Lo-fi techniques

Speakerphone is expensive, but a great one stop shop for this:


I love lofi. Here are some things I do:

  • singing through guitar amps with spring reverb
  • lofi samplers: Sp-303, Zoom Sampletrak ST-224
  • using the built in microphone in my op-1 and sp-404sx
  • cassette tape-loops in my old half-broken 4-track
  • field recordings
  • sampling radio (inbetween stations)
  • foam under the strings close to the bridge (guitar)
  • sampling/building noisy instruments

In general, I think it’s about allowing yourself to be messy, not neat and tidy, slamming things together. Not thinking in terms of precious but allowing yourself to be reckless and daring.


Have you looked at the Qu-Bit Electronix Data Bender? Qu-Bit Electronix Data Bender - Eurorack Module on ModularGrid ?

It acts as a "circuit bent digital audio buffer. […] skipping CDs, software bugs, and defective tape machine playback are all accessible and controllable with dedicated parameter knobs for each.

  • Circuit bent digital audio buffer
  • Skipping CDs, software bugs, old tape machine, scratched records"

I hate the idea of a specialised lofi plug in - especially a pro and expensive one. just as much as I hate relicing guitars. If you need to cheat and throw money at being lo-fi its just missing the whole point of exploring the potential of broken and outmoded stuff.

wrapping a dictaphone in a towel with a mic -that’s the genius simple cheap idea that I love.

(I am exaggerating my outrage for comic effect and I guess these plugins have a role in film sound and such. and it is interesting to look at the links here so Im not having a go at anyone)


thrift stores all you need mate


the Bastl Thyme is really good for more gradual digital aliasing degradation. you can also overdub parameter modulations on top of frozen loops, so you can add to the character in real time


Regarding downgrading. I saw some techno-tutorial where a guy used the Roland MS-1 sampler on an aux-send. Since you could real-time monitor the sample passing through. I’m with Zedkah on not buying expensive things to sound cheap… but the Ottobit bitcrusher sounds really nice from what I’ve seen/heard.


I picked up Lossy the other day for work. We (like many others) are making a commercial that is set in the context of a Zoom call. The “packet loss” artifacts are spot on, and, as a 90’s kid, I found a ton of sounds that felt like home.


i picked up a few rechargeable 1/8" fm transmitters a while back and they’ve been amazing for all sorts of things - one is always plugged into an alm headphone output on my 7u, and i usually have the other in my headphone distro amp. been sending busses / auxes / entire mixes through them to an old boombox radio, then ‘playing’ the tuning dial. also really effective to send two different stems to two stations that are right next to each other and ‘play’ the physical distance between the two transmitters and the radio (moving your body to block the signals yields great results), or the tuner, or both.

somehow can’t find a non-amazon link to the transmitter i own, will edit if i can find a better source:



Oh yes!


The purple rain by digdugdiy is my drug. I‘ve set this up into whole mixes because its comoressor will behave worse with more input.

The color disruptor by diyre is very nice in getting that crunch on drums without the bitcrush.
I‘ve not soldered the Alessis limiter clone yet, but believe this will rock as well.

On the digital side i‘ve had great moments with live ‚reverse soundcleaning‘ with an adaptive denoiser (the older, the merrier :smiley:) on whole mixes. The scenario of coming from lofi into full mix or vice versa is controllable via threshold and i‘ll set the denoiser into the worst possible way before i crank the threshold. You‘ll get this horrible boomy artefacts you never knew existed.

I‘m not so much into tape warbles and hiss because i had to fight this ‚problem‘ in my early engineer career. But i must admit that the tape universe takes you right into lofi land.

I‘m an SP (any number really) adept.


a special shout out to delays that are pushed outside of their comfort zones.

BBD delays can introduce clock noise, and more when slowed down too much - koma bd101 delay allows this as part of the design:

The bi-phase clock of the BBD circuit on the BD101 can go into ranges never intended by the inventors of these chips, allowing you to go from super short delay pulses with chorus and fanger like sounds to enormously cut-up soundscapes. If you clock the BBD transistors in such a slow speed that the frst transistor actually misses a part of the incoming sound in one clock phase you are able to rip the incoming signal completely apart. At times it might even sound like digital bit crushing.

similar idea for digital delays being used at rates that are too slow for normal operation - PT2399 is a popular chip for this purpose. bugbrand pt delay module based on the chip intentionally allows you to push it to the point where audio starts breaking down (probably one of the most characteristic bugbrand sounds). i think eurorack sound of shadows module allows you to do the same?

any digital delays / samplers that allow you to mess with the buffer - tyme sefari as one example. boss rsd-10 delay/sampler has a weird feature where you can use pitch tracking to control rate.

not sure what chip gieskes dep2b is based on but it’s probably my favourite example of this technique!


pitch your recording up to double speed
record it to tape at double speed
slow tape down to normal speed


I do this alllll the time haha. Works great with softcut and w/. Another thing I do is resample or export an ableton loop or song at double speed ( up an octave without warp on ) and then use either w/ or soctcut ( ekphras) to drop it back to regular speed. Some beautiful glow fi


Amen! Additional shoutouts to Chase Bliss Thermae, Montreal Assembly Count to Five, and Fairfield Meet Maude. All chunky in their own delightful way.

I should add the Cooper FX Arcades, which is rad in so many ways. But, relevant to this discussion, the DSP clock speed is addressable via midi, and can be quantized in a variety of ways. Super awesome to modulate the clock speed with an LFO!


Doepfer’s BBD modules (my phone tried to correct that to “BBQ mules”) let you clock them way outside their “good” range or even with an external clock source, and have no filter or compander. They’ll definitely alias, whine, sing, blow out with feedback, etc.

The Lyra-8 uses PT2399 delays and is fun to run audio through for that crunchy, crawly noise.


I picked up a strymon deco for a steal recently and i’m seriously impressed.

Super handy and everything sounds brilliant passed through it (to my ears)


BBQ mules are probably lo-fi in flavor


PrimalTap from Soundtoys has a very unusual feature. There is a Multiply control which doubles the delay time and halves the sample rate with each turn of the rotary switch. So as loops get longer, they get more lo-fi and are pitched down/up octaves.

I haven’t found anything else that sounds like it and everything I run through it ends up sounding lovely.


I am very intrigued by the @airwindows plugins mentioned in this thread and would love to try them (and add my support for them on patreon of course) but it looks like MacOS Catalina does not want to let these run in Logic, has anyone had any luck with these on Catalina? I wasn’t sure where to ask this question but I’d appreciate any help, thank you!

1 Like