Lo-fi, or low fidelity, refers to the narrow frequency you get in a track. This means that when you listen to a lo-fi sound, you usually get hissy guitar scratches, soft vocal flutter, and tiny drum beats. When you use lo-fi in your recording, you most likely don’t have a clean mix; meaning it’ll not be free from the low hiss and leakage of noise.
Lo-fi mixes are done so as to have a unique piece that will attract listeners without compromising the track’s finesse. Usually, you’ll hear this in rap music.
If you’re interested in creating mixes that make use of lo-fi techniques, then there is a good number your can choose from. Some of the easiest and common strategies are listed below.
Usually, how you design your sound will let you know whether it’ll be successful or not. A great design draws the listeners to the sound. You can achieve this if you know how to pan and level. If you want to create something different and unpredictable, you only need to learn how to effectively pan.
To create audio pan, use keyframes to mix stereo placement and levels. Be dynamic— raise or lower the audio level or change the pan of a clip several times. If you wish to pan at the beginning and end, then set the keyframe marks accordingly. For you to get the right pan, feel the recording and aim well.
If you want a certain frequency to rise above the others, then you can use subtractive EQ. It makes the mix clearer and bigger. Some audio engineers dread this technique as it means cutting parts of a well-arranged track. However, if it’s not something overlap can fix, then subtractive EQ is the answer.
To do this, determine where the problem is. Adjust EQ frequency by using a bigger Q and apply subtractive EQ by pulling the gain knob down. The key in applying this successfully is to listen carefully and determine the right clip to cut.
If you find that your track is as lo-fi as it can get, then it’s best if you leave it be. Nowadays, natural tracks are no longer common. Almost every musicians use mixing and mastering techniques to enhance their music. However, a raw track has its own advantages, too. For example, if the track is unprocessed, you can use it in other mixes.
To apply lo-fi in a raw mix, you only have to lower the volume yourself while playing an instrument or doing the vocals. For example, if you are recording a piano, you can use the parts that are less loud. If you want the vocals to go low, you can ask the singer himself you lower his voice.
Reverb means a multiple blended sound that you make from reflections while delay stands for the echo that created sound images. Both reverbs and delays are effective in setting up lo-fi mixes. For example, you can use a reverb to make a guitar sound fuller and a delay to make the player play less.
To do this, find your inspiration as it may be tricky if you start from scratch. Then, apply the different reverb and delay techniques, which you can easily access in the internet.
Any audio engineer will tell you that distortion of sound is fun. While you need a few tries before you can fully get the right sound, it’s worth the try. If you get the perfect sound that fits your track, then you’ll be able to achieve a punky and catchy clip.
To distort sound, you can use amp simulators, convolutions, exciters, etc. Use them properly and make sure to create a mix that is interesting. There’s nothing better than something that you love to hear.