The filter certainly has its place in modern music, especially in mainstream EDM, but also in experimental and indie productions. So it’s a good opportunity to come up with a list of 17 best free filter VST plugins.
As a brief explanation, a filter eliminates some frequencies, alters the harmonic content of a signal, resulting a change of timbre. With the help of different parameters and settings, you can filter the sound.
The most essential parameters from a filter are cutoff frequency and resonance, there are plenty of tutorials on internet explaining these, so I’ll just list them here. Also, a filter can have an unlimited number of response curves, but most common are low pass, which eliminates frequencies above the cutoff frequency, high pass- eliminates all frequencies below the cutoff frequency, and band pass, in this case all frequencies that are not within a specified band on either side of a center frequency being removed.
It would be very much to say about filters, however, I will try here to present a list of the best free filter VST plugins, and next, you decide which is right for you.
Our list of 17 best free filter VST plugins:
Mbole Filter (Windows, VST) is a multi-effect plugin inspired by Waldorf DPole Filter. It was developed by MB-PlugIns and now is discontinued. MBole Filter has 4 filter types (LP, HP, BP, Notch, each 12dB/oct or 24dB/oct slope), a ring modulator with 3 waveforms, downsampler, stereo delay, envelope generator and sports 3 waveform LFOs.
Sfilter (Windows, VST) by de la Mancha differentiates itself through a scheme consisting of a tempo-sync step sequencer, a resonant variable filter, tempo sync LFO with 6 waveforms and settings up to 96 beats. Sfilter creates a stepped filtered sequence, to create gating, sweeps or rhythmic modulation of filter cut-off.
T. Rex Cut & Rez Mini (Windows, VST) is a multi-mode free filter VST plugin designed by Max Project. It combines 7 different filter types (low pass, high pass, band pass, notch, peak, 303 low pass and 303 high pass), next to cutoff, resonance and volume controls. It is “wearing” a skin insipred by vintage analogue designs.
Mutine by Mokafix (Windows, VST) is based on Mutronics Mutator stereo analog filter hardware from early 90’s. Comes in two different versions, basically two different GUI, one vintage and realistic, and other, with a more user friendly interface. It has 2 envelope followers and 2 LFO’s, that triggers volume or cutoff.
Nibiru (Windows, VST) is created by the talented guys at B.Serrano and features 4 multi-mode filters with 4 curve responses each, plus another 4 BPM syncable LFO’s. Add an advanced GUI envelope up to 32 stages, high precision editing and you’ll see why I like this free filter effect plugin. Nibiru, at its third stage, looks amazing.
8kut (Windows/Mac, VST/AU) from Tek’it Audio is labeled as a filter for DJ’s and especially, live performances. Stands out by its 8 bands frequency cutters, full MIDI automation support, 40 factory presets and 64-bit internal processing. It can be used successfully linked with your MIDI controller. 8kut has a modern interface with clear and simplified controls.
Classic Auto-Filter (Windows, VST) by Kjaerhus Audio is an analog modeled four-pole filter with resonance control, suitable for creative effects like auto-wah-wah and filter sweeps, as well as a fixed filter for equalizing purposes. The filter is selectable between low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band-reject (notch). The filter cut-off frequency can be modulated from the envelope follower and the LFO. It is part of the famous Kjaerhus Audio Classic Series installer.
Vesta (Windows, VST), the second free filter VST of B.Serrano listed here, is a plugin that offers a 3-layer filtering. For each of the three layers you can select LP, HP, BP filter types, turn off or bypass. Each layer has its own curve response that act like spread/separation and stereo balance. The GUI is inspired by vintage hardware.
Filter Bank (Windows, VST), developed by Minimal System Instruments, is a multimode filter combining 5 different filter types, LFO’s, with pure Analogue modelled dirt. Aimed at both producers and DJ’s, it gives tracks and mixes that classic analogue sound and behaves very well in live performances. Filter Bank comes with a professional vintage analogue GUI and has a very low CPU usage.
Filter Grizzly 2 (Windows, VST) is a free filter VST plugin featuring a tube-based filter drive unit, followed by an analog modelled 4-pole low pass and 2-pole high pass filters with a passive controlled feedback circuit. It has a simple GUI with 2 different skins and is available for instant download via Resonance Sound.
Filta Crunch 2.0 (Windows, VST). According to its developer, SonicXTC, is a nice tool to help beef up kicks, add sizzle to a snare, or just add a bit of distortion to allow a vocal to cut through a mix. It consists of a classic Moog-type filter, a two channel tube amp drive emulation and a straight forward waveshaper with gain, gain squared, and gain cubed respectively. Comes with 128 user presets and offers MIDI automation.
The Filtermate (Windows, VST) by Synthescience was built as a “Rhythmic Filter Module”, as such it is designed for making automated or non automated filter processing to any given audio material that is fed into it with the minimum of controllers. It consists on a Clock driver that animates an LFO (Low frequency oscillator) which is coupled to a multimode filter and a mixer. Other highlights: fully automatable and 50 factory presets.
Naive LPF (Windows, VST) by AdmiralQuality is a resonant low/high pass filter plugin for Windows, and features a separate envelope follower for each of 6 channels, and full automation, MIDI CC and even joystick control of all parameters. This filter has been developed to closely model the way some real world analog circuits work.
TAL-Filter-2 (Windows/Mac, VST/AU) is a well-known plugin by Togu Audio Line with a host-synced filter module with different filter types. This device includes all the four oversampled filters of TAL-NoiseMaker, panorama and volume modulations, easy-to-use graphical editor and more.
EngineersFilter (Windows, VST) by RS-MET is a free filter VST plugin that allows for extremely steep filtering by implementing high order IIR filter design methods that are commonly used in science and engineering. These filter designs methods can be applied to create lowpass, highpass, bandpass, bandreject, high/low shelving and peak/dip filters of orders up to 20.
Philteroid (Windows, VST) by Phuturetone is a close emulation of Sherman Filterbank analogue hardware instrument. Philteroid is a dual filter effect plugin with basic LP, BP, HP and BR filter types. Uncommon filter types can be obtained with filter type blend control and parallel/serial routing of filters. Philteroid is also armed with various amplitude modulation sources and can be used as envelope sharper, expander, noise gate, ring modulator.
Lisc-step (Windows, VST) by Saltline is a free filter plugin designed with simplicity in mind, to get results fast. Lisc-step is capable of adding dynamic movement to pads, beats, basslines, vocals etc, and offers great flexibilty quickly and efficiently. The filter pitch can be modulated in two ways, via the 16 step sequencer, low frequency oscillator or both, working together to create long sweeping and choppy progressions.
Oligarc Filter (Windows/Mac, VST/AU) by Stillwell Audio. This is not exactly free, but it has a fully functional evaluation version and becomes legitimate when you purchase a licence. Oligarc Filter is a fully midi-controllable filter plugin, based on a classic analog ladder filter taken from Olga and Oligarc. It features filter shape, cutoff, resonance and brickwall limiter controls.