11 Best LoFi VST Plugins 2022

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Best LoFi VST Plugins

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Whether in pop, hip-hop, R&B, EDM, or another electronic genre, lo-fi VST plugins are in high demand.

Sometimes, pristine clarity is the opposite of what you want. You want your tracks to have some grittiness, some character, some pitch issues, or some distortion to them.

That’s where lo-fi VST plugins shine. Whether it’s making your tracks pop, or wobble like an old vinyl record, there are a variety of different types of dirt you can add to your tracks.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at the best LoFi VST plugins.

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Lifeline Console by Excite Audio – Best Overall

Lifeline Console by Excite Audio – Best Overall

The promise of Excite Audio’s Lifeline Console is “instant analog character.”

A quick look at the interface and you may have already noticed that the Lifeline Console has a modular, drag and drop design, kind of like the RC-20 Retro Color.

The five modules include Pre-amp for warming up your signal with saturation and customizable frequency response, EQ for spectral shaping, Compressor with an Auto Makeup control, Modulation with tape speed variations and warped records, and Wear with noise and artifacts from tape, vinyl, and cassette.

In total, Lifeline Console features five effects modules, 15 unique algorithms (with 243 different combinations), interactive display for each module, left / right and mid / side functionality per module, drag and drop workflow, scrollable and resizable UI, 325 presets, and zero latency.

The interface is simply a thing of beauty. Flat vector artists take note – this is how its done! The pastel colors against the subtle grey backgrounds and just a touch of drop shadow on the knobs make it an eye-catching plugin.

The only downside, if there is one, is the size of the font, which seems a tad thin and small (though it is in keeping with flat vector design). It might affect usability a bit, but we like it anyway.

Freemasons thought the plugin went above and beyond the call, Bedroom Producers blog said it was a versatile channel strip plugin, and composer / producer / sound designer Dokkodo Sounds thought it was inspirational.

Overall, we find Lifeline Console quite flexible. You can do all kinds of things to your sounds, transforming ordinary instruments into sound designed material. Check out the video below to hear it in action.

There are plenty of competitors nipping at this one’s heels. But at this price point, simply couldn’t resist making the versatile Lifeline Console our best overall pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

The LoFi Bundle by Yum Audio – Best Premium Option

The LoFi Bundle by Yum Audio – Best Premium Option

Yum Audio has so many fascinating, highly rated lo-fi VST effects that frankly it’s hard to know which to feature. We could have highlighted and shared about each, but since they have a convenient and reasonably priced bundle simply called The LoFi Bundle, we thought we’d talk about that here.

This package includes five lo-fi products, and we’ll be looking at each.

The first is LoFi Playtime. This one literally allows you to play with time and pitch with two virtual tapes (with different playback speeds), freeze audio (and change its sound), add pitch fluctuations and chorusing with Tape Age, add delay, and more.

The next is LoFi Tapestop. This one is basically an analog tape player effect with Flux, Noise, and Muffle, and customizable start and stop times. There’s also a Dust control that allows you to add noise and artifacts.

Third up is LoFi Pitch Dropout. Like a tape in an old playback system getting stuck and speeding up, this plugin can add pitch errors and flux to your signal. Pitch Dropout includes six dropout modes, with Mono and Stereo dropout modes, Trigger Dropouts with adjustable Chance and an automatable Dropout button, Amount dial, and more.

LoFi Flux Machine delivers analog modelled tape warble and flutter to your tracks. It also has a tone section that allows for total tone shaping control. Flux Machine also includes a warm tape saturation, dark and bright controls, an intensity slider, and two time modes (free-running or sync).

Finally, LoFi Flux Light is the reduced version of Flux Machine, and it includes a warble section, two time modes, jitter mode, and slow mode.

You can hear several of the effects in the video below.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SketchCassette II by Aberrant DSP – Best Budget Option

SketchCassette II by Aberrant DSP – Best Budget Option

Though the name kind of says it all, Aberrant DSP’s SketchCassette II offers cassette tape inspired degradation.

Songwriter and producer Rostam thought it was one of the best plugins ever made, FutureMusic found it intuitive and effective, and songwriter / producer Ariel Rechtshaid said the plugin gave him the essence he was looking for.

SketchCassette II comes with 12 tape type and quality profiles, age modeling with continuous control, two tape saturation models (A – gentle, and B – harsh), tape hiss, dropouts with Stereo Width control, adjustable Wow and Flutter section with tempo synching to DAW, FM Mode, and flanging, noise-reduction encoding compression, mix controls for tape filtering and compression, and 61 factory presets.

We love the notebook scribble UI, as well as the clearly marked controls of SketchCassette II. The plugin is fun, quite useful overall, and affordable to boot. It doesn’t do many things, but what it does do, it does well. That makes it our best budget pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio

XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color is one of our favorites, and many producers seem to agree.

Music Tech found it a “soul-warming slice of awesome,” DJ Zinc loved it on synths and textures, and Sound on Sound thought it brought life and texture to one’s audio.

The secret of RC-20 Retro Color (which isn’t much of a secret) is hidden in the six modules apparent form the expertly designed user interface.

The Noise Generator gives you access to a variety of noise types, be it tape hiss, vinyl crackle, ambient studio noise, stompbox stack noise, or electric circuit hum. And that’s just one module!

Next up is the Wobble & Flutter module, which emulates the unstable playback qualities of analog gear, like tape machines and record players.

The third module is Saturation & Distortion (which might just make your other saturation plugin obsolete). Whether it’s raging fuzz or mild saturation, there are many distortion types built into this unit.

Then comes the Degrader & Bitcrusher, which helps recreate the sound of vintage digital gear like samplers.

The fifth module isn’t really a lo-fi effect at all, it’s a convenient built-in Reverb module to add some nice spacey flavor to your tracks.

Finally, there’s the Volume Drops module, which is meant to emulate wear, tear, and volume loss of tape and tape recorders.

So, this baby really is like a six-in-one plugin, and it’s very straightforward to use. It’s amazing how many sounds you can pull out of this baby.

In the video, you’ll have the opportunity to hear each module in action.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Texture by Devious Machines

Texture by Devious Machines

Devious Machines’ Texture is, in the developer’s own words, a “new breed” of effect.

With over 300 acoustic and electronic sources, Texture synthesizes new layers that track with the dynamics of a sound source. From dynamic filtered noise to low sine wave, there are plenty of ways to beef up your tracks, add transients to sound sources, and more.

Texture comes with 340 sampled, granular, and generative sound sources, advanced envelope (with attack, hold, and decay), dual filter, independent EQ sections, source-specific synthesis controls (colour, pitch, density, and octave), LFO and envelope signals, sidechain filter, limiting and make-up gain, global control of texture level, mix, and master level.

Texture is great for adding bite and body to drums, gluing your programmed drum tracks together, layering in dirt, vinyl crackle, tape hiss, and digital noise, boosting the width and depth of percussive reverb tails, creating risers and pitch modulated FX, and much more. It can even be used as a subharmonic synth for some seriously heavy bass.

Producer and DJ Morgan Page loved Texture, drum and bass producer High Rankin thought it was great, and Oli Cash said it was “awesome.”

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Tape by Softube

Tape by Softube

Softube’s Tape is a tape emulation plugin includes three tape machine types (Type A, Type B, and Type C) to help you find the perfect tape effect for your tracks.

Type A was modeled after Swiss high-end reel to reel machine, Type B is a transformer-based machine, and Type C was created based on a vintage British tape machine.

Tape being a relatively straightforward plugin, the only thing you need to do is choose a tape type and adjust the Amount knob to get the desired smoothing effect (although you can also adjust tape speed).

Not surprisingly, Tape is easy on your CPU, making it a lightweight effect you can add to tracks, busses, or mixes without issue.

BT thought Tape was fantastic, producer / engineer / mixer Howard Willing said Tape is his new favorite saturation plugin and mix engineer Michael Ilbert said he uses it on all busses in his mix template.

I find it a relatively transparent effect, but extreme settings can certainly bring out the desired frequencies as well as saturation.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

LoFi by DopeSONIX

LoFi by DopeSONIX

So, there are plenty of virtual instruments synths out there. If you don’t mind sifting through dozens, hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of presets and patches, you can find a few lo-fi gems that give your track the character you need. But are there any instruments dedicated to just lo-fi sounds?

Why, yes. That’s why DopeSONIX created LoFi. With sounds inspired by hip-hop, chill hop, movie soundtrack, ambient, electronica, and other musical styles, LoFi features over 200 dirty instruments, sometimes atmospheric, sometimes beautiful.

All instruments captured were resampled and processed by the developer, through an MPC60 MKII, Fostex M80 Reel to Reel, and other analog effects.

The 200+ presets basically fall under one of four categories. The first 50 were dedicated to grimey Akai MPC 60 MKII sounds, the next 50 are made up of vintage synths, the 50 following include old cinematic strings and other textures, and the final 50 were devoted to vinyl sounds.

Additionally, LoFi comes with pitch, pan, glide, and volume controls, classic-sounding reverb, ADSR controls, hi and lo pass filters, Mono, Poly, and Legato modes, three velocity modes (Soft, Normal, and Hard), and more.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of creating your own lo-fi sounds or putting all your synths and instrument tracks through meticulously dialed in independent lo-fi plugins, then you will probably enjoy what LoFi has to offer.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a listen to the presets in the video below before making your decision.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Analog Pro by Initial Audio

Analog Pro by Initial Audio

Initial Audio’s Analog Pro simulates tape machines, valves, and vinyl turntables for adding some warm saturation to your tracks. Whether it’s piano, brass, or something else, Analog Pro can help your tracks stand out in a mix.

Analog Pro comes with controls that allow you to fine-tune your dirt – Noise Level, Noise Type, Impulse Type, Impulse Mix, Stereo, Emphasis, Lowcut, HIghcut, Wow, Flutter, and Amount.

Analog Pro includes multiple presets, under the categories of Analog, FX, Tape, Tube, and Vinyl. These all act as great starting points for dialing in the type of grime you need for your tracks.

It’s a simple plugin overall, but it doesn’t sound half bad.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Vinyl Strip by AudioThing

Vinyl Strip by AudioThing

AudioThing’s Vinyl Strip is a modular multi-effect channel strip with six distinct pieces – Distortion, Compressor, Bit Crusher, Tilt EQ, Vintage Reverb, and Vinylizer. The modules are completely drag and drop, and you can arrange them any way you please.

Beat Magazine loved the features and its sound, MusicTech found it approachable and powerful, and Computer Music Magazine thought it was the most versatile plugins they’ve used in this category.

One of the coolest things about Vinyl Strip is naturally its modular design. The ability to put everything in any order you want is something producers tend to love. Most of the modules are simplistic and only come with two or three knobs, but that will be a plus to those who love simplicity.

The Vinyl module, in fact, has the most settings, with amount, rate, noise, wow, record age, and stereo parameters.

Overall, Vinyl Strip is quite versatile and great sounding. The video below will show the plugin in action.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Decimort 2 by D16 Group

Decimort 2 by D16 Group

D16 Group’s Decimort 2 is a quality bit crusher aimed at producers looking for that classic sampler tone, complete with that grit and color that made samples and loops so lush and fat.

Decimort 2 has two optional anti-aliasing analog like filters (with adjustable resonance and cutoff), adjustable jitter, two quantization methods (mid-raiser, mid-tread), as well as controllable dithering.

It also comes with an ultra-accurate resampling algorithm (ADC emulation, no harmonics above 22kHz), approximative pre filter and image post filter conjugated with resampler, tag-based preset browser, two GUI sizes, MIDI-learn functionality, and 64bit internal processing.

James Sanger said he was hyped for Decimort, Multiplier found it ridiculously good, and David Guetta admitted D16 Group plugins are his “secret weapon.”

If you love the sound of samplers and want to bit crush them, you will love the high-quality effects that Decimort 2 provides.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Super VHS by Baby Audio

Super VHS by Baby Audio

Baby Audio’s Super VHS is a creative multi-effect module that allows you to instantly tap into 80s VHS era sounds.

Enmore Audio loved the tape-based nostalgia, Mixdown Magazine thought of it as “vintage vibes on tap,” and Decoded Magazine said it allowed for the recreation of the VHS era.

As fans of 80s tape saturation, out-of-tune synths, grainy reverbs, and gritty samples, developer Baby Audio sought to create a plugin that would capture the lo-fi essence of the 80s.

Super VHS comes with six one-knob effects including the STATIC static noise synthesizer, HEAT analog tape saturator, SHPAE sample rate reducer, MAGIC dark chorus FX, DRIFT pitch fluctuation LFO, and WASH “bad” hall reverb. There’s also a hidden EQ, bit-crusher, and limiter for added fun.

Super VHS doesn’t have presets, but that’s intentional. You can easily alter the sound with the turn of a dial. Apparently, the effects algorithms respond differently to different sound material, so it might be best to tailor your settings to the situation anyway.

Overall, Super VHS is easy to use with some great, warm sounding effects. Check it out in the video below:

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A LoFi VST Plugin?

We’ve looked at a variety of lo-fi VST plugins, and now it’s time to choose your favorite(s).

No two lo-fi plugins are exactly alike, with different sound qualities, varying feature sets, and differing focuses. For some buyers, this can make it easier to identify which plugin they want to bye, but for others, it can end up adding to the confusion.

So, here we will look at the following criteria, which will help you arrive at a buying decision:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s look at each.

Sound Quality

It’s kind of funny talking about “sound quality,” when really what we want out of a plugin in this category is warmth, saturation, grit, and degradation. Lo-fi plugins take your sounds and make them sound less pristine, more colorful, and texture dense. Of course, this is the effect that can make your tracks “pop,” and even glue them together in a mix.

My main piece of advice would be to use your ear in selecting the right plugin. There isn’t a shortage of video demos and reviews or audio samples.

Features

Some plugins specialize in tape effects, some feature a modular drag and drop design, some even come with a built-in synth. If you haven’t already, take an in-depth look at each of the options, making note of which plugins have the feature you want.

Budget

Our main piece of advice here is to avoid going into debt! Most lo-fi plugins aren’t that expensive, but if you end up buying multiple, the cost can add up. User beware.

Top LoFi VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Lo-fi VST plugins are a studio essential. You may not use them on everything all the time, but they can be handy in a variety of circumstances, you just never know when a client might need a piano that has that characteristic vinyl crackle.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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