8 Essential Tips for Lo-Fi Production
1. Reduce High Frequencies
Back in the day media like cassette tapes were pretty great at sound reproduction for the technology of the time, but compared to the modern era they don't come close. With a simple EQ curve, cut off the higher frequencies to quickly and easily start emulating that old school sound.
2. Layer in Hum and Noise
There is a number of reasons older recordings or copied recordings came cupelled with mechanical hums and noises. Over the years these have been phased out with superior digital recording techniques but now we want them back...This can easily be emulated by simply recording some back ground noise with your phone or microphone and layer it into the beat.
Time stretching/warping can give you some great results of trying to get that old school vibe. Simply stretching and pitching a sample in combination with cutting frequencies can harbour some great results. Try stretching and pitching a sample, rendering it out then repeat the process. Remember to keep a record of how much you're pitching the audio so you can keep track of what key you're working in.
4. The Right Sounds
Although you can create your own sounds, there are many sample packs out there right now which can quickly and easily get you the results you're after and for a good price too. A lot of sample packs come with a combination of loops, drums, SFX and more so you can start creating nostalgia instantly.
5. Make Modern Synths Sound Old
If analogue-sounding oscillators are your goal and you’ve only got an unashamedly digital synth to work with, there’s something you can do.
If these tips sound like too much work and you've got Serum in your VST library, you might just want to check out our Lo-Fi pack Dreams which includes 5 presets for that old school synth sound.
Part of the charm of old analogue oscillators is their inability to stay absolutely, perfectly in tune. Sure, a digital oscillator is mathematically incapable of doing this, so long as your output hardware and computer are all working as they should, but the analogue oscillators we know and love from the past were less stable.
6. The Human Touch
Back in the day everything you heard on a track was played by someone. There was no such thing as clicking a note in with a mouse and keyboard. You can hear older folks now talking about the feel and the emotion about the music of their era, this could be the lyrics, the sounds but i also feel this is partly due to how the music was created, all by hand.
being able to click in midi notes into a piano roll on your DAW is great, its quick simple and everything can be snapped on point in no time. This however makes the music sound to perfect. Instead of clicking your drum sounds in, try playing them on your MIDI keyboard or other hardware. If you don't have this option then click your notes in and either move the notes slightly off snap. There are a number of tools like randomizers or shifters to move notes over. Swing is also great to add to your sounds or patterns as this will also give more rhythm and flow to your music and give it a more human feel.
Also play around with note velocities, this is a golden rule for all music but especially when trying to replicate for older forms of music.
7. Layer Ambience, Crackle and Crowds
You don’t need an entire plugin to go all-out in the retro sonic stakes; there’s plenty of atmospheric samples out there that have actually had nothing to do with music – well, nothing immediately to do with music, at least.
From bird noise, atmospheric ambience, vinyl dust noise and more, you can give your tunes the raw feel of live performance, or simply add some subconscious humanity to them. All our Lo-Fi packs include several high quality atmospheric recordings, jungle and woodland birds, rain and vinyl samples, just drag and drop these samples for an instant injection of LO-FI
8. Vinyl: Vintage Plugin
This sort after lo fi sound has not been missed by plugin creators, in fact there are a fair few on the market that can emulate just the sound you're looking for with just a few simple clicks and turns.
iZotope Vinyl gives you the immediate sound of vinyl records in your tracks, with the dust, scratches, hum and many more controls that you’d associate with the style. Vinyl used to be a paid-for plugin, but it’s now free!