Login / Register
 
Low Fi then vs. Low Fi now
New Reply
Subscribe
Storyville
Thread Starter
#1
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Philly/New York
Posts: 5,788

Thread Starter
Storyville is offline
Low Fi then vs. Low Fi now

Just something to muse on. Low fi is not a universal concept. There are many shades of low fi.

The classic example of low fi Hip Hop is Wu-Tang, Enter the Wu. But there are many many examples. That low fi is an "unpolished" sound full of distortion and overdrive from running hot to tape. However, the sound is still strong.

There is a fundamental difference between getting a good signal in and leaving it unpolished, or purposely distorting it, than today's "low fi." Using mp3s as sound sources, recording on thin mics and preamps doesn't just leave the sound grainy and grungy - it also leaves it weak. I LOVE low-fi, but I HATE weak.

If you want to go the low-fi route, consider grabbing a decent four-track tape machine instead of a computer. Use dynamic or ribbon or vintagy condenser mics, but still go through some decent preamps. Mix it in a way that isn't super clean - leave some of the room tone in - maybe add a little more distortion or hit a compressor hard.

The big difference is that "low fi" still sounds like physical sound, whereas "cheap crap" sounds like there's sound that's just straight up missing. That's not to say you need expensive equipment to do low fi - that would be ironic to say the least - but you still want the equipment to sound good, just in a different way.

Ultimately, I'm hearing a lot of people making excuses. "It's a mixtape" "Wu had trashy sound", "People just listen on earbuds anyway." Those are excuses for people who don't have the wherewithal to actually invest in themselves and/or do the leg work required to make great music on all fronts.




...Just some thoughts.
__________________


Mixing tutorials: Mixing Hip-Hop and Mixing with Compression

Drum samples: The Maio Collection

Mixing articles: The Pro Audio Files

Website: Weiss Sound
#2
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #2
Gear Head
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 64

markosmo is offline
+1
I have made stuff that would be considered lo-fi when i first started that, yes, sounds weak now. I dont think tape would have helped. Lots of mistepes.

I do think it can be done on computer, but like story says, the sound going in has to be full of life, no matter what the $ spent on the gear.
#3
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #3
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: london
Posts: 13,333

Karloff70 is offline
Agreed. Good lo-fi is strong purposeful sound with the hairs left on, whereas weak is just using the lo-fi term as an excuse for a poor show. The first is rather rare really. Think Portishead "Dummy". The second is all-encompassing.
#4
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #4
Gear is over-rated
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 974

TYPHY is offline
#5
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
3rd Degree's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 3,420

3rd Degree is offline
I don't want to get too into techniques as I have been successful and not so successful using everything from plug ins to cassette decks, great mics, not so great mics, etc.


I do what to say something more along the lines of mentality. Even my early songs that sound like garbage due to poor equipment and lack of ability still have "power" in them. I have also recorded my friends, for fun, while drinking and them bringing over whatever instruments they can find and made some lo fi stuff with appeal. I have made more modern stuff and wanted it to be on the more lo fi side of the spectrum. These work because the lo fi elements are not contrived.

I am not taking a quantized midi track with a generic instrument and pushing the signal through plug ins or external gear to make them sound dirty. That doesn't give any real character, it doesn't sound right. Lo fi in our world isn't just about sound quality, it's about personality. You can't create personality just by distorting something (usually). You have to have the mentality all the way through. To me, that's the most important part about lo fi. You want a lo fi violin sound? Play it live through a guitar amp without much distortion, even if your "live" is a vst. Don't play it quantized, then run it through an amp (much less a plug in chain) as the quantized part never had personality, so the lo fi"ing" of it doesn't enhance anything. It's not just quantized stuff, that's just an example. Really have the vision from the beginning of what you are trying to accomplish. Then you may learn how to do it with plug ins and a DAW but try to do it the way it was done, even if you have to pick up some cheap gear (or borrow it) in the process.

I really think that many people would sound so much better on the beat side if they just tried to play a Casio to a multitrack (even digital) without any midi sequencing. Just to get the feeling. Then apply that to modern work flow.
Hobbs_Won
#6
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #6
Hobbs_Won
Guest
 
Posts: n/a

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
That's not to say you need expensive equipment to do low fi - that would be ironic to say the least - but you still want the equipment to sound good, just in a different way.
I immediately thought about the dude who posted those tracks that were done on nothing but an sp-404 bouncing it down to VHS....

He was all sample based though so that's a factor...But it sounded good.

Quote:
Ultimately, I'm hearing a lot of people making excuses. "It's a mixtape" "Wu had trashy sound", "People just listen on earbuds anyway." Those are excuses for people who don't have the wherewithal to actually invest in themselves and/or do the leg work required to make great music on all fronts.
I'm guilty of this...Not actually making the excuses but genuinely liking shit to sound shitty. I really like how some 2 tracks sound. Not exclusively at all... I guess it's just a comfort thing because I grew up in the pause tape era.
#7
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Tommycash's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Somewhere getting it in
Posts: 655

Tommycash is offline
I'm from the pause tape era too Hobbs - I couldn't wait to get an SK-1 keyboard. Me and my boy actually thought we invented speeding up a sample on tape so u could fit more into the 2 second sampling time...the good old days
__________________
The less a man makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to be wrong in retrospect.
Hobbs_Won
#8
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #8
Hobbs_Won
Guest
 
Posts: n/a

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommycash View Post
I'm from the pause tape era too Hobbs - I couldn't wait to get an SK-1 keyboard. Me and my boy actually thought we invented speeding up a sample on tape so u could fit more into the 2 second sampling time...the good old days

Well, actually let me retract that I didn't grow up in the PRIME pause tape era....I was just startin' to get busy around 90..it was in it's sunset around that time and dude started getting their mitts on some real equipment.
#9
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,049

G. Kaye is offline
The lo-fi plugin thing is a bit of a mystery to me. I get having emulations for thousand dollar equipment that is untainnable to most. But paying for an emulation of something that you can buy for real for the same price just doesnt make much sense. If you want lo-fi, just buy a cheap tape recorder.
#10
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #10
Gear addict
 
JanZoo's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2009

JanZoo is offline
When it comes to lo fi,if that can be considered lo fi,I am wondering for years how Eddie Sancho was getting those 'eshy' vocals with strong and fat sibilance but yet not fatigue kind of way on older records like gstar or Nas is like.Sibilants on those songs was so loud but in a pleasant way and some kind of hysteresis was happening everytime the esses hit.Was that a particular tape machine he used or something else that was giving that pleasant distortion on vocals his mixed? I dont hear that,I would call histeresys that I was crazy about, on his new vocal mixes but i still mostly like his new stuff though.For me,ideal classic rap vocal mixes should sound the way he way he was doing it back then,fat and grimey.
#11
21st March 2012
Old 21st March 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,036

Send a message via AIM to Studio507
Studio507 is offline
"old lo-fi" was actually top of the line equipment back "then"...an S950 or SP1200 was top of the line technology, it just so happens that at that time that meant 12bit 20k (or so)...

YouTube and mp3 is the equivalent of what then was handheld recorders and portastudios, which actually sound shittier than "new Lo-fi"...don't let nostalgia fool you, cheap and shitty has always been cheap and shitty.
__________________
Parks
HeadQcourterz Studios
Audio Engineer/Producer/Musician
@parksmusic
#12
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #12
www.KevWestBeats.com
 
KevWest's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 4,242

Send a message via AIM to KevWest Send a message via MSN to KevWest Send a message via Skype™ to KevWest
KevWest is offline
I am not all that sure that people really care about sonic quality these days. They just want to make music. Most people think that better sound means make it louder.
#13
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #13
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: london
Posts: 13,333

Karloff70 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWest View Post
I am not all that sure that people really care about sonic quality these days. They just want to make music. Most people think that better sound means make it louder.
lol....feels at least part true, that...
Storyville
Thread Starter
#14
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Philly/New York
Posts: 5,788

Thread Starter
Storyville is offline
I think the end listener does care about sonic qualities. I'm not so sure too many rappers care - but the end listener does. Not always in the most conscious way though.

Yeah, the dude ChicagoSpecial did a really really cool low-fi thing. Sounded like a fair amount of work went into it too.
KT1
#15
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #15
KT1
Lives for gear
 
KT1's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,060

KT1 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
I think the end listener does care about sonic qualities. I'm not so sure too many rappers care - but the end listener does. Not always in the most conscious way though.

Yeah, the dude ChicagoSpecial did a really really cool low-fi thing. Sounded like a fair amount of work went into it too.
The chicago special VHS beat tape was dope! I still listen to it. Love the strange warping and pitch shifting as the VHS tape wavers as it gets wound.
#16
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #16
I'm gonna date your mom.
 
03.31.83's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Location: Hogwarts
Posts: 184

03.31.83 is offline
That's the ****ing problem! The rappers - and artists+musicians in other genres as well, obviously - don't care enough or they can't appreciate the differences.

It's hard to grasp, but people can be virtuosos of their instruments or of rap and still not being able to hear or comprehend or care for sonic qualities of the final product. They release hypercompressed, uberlimited, deathclipped crapshit. WTF?

That's why it is soooo important that artists have a good producer or at least a good mixer whose opinion they value by their side.
Some (many) artists just need some sonic control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
I think the end listener does care about sonic qualities. I'm not so sure too many rappers care - but the end listener does. Not always in the most conscious way though.

Yeah, the dude ChicagoSpecial did a really really cool low-fi thing. Sounded like a fair amount of work went into it too.
#17
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #17
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: london
Posts: 13,333

Karloff70 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
I think the end listener does care about sonic qualities. I'm not so sure too many rappers care - but the end listener does.
LOL....now, if it wasn't that I felt that with the amount I post here it would be unkind to you, as it might be misconstrued by some, I would use that quote from you as my new sig.......
#18
23rd March 2012
Old 23rd March 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Charlie-O's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: California
Posts: 966

Send a message via AIM to Charlie-O
Charlie-O is offline
Logo of yesterday sounded like crunchy low sample rates... Today it sounds like white noise.
__________________
It is not what you have, but what you
create with it.......


www.myspace.com/charlieomusic


Grassroots
#19
24th March 2012
Old 24th March 2012
  #19
Lives for gear
 
LeoLeoLeo's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Memphis, TN
Posts: 2,193
My Recordings/Credits

LeoLeoLeo is offline
I totally went for the lofi sound in Yo gotti's "I got that sack"

That track would not sound the same without it.

Contrasting lofi to hifi works well.

It's all about the vibe.
__________________
www.leogoffmusic.com
#20
24th March 2012
Old 24th March 2012
  #20
www.KevWestBeats.com
 
KevWest's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 4,242

Send a message via AIM to KevWest Send a message via MSN to KevWest Send a message via Skype™ to KevWest
KevWest is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by 03.31.83 View Post
That's the ****ing problem! The rappers - and artists+musicians in other genres as well, obviously - don't care enough or they can't appreciate the differences.

It's hard to grasp, but people can be virtuosos of their instruments or of rap and still not being able to hear or comprehend or care for sonic qualities of the final product. They release hypercompressed, uberlimited, deathclipped crapshit. WTF?

That's why it is soooo important that artists have a good producer or at least a good mixer whose opinion they value by their side.
Some (many) artists just need some sonic control.
honestly I think the problem is the people who focus way too much on having the best sounding product rather than something that just sounds good to the general public. The general public like the songs they don't really care about the mix. A good song poorly mixed will always be better than a bad or average song with a perfect mix.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
It's all about the vibe.
I agree
#21
24th March 2012
Old 24th March 2012
  #21
Geariophile
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: london
Posts: 13,333

Karloff70 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWest View Post
honestly I think the problem is the people who focus way too much on having the best sounding product rather than something that just sounds good to the general public. The general public like the songs they don't really care about the mix. A good song poorly mixed will always be better than a bad or average song with a perfect mix.


I agree
Yes but 'poorly mixed' is a matter of definition. And the general public DO care, only about nothing else than what the thing feels like. Whether someone has made anything technically impressive happen in that mix or not is totally irrelevant. Just what it feels like. So in summation, the mix that feels the strongest is the best, with a bit of noise and distortions or not (likely with a good helping in my world...).

Possibly useless addition, but I feel every time it says that 'good song, bad mix is better than the other way round' it is a bit of a misapprehension. It just happens a good song is a lot easier to turn out a good mix from. I.e., one that works and feels good. Much better to get out of the way of the goodness and keep it simple with what someone might call a 'bad' mix, if it lets the song do its thing to the full, than get down and dirty and mix it to a sonically impressive pulp that doesn't move anyone anymore.
#22
24th March 2012
Old 24th March 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,055

aproblem is offline
What are some modern examples of lo-fi done right?
#23
24th March 2012
Old 24th March 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
godphaser's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,085

godphaser is offline
I would say Death Grips.

#24
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #24
Gear nut
 
thisisfdr's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Harlem
Posts: 83

thisisfdr is offline
Any tape recorders on the cheap side that you can can recommend me to look into so I can start to introduce some authentic lo fi quality to my productions?
__________________
http://www.thisisfdr.com
#25
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #25
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 241

dmarz45 is offline
TAL Bitcrusher is the best plugin if you want lo-fi!!! Its the best because you can adjust the dry\wet signal and just add in a little bit of lo-finess lol
#26
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #26
Gear nut
 
thisisfdr's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Harlem
Posts: 83

thisisfdr is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmarz45 View Post
TAL Bitcrusher is the best plugin if you want lo-fi!!! Its the best because you can adjust the dry\wet signal and just add in a little bit of lo-finess lol
nah man, I want to play with some real analog sound... I just want to run my sound out of the box into something and begin experiimenting with those things.

I have a cheap yamaha mixer that I used to use with an MPC 1000 back when I had that, and I used to run that into the computer, and the sound did have a certain character to it that I can't get strictly ITB. Was that analog? I just want to add character.
#27
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #27
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 241

dmarz45 is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by thisisfdr View Post
nah man, I want to play with some real analog sound... I just want to run my sound out of the box into something and begin experiimenting with those things.

I have a cheap yamaha mixer that I used to use with an MPC 1000 back when I had that, and I used to run that into the computer, and the sound did have a certain character to it that I can't get strictly ITB. Was that analog? I just want to add character.
Just buy like an Akai S950 rack or an S20 and run stuff thru that. I dont think you can really get much better than that besides just buying a tape machine
Storyville
Thread Starter
#28
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Philly/New York
Posts: 5,788

Thread Starter
Storyville is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
I totally went for the lofi sound in Yo gotti's "I got that sack"

That track would not sound the same without it.

Contrasting lofi to hifi works well.

It's all about the vibe.

Right - and that's dope. I really like it, totally fits the vibe. But I don't feel there's anything missing from Gotti's voice. There's still a lot there, it's just put in a really crusty rolled-off context. The tone matches the vocal chant-stabs, and blends well with the distorty overtone on the big 808 hits. So even though it's lo-fi there's still a style and execution to it.

Cool record btw.
Storyville
Thread Starter
#29
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Philly/New York
Posts: 5,788

Thread Starter
Storyville is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Yes but 'poorly mixed' is a matter of definition. And the general public DO care, only about nothing else than what the thing feels like. Whether someone has made anything technically impressive happen in that mix or not is totally irrelevant. Just what it feels like. So in summation, the mix that feels the strongest is the best, with a bit of noise and distortions or not (likely with a good helping in my world...).

Possibly useless addition, but I feel every time it says that 'good song, bad mix is better than the other way round' it is a bit of a misapprehension. It just happens a good song is a lot easier to turn out a good mix from. I.e., one that works and feels good. Much better to get out of the way of the goodness and keep it simple with what someone might call a 'bad' mix, if it lets the song do its thing to the full, than get down and dirty and mix it to a sonically impressive pulp that doesn't move anyone anymore.

Ah, yes, this discussion. It's a kind of a silly point - because a good mix by definition facilitates the song. At least that's how I define "good."
#30
31st March 2012
Old 31st March 2012
  #30
Gear nut
 
thisisfdr's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Harlem
Posts: 83

thisisfdr is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeoLeoLeo View Post
I totally went for the lofi sound in Yo gotti's "I got that sack"

That track would not sound the same without it.

Contrasting lofi to hifi works well.

It's all about the vibe.
yeah great example, and it sounds really good and appropriate. what did you do?
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
dreamaudio / Studio building / acoustics
96
A27Hull / Geekslutz forum
11
Ydope / Low End Theory
34
cebolao / So much gear, so little time!
5
BevvyB / So much gear, so little time!
3

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.