Bit crushing is a highly distinctive effect has been used so much throughout production history that we think there’s a lot to talk about. Starting as a necessity for computer audio, to becoming popular as a resistance to the purity of dance audio in the 90’s, this technique is showing a big resurgence in the form of the lo-fi movement (Lofi house and lo-fi hip-hop are really making use of this effect, names like Wun Two and DJ Boring come to mind). Not to mention it’s numerous other uses, this effect makes an appearance across multiple genres in some ways that may not seem so obvious to begin with but is so present in production history that we think you should know how to use it yourself. We wanted to use this post to highlight some of the appearances of bit crushing in tracks by well-known producers. We’ve scanned the archives of musical history to unveil and recreate how some of these great producers have used the effect themselves.
1) Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy (Little Lord Faulteroy Mix)
We couldn’t mention bit crushing without mentioning Aphex Twin, a producer known for twisted sounds who definitely made good use of bit crushing. The Come to Daddy remix by Little Lord Faulteroy is a superb example, because the effect is very present at the beginning of the track, so it’s a very clear and easy to show the bit crushing effect. The affected sound also makes an appearance at various points in the track. He also used a lot of bit crushing on drums.Below you’ll hear a before and after with a bitcrusher with a very strong mix, in an Aphex Twin style. In this example we test out bit crushing on the drums…as you can probably hear!
2) Ross From Friends – Talk To Me You’ll Understand
One of the biggest names in the lo-fi house movement, Ross From Friends, (what a great name!) has made a big impression on the scene. His biggest track by far is a track called ‘Talk To Me, You’ll Understand’ which makes a great use of the bit crushing effect amongst other things, including noise profiles/fx. But in this example we want to focus on the synths. In the audio example here, we want to use bit crushing much more gently than some of our other examples. The effect is not so present but the artefacts that the effect here can really add to the dreaminess of the brass synth.
3) Nine Inch Nails – We’re In This Together
You can also find examples of bit crushing in heavy metal. Nine Inch Nails used this effect in a few of their tracks and bit crushing on a guitar can really create something completely different when it’s used liberally. In this example we’ve used quite a strong amount of bit crushing, with a crush down to about 2 bits.
4) Square pusher – Do You Know Squarepusher
Another glitch artist, Squarepusher, makes great use of bit crushing in this track. But with this example we want to show you how to use a bitcrusher on a vocal to get a sound like this artist produces. We’ve added a bitcrusher to an vocoded vocal here, with a bit rate of 8 bits, which really adds some extra character.