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Published on April 16th, 2021 | by minshewnetworks


Tips for Choosing Filter VST Plugins


Music production tools have become so accessible these days that some gear that many past producers could only dream of are now easily available through software plugins. For each skill level, budget, and style, there is a suitable filter plugin available. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss why and how to use filters. We will also provide you with tips to choose a plugin that suits your needs.

How to Use Filters

There must be filters in a studio toolset. They are almost like equalizers and help you to emphasize or cut certain frequencies. However, as with different effects like reverbs and compressors, they may go farther than their utility origin and have various creative uses or misuse.

Music producers have styles and one of them is creating anticipation and drama in tracks. This takes the listener on a trip they will not easily forget. This may be quite difficult to create compared to grid-based or electronic music. You may want to visit this website to read more about tension in music production.

So how can you add expression into programmed and synth drum parts such that they really come alive? Here’s how:

Filter Sweeps

This is a well-known technique that’s a cornerstone when it comes to electronic genres. It uses a low-pass or band-pass to dramatically sweep through a frequency spectrum. This will simultaneously slice out certain frequencies and emphasize others.

You can apply this technique to key sections or individual parts of the entire track. A good example is the moment around a drop or build. You can give them a hint of the expressiveness and movement of live instruments.

Furthermore, this works well because when you build anticipation, you are promising a level of excitement. But when you withhold it for the amount of time you wish without losing your listeners, it pays off. Filters can achieve this on a micro-level.

It withholds elements of certain songs, does not reveal the entire raw sound, and keeps the listeners engrossed. They will crave more listening moments until the unveiling of the entire sound. Afterward, they would have satisfied their curiosity.

In more modern dance songs, the producer simply releases the sound in a new drop segment in the music track. This method is highly effective and quite common.

Filter Modulation


Filters are also used alongside other effects and sequencers. When you bolt basic sequencers or envelop generators onto filter plugins, you will suddenly have lots of potentials. These potentials include different kinds of delicate rhythmic movements that you may not produce when you program the movements manually.

This filtering technique is applicable to synth lines, drumbeats, pop vocal performances, anything. It’s also a good movement source that you can apply to effects like delay and distortion. This allows you to change or modulate how the effects impact the source signals.

It is important to note that producing music calls for arranging series of simple components such as delayed modulation and sequenced envelop. It gives an incredibly nuanced and complex result with almost infinite opportunities for sound design and sonic exploration.

How to Identify Great VST Plugins

Given the creative uses we discussed above, you can likely guess the features the best filter VST plugins should possess. They either possess options for multi-effect and extensive modulation or a filtering behavior that is modeled in an analog manner and extremely high-quality.

The best plugins usually possess both and coordinate them in a pattern that suggests various open-ended applications. But they are easy to operate and are fast, whether for modulating sonic mayhem or carving out large chunks from your signal that you can’t do with a normal EQ.

Most importantly, great plugins must achieve all these qualities without hogging the processing powers of your computer. You also do not need to break the bank to get them. Therefore, you need to find a balance between the cost and the features you want.

Filter VST Plugins Jargon-Buster


If you are a beginner in music production, some terminologies may confuse you.

1. Low-Pass

It filters function by removing selected frequencies. Therefore, from the name, low pass, we can tell that it filters high frequencies and allows low ones to flow through. A cut-off controls where the plugin stops filtering. If the control is at 200Hz, the filter will remove all frequencies above 200Hz; everything below won’t be affected.

2. High-Pass

This is the inverse of the low pass. It allows everything above a cut-off to pass through.

3. Band Pass

It allows a selected frequency range and removes those below and above.

4. Poles

These refer to the steepness of a cut-off slope on a certain filter. A greater number of poles will result in a steeper cut-off slope. This gives birth to a more precise or extreme distinction effect between a non-filtered and a filtered frequency. Generally, filter VST plugins are 24dB (4-pole) or 12dB per octave (2-pole).

5. Resonance

It is sometimes called a Q setting. When you increase the setting, it boosts the cut-off. It may not come off as exciting, but it is a major component of the creative filtering technique. Also, the character of resonance is among the features that distinguish some filter VST plugins from the others.

6. Notch Filter

This is sometimes referred to as the band-reject. It works as the reverse of the band pass, cutting out a defined frequency range. When you sweep the notch filter down or up a frequency spectrum, it creates great effects that add additional movements to a synth sound.

7. Comb Filter


It consists of various frequency spikes that are regularly spaced. When you view it graphically, it appears like a hair comb. This filter works by adding some delayed versions from the signal source to itself. By doing so, it artificially creates holes for sweeping within the audio.

Also, the holes recreate standing waves, an acoustic phenomenon that happens in nature. It may generate real problems for acousticians. However, when used within the context of sound design, it becomes particularly useful. You may want to check https://soundbridge.io/get-creative-with-comb-filter/ to read more about comb filters.

8. Multimode Filter

It operates using one among several distinct selectable types of filters. It is very different from the fixed low or high pass filter calibrations. Also, it has an additional control for selecting mode or type which makes it function as a notch filter, band pass, high pass, or low pass, as desired.


We have discussed how to use filters and the features of great VST plugins. We hope the information shared here will serve as a guide when choosing a plugin for your music production.

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