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How to get lo-fi tones and sounds?

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Hi,
there are some interesting uses of computerized sound-effects and music on the movie "Tron: Legacy". After a long time trying to reproduce these effects I find myself uncapable of doing so.

The only time I've heard something similar to these is when playing old DOS games; the game would crash and the sound would start playing all glitchy, but in fact would play with these qualities I'm after. It's definitely not something as simple as distortion.

I've gathered samples; please listen and see if you can figure out what kind of processing is necessary to get this lo-fi, "downsampled", grumbling quality:

[attachment=10368:musicOriginal.mp3]

[attachment=10369:musicFiltered.mp3] - same as above, but high-passed so it's easier to hear the lo-fi, noisy quality I'm talking about. Edited by Kryzon

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Hello,

That's some textbook FM synthesis - at least the plucky sound is! (coupled with some reverb / delay)
DOS games in the 90's used a lot of FM synthesized music, too.

Try FM soft synths like Native Instruments' FM8 - you can find decent free alternatives if you search sites like KVR.

Cheers,
Moritz

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Hi Moritz,
thanks for the information; that's definitely one step further. The harp\pluck does sound like it comes from an FM source.
The way it's processed, however, is still a riddle for me.
It's hard to explain; go toward the end of that sample, when the notes of the harp quiet down: you can hear the "high-frequency", resonating noisy quality I'm talking about - even though the harp is playing very quiet notes, the lo-fi effect is still present.

I noticed the same processing (or at least similar) through other parts of this movie.
The following samples should make it much clear. Take a look:

[attachment=10371:grumbleTone.mp3] - Deep grumble with a similar "lo-fi", DOS-like processing.

[attachment=10372:grumbleSpotEffect.mp3] - Short spot effect (looped to facilitate analysis), similar processing.

[attachment=10373:percussive1.mp3] - Hear that everlasting drum played on eighths. Even though it's deep, it has the high-frequency noisy quality.

[attachment=10374:percussive2.mp3] - Another excerpt, probably the clearest of all. Around 00:05 you can hear it very clearly with those higher hits. Edited by Kryzon

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[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LGtLQBw7eE"]You mean something like this[/url] (the interesting part is in the first minute)? I think a crude implementation of it would be just resampling the audio at a low sample rate, though certain filters and processing would probably be used in a professional setting.

If I'm understanding the effect you're after, I think Fez did it one parts of their sound track as well (listen to some songs from [url="http://disasterpeace.com/album/fez"]here[/url]).

It also sounds a bit like some downsampling. When you downsample, you can get noise introduced depending on if you dither or not (and how you dither, if you do, among other things). That may be something to look into too.

Overall, if you want lo-fi sounds, my bet would be that the best place to look at is by going lo-fi [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] Decrease your sample rate and downsample the audio (play with your resampling options too; they can have a big impact). Then experiment with various filters.

Disclaimer: I could be totally misunderstanding what it is you're after.

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Hello,

The samples you provided sound like a mixture of the aliasing that occurs in digital FM synthesis (or possibly phase modulation synthesis) and downsampling / bit reduction.

Especially the percussive2.mp3 clearly uses downsampling on some percussive instruments. (toms / snares - either sampled or FM synthesized)
You should be able to find free VST / AU effects that do this - combine those with lowpass filters and top it off with some tape / filter delay and a roomy reverb. You'll get a similar sound in no time.

Cheers,
Moritz Edited by Moritz P.G. Katz

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Oldschool sounds come from a combination of a) low sample rates, b) low bit depths, c) aliasing and d) general character of the chipsets. Check out something like D16 Decimort for some good quality, crunchy sample rate division and bit depth reduction.

Edit: lowpassing sounds before sample rate division works especially well, give it a shot. Edited by GeneralQuery

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I see now. [i]Bit-crushing[/i] seems to be the keyword.
That D16 Decimort VST has a lovely demo of this in action:
http://soundcloud.com/d16group/disco-stu

I tried some free bit-crushing VSTs and they gave this quality as well.
Thanks all for the help.

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Yup, "bit crushing" is a colloquial word for bit depth reduction and (to a lesser extent) sample rate division. I'm glad that you now have some food for thought, hood luck with your experimentation.

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