5 perfect plugins for making lo-fi music (free and paid)

Nothing beats the crackle and warmth of lo-fi music.

In this YouTube Shorts video above, we showcase five lo-fi music plugins that can help you achieve that vintage sound that’s in your head. We cover both instruments as well as effects plugins, and explore both free and paid options. Watch along to get a taste of how each plugin sounds, and download them via the links below.

1. Keyzone Classic by Bitsonic Audio (free)

First on our list is Bitsonic Audio’s Keyzone Classic. This free software instrument comes with several presets (Piano from Keyzone 1, Yamaha Grand Piano, Steinway Grand Piano, and Basic Electric Piano) that are simple but timeless.

Download Keyzone Classic here.

2. Tape MELLO-FI by Arturia ($99)

If you’re looking to color the sounds that are already in your productions, Arturia’s Tape MELLO-FI is a great option to look into. Its pre-amp and tape modules are incredibly easy to use, and each have a few key parameters that you can dial in to get more granular. A free demo is also available if you want to try it out before you commit.

Download Tape MELLO-FI here.

3. Tape Cassette 2 by Caelum Audio (free)

A free alternative to the above is Caelum Audio’s Tape Cassette 2. Offering that sweet wow and flutter with ease, its modern UI playfully juxtaposes its vintage sounds. Its latest version features an updated saturation algorithm and impulse responses, so it could be worth re-downloading even if you’ve used the plugin in the past.

Download Tape Cassette 2 here.

4. SampleX V3 by Beatskillz ($19)

If you’re looking to add some grit or crunch to your drums, look no further than Beatskillz’ SampleX. From subtle coloration to drastic squashing, the plugin can be used to meet an array of sound design needs. For those who want to get more involved, SampleX also lets you design your own vintage chip or sampler, which is quite neat.

Download SampleX V3 here.

5. Vinyl Strip by AudioThing ($59)

The beauty of Vinyl Strip lies in its versatility. The multi-effects plugin’s six modules (Distortion, Compressor, Bit Crusher, Tilt EQ, Vintage Reverb, and Vinylizer) can be arranged in any combination to achieve that classic vinyl sound in digital environments.

Download Vinyl Strip here.

Bonus: RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio ($4.99/mo for 20 months)

Last but certainly not least, we can’t have a discussion on lo-fi music plugins without at least mentioning RC-20 Retro Color. Featuring six unique modules that can replicate everything from VHS machines to vinyl records, the plugin is a standard and staple in producers’ toolkits. RC-20 is also available on Rent-to-Own, which means you can try it for free and then pay small monthly installments until you own it outright.

Download RC-20 Retro Color here.

Which plugin are you most excited to try? Are there any other great plugins for lo-fi music that we missed? Let us know in the comments section of the video.

Explore royalty-free sounds from leading artists, producers, and sound designers:

June 9, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.