Are you looking to remove the clean and add a bit of lo-fi grit and vintage flavour to your sound? Here's three tricks from our friends at Waves Audio to add analogue imperfections to your mix.
1. Create lo-fi pianos and keys using tape simulationHitting your pianos or keyboard instruments with a little detuned, vintage vibe or retro wobble can give your track that warm and nostalgic feeling all over. Add old-school life and take your virtual MIDI instrument tracks back in time to an old-fashioned dimension by dialing in a few simple parameters of the Kramer Master Tape plugin.Take it to Mono. The stereo spread of hi-fidelity is what we want to get a little bit away from. To take things a little back in time, insert a mono plugin component on your virtual instrument track.
Reduce Tape Speed. A lo-fi sound is typically generated at slower tape speeds. For some lo-fi warmth, slow it down from 15 ips to 7.5 ips to reduce the brightness and boost the lows.
Nominal Bias helps produce the low-level noise and saturation for a bigger, lusher sound.
Flux simulates the amount of magnetic radiation emitted from the record head on to the tape.This translates into that desirable, dirty thickness of tape distortion.
Wow & Flutter generates that detuned, wobbly and worn feeling identifiable with retro sound. Wow is perceived as a change in pitch, whereas flutter is perceived as tonal degradation, since it produces harmonic overtones (more on this later!)
Noise gives you that tape hiss and added analog flavour. Dial in a little noise to brings a subtle analog machine character to your sound for a greater lo-fi effect.
Tape delay can create a sense of atmosphere to your sound. Even though the original tape machines didn’t have a delay function, engineers back in the day would route different machines for slap/feedback echo effects.
2. Add more wow & flutter tape effectsWhat was once an unwanted mechanical byproduct of analog tape is now what we seek when we want that lo-fi character. If you grew up listening to music on a cassette deck, Walkman or boombox then you know the sound. If not, sorry, but you missed countless hours of rewinding, fast-forwarding, and waiting forever to catch your favourite song on the record to add to your mixtape.
Wow and flutter are the trick to that analogue tape sound. They are the modulations and fluctuations created by the friction of the mechanical parts of the tape machine and the tape itself. One way to get into even greater detail with wow & flutter and tape simulation effects is using the J37 Tape plugin.Wow simulates the irregularities in speed you might get from a tape machine motor. Adjust this to get that perfectly imperfect wobble.
Flutter is deviating the pitch and simulating the movement of tape warping across the recording heads.
The Rate controls the speed of deviation and the Depth controls the amount added to your sound.
For additional lo-fi character:
Go with 888: J37 Tape features three tape formulas specifically developed by EMI for Abbey Road studios – each with their own unique frequency response and harmonic distortion behavior. The EMI Tape 888 is considered the most lo-fi out of the three for its more distorted sound between 1 kHz and 8 Khz.
Reduce Tape Speed. Lo-fi is all about that slower tape speed. 7.5 ips will also make the Wow & Flutter effect more dramatic.
Bring the Noise! Adding a subtle amount of tape machine noise increases the lo-fi mood.
Saturation. A little saturation and tape distortion go a long way for some dirt and analog warmth.
Tape Delay increases the depth of your sound. Dial in just a touch of the tape’s slap delay to create retro ambience. It also makes a great substitution for reverbs while maintaining definition to your sound.
3. Add vintage vinyl noise & crackle
There’s nothing like the sound of that vinyl fuzz and the clicks and pops of a needle on a groove. That authentic vinyl crackle sounds add a nice vintage vibe and makes you feel like you’re listening through an old record player. You could go for the quick fix of using a sample of turntable noise or clicks. But having the control and ability to fine-tune those vinyl characteristics gives your track much more life and added authenticity. One of the easiest ways to inject the feeling of true vinyl in-the-box is with the Abbey Road Vinyl plugin.Start by making your settings as lo-fi as possible:
Abbey Road Vinyl’s Generation section emulates the stage in the actual vinyl creation process. Of the two Generation options, Lacquer is the cleanest and most accurate representation of the original audio. But you want to go lo-fi, so take it to Print to emulate the pressed disc that is another generation away from the original audio.
Take the fidelity even lower by adjusting the Turntable type. Instead of the original AR, or Abbey Road turntable, select DJ to emulate a direct-drive turntable.
One thing that separates Abbey Road Vinyl from other vinyl emulator plugins is its selection of cartridges. To go lo-fi, you want to avoid the modern, high-end expensive cartridges like the MC (Moving Coil), or DJ.
Remember we want things to sound a bit ‘cheap’. Take it back to the '80s with the MM, or the Moving Magnet cartridge type for classic low-end consumer goodness.
Dial up the Noise, Crackle and Clicks for more lo-fi vinyl impact. The Density control allows you to control the amount of clicks and further customize the vinyl character to your sound.
The trick with vinyl effects is to be subtle. Just as with tape machine emulation, adding a little goes a long way. Make sure to check out the built-in slow-down/stop mechanism, which always comes in handy for those breaks and pauses in the track.