Try sampling some hits or breaks from a vinyl into your DAW for a warm lo-fi vibe. Depending on the production, you’ll hopefully have a nice percussive intro, where you can isolate kicks, hi-hats and the like, or even take a bar or two and chop it out and edit it into your arrangement. Whilst you’re at it, sample some of the vinyl noise and needle pick up, add a low cut and layer this into your track for some lo-fi vinyl atmosphere.
Watch The Highs
Whilst achieving a glossy top end is desirable for more commercial masters, it’s probably something you’ll want to avoid if you’re aiming for a grungy feel. With this in mind, be sure not add too many exciters or high shelf EQ boosts in your mix, even applying a low pass filter to certain sounds to tame the tops.
Fake Small Room
To add a faked Lo-fi feel to your recordings, try using early reflections reverbs on some sounds. This will give the impression the part was recorded in a small room rather than a large and expensive recording studio. Ableton’s Reverb effect even has a preset called ‘Dark Small Room‘ with a bit of tweaking will give you the desired effect.
A trick for making a ‘tinny’ and trashy sounding snare, is to sweep away some of the low frequency and high frequency and boost the midrange somewhere around 1kHz, the area you boost will depend on the snare sound, but employed correctly is a useful trick for degrading the sound of your snare hits.
As always, a good idea to get the sound you’re after in a mix is to A/B. Use the Sample Magic plug-in, and load it with a number of different productions from recent lo-fi to old school stuff from the 60’ and 70’s. This will be a good way to analyze not only the frequency response but also overall mix elements and use of stereo these producers employed to achieve the feel you’re after.