This post is going to outline some of the best LoFi plugins that you can use for LoFi music production in 2022. With that in mind, all Lo-Fi plugins presented in this post are free, easy to use, and simple to install on both Windows and Mac.
First a little background on lofi music.
What Is Lofi Music?
Lofi music is the art of producing low-fidelity music (lo-fi). The production style is derived from producing music using low-budget production equipment:
- Tape Cassettes
- Porta Studios
- Sampling drum machines
- Found Sound
Visit this post for information on porta studio plugin emulations.
The result of using low-budget production tools introduced artifacts into the music which many saw as authentic. These artifacts included; background noises, glitches, warble sounds, hisses, mechanical noises, and other audible imperfections.
Characteristics That Define Lofi Music
Drum loops: Like Boom Bap Hip-Hop, Lofi uses drum loops, programmed and live recorded. Live recorded drums are favored because they’re authentic, unlike programmed drums.
Tempo For Lofi: The tempo of lofi music can range between 60 and 140 bpm. The sweet spot is between 70 and 100 bpm. The speed of the song can be altered depending on how you play your notes and rhythms. An instrumental with a tempo of 140 can sound like it’s 140 or 70 depending on the note values you use.
¼ are going to be slower than 1/16 notes and whole notes will sound slower than both. Think of producing at halftime vs double time.
Samples: Aside from drum loops and 1 shot samples, it’s typical to hear environmental samples such as but not limited to:
- Traffic Sounds
- Birds Chirping Sounds
- Rain Sounds
- Foley Recordings
It’s not uncommon to hear or uses sampled music phrases, loops, and vocal samples as well.
Sound Processing: The processing aspect of the sounds is where the magic happens. The purpose of processing is to degrade the audio fidelity. Degrading audio fidelity is easily accomplished by utilizing older hardware/vintage gear.
If you don’t have access to vintage gear, not to worry, this is where the lofi plugins come into play. With the right hardware/software, you can turn any sound into lofi regardless of how well it was recorded.
Let’s look at some Free Lofi Plugins you can start using today.
Free Lofi Plugins
Here’s a list of free lofi plugins we recommend.
Tape Cassette 2
Tape Cassette 2 is meant to emulate the sound of a cassette tape and is a follow-up of Caelum Audio’s original Tape Cassette 1. Music producers like Madlib would process their music through cassettes for a layer of saturation, wobble, and noise, giving their music a dated sound character.
Tape Cassette 2’s Main features
- Selectable Impulse Response (IR)
- Auto Gain (Toggle on/off)
- Dynamic Saturation +/-24dB
- Oversampling 2x -16x
- Wow & Flutter 0 – 100%.
- Noise -80 to 0 dB
- Real sampled noise from a Type 1 Cassette.
- Low Pass range increased down to 5kHz
- VU Meter
Use Cassette Tape 2 to add lofi character, warmth, and movement to any recording/sample. Great for processing individual sounds and groups/busses alike.
Cassette Tape is similar to plugins such as Klevgrand’s Daw Cassette and SketchCassette II by Aberrant.
More information // Caelum Audio
Lost Tapes is another cool tape emulation plugin made by SuperflyDSP. The company’s claim is to emulate tape but not a specific hardware model. This plugin is great for adding warmth, artifacts, and classic vintage sound to your instruments and making samples.
Main Plugin Features
- Tape Type: Affects the frequency bandwidth.
- Artifact: adds glitches and increases distortion.
- Depth: increases the overall tape effect.
- Rate: increase the flutter frequency
- Crunch: adds harmonic distortion
- Mix: for adjusting the amount of wet and signal
- Noise Slider: used to increase the noise
- Stereo Mode: adds stereo width
More information // SuperflyDsp
Cymatics says that Origin was built based on Vintage gear but doesn’t mention which tape machines were emulated. So we don’t know if it’s based on one or many different tape machines.
Main Plugin Features
Resampler is the main heart of Origin.
- Removes high frequencies above the threshold
- Changes sample rate in real-time
- Lower frequencies puts Origin into the bit-crushing mode
- Tape Saturation: Modeled from various tape machines introducing harmonics/compression
Pro Tip: Use Filter audio after bit crushing for a smoother sound.
Additional Origin Features
Movement: Randomizing Wow and Flutter
Noise: Filter noise
Chorus: Emulates the Juno 106 (fast and slow)
Origin is a nice filter box. The overall sound is very pleasing. I can’t tell exactly which tape machines were emulated, but it does sound good. At the time of this writing, Origin is 64-bit only.
More information // Cymatics Origin
Mel Lofi: Free Mellotron Plugin
Mel-Lofi is a FREE Mellotron ROMpler that comes with 23 presets spanning 5 categories, Attack and Release control, COF as well as FX layers. It’s ideal for Hip-hop, Lofi Hip-hop, Pop, EDM, Pop as well as related sub-genres.
See full Mel-Lofi feature list below
Mel-Lofi Sound Demonstration
- 690 MB extracted size / 590 MB download size
- 23 instrument presets
- 4 fx layers: vinyl, radio noise, mechanical belt noise, and rain
- Attack/release envelope
- Cutoff for lowpass/highpass filters
- Global tuning, gain, and panning
- Tremolo section
- Windows: VST/VST3 Windows and
- OSX: VST/VST3/AU is also compatible with M1 chips.
More information // audiolatry
Great Lofi Sample Packs
Black Octopus Reel to Reel