Before now, the phrase “low-fidelity” exclusively applied to the caliber of an audio signal. However, a whole music genre and production style has emerged from the warbling, gritty sound from cassettes and tape recordings. The genre has become incredibly popular in recent years, particularly on YouTube. In light of that, I’ll show you how to color your track with a lo-fi sound.

To demonstrate, I have prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW that contains the major full mix elements. Let us listen to it.

This is a screenshot of my mix before applying any processing on the instruments

~Full Mix – Unprocessed

Using a Lo-Fi Multi-Effect Plugin to Color Your Kick Sounds

As shown above, in the audio example, the track sounds decent but too clean. I believe most of the instruments could benefit from a Lo-Fi texture. The offer for Lo-Fi multi-effect plugins increased in past years, and there are many paid and free options. For this purpose, I have opted for the free Tape Cassette 2 by Caleum Audio. Let us start processing the kick drum and check how it sounds unprocessed.

~Kick Drum – Unprocessed

As you may have noticed, the interface of this plugin looks like an actual tape cassette. Two VU meters are on each side, with a cassette image in the center. When you activate the small IR switch in the center, it introduces a tape cassette impulse response. Any audio you process with this plugin will have that Lo-Fi sound. Saturation, low-pass filter, noise, wow, flutter, and output parameters are in the bottom row. I like how saturation affects the kick drum, so I combined it with a low-pass filter and some noise to color it. Let us hear how it sounds after it has been processed.

This is a screenshot of my mix and the Tape Cassette 2 lo-fi sound effect used to color the kick drum

~Kick Drum – Processed With Tape Cassette 2

You Can Also Color Your Drum Group Track With a Lo-Fi Sound

Next, I wanted to change the sound of my drums, so I grouped them and added a new instance of Tape Cassette 2 to their effect rack. In this case, I wanted a grittier sound from my drums, so I increased the saturation, noise, wow, and flutter effects. Let’s hear how the drums sound before and after we process them.

This is a screenshot of my mix and the Tape Cassette 2 effect applied on the drum group

~Drums – Unprocessed

~Drums – Processed With Tape Cassette 2

I will use Tape Cassette 2 to process my E Piano sequence because the Lo-Fi music genre is widely recognized for its piano and synthesizers’ wobbly and blurry sounds. This time, I want to ensure a lot of wow and flutter, but I want to keep the saturation relatively low. First, let’s hear the E Piano unprocessed, and then after it has been processed.

~El. Piano – Unprocessed

~El. Piano – Processed With Tape Cassette 2

Finally, let us hear how the full mix sounds with instruments processed with Tape Cassette 2

~Full Mix – Processed With Tape Cassette 2

I’m sure you noticed how this pattern took on a different texture. The mid frequencies started to come to life, and the instruments took on a more serious character and gained more details. You can also apply this effect to the master channel, but if you want more control, I suggest using it for individual instruments or group channels of instruments instead.

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