We’ve all heard of Wi-Fi, but what about Lo-Fi?Lo-Fi isn’t to do with the internet, but it is to do with music – a new type of music that’s been around for a while, as far back as the 80s1, but is getting increasingly popular by the minute. With people turning to music to see them through the lockdown2 and celebs, including the likes of Will Smith, releasing their own Lo-Fi music3, more-and-more people are tuning into Lo-Fi. Take Spotify’s Lo-Fi Beats playlist, for instance, the last time we looked, it had a whopping 3,350,070 likes.4 Meanwhile, viewings of the Lo-Fi channel, Nickolaas, reportedly soared during lockdown too.5
Lo-Fi’s a big deal these days. So let’s get the lowdown on it:
What is Lo-Fi music?Lo-Fi stands for ‘low fidelity’, which is the total opposite of HD ‘High Fidelity.’ Lo-Fi sound recordings deliberately contain technical imperfections, such as distortion, humming and background noise.6 The beauty of Lo-Fi music is that it’s low quality (compared to high fidelity music) on purpose, and it’s this raw, back to basics, DIY-esque approach that people love the most.7
How is it made?
There are two main ways to make Lo-Fi. You can:
- Use a digital MIDI editor or;
- Sample a song, beat, voice and then edit and synchronise it with other samples or;
- Use a combination of these two methods8
How do you know if you’re listening to Lo-Fi?Now that’s a good question because it can contain a mix of different music genres, from instrumental traditional hip-hop to acoustic guitars and jazz. (It’s for this very reason why it isn’t just referred to as Lo-Fi, but also Lo-Fi hip-hop, chillhop or Lo-Fi beats, it goes by lots of different names).9 Pretty much anything goes… but there are certain characteristics to look out/listen out for:10
- Lo-Fi music runs on continuous loops on the likes of YouTube, Spotify or other autoplay lists
- Lo-Fi-esque visuals, e.g. Simpsons gifs or an anime girl studying at her desk11
- A downtempo mixture of simple drum loops, chilled synths and vocals and retro background noises12 (think elevator of small coffee shop background music)13
- Four or five instruments, along with mellow, nostalgic and atmospheric sounds, e.g. birdsong14
- They typically last around three minutes15
Where can you tune into Lo-Fi?
There are lots of places you can get your Lo-Fi fix. Such as these:
- Google Play
- YouTube Lo-Fi Radio
- Chillhop Music Lo-Fi channel
- Apple Music
- The Lo-Fi source list is endless…
Why listen to Lo-Fi music?
You may choose to tune in basically because it’s your type of music. Or you may tune into it because it’s great:
Music to study to
Lo-Fi’s known for its uber chilling qualities, so much so that it’s used by students worldwide to help them study, work and focus.But it’s not just a nice-to-have when studying or working, research has found it can boost outputs. According to one study in particular, 86% of Lo-Fi listeners’ productivity and study habits, simply by listening to Lo-Fi.16 In terms of why Lo-Fi is such effective relaxing music for studying, it’s all down to the way our brains are programmed. It’s mainly to do with the frontal lobe in our brain, which is at the centre of our brain activity. Listening to Lo-Fi helps it focus and recognise the need to get into the mindset of focusing.17
Music to work to
Lo-Fi is also said to have the same effect on workers too, as it works on the brain in the same way that it does students. Furthermore, music that contains lyrics can be distracting, and so too can upbeat music.Meanwhile, music that has a slower tempo can help workers to tune out distractions and focus better on their work, thanks to its ‘aural cocoon’ abilities.18
Music also has its place when it comes to providing support for those with anxiety. For some people, music is their go-to support.So, if they feel anxious, they tune into music, which then helps regulate their mood, which has a positive cognitive effect. Thanks to its chilled vibes, Lo-Fi music is recognised as being calming.19
Are you feeling the love for Lo-Fi too now? There’s a whole new world of Lo-Fi ready and waiting for you to explore.
Last updated: 21 August 2020