As we all know, rockers enjoy going against trends, and lo-fi is a perfect “genre answer” to these high definition days. As a matter of fact, in most cases the poor quality of the recordings – rather than the result of disgraceful engineering – is created intentionally as a way to add character to the songs.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to make your recordings sound bad starting from the actual source – although (beware) your tracks shouldn’t sound so bad to become sonically repulsive! But in the last decade or so, for post production added grunginess, some plug in and pedal manufacturers started developing effects that empowered the young musicians’ lo-fi tendencies.
A free old one but gold one is iZotope Vinyl (or the similar Grungelizer from Steinberg), which lets you add all the noises you can find on old vinyls, from dust to scratch to hiss, including that “oh-so vintage” nasal tone of the old gramophone. Another deal is the reFX Trasher 2 ($20), with its Commodore 64 resembling look, takes a more digital approach, allowing you to recreate the 8 bit and low sample rates of ancient computers, with added filter and eq options. The very well respected Sonitex STX-1260 (in the picture) is a little more advanced, and for $74 gives you also great sounding eq, vinyl and bit reduction, and hiss and distortion options through a sleek user interface. If you like to create your own effects, also look into NI Reaktor and Pluggo’s effect ensembles. Oh and don’t forget that if all you need is a “telephone” effect for your vocals, you only need a high pass filter eq and a little distortion!
On the stomp box side of things, unless you want to drop $400 for a ZVex Lo-Fi Loopy Junk or $300 for a Death by Audio Robot, look at the Electro-Harmonix Germanium (around $100), which lets you simulate the sound of a distortion pedal with dying battery, or the Heavy Electronics Radio Havana Lo-Fi, which makes your guitar sound like a transistor radio (pictured, around $150).