Getting gritty/chunky/lofi/oldschool sounds in a compact setup?

I wanted to open a discussion about how you guys employ techniques to create a gritty/lofi/chunky sound in a compact setup (a digitakt and one synth for example).

I’m looking to add more of these sonics to my sound; think chunky kicks, sloshy hi hats and warm tape hiss.

Check out these tracks for sound examples:

Locklead Deepcore

Palace - Touch Me

Legowelt - Elementz Of Houz Music [Actress Mix 1]

I’ve started to use my Digitakt and 0-coast together as my main setup through overbridge, which works great for getting ideas down quickly but the signal path is very “clean”.

I’m starting to think maybe it’s best just to use overbridge for getting the main idea down, then re-recording things through an interface/mixer/processor to get a more raw sonic character.

The steps I take currently to try and achieve this kind of sound:

-Sampling sounds and textures from Vinyl records straight from the turntable/mixer
-Downtuning samples
-Liberal use of bitcrush and overdrive
-Filtering (lo pass usually and boosting resonance)
-Use a tape style delay pedal
-Running individual outs into the input of my interface slightly “hot”

I’ve also started using the Legowelt “Smackos” tape distortion emulation for Ableton:

If you check out this video of dutch producer Locklead in the studio:

You can see that he takes the following steps to get his tracks sounding chunky:

-Sampling one shot drums from vinyl (from a Head High record)
-Processing/sequencing from the MPC
-Downtuning samples through the MPC
-Running the outs through the roland vintage mixer, EQing the highs out and boosting the gain

I appreciate that you’ll never be able to match the sonics of the MPC/an old sampler, a vintage mixing board running hot and vinyl warmth with many pieces of equipment, but are there any techniques which can provide similar effects in a small footprint?

I was thinking of maybe adding in a compressor/lo fi processing pedal to add a little extra flavour or some sort of tape related effect.

Would the analog heat be a good option for what I’m looking for?



Analog Heat does a very good emulation of tape saturation.
I know Legowelt uses an old tascam 4 track tape machine, a 424 I think, but they are getting pretty pricey these days.

Also, the following resampling technique is very good for emulating that old digital sampler sound.


Pitching drums (or other samples) down on a 4track sounds like grit paradise, have not done it for a while… too busy with the usual suspects , happy nevertheless though.

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Putting everything through a Strymon Deco and resampling would get you 90% of the way there. For a cheap (actually free) option, iZotope used to make an excellent plugin called Vinyl - it had a knob for bias patterns of each era, from the 1930s to 2000. Unfortunately, I can’t get it to work on 64-bit DAWs anymore. Damn, I miss that lil plugin

Edit: here it is in all its glory



Yes. Also the El Cap can give nice grit in some settings. Or an analog tape delay likewise.

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This often works a treat.


Or collect your samples and have them printed on a dubplate.

About the Analog Heat what would be the main idea to achieve that? Something like saturation and dirt?

I would maybe try to get the tape sounds in your final mixdown in the DAW, there are some excellent plugins out there: RC-20, Cassette, DAW Cassete, the Waves J37 and vinyl plugins, etc. You can stack them as well.

I own a Deco and a Volante as well, but pedals wouldn’t be my top choice to be honest.

I used to run a Digitakt into a little Boss BR-80 when I was doing a super minimal setup, and I was able to get some pretty good grit with just the mastering algorithm on that little multitrack and a lot of drive and delay on the Digitakt. I’ve heard a number of people say the old Boss multitracks have a nice tape sound to them.


This costs £180, buy one. You won’t come close to this with software.

It can sound cleaner than the bit where he’s taping the choir, he has the internal distortion engaged slightly.

It samples only at 8bit/22k but it can play 16bit samples off the sd card at 22, not too hard to make it sound like dirty 12bit. The controls are midi cc addressable too. Including which of the 6 sample slots is playing. Obviously you can resample back in to the digitakt.

BTW: Legowelt records onto (standard) cassettes, I can try and dig up the video if you want.

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I have one of those as well. It’s really nasty in a good way.

I always liked this drum and bass video with just that and an old Yamaha SU10. This is gritty for sure.

Sadly my old SU10 died in its sleep.


generating the gritty/chunky/oldschool sound is easier than getting it by processing.

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A lot of people use the Roland SP-303 for its vinyl simulation + compressor effect, which is no longer available on the SP-404sx or SP-404a.

If you can’t get your hands on one, I would recommend the Vulf Compressor, which was created to do what the vinyl sim on the SP-303, but with more control over separate parameters. It has separate compression, “lofi”, flutter, noise, etc. control and I usually track out my Digitakt beats and run them through the Vulf Comp on the master for that final touch. It definitely adds warmth and sonic imperfections to the sound (in a good way) that dirties up the very linear and clean signal route of the DT.


Honestly, you should be able to get an old tape deck or even reel-to-reel deck for pretty cheap (though they are going up in price these days…).

Still, if you can find a tape deck, especially if it has variable speed, it should do the trick, and should be pretty compact.

There are plenty of reasonable options on eBay right now that aren’t going for like $600 or something crazy, and you can also try working with tape loops for really off-beat stuff.


Yep, pretty much

This is a killer example of that:


Maybe get a boss bx8?

An old 80s-90s 8 channel stereo mixer also get 4 and 16 channel versions

Overload the channels and you can get nice distorted and fuzzy FX

They are going pretty cheap

I own one myself

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On the DT, that resampling trick is neat for sure.

Another trick with the DT is sampling a loop and white/tape/vinyl noise at the same time (sum L+R). All of a sudden your loop has been merged into grit.

You could also do this with resampling by making a beat and having a previously sampled noise on a separate track and internally mess around with that!

As for crunch… the OT handles it well (lofi SRR) but an Ottobit Jr. Could be a neat option to resample and fade.


You mentioned Ableton… do you have Suite? If so, check out Echo. Distortion, filtering, noise, pitch modulation all in one. Add a couple instances of that with some compressor and EQ, perhaps the occasional bitcrush/SRR, and you’re probably getting close. Drum Buss is very good too.

For hardware, Analog Heat could likely be good, but Oto Boum sounds pretty geared towards this vibe, so might be worth looking into.

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Totally love this kind of stuff! (who I think is also a member here) had a couple of different tutorials on tape distortion, one of which is Digitakt running through the mixer section of a 4-track tape machine.

He also has some pretty excellent sample packs which get you started right away.

The Analog Heat can obviously do some of this stuff very well.