FabFilter Volcano 3 | HONEST Review (2022)

FabFilter Volcano 3 Review (2022)

FabFilter have released Volcano 3, a comprehensive, powerful filter plugin that is pushing the boundaries of audio processing effects.

Volcano 3 is available in VST, VST3, AU, AAX formats and is compatible with all major DAWs. You can currently download a 30-day free trial of Volcano 3 here.

The first Volcano installment was originally released way back in 2005, and at the time didn’t have many other similar filter plugins to compete with. However, with todays ever-expanding market of VST plugins and digital audio software, can Volcano 3 still stand out against the crowd?

First Impressions

When first loading up the plugin, you’ll notice Volcano 3’s GUI has had a serious make-over. It now matches the beautiful, modernized design of plugins such as Pro-Q 3, Pro-R and Timeless 3. We find this GUI style much more accessible than previous FabFilter designs, especially if you’ve never used a FabFilter plugin before.

With its GUI make-over, Volcano 3 is now more intuitive and streamlined than ever. The bulk of the interface is taken up by the highly-responsive, real-time spectrum analyser with filter shape overlays and draggable nodes for the 4 individual filters. When working with filters, this visual-based design is incredibly beneficial as you can see how your actions within the plugin are affecting the frequency spectrum of the sound.

FabFilter Volcano 3 | HONEST Review (2022)

Clicking on the filter nodes allows you to choose from a range of filter shapes, including low/high pass, bell, shelf and notch filters. These additional filter shapes are a huge upgrade in the Volcano series, and they act as a serious improvement to the overall versatility of the plugin.

Below the spectrum analyzer are the main filter controls as well as several tantalizing modulation options. At the very top of the GUI are undo/redo and A|B buttons, a preset selector option and a new full-screen button.

First impressions count, and this new-and-improved Volcano 3 comes across as inviting and highly accessible. Now let’s get to know the plugin a little better, and take a look at what can be achieved using this powerful creative tool.

The Filters

Before we dive into the individual filter controls, I want to highlight Volcano 3’s filter routing options. When you begin to add multiple filter curves, Volcano 3 allows you to determine the routing arrangement. As you can see below, you can choose from a selection of up to 8 routing patterns, with a mix of serial and parallel arrangements. Experimenting with the filter routing can lead to some unexpected, unique results, as it tends to transform the tonality and colour of the output.

Routing options

Each filter has a drive control, frequency and peak controls (although these 2 options can be controlled much easier by dragging the node itself), and a panning control. You can also adjust the slope of the filter (choosing from 6, 12, 24, 48 dB).

Even these controls alone open up a huge amount of sonic possibilities, and paired with Volcano 3’s fluid, streamlined interface, creating and perfecting your own filter curves is incredibly straightforward. However, not only can you edit the filters exact positioning, but also its delay time. Using the delay knob, you can add up to 50ms of delay time to any of the 4 individual filters. Using this feature, you can then create comb-filter, chorus or even vintage flanging effects, opening up a world of creativity.

One of the most powerful controls in Volcano 3 is the 11 filter types, including Gentle, Raw, Tube, Metal, Extreme, and Easy Going. Cycling through these filter options transforms the character of the final output. Within these 11 options you can achieve anything from smooth, vintage effects to hardcore, searing filters, the choice is yours.

As you’re reading this you may be wondering why Volcano 3 seems to look like and function similarly to an EQ plugin. With this I would agree: Volcano is able to boost and cut frequencies just like an EQ, albeit without the complexity and precision of a plugin such as Pro-Q 3. However on top of the this it can colour and modulate the sound in ways far beyond the scope of any EQ plugin.


But the fun doesn’t end there. Similar to FabFilters saturation plugin Saturn 2, Volcano 3 is capable of some truly mind-blowing modulation effects.

In fact, when considering just how expansive Volcano 3’s modulation options are, you realise that the filter-editing options are just the tip of the iceberg.

Almost any parameter of the 4 filters can be modulated by 5 different modulation sources:

  • XY controller – a two dimensional controller whereby X and Y can be routed to almost any filter control.
  • XLFO – a powerful LFO that can also function as a flexible step sequencer with glide, offset and waveform controls
  • Envelope generator – ADSR envelopes can be triggered by MIDI, main signal level or even side-chain level
  • Envelope follower – A particularly interesting option that follows full-signal or transients in the main signal or the side-chain signal
  • MIDI source – an intermediary between a MIDI CC source and modulation targets

By routing these modulation options to the various filter controls above, you can unlock so many unique, vibrant filter effects. It opens the door to classic LFO wobble sounds, as well as chorus, flanger, dynamic EQ’s, transient shapers and much, much more. In our opinion, this section of Volcano 3 is its secret weapon, giving the user a staggering amount of control over the final sound.

Should I Buy This Plugin?

True to its title, Volcano 3 is erupting with creative possibilities and overflowing with firey filter controls.

This filter powerhouse is a fantastic tool for shaping and warping the tonality of your sound. It’s gorgeous, simplified interface makes designing complex, modulated filters not only easy, but incredibly fun too.

Given its ease of use, and powerful modulation options, we can conclude that this plugin blows its competition out of the water. So for any producer looking for a comprehensive, highly versatile filter tool to add to their plugin arsenal, look no further than Volcano 3.

Volcano 3 is available now in AU, VST, VST3, AAX for macOS and Windows.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ease of Use

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Value for Money

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Volcano 3 is currently €129. For more information, check out this product on fabfilter.com

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