If you’re looking to produce some lo-fi music of your own, you’ll need the right tools on hand. Fortunately, there is no shortage of lo-fi plugins to play with, no matter your DAW of choice. At skybox Audio, our premier product, Hammers + Waves, offers many avenues to experiment with lo-fi sounds. Our software features multiple tags to help creators find the precise sounds they’re looking for, including a “Lo-Fi” tag. Toggling with this tag provides a great starting place to explore new lo-fi possibilities.
Hammers + Waves’ Noise feature also allows you to add some warm hiss and crackles to your audio and offers useful presets such as “Buzzy Cassette,” “Dirty Vinyl,” “Tape Air,” “Vintage Room,” and more. Meanwhile, the software’s precise pitch modulation allows you to implement vintage warble sounds throughout your project.
Of course, Hammers + Waves is only one of many lo-fi plugins available. Here we’ll explore some of the best lofi VST plugins to purchase or download for free.
So much modern music is produced to perfection – it’s glossy, snapped to the grid, and pitch-perfect. There’s nothing wrong with this polished approach, but it’s no wonder many producers are seeking to flex their creative muscles by looking for grittier sounds. Lo-fi music represents this return to the raw.
Short for “low fidelity,” lo-fi music encompasses a variety of sounds characterized by their imperfections in an attempt to capture the low-quality authenticity of analog and amateur recordings. These days, lo-fi has become a genre (or subgenre) all its own, combining elements of electronic music, jazz, hip-hop, easy listening, and more. This musical aesthetic now dominates YouTube and other platforms as producers compete to create the most “chill” soundtracks for relaxation and studying.
The Best Free LoFi VST Plugins Right Now
1. iZotope Vinyl
free lofi plugin than iZotope’s Vinyl. Now with a redesigned user interface, Vinyl allows producers to bring their tracks back in time. Toggle from 1930, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, and 2000 to capture different lo-fi sounds from the get-go. From there, play with parameters like “Wear,” “Electrical,” “Mechanical,” “Dust,” “Scratch,” and “Warp,” and more to achieve the precise sound profile you desire. Vinyl is perfect for beginners and seasoned pros alike, offering a surprising amount of depth beneath its simple exterior.
2. Cymatics Origin
Cymatics’ Origin rivals Vinyl in its simplicity and quality. Users are faced with five knobs: one large central knob to control resample frequency, one in the top-left to control saturation, one below that for movement (warble and flutter effects), another in the top-right to add vintage noise to your track, and a final knob on the bottom-right for a vintage chorus effect. This free plugin also features “pre” and “post” filters below the resamling knob to toggle a bitcrushed sound on or off. Taken together, these basic parameters open up infinite lo-fi possibilities – make your piano sounds like it’s being played underwater, or provide some distorting crackles to replicate an old cassette sound. Whatever your goal, Origin has you covered at no cost.
Pay to Play These Lofi VST Plugins
3. SketchCassette II by Aberrant DSP ($30)
With a hand-drawn UI, the look of SketchCassette II matches both its title and audio possibilities. This unique lo-fi processing plugin is inspired by 4-track cassette recorders predominantly used in the 1950s and 60s. An “Age” slider is its primary function, allowing you to make your tracks sound more or less worn as you shift from left to right. You can also play with parameters like “Flutter,” “Wow,” “Flanging,” “Hiss,” “Saturation,” and more. It might not look like much, but the SketchCassette II offers a lot of lo-fi opportunities in a relatively inexpensive package.
4. KrushPro by Tritik ($58 and Free Demo)
If you’re looking to really crush and crunch your audio, Tritik’s KrushPro plugin is the perfect tool. In addition to Tritik’s powerful bit-crusher processor, KrushPro houses a new “Wavecrushing” distortion module, LFOs, step sequencers, envelope followers, as well as full stereo modulation capabilities. This lo-fi plugin has become a favorite for electronic beat-makers, hip-hop producers, and modern metal sounds, but it can be used on softer, ambient audio as well.
5. RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio ($99.95 and Free Demo)
At just under $100, the XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color is the most expensive lo-fi plugin listed here, but its range of features and presets, level of sound quality, and ease of use justify its cost. At the very bottom of the UI you have six paramters to play with: Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space, and Magnetic. Meanwhile, a Magnitute slider at the top-right gives you simple control over your lo-fi presets and creations. This plugin interfaces well with other lofi piano plugins, along with drums, guitar, bass, and more. Whether you’re aiming for a lo-fi atmosphere or want to add some vibrant character to your modern productions, RC-20 Retro Color does it all.