When it comes to VST plugins there are a million and one options, but when you are looking for the best LoFi VST there’s only a handful of plugins that get you to authentic lo-fi vibes in a jiffy.
Many of us got into digital recording precisely because we wanted to get away from the hissy sound of cassette, but if you miss that ‘magical’ ‘80s sound, Klevgrand’s DAW Cassette can help you to bring it back. DAW Cassette is designed to introduce saturation, distortion, noise and wobble. You can reduce the tape, head and motor quality to age your sound and choose from metal, chrome and normal tape material options. Dolby A and K weighting can be switched in, and there are controls for adjusting the input gain, output gain and dry/wet mix. Fresh!
Decimort 2. €49.
For a long, long time Decimort2 is one of my go-to weapons to get that lo-fi sound. The plugin has excellent presets (including SP1200 and MPC60 presets) that instantly catapult the sound into the the lo-fi realm. From that point it only takes a few subtle tweaks to get the sound I want. Aside from modelling classic analog machines, there’s a bunch of experimental bitcrushing presets, which work great on things when creating otherworldly drones, etc! Get it here!
Developer Mathieu Demange introduced a very interesting plug-in this year. The RX950 is an emulation of the entire AD/DA conversion of the legendary AKAI S950 sampler, which was known for fat and punchy 12-bit sound. According to the developer, the RX950 plug-in provides perfect modeling of the signal path of an Akai S950. The plug-in works in mono as well as in stereo. Input Gain overrides the converter and should provide heat and the necessary crackle. The Audio Bandwidth slider adjusts the sample rate while adding the notorious aliasing to the signal. And of course, the filter control is responsible for the low-pass filter. That should be suitable for just about everything including mix buses and master track on your lo-fi tracks.
RC-20 Retro Color. €79.
This is the jack of all trades in terms of going lofi vst plugins. Make your audio wonky, noisy and analog like recordings from the past. The presets are great and feature some realistic and some experimental defaults to choose from. You can really mangle your audio into something that deserves to be called lo-fi. The RC-20 is easily one of the best lofi vst out there. Get it here!
Vulf Compressor. $149.
If there’s one machine that’s synomous with lo-fi hip hop, it’s the Roland SP series, especially the earlier models like the SP-303 and SP-404. The legendary vinyl simulator which was implemented in these machines was used excessively by Madlib and Dilla to give their tracks that certain vibe. That spilled over into the lo-fi hip hop movement pretty quickly too. The Vulf compressor is modelled after the legendary Roland SP303 and gives drums and instruments a vintage character. It’s pricey but a real workhorse, which I use on every single beat of mine.
PSP Audioware VintageWarmer2. $149.
The plugin has been around forever. I have had the VintageWarmer2 on my mastering chain for ages but it works just as great on busses and individual channels. The plugin also includes the MicroWarmer which offers more CPU-efficient processing for more typical compression duties. Grab it here.
Free options for Best LoFi VST
Izotope Vinyl. Free.
This freebie from Izotope was one of the earliest dedicated lo-fi weapons and it still holds up well. You can simulate the dust, scratches, warp, and mechanical noise reminiscent of vinyl and tweak it to your liking. This plugin lets you control each nostalgic element independently. Never use the same worn-out vinyl crackle sample on all your tracks.
Tritik Krush. Free.
Tritik offers a compact bit crusher VST named Krush that’ll cover most of your bit crushing needs. Aside from the downsampling & sample rate reduction you get analog modeled resonant filters and a modulation section which lets you modulate any parameter.
Rekkerd releases a straightforward Lo-Fi Effect with four different distortion variants, which is a free download for Windows & Mac. This new Lo-Fi VST is an audio processing effect that gives any audio a lo-fi character by combining a bitcrusher, a distortion unit, a high pass and a low pass filter. It’s the new and improved version of the original HY-Lofi plug-in.