How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

An easy and comprehensive guide on how to get an authentic warm and crunchy Lofi sound FOR FREE for commercial releases

By Eimear O SullivanMusicngear Editor

Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!


A lot of the tracks I work on as a producer are Lofi; be it a production for an artist, a beat for myself or just a royalty free instrumental intended for media purposes - from doing it so often I have condensed the best available free resources in order to get a warm, authentic Lofi sound (A few of these tracks have been play-listed by Spotify)

The main DAW I work in is Ableton Live so I will include a section on the best FREE Ableton Live racks you can use in order to really capture the quality of this sound (skip to here) alongside plugins, tips and samples that can be used in any DAW. 


1. Cut anywhere from 2400Hz - 5000Hz on the master
 

Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

This is a huge one. Cutting the high frequencies on the master (this can be done with any stock EQ plugin) gives an instant warm, lofi effect. Cut anywhere from 2.4kHz - 5kHz and marvel at the difference below:

Before 


After 


2. Ableton Tape Racks

TAPE by ELPHNT

Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

ELPHNT is one of the best Ableton rack creators out there, TAPE being one of my personal favorites for emulating the crackly warmth and flutter of a cassette tape. Simply drag and drop onto an individual track, bus or master - check out the quick demo video here

Download for free here


Brian Funk’s VHS VCR Tape Emulation

Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

This free Ableton Live rack from acclaimed producer Brain Funk is another personal favourite of mine; simply drag and drop the .adg file onto an individual track or master to get that instant warm, crunchy and wonky tape sound. I especially like to use this on melodies (even if it is not a Lofi track) as it adds a certain extra character and depth to the track. 

Download it here


3. Plugins

iZotope Vinyl


Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

This only came to my attention recently; this adds an instant old school dust - the kind that has been sprinkled on all the classics.

Download here


Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566

Article photo - How to make anything sound LOFI - for free!

This is a plugin that can be used in almost any scenario in order to add a nice, analog feel or subtle coloration to a track. However it works especially well within the realm of Lofi and has many uses; from acting as a saturation compressor, adding dirt with tube overdrive or simply to adding warmth.

Download here


4. Sample Packs


Aside from plugins - using samples that have been created with this genre specifically in mind (especially the percussive elements) not only shave off hours of additional work, but they bring a whole new, unique quality to the music.

Eternity by Cymatics FM

A full collection of Rhodes, Guitar, Drum, Vocal and Fx sample recordings - all run through 4 track cassette recorders and reel to reel in order to get a full warm analog sound. 

Download here


Lofi Toolkit by Cymatics FM

The ultimate selection of ultra- warm one shot and loop samples (both melodies and drums) The melody and drums from this track were made from sampling this kit, and was playlisted by Spotify!

Download here
 


If there are any free plugins or resources that you use for making Lofi tracks that are not mentioned in this article - let us know in the comments!

About Eimear O Sullivan

Eimear Ann O Sullivan is a multi-genre music producer, audio engineer and vocalist. After receiving a Masters in Music Technology from the CIT Cork School of Music, she went on to operate as a producer under the name Blakkheart. Her releases have received critical acclaim from Ireland's biggest music publications, such as District Magazine and Nialler9, alongside receiving heavy commercial radio airplay. She currently works in Cork recording studio Flashpoint CC. Previous clients of hers include the likes of Comedy Central’s Dragony Aunt star Candy Warhol, rapper Darce and Outsider YP. (Photo credit @Fabian Boros)

Contact Eimear O Sullivan at eimear.o.sullivan@musicngear.com

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