I don't want to give you a list of plugins that work for Lofi Hip Hop. No. I want to give you only one plugin; 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 Hip Hop. 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. Creating my own Lofi beats that I can chill to when I am cooking, tidying up or doodling3.

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 needed 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 is really why I have chosen to say that this plugin is the only one you will need for creating authentic sounding Lofi Hip Hop because is covers all the bases.

  1. Vinyl - to make the track sound like it's been recorded on vinyl
  2. Tape & VHS - to make the track sound like it has been recorded on tape
  3. Distortion & Warmth - to give it warmth and softness, and crush it to death if needs be
  4. 8-bit & 12-bit - to give that retro chiptune feel
  5. Space & Ambience - to allow it to sit in the mix a little more
  6. Wow & Flutter - this is really related to tape and vinyl but this modulation is very important 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 to 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.

Piano Loop dry The Best Plugin For Lofi Hip Hop EVER

Now let's give the piano some Lofi love with the preset Sad Piano (pretty appropriate here):

Piano Loop sad piano The Best Plugin For Lofi Hip Hop EVER

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:

Piano Loop cassette bad batteries The Best Plugin For Lofi Hip Hop EVER

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 Tweaking

This is where this plugin really 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 it awesome.

The Rc-20 is split up into 6 sections; Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space, and Magnetic.

Within each section you have the ability to not 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 chose where the noise comes in the signal, essentially side-chaining it. Sweet.

This flexibility of the plugin is the reasonit 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 customiseablitiy 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 really 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.

Piano Loop Vinyl The Best Plugin For Lofi Hip Hop EVER

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 Hip Hop tracks.

The rest comes down to choice of drum sounds, chord progressions, melody, basslines, ambience etc.

You know, writing great music.