Cornflower Compressor review – the ‘flora’ project iOS music app collection gets a new addition

Download from iTunes App StoreI’ve no idea where the whole ‘flora’ theme comes from for developers Timothy Barraclough and Paul Mathews but their series of stripped-down, stompbox ethic, iOS audio effects apps are all very good indeed. I’ve reviewed all the apps in the series  – Cactus Chorus, Phlox Phaser, Saffron SaturatorButtercup BitcrushDahlia Delay and Tiger-lily Tremolo – previously here on the blog and, at genuine pocket money prices, they are about as an obvious casual purchase as you are likely to find.

A new arrival appeared on the App Store yesterday – Cornflower Compressor – and, as the name suggests, the app fills an obvious gap within the series by providing a simple stereo compressor with a control set and UI that matches the overall ethos of the Flora series.

As with all the apps within the series, Cornflower Compressor is universal, a tiny 10MB download, requires iOS9.0 or later and is supplied with AU, Audiobus and IAA support… and, for the budget conscious, is currently priced at UK£1.99/US$1.99….  that’s the chump-change you might well find down the back of the sofa :-)

Cornflower Compressor – the latest app in the Flora series effects series.

KISS compressor

Whether you use the app stand-alone or as a plugin via IAA or AU, the key controls are spread out across two screen. As per the other apps in the series, they are large and easy to use even on a relatively modest screen size. Most of the controls are pretty obvious. For example, the Ratio, Threshold, Attack Time and Release Time options are fairly typical compressor fodder, while the Knee settings presumably moves you between a soft knee (more gradual introduction of compression around the threshold) and a hard knee setting.

Cornflower Compressor worked smoothly as an AU plugin within Cubasis.

While I’m all for simplicity, actually with a compressor, I think you could make a case for some display of actual values as you adjust some of the controls. Yes, you should simply be using your ears but, for the less experienced user, there are lots of suggestions online about good starting points for gentle compression (ratios, attack times, etc.) and it would be good to know what you are dialing in settings wise in that context. Equally, it’s not immediately obvious what the Wet Amount (which sounds like it ought to be a dry/wet mix but seems to also influence the panning?), Gain and Gate controls are doing….  Some experimentation soon gets you going….  but values being displayed as you change a parameter –  and perhaps a brief PDF manual? – would be useful additions I think.

This is particularly true for the meter display. Here, being able to see just how much gain reduction you were applying would be very useful, particularly if you are going after a more natural (less obviously pumped) sound.

The Flora series now offers a good collection of AU effects for those on a budget.

Cornflower squash

All that said, it is pretty easy to get some useful results from the app. This isn’t a ‘character’ compressor in the same way that, for example, some boutique desktop compressor plugins are (and that attempt to emulate the sound of specific classic hardware compressors) but it is capable of both gentle treatments and pretty full on squashing.

The app also worked smoothly within AUM as an AU plugin.

I gave the app a run out within Cubasis, Audiobus 3 and AUM and had no technical problems. The preset system worked fine within AUM (but not Cubasis?) but, as far as I can see, the app doesn’t  ship with any presets so you have to create your own. I tried it on drums, vocals, guitars and across the mix bus. For the individual instruments, I thought the app did a very respectable job and, as it also seems to be pretty minimal in terms of CPU demands, this is an app you could run multiple instances of in its AU format across your mix, without your iOS hardware complaining too much. I’m perhaps a bit less convinced that it would make the best choice as a mix bus compressor (something like NoLimits would be a better bet there although it is, of course, more expensive).

However you use the app, the large format controls are spread across two pages with easy movement between the two sets of sliders.

In summary

While I think a real novice user could perhaps do with a little bit more visual feedback and/or guidance when getting started with Cornflower Compressor (compression is one of those tools that can easily catch you out and send your audio backwards if you are unsure what you are doing), once you have grasped the basics, the app is capable of some very useable treatments. And, don’t let the price fool you into thinking that that it might not cut it sonically; while it won’t do anything magical to your audio (as some high-end compressors seem to do), like all the Flora series apps, Cornflower Compressor does its job in a very solid fashion.

If you haven’t yet given any of these ‘flora’ apps a try, then you really should….  like Cactus Chorus, Phlox Phaser, Buttercup Bitcrush, Tiger-Lily Tremolo,  Saffron Saturator or Dahlia Delay, Cornflower Compressor is not going to stretch your budget too far. If you like the idea of simple and solid dynamics control with zero fuss, and if cost is an issue, then Cornflower Compressor might be just the thing….   Hit the App Store download button to find out more and, while you are there, check out the other apps in the Flora series; they are all well worth a look.

Cornflower Compressor

Download from iTunes App Store


Tiger-lily Tremolo

Download from iTunes App Store


Buttercup Bitcrush

Download from iTunes App Store


Cactus Chorus

Download from iTunes App Store


Saffron Saturator

Download from iTunes App Store


Phlox Phaser

Download from iTunes App Store


Dahlia Delay

Download from iTunes App Store


 

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    Comments

    1. Robert Goldberg says:

      Totally agree. Poor choice (oversimplification can be a bad thing) not to show settings. How hard could it be to have them visually represented on the bar? Thanks for a thoughtful review.

      • Hi Robert…. thanks for this. Obviously it won’t be an issue for everyone…. but it would be nice to have the choice of toggling on/off some numerical feedback as you adjust the controls….. Maybe this is something that can be added in an update? Very best wishes, John

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