Best Creative Filter Plugins
Creative Filter plugins are my preferred tools for sound shaping. A highly modulated filter can be thought of as an EQ on steroids. Because of this, you can use filters more creatively than EQ plugins. A few of the tools listed below have a structure that can be considered complex. But in the end, you will be rewarded with an amazing sound and countless modulation options if you can get used to it. The fun begins when you put the most important controls on your hardware controller. This way you can achieve far more intuitive results. There are no limits — just your imagination.
There are a plethora of filter plugins available, and it seems obvious to me that individual preference rules the day, particularly when it comes to this. Nevertheless, because I love experimenting with sound design, I’ve compiled a list (updated regularly) of the best creative filter plugins. For detailed specifications please visit the linked websites of the manufacturers.
u-He Filterscape 1.5
FX, Q6 (EQ version), and VA (synth version) are a special trio of plug-ins with morphing EQ. Fundamental to all three plugins is the unique EQ, which can switch between eight separate “snapshots” with ease. It is possible to dynamically modulate the frequency and amplitude of each EQ band for every snapshot, even from distinct sources! Although Filterscape was first released in 2004, it has
undergone significant visual and user interface improvements thanks to the fantastic new GUI. It could be intimidating the first time you load it. The morph functions in combination with the kind of vector control are breathtaking and offer unimagined sound shaping possibilities that no other filter offers. I find the Delay is a great addition and Filterscapge has also the well-organized Presets Browser we all know from Diva, Repro, etc.
The Q6 is particularly suitable for advanced users who want to get deeper into rhythm. However, I enjoy shaping my drum loops with the Q6 version’s envelope followers. But also the VA Version sounds great. It’s impressive how varied this synth sounds. Just step through the presets and you know what I mean.
There is definitely a learning curve with Filterscape. You should take some time to this fantastic update of the classical version if you want to get the most out of the trio. To begin with, simply go through the pleasing presets, make adjustments, and discover their creation process. Learn how it’s done! With the three plugins, one essentially gets a kind of comprehensive setup for creating music. All in all, you get a lot for your money here. There is even a free upgrade for existing license holders. Here, too, one experiences the captivating and detailed sound that one has come to expect from U-HE. I haven’t found a better creative filter plugin than Filterscape yet. It sounds simply amazing and offers so many unique modulation options. Strongly advised!
Minimal Audio Morph EQ
As its name implies, Morph EQ is a versatile EQ unit from Minimal Audio that may be used to create interesting morphing effects. EQ curves can bend and glide with a few clicks, turning a static filter into unique movements. Every filter can follow its morph path to produce effects ranging from delicate sweeps to intricate geometries. Combine this with adaptable routing and strong macro controls to create original filtering effects. A total of seven filter types and infinite filter bands are yours. The global controls (Shift, Pinch, Spread, and Scale) are also present. Both Scale and Shift modify all gains or all frequencies collectively. Pinch changes the bands’ total frequency spread by making it wider or narrower. Since it balance
the left and right channels are in Stereo mode, Spread is my favorite. The stereo image can be altered in incredible ways.
All active morph pathways are managed by the master Morph knob that produces distinct filtering effects for each preset. Not a big deal, but Morph lacks onboard modulation; perhaps an update will address this. Thus, you must automate this in your DAW if you want beat synchron morphings, for example. In order to quickly find a starting point and work from there by just stepping through the fantastic-sounding presets, I’ve created a few Cubase automation with the aim of turning the morph knob. The 100 presets which include categories for morphing, abstract, vowel, filtering, and mixing, demonstrate its versatility. There are interesting morphing pathways in the majority of these presets. There’s also a fascinating randomization function included. With just one Morph knob, you can perform tasks that would have required hours of laborious automation. It’s really amazing.
It is Morph that gives life to my samples. Naturally, you have to exercise caution so as not to go overboard, but the options are virtually endless. Not to mention, the tool is a lot of fun to use and excellent for creative sound design! It’s surely one of the best creative filter plugins.
Fabfilter Volcano 3
With Volcano 3, Fabfilter presents another major update to their fantastic filter plugin. The new scalable GUI gives another dimension to this swiss knife. The workflow has been improved and the modulation section is now drag-and-drop editable with its eye-catching overview of all active modulations. I adore the modulation concept and how simple it is to get things going. The filters that can add great color/character are the beating heart of Volcano 3 which never ceases to amaze me.
Volcano 3 has been outfitted with a further four analogue modeled non-linear vintage EQ filter shapes (including Bell, Low/High-Shelf, Notch, All-Pass, and 6dB/Octave option), each with a Drive/Saturation control has, which allows a
detailed intervention on the sound. Furthermore, you can now adjust the volume and panorama of each filter or choose between stereo and mid/side. For the best possible results, a high-quality mode for maximum oversampling was also integrated. Last but not least the presets are also unbeatable and impressively show what is possible here.
Some people might think “It’s just a filter, I have lots of them!”. But I can assure you – you don’t have one like this. The drive alone is worth it. The FabFilter Volcano 3 is also an all-arounder in terms of sound quality. You can simulate almost any type of filter sound. It’s simply an ingenious sound design tool. It’s one of the best creative filter plugins. What a beast!
Arturia Filter MS-20
The legendary Korg MS-20 filter and distortion are emulated by the Arturia Filter MS-20, a classic filter that is one of the most sought-after analog synthesizers ever created. The MS-20’s combined high/low pass filter, with its distinctive tone and propensity for overdrive, is its most crucial component. It could sound very aggressive and has a raw, colorful nature. A basic and advanced panel with extra settings and intriguing modulation sources is included with the MS-20 Filter. Output, Filter, and Distortion are available on the basic panel. What is great here – these 3 panels are interchangeable and this is where the fun begins.
A fully-customizable function generator, an envelope follower, and a step sequencer with ingenious randomization unfold beneath the advanced panel, showcasing the pinnacle of
movement engine technology. Yes, there is a ton to explore, but the 60 presets give you a great overview of what’s possible here. This unit is excellent for producing dark, distorted textures, fat basses, and dominant filter sweeps. To be honest though, I really enjoy using this to add a distinct raw character to a variety of samples. Its “filter screaming” is what makes it so special. Fascinating stereo phasing effects can be produced by modulating the stereo control. Naturally, all of the Filter MS-20 controls can be controlled via DAW automation. The tutorial mode is really informative.
This is my favorite Arturia filter out of all of them because it offers so many interesting raw sound shaping options, perfect for my minimal and techno samples. It just sounds fantastic on all kinds of sounds and offers a ton of creative possibilities. There’s much more to this unit than just a tiny crunch. Even though I like Arturia, I believe this is a no-brainer for everyone!
Arturia Filter Mini
Arturia’s answer to the UAD Moog Filter Collection is Filter Mini, and I think they did a fantastic job. The Minimoog’s 24db ladder filter emulation sounds incredible. Your filters come to life in the modulation section with the help of an envelope follower, LFO, and step-sequencer. The filter cutoff can be easily moved over time for artistic movement using the step sequencer that controls it. This allows you to potentially create sequences inspired by analog synths using any sound. It’s ideal for bringing static samples to life.
Any signal that goes through the tool gets a little bit of analog gritty added by the Drive parameter. To get you started, you get 30 presets (some more would have been nice). From delicate to intense textures, it functions flawlessly on all sources. Filter Mini is incredibly imaginative and entertaining to use. I recommend the Aturia FX Collection bundle that includes all of these filters, plus a ton more amazing effects.
Arturia Filter M12
Arturia’s Filter M12 plugin is an emulation of the filter of the Oberheim M12 synth, only of the most sought-after analog synthesizers of the 20th century. It offers two parallel filters, envelopes, and modulation options for each filter, and has the warm analog vibe we know and love. It offers 12 great sounding filter-modules
This Aruria filter plugin also offers a modulation matrix, which in my opinion represents the best control in terms of sound diversity of all Arturia filters.
Although there is a little learning curve on this plugin, it sounds absolutely incredible. Using the final master cutoff control you can easily achieve great results.
It’s perfect for creative sound design with an analog edge. Many filters out there often sound a little too clean and digital to my ears. But this one is different. It sounds
organic and analog. Also if you want to give your virtual synths an analogue touch and lots of character look no further.
With any signal or sound source you’re working with, you can now apply Tom Oberheim’s renowned 12dB/octabe SEM filter of the 1970s. Even the individual parts that comprise the device are incredibly detailed in this emulation. The timeless tone you adore is blended with contemporary adaptability. It is now simpler than ever to navigate a clear and straightforward mod matrix that includes mod sources, a noise oscillator, and soft clipping.
The modulation matrix is different here: On this occasion, you can select from 16 different steps to initiate the LFO and/or envelope modulation. Through the matrix, one can enter which filter parameters are modulated. And so, the effect of each modulation that is activated is the same. The whole thing sounds really intriguing in terms of sound, but in my opinion it’s a little rigid in comparison to the other Arturia filters. The multimode filter’s ability to
continuously switch between LP, notch, and HP filters makes this one noteworthy. Any filter’s effect intensifies with the addition of noise. You can adjust the noise oscillator’s amount of addition to your signal as desired. I adore using this in conjunction with my “analog” sequences. It’s also great on drums. Just like with the Arturia Filter Mini, many fantastic presets are included to get you going.
Soundtoys produces some of the best-selling and most highly regarded plugins available. For many years, the benchmark for innovative sound design in filters has been Filterfreak2.
Upon its release, Filterfreak2 was more than just an upgraded version of Filterfreak; it was a completely different plugin. By including a second filter into the plugin, Filterfreak2 builds upon Filterfreak, allowing you to filter the signal twice simultaneously (seriel or parallel), overlapping the cutoffs and resonances of the two filters, and producing entirely new sounds that are unattainable with many other filters. Create funky auto-wah, envelope follower and sample-and-hold effects in no time. With the Shape Editor, you can even create custom LFO shapes.
Besides that Filterfreak offers seven distinct saturation styles and rhythm editing capabilities. Because you can quickly add dynamic, cool resonance or create movement in pads with overlapping resonant filters, it’s also ideal for sound design. Thanks to its deep modulation options every sound can be elevated to a new level. This plugin offers warmth, richness, distortion and compression. It adds both slim, contemporary filter curves and thick, analog filter curves. It’s surely one of the best creative filter plugins available.
Moog Multimode Filter Collection
The Moog Multimode Filter Collection is one of my best purchases for my UAD System. It captures the spirit and essence of the renowned Moog filters with unparalleled accuracy and authenticity, thanks to its amazing ability to mimic the sound quality of real analog gear.
Applying perfectly authentic fuzzy vintage Moog filtering and saturation to stereo sources was never that easy. This outstanding flexible musical filter works great on almost anything. If you want to give your VSTi synths a gorgeous analogue touch, richness, character, and personality of the original hardware this is the answer. It gently cuts the top on synthesizers and removes digital dirt.
The drive function can add just the right analogue edge to my samples. You can really go nuts with the step sequencer as it opens up a world of possibilities with absolutely creamy Moog filtration. The infallible design of the Moog Multimode Filter is what makes it so amazing. It is nearly hard to get a bad sound no matter how you adjust or fiddle with its settings. It works great on any source. I find myself using it a lot on all kinds of material in small variations to give it that “wtf is that” quality. Rather than merely using low and high pass filters on an EQ, I advise using this filter. This adds personality and warmth. This amazing tool is one of the best creative filter plugins. You really can’t go wrong here.
This has been my personal list of the best creative Filter plugins, and I hope you enjoyed reading this.