with tweakable self-oscillation and saturation. For a miniature plugin, it packs quite a bit of power.  

You’ll find high and low-pass filters, and an envelope follower, which allows you to modulate the filter cutoff.

Of course, as you might expect, you also get all of the standard FabFilter goodies, including MIDI learn, Smart Parameter Interpolation, interactive help hints, perfectly tuned knobs, and so much more!



Click here to check the price of FabFilter Micro on Plugin Boutique or ADSR


Plus, with so many great presets to choose from, you won’t have to spend loads of time tweaking to get the sound you’re after. 



#7 Mutronics Mutator


The Mutronics Mutator from Softube is one of the best emulations of the hardware Mutator, which had an iconic impact on 90s music. The original Mutator was one of the most versatile analog filters and envelope followers on the market. As for the emulation, you can create warm analog filter sweep effects in an instant.  



As you might expect, you also get plenty of extended features on the plugin version, including a mix knob for blending your effects in parallel and the tempo sync for syncing your effect up with your DAW.



#8 Cable Guys FilterShaper Core 3


CableGuys FilterShaper Core is one of the best filter plugins for adding movement and modulation to your sounds. The plugin was made to have users plot modulation points on the graphical editor, which spits out unique LFO shapes to create unique, complex effects. 

From dubstep-style bass wobbles to ultra-rhythmic envelopes, the possibilities with this drag-and-drop design are endless.  



While many of the filter plugins on this list offer warmth and grit with analog emulations, Cable Guys FilterShaper is clean and sharp, perfect for when you don’t want the plugin itself to color the elements of your mix.

Essentially, you can keep it in your effects chains with additional saturation or distortion plugins without doing any harm. 



#9 Soundspot Fat 2


While Fat 2 might look like your average dual-knob filtering plugin right off the bat, there’s a lot going on under the hood that makes this plugin one of our favorites. You’ll find four types of filters and two modulators, which control the resonance and the cutoff portions of your signal. 



We love the fact that SoundSpot kept the interface minimal though injected an undeniable analog sound. It’s one of the best filtering plugins on the market for new producers and mix engineers, thanks to its ease of use. 



#10 Reason Studios Sweeper


If you use Reason, then you’ve probably made use of the Sweeper modulation effect without even knowing it. This one-of-a-kind plugin combines phasing, flanging, and filtering all in one, making it one of the most dynamic modulation options on this list. 

There are 40 stages that your signal goes through, giving your everything from subtle filtering to extreme phasing. It offers trippy sweeping sounds that are great for psychedelic drum fills or lo-fi vocals. You’ll even find a handy modulator that uses a looping envelope to continuously trigger any signal running through it. 

Reason has so many great effects plugins that come stock, and Sweeper is no exception. 



#11 Arturia MS-20


Do you like Daft Punk? Of course you like Daft Punk! Well the MS-20 filter by Arturia is an excellent emulation of one of the classic filter's behind the dynamic duo's early masterpieces. It includes a filter section and a distortion (and you can change the order of the two). These sections allow for beautiful, modulated tones that break up into swirling self-resonant symphonies.



It includes tons of modulation options like LFO, step seqeuncer and Envelope Followers that can be assigned to each parameter. It also features a stereo offset for widening filtered sounds. 

Instead of having distinct filter modes, it features a multimode filter that lets you can simultaneously use its high-pass filter, low pass filter or band pass filter! 



FAQ: Mastering Filter VSTs in Music Production


Q1: What is a Filter VST and its role in shaping the audio signal?


A: A Filter VST (Virtual Studio Technology) is a plugin used in music production to manipulate the audio signal. It primarily alters sound quality by selectively cutting or boosting parts of the frequency spectrum, such as low frequencies or high frequencies, giving your track a unique character.


Q2: Why should a music producer consider using filter VSTs?


A: There are good reasons for a music producer to use filter VSTs. They offer a great deal of control over the audio signal, allowing for creative production techniques like filter sweeps and volume modulation possibilities. This can be especially beneficial in electronic music and when using modular synths.


Q3: Can filter VSTs improve sound quality in low frequencies and high frequencies?


A: Yes, filter VSTs can significantly enhance sound quality by adjusting low and high frequencies. This is useful in achieving a balanced mix and in creating dynamic shifts in the audio signal.


Q4: What are the different filter types available in filter VSTs?


A: Filter VSTs offer different filter types, including low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass filters. Each type affects the audio signal in a unique way, allowing producers to precisely shape the frequency spectrum of their music.


Q5: Are there filter VSTs that provide unique character suitable for electronic music?


A: Absolutely! Many filter VSTs are designed with electronic music in mind, offering a range of features that add unique character to the audio signal, like mad filter effects and intricate filter sweeps, which are staples in electronic music production. This review includes 11 of the best!


Q6: How important are EQ plugins in comparison to filter VSTs in music production?


A: EQ plugins and filter VSTs both play crucial roles in music production. While EQ plugins offer detailed control over the frequency spectrum, filter VSTs provide specific functionalities like dramatic filter sweeps and unique modulation possibilities, which are essential in certain genres.


Q7: Can filter VSTs be used alongside modular synths in music production?


A: Yes, filter VSTs can be an excellent addition to modular synths in music production. They expand the sonic possibilities by offering advanced control over the audio signal, especially in shaping and manipulating frequencies.


Q8: Do filter VSTs offer production techniques that are not available in traditional hardware filters?


A: Filter VSTs offer production techniques that may not be available or as easily accessible in hardware filters. This includes complex automation capabilities, precise frequency spectrum adjustments, and integration with digital audio workstations for enhanced music production workflows.


Q9: How do filter VSTs contribute to the overall sound quality of a music production?


A: Filter VSTs contribute significantly to the sound quality of a music production by allowing producers to fine-tune the audio signal. They can clean up muddy mixes, enhance certain frequencies for clarity, and add creative effects for a polished final product.


Q10: Are there filter VSTs that offer both band-pass filter capabilities and volume modulation possibilities?


A: Many filter VSTs offer both band-pass filter capabilities and volume modulation possibilities, providing music producers with tools to create dynamic and expressive soundscapes in their music production projects

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