Did you know that the word “lo-fi” literally means low fidelity? In audio terms, lo-fi refers to a recording that has been recorded at a lower quality. This can be used as an aesthetic choice or it can also be a byproduct of an imperfect recording. In this guide, we’ll explore what makes lo-fi music so great and explain why it’s come back into vogue recently.
You’ll also learn how to make your lo-fi music, even if you have no experience with recording or music production. If you love artists like Kurt Ville, Courtney Barnett or The War on Drugs, read on to discover how you can create your lo-fi music and add this unique style to your songs.
What Makes Lo-Fi Music So Great?
People have been making lo-fi music since the earliest days of recorded sound, but there are several reasons why this particular aesthetic has exploded in popularity recently. – Increased Accessibility – One of the main reasons that lo-fi music has become so popular is that it’s incredibly easy to make.
You don’t need expensive recording equipment to get a lo-fi sound; you just need a couple of cheap, simple effects. As more and more people start recording their music at home, lo-fi has become the de facto style for bedroom pop. – Nostalgia – Another reason that lo-fi has caught on is nostalgia. In the same way that VHS has become a retro aesthetic, lo-fi music is an attempt to recreate the sonic aesthetic of the past.
In the ‘90s and ‘00s, pop music was often heavily processed and produced in a way that would be unrecognizable today. Lo-fi music is an attempt to breathe life into an aesthetic that was pushed to the margins. It’s an attempt to bring it back to the mainstream and make it cool again. – An Accessible Aesthetic – Finally, lo-fi music is an incredibly accessible style.
It has no formal rules, no real set of aesthetic conventions beyond a lack of fidelity. This means that you can take the ideas behind lo-fi music and apply them to your music. You can experiment with the different aesthetics that make up lo-fi music, using them as a jumping-off point for inspiration.
Effects That Create A Lo-Fi Sound
Before we dig into specific examples of lo-fi music production, let’s take a look at the different effects that can be used to create a lo-fi sound. These are the building blocks that you’ll use to create your own lo-fi sound. – Lo-fi Effects – First and foremost, lo-fi audio is characterized by a general lack of fidelity.
You can achieve this by recording at a low sample rate or with a low bit rate. Like, a really low sample rate. Like, 8-bit or 16-bit. You can also use low-fidelity audio samples to create a lo-fi sound. Lo-fi effects also include other types of distortions.
You can use effects like a bit crusher or a lo-fi filter to add a lo-fi aesthetic to your recordings. – Compression – Compression can also be used to create a lo-fi sound. A heavily compressed track can sound extremely lo-fi, with clipped vocals and a squashed sound. This can be a great way to add lo-fi effects to an existing track.
How To Record Lo-Fi Music
Now that we’ve explored the different effects that create a lo-fi sound and why they’re used, let’s look at some examples of lo-fi music production. – Kurt Vile – Kurt Vile’s lo-fi sound is due in large part to his on-the-fly approach to recording.
He’s known for recording songs on a single track, playing every instrument himself. This has the added benefit of creating a very lo-fi sound. – Courtney Barnett – On the other hand, Courtney Barnett’s lo-fi aesthetic comes from the gear she uses. She records through a Rode NT1-A condenser microphone, which has a very lo-fi sound.
She also runs her guitar through a cheap Vox DelayLab II pedal. Both of these artists capture the lo-fi sound through different approaches, but they both create music that is instantly recognizable as lo-fi.
Lo-fi music is an incredibly accessible genre, in both the sense that it’s easy to produce and that anyone can do it. Anyone with a few simple effects and the right gear can make their lo-fi music. If you’re interested in making lo-fi music, start with a lo-fi effect like using a low sample rate or a lo-fi filter.
Then use it as a jumping-off point for inspiration. Experiment with different music and gear, and see what you come up with. And above all, don’t take yourself too seriously! Lo-fi is supposed to be fun, and it’s supposed to let you explore different sonic ideas without feeling too precious about it.
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