Lo-fi is known as a musical or production standard in which elements otherwise regarded as imperfections of a recording are audible, and often exist as a deliberate aesthetic preference. It’s one of many proofs of how the standards of sound quality, or fidelity, in music production have changed over the decades.

In the late 2010s, a style of downtempo music branded as “lo-fi hip hop” or “chillhop” became a popular YouTube stream. Several lo-fi YouTube channels have drawn millions of fans by now. Having this in mind, we decided to show you a few tips & tricks on how to make great-sounding Lo-Fi drums for your next track.

As usual, we have a previously made sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW, with all the essential elements of a full mix. Let’s have a quick listen to it.

~ Full Mix – Unprocessed Drums

As we can hear, the full mix sounds decent, but the drum section sounds kind of dry. With some processing, it can sound much better.

We will start by grouping the channels containing the drum elements together.

~Drum Group – Unprocessed

The first effect we’re going to add on the newly made drum group channel will be reverb. This is crucial in order to introduce some space and coloration to the dry sounding drums. The reverb plugin we will use for this example is BReverb 2 by Overloud. We will set the reverb to mimic the sound of a room, with a rather short reverb tail and a bit of pre-delay. Let’s have a listen to that.

~Drum Group – Processed With Reverb

The next effect we’re going to add is a compressor. For a compressor, you should choose a plugin unit capable of “extreme squashing”, so to speak. In our case, we have chosen the OTT by Xfer. With a compressor set as we show below, the sense of space in the drum section will become even more emphasized. Here is how it sounds so far.

~Drum Group – Processed With Reverb and Compressor

Bit crusher for Lo-Fi sound

By now our drums sound big, but we’re still looking for that Lo-fi sound. To achieve this, we will add a Bit Crusher. For the sake of this tutorial, we selected Decimort 2 by D16 Group.  As we can see in the picture below, we have adjusted a few parameters of it, including the Resample frequency, Jitter value and few others. This in order to get a dirty Lo-Fi sound.

Finally, we will add an EQ with a low-shelf filter to cut some unwanted high frequencies.

Let’s hear the results and compare the unprocessed and processed versions of our drums, as well as the full processed mix.

~Full Mix – Unprocessed Drums

~Drum Group – Processed With Reverb, Compressor and Bit Crusher

~Full Mix – Processed Drums