Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Today I want to share a couple of tips for adding some Lo-Fi vibes to the usually clean and quantized Digitakt patterns. You can use these tips for all different workflows, it's not Digitakt exclusive.
Digitakt Lo-Fi Tip #1: Be unclean and inprecise
The first tip of today might be not so obvious, but for my work, it's the most important one: be imprecise! Get off the grid! The Digitakt offers many possibilites to get a groove more natural by simple adding different micro timings for kick drums. Add some sample level variations and you can create a groove only by different settings for one sample. You can also record your drum play without quantizing it.
Another trick to make a sample more interesting is once more the modification of sample start and end positions. Lets say, you have a texture sample which is triggered every 16 steps. Simply adjust the start point of each trig a little by using condition locks and you instantly get that inprecise feeling. You could also assign an LFO to let this happen automatically.
All these little things sum up and will add organic moods to your pattern!
Digitakt Lo-Fi Tip #2: Lo-Fi sample libraries
A pretty obvious tip is to build up a sample library with Lo-Fi samples. Depending on the style you're producing in, this is more or less helpful - splice.com offers plenty of Lo-Fi samplers for a variety of genres. Sometimes, it makes sense to search out of your comfort zone and check libraries that have been made for a different target group - I often find myself listening to sounds that have been created for Trap or Hip Hop.
Personally, I use a lot of drum and percussive sounds taken from those libraries. For creating textures and drones, I often prefer my own recordings as these are the most important parts of my patterns that let my work shine and make it different.
Digitakt Lo-Fi Tip #3: Use Lo-Fi gear
Gear can be used in different ways. For creating sounds, I always keep in "Cheap" and "Lo-Fi" - I create sounds from talking puppets, from childhood keyboards and stuff. I record them often with my phone and copy it straight onto the Digitakt. No post-processing. Raw sampling.
But gear can also be used for post-processing: connect the outputs of the Digitakt to a tape recorder and record the output with a computer. Or connect the Digitakt output to a speaker, record it with a mic and sample it back to the Digitakt. There are so many ways to loose sound quality, just get creative.
Digitakt Lo-Fi Tip #4: DAW post-processing
If you don't have a tape recorder, you could simple use DAW plugins to simulate Lo-Finess. While I actually don't prefer this method, you can try out different stuff with your recordings without big investments.
For instance, I was using my old 80s Pioneer Tape Deck to record the output of the Digitakt, copy the recording to a second tape to lower down then quality even more, and then I recorded the output back to Ableton. This gave my recordings a sweet "Low Quality" which I adored a lot.
But the tape broke some weeks ago, so I got to buy a new one. Meanwhile, I gave the Plugin "RC-20 Retro Color" a try and found the outcomes very sweet and flexible. I used this on some of my releases, but actually, I'm liking the "real" Lo-Fi vibe with it's randomness more and went back to tape processed recordings.
Digitakt Lo-Fi Tip #5: Lo-Fi Distribution
The perfect Lo-Fi commitment is, of course, the distribution of music on cassettes. This could be cool as a give away for fans or as a standalone release as well. An excellent provider is Band CDs from the UK - they offer even small orders starting from 20 cassettes including sleeve prints and a variety of housing colors. I'm currently planning to release one of my upcoming EPs as a Merch item as well, and I can't wait for it to happen.
What are your tipps for adding Lo-Fi moods to our patterns?
Want to dive deeper into Digitakt track creation?
Have a look and check my Digitakt Online Class! It's a video course focussed on creating tracks with the Digitakt. It covers LFOs, Arrangement, Performing, Digitakt FX and many other interesting topics!