You can use many different plugins for making Lo-Fi music. Some you can get for free, while others are paid.
In this article, I’ll introduce some of the best plugins I found to be good for composing beats and designing sounds to craft perfect lo-fi tracks.
These plugins will work on Windows and Mac operating systems and are available in different formats, making them compatible with most DAWs.
|Lofi Explorer Bundle
|VST2, VST3, AU
|Lofi Keys Pro
|VST3, AU, AAX
|VST, AU, AAX
|VST, AU, AAX
|VST, AU, AAX
|RC-20 Retro Color
|VST, AU, AAX
|VST, VST3, AU, AAX
|VST, VST3, AAX, AU
|VST, VST3, AU, AAX
|VST, VST3, AU, AAX
|Bad Tape 2
|VST, VST3, AU, AAX
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Best Lo-Fi Generator Plugins
Lofi Explorer Bundle
The Lo-Fi Explorer Bundle from Rigid Audio includes three plugins that add vintage charm to music: Lo-Fi Drummer, Lo-Fi Explorer, and Lo-Fi Traveler.
These plugins offer lo-fi sounds like drums, percussion, keys, basses, leads, textures, soundscapes and pads.
Lo-Fi Drummer provides 70 drum kits capturing crushed, bit-crushed and lo-fi aesthetics.
You can shape sounds with parameters like sustain, release, decay, pan, gain and tune. A filter allows overall drum sound customization.
Lo-Fi Explorer features 123 lo-fi keys, basses, leads and textures. Sounds range from ethereal atmospheres to plucks and basslines.
Each sound offers control over attack, decay, sustain, release and a flexible filter.
Presets cover various lo-fi styles to craft melodies and arrangements easily.
Lo-Fi Traveler includes 110 sounds for ambient, cinematic compositions.
Sounds are customizable with attack, decay, sustain, release and filter settings to create immersive sonic landscapes.
The Lo-Fi Explorer Bundle allows the creation of unique, captivating lo-fi music.
The versatile library, precise sound design, vast presets, and easy usage make it a great option for producers seeking lo-fi charm.
Lofi Keys Pro
Lo-Fi Keys Pro is an upgrade to the original Lo-Fi Keys plugin, and it comes with a bunch of new features that will make your music sound even better.
One of the things that I love about Lo-Fi Keys Pro is its minimalist and retro 80s-inspired user interface.
It’s straightforward to use, making experimenting with different sounds and effects fun.
The plugin includes two high-quality sound engines, Voyager and Lo-Fi Piano, offering diverse lo-fi sounds like warm basses, nostalgic synths, dreamy pads, and vintage keys.
It also has an extensive preset library to browse.
What makes Lo-Fi Keys Pro stand out are the exceptional effects and modulations that add depth to sounds.
The Poly Space Reverb provides an immersive, lush reverb atmosphere.
The Vapor Dimension chorus effect adds subtle movement and interest.
The Technicolor Saturation exciter/bit crusher brings vintage brightness and distortion.
Extensive customization options give you precise control over the input/output levels of effects to shape your sound.
The AI-powered randomization function lets you experiment with parameters for unpredictability and creativity.
The plugin works great for adding vintage, retro, or lo-fi aesthetics to music.
It is compatible with Windows and Mac. The affordable price, along with the features, make it a great choice for lo-fi producers.
KOMPLETE + Lo-Fi Glow Expansion
Lo-Fi Glow is an exceptional expansion pack from Native Instruments for the KONTAKT PLAYER, compatible with Windows and Mac.
It stands out for its wide range of lo-fi sounds to take music production to new creative heights.
The pack includes a diverse collection of warped basses, dusty keys, delicate mallets, and atmospheric pads.
The basses add warmth and foundation to the tracks. The keys transport music to a nostalgic, vintage era.
The mallets provide delicate, captivating tones. The pads create immersive, ethereal soundscapes.
An intuitive interface enables quick and easy sound manipulation. Macro controls allow simultaneous tweaking of multiple parameters to customize presets.
The effects editor offers full control over sound effects chains. The streamlined workflow allows convenient track recording after sound customization.
With a vast preset library and randomize button for fresh inspirations, Lo-Fi Glow ensures endless creative possibilities.
The sound editor page enables combining different sound sources for richer textures by tuning, filtering and enveloping individual sources.
KHORDS + LoFi Keys Expansion
KHORDS is a versatile plugin instrument designed for chord-based music production.
It incorporates around 315 high-quality chord samples for exceptional sound and usability.
What makes KHORDS unique is its refreshing approach to chord manipulation, with its curated, pre-loaded chord samples eliminating the need for extensive searching or discarding of mediocre samples.
A key feature is KHORDS’ multi-layered chord sounds, with most chords having two layers for a rich, complex sonic experience.
Users can adjust the levels of each layer for customized textures and tonal variations to bring musical visions to life.
Beyond chord progressions, KHORDS offers an extensive sample library with diverse sounds like ethereal pads and dynamic leads to explore various sonic possibilities.
Manipulating parameters like cutoff enables effective sound sculpting and timbre shaping.
KHORDS integrates seamlessly with other plugins like Bass Master for crafting well-rounded compositions, expanding creative possibilities for a more comprehensive music production approach.
While you can’t add custom samples, KHORDS has expansions like Lo-Fi Keys to enhance its capabilities.
It works on 64-bit Windows and Mac but not on M1 Apple Silicon.
Chords Pro, InstaComposer, and InstaChord 2
WA Production offers a suite of MIDI generator plugins designed to assist producers with limited knowledge of music theory.
Chords Pro, InstaComposer, and InstaChord 2 are three notable offerings that aim to simplify the process of creating chord progressions and melodies.
You can use them to fasten the creative process and cook more lo-fi beats in less time.
Chords Pro is an advanced chord generator allowing one-click chord progression creation.
It offers customizable presets based on bars and major/minor chords for tailored progressions. Features include chord inversion and complex 8-bar support.
InstaComposer simplifies chord and melody creation via preview functions and melody, rhythm, bass, pad, and chord channels – ideal for sample packs.
Drag-drop MIDI export integrates with major DAWs, but some advanced features may be lacking.
InstaChord 2 suggests chords for progression building through AI and patterns.
Manual selection or automated generation coupled with editing/preset options streamline chord playing.
Initially overwhelming, but becomes more accessible over time.
Best Lo-Fi Effects Plugins
RC-20 Retro Color
RC20 Retro Color by XLN Audio is an exceptionally effective plugin for adding warmth and vintage character to guitar tracks, especially for the lo-fi genre.
It incorporates six modules to degrade and color audio:
- Noise module – Introduces nostalgic vinyl crackle
- Wobble module – Emulates inconsistencies of tape/vinyl with wow/flutter effects
- Magnetic module – Replicates tape saturation
- Distortion module – Adds grit through various distortion types to achieve an authentic tube amplifier tone
- Space module – Provides reverb for space/depth
- Digital module – Recreates vintage digital gear sounds
A magnitude slider acts as a dry/wet control to fine-tune the intensity of effects.
An EQ section allows tone shaping and frequency response sculpting for that final vintage touch.
RC20 utilizes a flux engine to add analog warmth and character across drums, guitars, keys, or full mixes.
Its simplicity and versatility make it an invaluable tool for lo-fi production.
RC20 Retro Color works on 64-bit Windows and Mac OS. It’s a powerful solution for adding warmth, texture, and uniqueness to tracks.
iZotope Vinyl is an invaluable plugin for adding vintage, lo-fi characters to tracks.
Its versatility stems from the ability to use it on the master channel or individual mixer channels.
There are three main use cases:
- Master channel transformation fully envelops the recording with lo-fi tone
- Spin-down effect creates captivating pitch/speed reductions over time, making sections stand out
- Noise generation produces hiss, hum, and crackle for raw, organic lo-fi texture
When applying to the master, the default settings are basic, so adjustments are required, starting with dust control to silence the plugin.
Lowering the year setting is key – reducing it progressively cuts bass and alters gain to reflect vintage tech limitations in reproducing low frequencies.
Some harshness in high frequencies may occur in very low-year settings.
The wear control rolls off transients and high end for a pleasant listening experience.
Warp modifies pitch/drifts, with higher values causing pronounced drifts. Lower warp values on individual instruments provide distinct lo-fi flair.
Four warp modes (assign, inverted sign, peak, inverted peak) deliver different transition types.
Retronaut by JMG Sound is a plugin infusing modern music production with nostalgic warmth.
Useful for both lo-fi and retro mix flair, it provides presets tailored to cassette, chorus, Redux styles, and more.
Cycling the “Previous/Next” buttons makes discovering the right sound for tracks easy.
The Global Settings section offers core controls. The Preset Manager houses abundant factory presets to match desired sounds.
A/B comparison enables instant testing between settings, facilitating tweaks.
Smart randomization sparks creativity through intelligent algorithms. A built-in limiter prevents unwanted distortion.
Flutter introduces tape flutter-esque fluctuations for vintage charm. Dust emulates subtle vinyl dust crackles for organic flair.
Fail replicates random glitches of aging hardware to craft imperfect, nostalgic textures.
Warp provides pitch drift and half-rate tremolo effects. Dirt offers tape saturation controls for rich, gritty warmth.
Retronaut painstakingly combines analog gear like Bucket Brigades and tape for exceptionally authentic retro results.
At its core lies a powerful modulation engine for lush choruses and intricate flangers/phasers.
With real-time visual feedback, it makes modulation sculpting effortless.
Retronaut’s meticulous attention to vintage detail through its presets, Global Settings, tape/analog modeling, and deep modulation capabilities make it invaluable for nostalgic, retro-flavored productions.
Tape Echoes by Softube is an exceptional plugin that emulates the nostalgic charm of vintage tape delays while incorporating adaptable modern features.
It provides extensive parameters for tailoring tape delay effects to preference, including up to three customizable echo taps for intricate, layered delays that enrich the sound.
Tap tempo and tempo sync facilitate easy rhythm integration, while Drive and Reverb effects add warmth and depth.
The dry/wet mix seamlessly blends original and delayed audio for a cohesive output.
Vintage tape artifacts can be introduced through the dirt dial to further enhance authenticity.
An intuitive, compact interface enables quick access and modifications, with tempo sync/note value controls allowing precise synchronization.
Stereo imaging and reverb placement options grant flexibility in dimensional shaping.
Dual mono and stereo modes open up distinct sonic avenues to explore.
By tweaking delay times, adding taps, or manipulating feedback, creative visions can be fully realized, from distinct echoes to rhythmic delays to self-oscillation.
Tape Echoes combines classic tape delay qualities with modern adaptability through its extensive parameters, tempo sync capabilities, intuitive interface, dimensional controls, and flexible modes.
This makes it an invaluable asset for producers wanting to infuse richness, depth, and innovation into recordings.
Baby Audio’s Super VHS plugin masterfully captures the essence of retro vibes through six meticulously crafted one-knob VHS-inspired effects:
- Static – Generates authentic tape static noise
- Heat – Analog tape saturator adds rich, vibrant texture
- Shape – 8-bit sample rate reducer evokes lo-fi 80s samplers
- Magic – Dark, deep chorus based on Juno widens the soundstage
- Drift – Subtle pitch/time fluctuations add dreaminess
- Wash – Emulates 80s reverb racks for vintage depth
Conducting A/B tests showcases the plugin’s magic. Disabling it allows the original sound to shine before re-enabling it transforms tracks into nostalgic marvels, breathing new creative life.
While other plugins aim for vintage aesthetics, Super VHS stands out through its simplicity.
The one-knob interface allows easy access for all skill levels. The diverse effects spectrum grants deep creative freedom.
Bad Tape 2
Bad Tape 2 by Denise is an invaluable audio plugin for infusing lo-fi recordings with vintage texture and character.
It shines through exceptional sound quality courtesy of oversampling up to 8x, maintaining audio fidelity.
The plugin truly excels through its diverse, meticulously modeled tape effects that emulate vintage idiosyncrasies.
Effects like Harm introduce appealing degradation/distortion, Shake produces convincing flutter and misalignment, while Squeal evokes cassette squeals.
Notably missing is a control for sticky-shed syndrome specifically.
However, the clean interface promotes usability over exhaustive comprehensiveness.
A standout is the push/pull EQ enabling pre-effect boosts and post-effect cuts on chosen frequencies. This tailors the impact of effects on certain ranges for pronounced, customized shaping.
Sidechaining opens up creative possibilities by dynamically triggering effects with external audio.
While some effects complement sound design more, others specialize in infusing recordings with authentic lo-fi warmth.
In summary, Bad Tape 2 is an invaluable colored texture addition for lo-fi producers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best reverb plugin for lo-fi sounds?
Some of the best reverb plugins for lo-fi-type songs are Valhalla Room, TAL-Reverb III, Valhalla Vintage Verb, Raum from Native Instruments, etc. These are general reverb plugins that also work well for lo-fi-type sounds.
What tempo is best for lo-fi songs?
For lo-fi songs, it is best to keep the tempo between 60-90 bpm, as this range tends to create a chill and relaxed vibe that is characteristic of lo-fi music.
What time signature is best for lo-fi songs?
For lo-fi songs, it’s best to stay within a 4/4 time signature, as it’s widely used for lo-fi beats. But you can experiment with different time signatures to create more variety and interest in your song.
What are some lo-fi guitar plugins?
You can generate lo-fi-style guitar sounds using plugins like Native Instruments Guitar Rig, MusicLab Real Guitar, Ample Guitar, and Ample Bass.