The Low-Down on Lo-Fi Beats

Trying to study but can’t seem to focus? Wanting to relax but there’s too much going on? Putting on a little background noise can go a long way, but only if you choose the right sounds for you. Lo-fi hip-hop music offers a nice option for those looking to have a little bit of music playing in the background.

What Is Lo-Fi?

Lo-Fi is short for "low fidelity". Low fidelity recordings have flaws and imperfections that are made during the recording process that are generally considered unsuitable for production. In lo-fi, these flaws become the desired feature.

As the quality of music production has improved, so has its fidelity. Lo-fi has come into popularity relatively recently with the resurgence of demand for vinyl, but it’s been around as a genre since the 1990s when musicians made what is often called "DIY Music" in home studios.

Home studios back then didn’t have the ability to manage sound quality like they do now, but many of the flaws these studios recorded such as missed notes, tape hiss, and scratchy audio have become the source of their beauty. Modern lo-fi music tries to incorporate these "flaws" into pre-recorded music.

Why Is It Calming?

Lo-fi hip hop is a mix of chill beats, moderate tempos, and repetitive rhythms that are just the right combination to make you feel both entertained and relaxed. The speed of the music isn't enough to make you anxious nor does it put you to sleep; the beats repeat, making them predictable so you can focus on your work; and the imperfections in the recordings make them easy to relate to.

Where Should I Listen to It?

YouTube and SoundCloud are popular places to find artists and streamers with playlists for lo-fi music. There are several popular YouTube channels, such as Lofi Girl, who have a constant stream of new lo-fi music queued up for your enjoyment at all hours of the day.

YouTube and SoundCloud streams and playlists often contain a lot of popular modern music retouched to have that special lo-fi appeal, while individual artists create their new music with that sound already in mind.

So, the next time you just need a little bit of background noise to relax only to find your mind racing a mile a minute, try putting on a bit of lo-fi music to see if that does the trick.