Cableguys FilterShaper XL review

The modulation-obsessed developer turns its attention back to its classic filter plugin. We get moving…

  • £39
  • €49
  • $49
Cableguys FilterShaper XL
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

Offers a wealth of varying, useful applications – for electronic producers in particular, this plugin is pretty much essential.


  • +

    Overhauled filters add more character and distortion choice.

  • +

    Huge potential for complex modulation.

  • +

    Free upgrade for owners of FilterShaper 3.


  • -

    Multitude of similarly designed LFOs can get a little confusing at times.

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Cableguys FilterShaper XL: What is it?

At a Glance

Key features: Dual filter plugin with comprehensive modulation section offering 60 customisable LFO/envelope shapers and 50 envelope followers.
Plugin formats: PC/Mac, VST, AU, AAX.
Buy at Plugin Boutique

It’s almost 10 years since Cableguys released FilterShaper 3, its modulation-focused filter plugin. While the developer had already established its now-familiar emphasis on customisable waveforms, via the likes of its Curve synth and VolumeShaper, it’s arguably FilterShaper 3 that laid the groundwork for the popular ‘Shaper’ effects that have made the developer a staple of electronic musicians’ plugin folders.

FilterShaper XL is described as a ‘modern reboot’ of the plugin, though broadly speaking the format remains consistent to previous versions. As before, the UI is built around a pair of multimode, resonant filters that can be arranged either in serial or parallel. They sit above a modulation section, used to apply movement to various elements of the effect. 

Cableguys FilterShaper XL

(Image credit: Cableguys)

Cableguys FilterShaper XL: Performance and verdict

There have been significant upgrades though. Firstly, the filters themselves have been overhauled, with redesigned algorithms featuring 20 filter types. These take in low, high and band-pass, along with notch and peak modes. Each style has slope options as well as clean and warm variations, the former being a more subtle digital filter and the latter imparting a character based on MS-20-style Sallen-Key filters. 

Particularly on the faux-analogue front, the filters constitute a noticeable upgrade from FilterShaper 3. There are some nice enhancements to how the resonance behaves too, with a ‘Safe’ mode, which can be switched on or off to activate or avoid squealing feedback, plus a new Resonance Drive parameter capable of recreating the behaviour of an overdriven analogue filter. This joins a dedicated drive parameter for each filter, which can be placed either pre- or post-filter for differing tonal responses.

XL marks the spot

The main area where FilterShaper has had an ‘XL’ overhaul is on the modulation side. As with the previous iteration, each major parameter – Cutoff, Resonance, Pan and Volume for each filter, as well as master Pan and Volume – has its own modulation section. These are significantly upgraded here though. Not only does each have two fully customisable LFOs and two envelope followers, but the rate and speed of each LFO has its own dedicated LFO and follower section. This opens up potential for a staggering amount of complex modulation, whereby custom LFOs interact to create varied modulation patterns, which themselves shift in timing and depth over time.

What’s more, the tools used to shape and trigger these are vastly slicker too, thanks largely to the work Cableguys has put into refining ShaperBox. It makes drawing modulation curves pleasantly quick, but additionally allows for plenty of options to trigger, sidechain and sync modulation. A decent crop of preset curve shapes, as well as overall presets, are handy timesavers too.

Filter modulation is a staple tool, particularly in electronic music realms. The ability to add movement – be it as a sound design tool or across an arrangement as a whole – is often what sets an amateurish demo apart from a professional production. FilterShaper XL fits this brief exceptionally well, and with a level of depth that means it can adapt to a huge variety of situations. Count this as something of a must-have.

MusicRadar verdict: Offers a wealth of varying, useful applications – for electronic producers in particular, this plugin is pretty much essential.

Cableguys FilterShaper XL: Hands-on demos


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Simulation Beats

Cableguys FilterShaper XL: Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: Dual filter plugin with comprehensive modulation section offering 60 customisable LFO/envelope shapers and 50 envelope followers. 
  • Buy at Plugin Boutique
Si Truss

I'm Editor-in-Chief of Music Technology, working with Future Music, Computer Music, Electronic Musician and MusicRadar. I've been messing around with music tech in various forms for over two decades. I've also spent the last 10 years forgetting how to play guitar. Find me in the chillout room at raves complaining that it's past my bedtime.