The Best Free & Paid [Filter Effecfts] VST/AU/AAX Plugin [2020]

Last Updated on: July 27, 2020

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If you are a music producer or sound designer, you would have probably used some form of filtering, be it a low pass filter, band, and even a high pass filter. A filter can be used in a couple of ways, for example, you might want to use it to create a dramatic sound in your mix or for transitioning, in & out of a certain loop.

So, there are three types of filter, the first one is the Low pass filter where it removes the high frequencies, while the low frequency stays intact, the tl;dr version is that it allows the low frequency to pass.

The second one is the High pass filter, which filters away the low frequencies while leaving the high frequencies intact, the tl;dr version is that it allows the high frequency to pass.

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Lastly, we have the Bandpass filter, where the very low frequency and the very high frequency are removed, keeping the moderate range band of frequencies. This can be used to smoothing the edge while also suppressing the noise at the same time.

There are other types too, e.g notch, low shelf, etc. While your favorite DAW might come bundled with a filter plugin, you might want to experiment with other types of good filter plugins where they incorporate their signature sound with a more advanced filter option.

So, if you are tired of using a stock filter plugin, and instead want to step up the game with something more sonic, and good, then check out the best of the best free and paid filter plugin in the recommendation below.

As usual, please use the table of content to navigate freely

Filter Effect Plugins (Paid)

Starting with…

1.) WOW 2 Filter – Sugar Bytes

WOW 2 Filter

WOW 2 comes predefined with 21 filters that produce a stunning analog sound with huge resolution and free of any aliasing (misidentifying certain frequencies). What I love about this plugin is the way it incorporates its filtering, it works in vowel mode, which shows off a wide variety of humanoid sounds, these are an advanced option you won’t see in-stock filter plugins.

The reason why WOW filter is one of the best filter plugins out there relates to its Talkbox, where you can pick any two vowels from 9 options, the options available are [i:] as in seat, [e] as in hen, [æ] as in fat, [y] as in tu (French), [ə] as in the, [ɑ] as in father, [ɔ] as in awe, [o] as in copy, and [u] as in boot. This gives a wide variety of options to experiment with, you will love it.

Also, you have an option to play with modulation, there are four sources: an envelope follower with frequency detection, the LFO with 13 waveforms, a 16-step step sequencer and the Wobble Knob (lifted from our Cyclop synth).

My favorite section is the Wobble Generator, you can control the shape of the LFO which has over 14 different waveforms while also changing the speed, and in fact, the knob can be modulated itself (pick the LFO for a start) and this is what the wobbling control is all about: to get that knob moving.

Lastly, there is a distortion module, where you can play with tons of distortion settings, this plugin is great and there are lots of useful components you can play with.

Key Features

  • 21 Filter Types
  • LFO, Env.-Follower, Step Seq. & Wobble
  • No Aliasing
  • Distortion with 3 Overdrives & 4 Digital Functions
  • Distortion Pre- or Post Filter Units
  • Envelope Follower with Frequency Detection
  • 9 human vocal Sounds in Vowel Filter
  • Dynamic Oversampling across the board

System Requirements

  • Mac: OS X 10.9 or higher (64-bit only)
  • Windows: Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only)
  • AAX
  • Audio Unit (AU)
  • Standalone Application
  • VST2

Get WOW 2

2.) FilterFreak – SoundToys

FilterFreak - Soundtoys

The next on our list is FilterFreak by SoundToys, which produces a warm, soothing, fat and resonant tones when used for filtering. I have personally used FilterFreak in multiple projects, and one thing I love about this plugin is how you can carve an unlimited type of filter effects you want.

If you have been using one or more of SoundToys products, then you should know by now that they mostly emulate analog hardware, in the case of FilterFreak, they recreated the sound of a classic analog resonant filter. According To SoundToys:

Twist the frequency knob for smooth retro synth sweeps. Crank up the resonance to add some edge, or even push the filter into self-oscillation. And when you drive it hard, FilterFreak responds by breaking up in a gritty and pleasing way, just like hardware.

So, there are seven different analog saturation styles you can play with, from warm or pumping compression to crunchy distortion, you can perfectly go without bothering about aliasing.

On top of that, you also have an option to experiment with rhythm and groove which adds another layer of motion to your tracks automatically, if you don’t want to bother about creating rhythm from scratch, you can select from a library of pre-made rhythms, if you are like me, you would start right of the bat with a preset. To complete the vibe of the sound, you can tweak the Groove knob and add some swing or shuffle to drop it in the pocket.

There are lots more options you can play with, like modulation, analog filters, and the likes, go check it out.

Key Features:

  • Capture the sound of classic resonant filters, with extended control and flexibility
  • Funk up the guitar, fatten bass, reshape drums, sweeping synths and freak out vocals
  • Choose from one filter or two that can be used in series or parallel
  • Select highpass, lowpass, bandpass and band-reject modes with 2 to 8 poles
  • Add synth-like resonant sweeps or classic wah-wah tones to your tracks
  • Create funky auto-wah, envelope follower and sample-and-hold effects
  • Grunge things up with 7 different analog saturation styles
  • Construct intricate rhythmic filter sequences with the Rhythm Editor
  • Design your own LFO shapes with the Shape Editor

System Requirements

  • Operating systems: Mac OS X 10.8 or later; Windows 7 or later
  • Minimum: 44.1 kHz, Maximum: 192 kHz Sample Rates
  • 64-bit only
  • AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, VST, and Audio Units (AU)
  • A FREE account at ilok.com is required (a physical USB iLok is not required)
  • Works with Major DAWS (Including Fl Studio, I currently use it with Fl Studio 10 & 12)

Get FilterFreak

3.) The Orb Filter – AudioThing

The Orb filter

The Orb Filter by AudioThing is one of the neatest, intuitive and simple Filter plugin I have ever tried, yes, I use FilterFreak, but I’ll have to admit that this filter has been built with a clean GUI in mind, much better than FilterFreak interfaces, not saying SoundToys FilterFreak is bad, but this one is much better in terms of interface and easiness, let’s go over its features:

The Orb Filter is built to simulate the characteristic of the human voice, which means it is a formant filter where several prominent bands of frequency determine the phonetic quality of a vowel, so the Orb can transform any sound into a vowel-like formant-filtered sound. It features a set of three bandpass filters and three LFOs which give you an option to modulate the Vowel,  the Emphasis/Resonance of the formants, and the Drift, which can shift up or down the frequencies of each formant. You can also create your own set of vowels by changing names and frequency for each vowel/formant, which is super awesome.

Going further, each sector of the orb represent a Vowel, which can be changed by clicking on the vowel name in each sector, for example, the image below represents the number of custom Vowels you have out of the box:

The Orb_Custom Vowels

If you feel the need, you can change each vowel name and frequency for the three formants, also, each custom vowels set will be saved in a preset, this way, you can create as many as possible by saving to a new preset. The Orb is different from your normal stock plugin filters, you can experiment and create exciting drama in your music, enjoy away!

Key Features:

  • Three Band Pass Filters (ZDF design)
  • Vowel Sets: Male, Female, Child, and Custom
  • 3 LFOs (destinations: Vowel, Emphasis, and Drift)
  • Lightweight on CPU
  • Preset system with randomizer
  • Formats: VST, AU, and AAX (32/64bit)
  • Platforms: OSX, Windows

System Requirements:

  • Mac: OSX 10.6.8 or later
  • Win: Windows XP SP2 or later
  • 2 GB RAM / 500 MB HD
  • Screen resolution: 1024×768
  • VST2, AU and AAX 32-bit or 64-bit host
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz / AMD Athlon 64 or equivalent

Get The Orb

4.) Filter Snapin – kiloHearts

Filter Kiloheart

One of the simplest of them all, with very few parameters. Filter Snapin is a resonant filter with 7 modes, swiftly getting rid of frequencies you don’t like or enhancing frequencies you do. And it’s doing it and doing it and doing it well.

One powerful thing about this plugin is that you can either use it as a regular VST/AU plugin, or you can use it with kiloHearts snapin hosts Multipass and Snap Heap where you can combine effects in amazing ways.

Key Features:

  • Cutoff Knob
  • 7 modes of resonant filters
  • Gain Knob

System Requirements:

  • CPU: 2 GHz or faster
  • Memory: 1 GB or more
  • Operating System: Windows (7 or newer) or Mac OS X (10.7 or newer)
  • A VST / Audio Unit / AAX compatible DAW
  • Supported formats: AAX / AU / VST2 / Snapin

Get Filter Snapin

5.) Comb Filter Snapin – kiloHearts

Comb Filter Plugin

Lastly, another filter plugin from kiloHearts.

The Comb Filter hollows out the sound by carving out frequencies at each multiple of the base frequency, like the teeth of a comb.

It’s also possible to process left and right differently in a way that not only gives a wide stereo effect but also collapses right back to the original signal when mixed to mono. Nifty!

Again, you can either use it as a regular VST/AU plugin, or you can use it with kiloHearts snapin hosts Multipass and Snap Heap where you can combine effects in amazing ways.

Key Features:

  • Cutoff Knob
  • 7 modes of resonant filters
  • Gain Knob

System Requirements:

  • CPU: 2 GHz or faster
  • Memory: 1 GB or more
  • Operating System: Windows (7 or newer) or Mac OS X (10.7 or newer)
  • A VST / Audio Unit / AAX compatible DAW
  • Supported formats: AAX / AU / VST2 / Snapin

Get Comb Filter Snapin

Filter Effect Plugins (Free)

6.) AudioModern – FilterStep

AudioModern - FilterStep (Free Filter Plugin)

Uhm…

FilterStep is a truly modern and intuitive modern filter plugin by audiomodern, it provides a realistically and intricate rhythmic movement with the filter plugin.

It can give you incredibly complex and nuanced results based on various filter effect settings, and almost infinite possibilities for sonic exploration and movement randomization.

As if that isn’t enough for a free plugin, you can also craft compelling textures with simple and intuitive parameter controls.

Note: It requires registration, this is free, so, registering shouldn’t be an issue right 😉

Video WalkThrough

Features:

  • VST/VST3/AU/AAX/iOS & Standalone
  • Generate filter grooves in real-time
  • Syncs to host tempo
  • Wet/Dry mix control
  • MIDI Controllable
  • Infinity mode
  • Quick load presets
  • 64 & 32-bit compatible
  • Instant/Tap bypass for live performance
  • Quantization settings
  • Motion selector
  • Customizable sequence range
  • Assign presets to quick-load section
  • No two patterns will ever be the same

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.12 or higher
  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Minimum of 50 MB free drive space

Download AudioModern – FilterStep

7.) SoundSpot – Fat Filter

Fat Filter (Free Filter Effect Plugin)

According to SoundSpot:

Whilst hard at work in the studio, some members of the SoundSpot team discovered that when they were making their filter sweep transitions, they were forced to use heavy, full featured EQ’s &  were using way more CPU power than seemed logical.

They also found that they were coming across strange crackling digital artefacts when using some plugins over certain sound sources. This was all far from ideal, so with this in mind, the SoundSpot team decided enough was enough, and set out to create a solution to fix the problem.
After coffee, brainstorming, interface design and all the all important coding, The FAT Filter was born.

Welcome, Mr. Fat Filter!

The FAT Filter has been developed using the SoundSpot ever-popular analog-modeled algorithm, which results in super-smooth transitions, whilst being incredibly light, and intuitive.

Don’t sweat it, you can load almost as many instances as your heart desires without hitting your CPU too hard.

System Requirements:

  • Mac: 10.12 – 10.14 (older OS versions may work but are not tested).
  • PC: Windows 32 & 64-bit, versions 7, 8 or 10.
  • RAM: 8 GB RAM or more is recommended. Plus at least 8 GB hard disk space for installation. (I tried it on a 4gb ram, and it was super smooth)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer.
  • Format: Any 32 or 64-bit VST, VST3, AU, or AAX (11.0.2 or higher) compatible host application should work.
  • Sample rates supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz, in both mono and stereo.

Note: Registration required. You would basically click on the free purchase and the checkout. Don’t sweat it, it is free.

Download Fat Filter

8.) AudioThing – Filterjam

AudioThing - Filterjam (Free Multi-Band Filter)

FilterJam is a free multiband resonant filter plugin by AudioThinge, that delivered a weird ringmod like filtered sounds.

The input signal is divided into 4 bands that are then summed or multiplied together according to the selected mode.

Filterjam can be very harsh or gentle, it can add brightness or depth to synth sounds, but it can also completely mangle acoustic sources, which is where the Jam is inspired, anyways, enjoy the free multiband filter plugin by AudioThing.

Video SneakPeek

Features:

  • Multi-Band Resonant Filter
  • Lightweight on CPU
  • Preset system with randomizer
  • Formats: VST, AU, and AAX (32/64-Bit)
  • Platforms: OSX, Windows

System Requirements:

Mac:

  • OSX 10.6.8 or later
  • Core Duo 2GHz
  • 2 GB RAM / 500 MB HD
  • Screen resolution: 1024×768
  • VST2, AU, and AAX 32-bit or 64-bit host

Windows:

  • Windows XP SP2 or later
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz / AMD Athlon 64 or equivalent
  • 2 GB RAM / 500 MB HD
  • Screen resolution: 1024×768
  • VST2 and AAX 32-bit or 64-bit host

Download AufioThing – FilterJam

9.) CFA Sound FilterGrizzly 2

CFA Sound FilterGrizzly 2

CFA Sound FilterGrizzly 2 is a rich on character and warmth filter type of plugin, it is loaded with a tube-based filter drive unit for saturation, followed by an analog-modeled 4-pole lowpass and 2-pole highpass filter with a passive controlled feedback circuit!

Video Sneak Peek

Features
  • 2x oversampling and anti-aliasing algorithm
  • A tube-based filter drive unit
  • Classic analog ladder filter design
  • 4-pole lowpass and 2-pole highpass filter
  • A passive controlled feedback circuit
  • New GUI with 2 different skins
  • VST 2.3 (32-bit) for Windows

System Requirements:

  • Win32 compatible OS with SSE2-supporting CPU (or higher)

Download CFA Sound FilterGrizzly 2

10.) StageCraft – AutoFilter

StageCraft - AutoFilter

AutoFilter is a free filter plugin by StageCraft that gives you all the functionality you’d expect from a professional filter plugin. It supports the control of a filter cutoff frequency, and filter response.

Also, you can sweep the filter frequency with a range of LFOs, vary the range of the frequency sweep, duty cycle warp the LFO, and control the wet/dry mix.

While it isn’t actually an auto filter that does everything for you, you still have an option to use automation all the plugin parameters such as cutoff frequency, resonance, LFO frequency, LFO range, duty cycle warping, and wet/dry mix. This powerful feature unlocks the full potential of the plugin, allowing you to create more complex and expressive sounds than possible with manual tweaking.

Video Sneak Peek

System Requirements:

  • AAX
  • AU
  • AAX
  • VST
  • ­Windows 7 or newer (64-bit only)
  • Windows 32-bit hosts are no longer supported
  • Mac
  • OS X 10.7 or newer

Download StarCraft AutoFilter Win // AutoFilter Mac

The above list are some of the best free and paid filter effect plugins. If you want more, do not hesitate to check our Filter Effects VST/AU/AAX Category

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