Hello! Welcome to a blog on lo-fi sampling. This will be a fairly basic blog on what lo-fi sampling is and how to implement the technique into your own productions.
Now, the first thing I want to look at is the characteristics of lo-fi sampling. Originally, lo-fi sampling was a term used to describe lo fidelity sampling, where lo fidelity was an audio quality achieved from low quality recording equipment or low quality source material. This means that original lo-fi sampling was done either from records or tapes as each of these have limited storage in terms of frequency content and were the preferred mediums of the time.
These methods of lo-fi sampling can still be used nowadays and will achieve a classic sound. The easiest way to do this would be to take the audio out/headphone out from each of these devices and use that signal as an input into an interface and then record into your DAW of choice. A limitation of this method however is that some of the devices are sort of expensive and you might not even have the money for a simple device. To solve this issue, we can emulate the effect digitally.
To be able to emulate lo-fi sampling digitally, we must first look at what creates the lo-fi aesthetic sonically. if we look at the frequency content of something that has been sampled by these devices, we can see that there are high range and low range frequencies missing. This is because each of these mediums have a limited amount of storage and therefore cannot retain as much frequency information as other more modern mediums. For each of these devices, the frequency content is as follows. Older cassette tapes on average have a frequency range between 25-16k, for tape reels they generally have an average range between 50-15k and vinyl actually has a frequency range of 20-20k but older records typically have less higher content due to quality of other recording equipment.
So, if we were to emulate this digitally, the first thing that we could do would be to band pass frequencies from around 50-100hz up to 14-16k. The next thing that creates a lo-fi aesthetic is audio artefacts and analogue warmth/saturation. To achieve this digitally, we could simply use most types of saturation or distortion but I find that a tape saturator plugin works best. Generally this would be better to have before the band pass as it the saturator would reintroduce higher and lower frequencies that we previously cut out with the band pass filter. A final thing that you could also do to emulate this is to use a bit reducer/bit crusher. This process reduces the bit depth and rate of your signal so that it gives it a crunchy quality and can even introduce audio artefacts. I would also use this effect before the band pass filter for the same reason as before.
I hope this post taught you how you can use digital effects to emulate classic lo-fi sampling!
Comparison of analog and digital recording. (2018). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_analog_and_digital_recording
Lo-Fi Production Techniques – Sample Magic. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.samplemagic.com/journal/2016/11/lo-fi-production-techniques/
Typical frequency range of a cassette tape – Ars Technica OpenForum. (2018). Retrieved from https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?t=848978