Looking for the best creative filter plugins? This Icon Picks roundup features a selection of expressive filter plugins that will transform your mixes or live performances.
What Are Creative Audio Filter Plugins?
Audio filter plugins are essential tools that should be a part of every producer’s arsenal. They alter the tone and timbre of an audio signal for both corrective and creative reasons. At the most basic level, an audio filter emphasizes or suppresses frequencies above or below a certain cutoff frequency. There are also a variety of filter types. The most common types of filters are lowpass, highpass, bandpass, and notch.
There are a variety of filter-based effects used to transform audio creatively. Creative filter plugins are a more advanced type of filter that manipulates sounds in unique ways. They are often used for sound design more than corrective mixing.
Creative filter plugins are designed around a multimode filter with extensive modulation and performance options. These versatile effects commonly feature a range of LFOs, envelope followers, a step sequencer, sidechaining options, and other sound-shaping tools. They also work amazingly well at achieving filter sweeps, tremolo, rhythmic gating, wobbles, and various other modulating effects.
1. SoundToys | FilterFreak
FilterFreak faithfully recreates the sounds of classic analog resonant filters while also offering modern creative features. This versatile analog-style filter plugin does it all. FilterFreak delivers fat analog sweeps, pumping filter rhythms, and everything in between. It also features a range of highly tweakable rhythm and groove tools as well as seven different analog saturation styles. Moreover, FilterFreak includes two separate plugins for creating some awesome filtering combinations.
2. UAD | Moog Multimode Filter Collection
Moog analog filters are the most influential and musical‑sounding filtering circuits ever designed. The Moog Multimode Filter Collection is a collaborative effort between Moog and Universal Audio. The set includes the new Multimode Filter XL, the original Multimode Filter, and the Multimode Filter SE.
This collection of filter plugins deliver authentic, analog-sounding Moog filter vibe with some modern additions. Although, the Multimode Filter XL is the most creative filter of the set. This full-featured filter sports a 16-step sequencer coupled with a range of modulation and control options. Whether your tone-shaping a mix or injecting modulation madness in a live performance, these filters do it all.
3. FabFilter | Volcano 2
Volcano 2 offers a ton of features, modulation options, and an innovative user interface. This versatile filter plugin gives you high-quality digital filtering with convincing analog character. Moreover, its drag-and-drop matrix provides unlimited modulation possibilities and effortless modulation routings. Volcano 2 also features four multi-mode filters, with panning, delay, and other unique characteristics. It also sports all the usual FabFilter options such as MIDI Learn, Smart Parameter Interpolation, interactive help hints, and much more.
4. Cableguys | FilterShaper 3
FilterShaper 3 merges unconventional sound design with two powerful filters, editable modulation curves, and a flexible modulation framework. Moreover, it’s new Sallen-Key type filters deliver a rich, warm, intricate sound. It also provides immersive modulation possibilities that make it easy to transform sounds in creative ways. Furthermore, it offers deep editing control, visual feedback, a dual-band sidechain feature, and much more.
5. Sugar Bytes | WOW2
WOW2 is an updated version of the acclaimed WOW filter by Sugar Bytes. It features the same easy workflow and stylish interface as its predecessor while also adding some improvements.
WOW2 now offers 21 filter types and introduces even more modulation madness. This versatile filter plugin also comes loaded with seven distortion flavors. Moreover, it features an envelope follower, an LFO with 13 waveforms, a 16-step sequencer, and a Wobble Knob. There is also a kool vowel filter and a Wobble Generator.
6. Waves | MetaFilter
Waves MetaFilter has everything you need in a creative filter plugin. This versatile tool provides all the warmth, depth, and fatness of classic analog filters coupled with modern features.
MetaFilter sports a 16-step sequencer, an LFO, and an envelope follower with a sidechaining option. It is also an excellent addition for live performances. Its MIDI Learn capabilities makes it easy to connect a keyboard or controller for hardware control. Furthermore, MetaFilter’s versatility and endless sound-shaping possibilities make it the ultimate creative filter.
7. Cytomic | The Drop
The Drop by Cytomic is an analog modeled resonant filter plugin. It captures the classic analog vibe of ten famed synth filters with the addition of modern features. The Drop also provides a range of advanced controls that will transform your sounds in unique ways. It features a dual filter section, two LFOs, two envelopes/followers, sidechain inputs, FM effects, and much more. This bad boy certainly brings a deep level of complexity and character.
8. Vengeance Sound | Philta XL
Philta XL is another expressive filter that packs creative attitude. This filter plugin keeps it simple. There are two high-quality filters with variable resonance width, two LFOs, and two envelope followers. Philta XL also features filter saturation/distortion, a ring modulator, a rate reducer/bitcrusher, and a limiter.
9. Arturia | 3 Filters You’ll Actually Use
The “3 Filters You’ll Actually Use” bundle captures the analog vibe of three iconic synth filters. The set includes Arturia’s Mini-Filter, SEM-Filter, and the M12-Filter. Each model replicates the unique sonic characteristics of their famed hardware counterparts. They also sport modern features not available on the original classic synths. Drive your sounds through complex LFOs, step sequencers, envelope followers, and other modulation sources. All three Arturia filters also have a MIDI learn feature that lets you map hardware controls.
10. u-he | Filterscape
Filterscape is a diverse sound mangling tool. This filter plugin dives deep into sound manipulation. It is also a tool for all occasions – from rhythmic filtering to surgical cuts. Moreover, Filterscape’s advanced options offer limitless creative possibilities. It can be a parametric EQ with morphable snapshots, a dual virtual analog filter, a sophisticated delay unit, and so much more.
Filterscape features two state-variable filters, a snapshot-morphing equalizer, a step sequencer, LFOs, envelope followers, and more. Furthermore, it comes with two companion plugins: the FilterscapeVA synthesizer and the FilterscapeQ6 6-band dynamic EQ.