HY-Plugins have released HY-Lofi, a freeware low fidelity multi-effect VST plugin featuring a combination of bitcrushing, distortion and multi-mode filtering.
The plugin seems almost too simple on first look, but the developer has included quite a few nifty features that make HY-Lofi a seriously useful and versatile distortion/bitcrusher effect. First off, there are two different flavors of bitcrushing to choose from, each with three different quality settings. By combining these settings and adjusting the value of the bitcrushing knob, you can squeeze tons of different lo-fi style effects out of HY-Lofi, ranging from very subtle digital sampler style crushing all the way to those super glitchy sounds that will make you check if your audio interface has suffered from any permanent damage.
On to the next section, the drive module can work in standard distortion mode, along with three additional shaping modes. The amount of applied distortion is controlled via the drive knob, whereas the tone and distortion character are controlled by the shaping mode. I was pleasantly surprised by how rich and crunchy the included shaping algorithms sound (you can preview them in our demo video which is embedded to this article). Even when pushing the drive knob all the way to its highest value, the distorted signal still sounds solid and somehow preserves the shape of the original sound source. The treble and bass frequencies remain in focus (so to speak) even at high gain settings, which is quite a rare feat when it comes to distortion effects.
Finally, a pair of filters is included for taming the low and high end of the signal before it hits the output. Both filters have a fixed (quite low) resonance setting, so they are more suitable for subtle tonal adjustments than creative use in sound design. Still, the included HP filter can come in really handy when creating those epic build-up sequences right before the main drop (or simply for cleaning up the low-end rumble caused by the distortion module).
Tadashi Suginomori (the developer behind HY-Plugins) is a relatively new name on the music software scene. His first ever VST plugin called HY-Delay (released in December last year) was one of our favorite freebies of 2015, and was therefore included as one of the top FX picks in our big freeware plugin roundup that was published a couple of weeks ago. With yet another solid freeware release under his belt in less than two months, we’re eager to see what Mr Suginomori has in store for use for the rest of 2016. Both HY-Plugins products released so far are great go-to tools for simple mixing and sound design tasks, nailing that perfect balance between versatility and ease of use.
HY-Lofi is available for free download via HY-Plugins (3.06 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin format for Windows).