Lo-fi hip-hop is inescapable these days. Lo-fi (or, low-fidelity) used to be a term that exclusively referred to poor-quality audio. It wasn’t a compliment.
Before we had software to easily clean sounds up, it was more common to hear low-fidelity imperfections in samples. Now, these sounds — like tape hiss, turntable warbles, and vinyl pops — are embraced in lo-fi hip-hop. These little bits of ear candy are a hallmark for the genre that has taken over Spotify, YouTube, and most likely, your study time at home.
If you want to make lo-fi beats for yourself, you could download a heap of plugins to manipulate your sounds, or, you could skip the fuss and start with the Taped Line in ARCADE.
Here, we show you how easy it is to get a lo-fi hip-hop groove going using ARCADE and SUBSTANCE in just a few steps.
To start, pick some hi-hats and percussion from the Taped Line in ARCADE. There are all sorts of Loops to choose from, like analog hi-hat grooves, phased claps, and gritty cabasa shakes. Whenever you land on something you like, it’s time to bring in a fat bass from SUBSTANCE to add to the groove.
SUBSTANCE is Output’s bass engine that delivers a variety of chest-thumping low-end. Want a gigantic polysynth? Check. How about a dirty and processed drone? Yep, it has that too. Once you find a bass you like, have fun adding automation. SUBSTANCE comes with an arpeggiator, full-featured filter panel, and fun sliders like More. (When you’re playing with bass, who doesn’t want more?) Variation will spice up your track’s flow and bring about more unexpected “aha” moments.
Now that the base of your track is set, it’s back to ARCADE. Add washed out synths from Taped to make the track come to life. Here, we’ve used a vaporwave-inspired sidechained synth melody.
Top it off with drums of your choice, and there you have it! Surprisingly simple, isn’t it? Now you’re ready to take over lofi hip hop music – beats to relax/study to. Have fun!