Now, I don't want to give you a list of plugins that work for Lofi Hip Hop. Oh no, I want to give you the best plugin for Lofi Hip Hop there is!
If you are anything like me (which I suspect you are), then you're partial to a bit of Lofi music. Especially the kind that is designed to help you study. And when I discover music I like, I naturally start to write music in that style.
That is exactly what I have been doing for quite some time now. Just for fun. Making Lofi beats that I can chill to when I am cooking, tidying up or doodling.
The advantage of researching, learning, and practising writing my own Lofi Hip Hop is that I get to try out the tools and see what works.
During my research, I stumbled upon one particular plugin that did everything I could need to create the Lofi aesthetic in my music.
The Best Plugin For Lofi Hip Hop
Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio.
This plugin can do it all and has an amazing array of presets to choose from. Which I love because I don't like to waste time twiddling when I am in writing mode.
What I look for in a Lofi plugin
This plugin is the only one you will need for creating authentic-sounding Lofi Hip Hop because it covers all the bases to help give your mix that lofi sound:
- Vinyl - to make the track sound like it's been recorded on vinyl
- Tape & VHS - to make the track sound like it has been recorded on tape
- Distortion & Warmth - to give it warmth and softness, and crush it to death if needs be
- 8-bit & 12-bit - to give that retro chiptune feel
- Space & Ambience - to allow it to sit in the mix a little more
- Wow & Flutter - this is related to tape and vinyl but this modulation is significant in Lofi
All the other plugins tend to focus on one or two of these things which is great but I don't want to have to fork out for a load of different plugins at this stage.
I want one that does the lot.
That is exactly what the RC-20 does.
Just to give some examples here is a little piano loop I created using one of the chord progressions included in my FREE Lofi MIDI chord progression pack.
Now let's give the piano some Lofi love with the preset Sad Piano (pretty appropriate here):
And here is another preset, Cassette Bad Batteries, which takes me back to the days I used to listen to my mixtapes on my Walkman:
As you can hear from these two examples, the sound is pretty damn good and I didn't even tweak anything. If I did I would take out some of the noise.
Let's talk about Tweaking
This is where this plugin does come into its element. Its ability to go from soft subtle tape saturation to all-out blown-tubes-in-a-galaxy-made-in-8-bit is awesome.
The Rc-20 is split up into 6 sections; Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space, and Magnetic.
Within each section, you cannot only manipulate the effect but also to balance it in the mix.
My favourite trick is the Follow/Duck in the noise section where you can choose where the noise comes in the signal, essentially side-chaining it. Sweet.
This flexibility of the plugin is the reason it is the best. I can get a great authentic Lofi sound with a few clicks and I can also create some amazing effects by diving deep into each of the individual effects.
The Best FREE plugin for Lofi Hip Hop
If you don't have the money to spare to buy the Rc-20 then I have also set this one aside for you, Vinyl by Izotope.
I have used this plugin for many many years now and it rocks!
Compared to the RC-20 it is very limited in its customizability but it is free so who is to complain?
However, the reason that this is the only FREE one I am recommending is because it does the "vinyl" sound well.
Well, of all the other Lofi plugins, you can pretty well imitate them with the plugins you have in your DAW; distortion, EQ, Modulation, Reverb. But the noise of vinyl and tape is not so easy to recreate.
This is where Izotope Vinyl comes in.
Here you can hear my Lofi chord progression with Vinyl.
Pretty good huh!?
In my humble opinion, if you have one or both of these plugins, you have all the effects plugins you need to make great Lofi music.
The rest comes down to the choice of drum sounds, chord progressions, melody, basslines, ambience etc.
You know, writing great music.
You're a legend!
GET THAT AUTHENTIC LOFI SOUND
Grab my Lofi Essentials Kit packed full of MIDI chord progressions, MIDI beats, and samples - Everything you need to get started making authentic Lofi MusicI WANT THIS STARTER PACK!!!