Craft The Perfect Lo-Fi Drum Loops
Struggling to get your Lo-Fi Hip-Hop beats to swing, knock and inspire?! Well look no further friend, we’ve put together a few of our favourite ideas to help you get those drums sounding ‘just right’..!
As always, getting your sounds right from the source is crucial but there’s a fair few things we can do to push your pristine samples more into the Lo-Fi world.
The kind of aesthetic we’re looking for us that dusty, low sample rate that’s gritty in tone but still maintaining lots of weight and attack.
Old samplers & MPC’s from the 90’s often sampled at low rates like 12 & 16bit meaning frequencies were chopped off, especially from the top end giving it that characteristic Lo-Fi grit.
Tip: A little touch of Ableton’s Redux can have amazing effects on your single samples.
Noise, Hiss & Location Sounds.
We’re really looking to tug on the heart strings of nostalgia here so vinyl crackle, tape hiss and location recordings are your friend. We went into detail about a few more Lo-Fi options in our Lo-Fi blog last year so be sure to check that out.
Laying vinyl sample sounds over the top of your beats can add depth and instant character to any drum loop. Remember this loop can also be side chained, chopped and edited to create cool little percussion lines as well. Clicks and pops anyone? Here’s one we made earlier –
1 . Take your vinyl sample and add some gain. We then used Abletons ‘Convert To New MIDI track’ feature to give us control over each individual slice.
Like the sounds we’re using?! Download them HERE!!
- Get that FX chain right. This is ours:
- Auto-Pan – I want to the clicks to compliment the drums so I’ve got them panning away from the kit. A little ‘ear candy’ for the headphone listeners if you will.
- Compressor – Even those sounds out and add some more gain.
- A little drum for more impact and I’ll also use the transient feature to get even more of a hit out of the sounds.
- Side-Chain compressor – Just keeping things neat and tidy away from my main lo-fi drum loop.
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Nothing screams Lo-Fi like the amazing VHS player by Native Instruments. This thing offers us that final touch of Lo-Fi goodness and ties everything together. You can really get stuck into the different saturation options, chorus, EQ and especially the noise section. Grab the VHS for FREE from HERE.
In producing Lo-Fi Hip-Hop the use of swing is crucial in getting your beats to move. By moving your elements off the grid, both early and late allows us to replicate the feel of a human performance. Try moving your hats both late and early and see how the different degrees of movement affect the vibe.
In most DAW’s we’re able to access their swing options which move audio and midi by set amounts. Below is an example of how Ableton is able to do the work for us and help us to get something unique from the bland.
After 50% MPC Swing Added:
Tip: Try exploring your DAW’s Triplet grid, giving yet more rhythmic variation to your swung drum loops.
And now for the final beat – VHS applied, swing added to our vinyl percussion, noise added and beat swung.
If you’re looking to explore getting that ‘Live’ feel into your beats then check our article on Live Drum Programming Tips HERE