Replicant 2 review – Audio Damage get creative with delay for their latest iOS AU port

Download from iTunes App StoreAudio Damage are clearly on an iOS music app mission; Rough Rider 2, Grind Distortion, Eos 2 and Dubstation 2 have all appeared in very quick succession. Time for a short break over the summer? Er….  it doesn’t look like it…. a further app appeared on the App Store yesterday….

This time we have a port of Replicant 2, their desktop plugin that is perhaps most easily described as a sort of ‘creative delay/stutter’ effect. As before, the iOS version apparently brings exactly the same features as the desktop version both in terms of controls and sound. The app runs as a stand-alone processor and offers IAA support but I suspect most folks will probably be most impressed that it is also supplied as an AUv3.

Audio Damage suggest using the app via the AU route as the tempo-based nature of the effect requires it to receive transport information from the host. Cubasis, AUM, Garageband, Beatmaker 3, etc. would be perfect but perhaps not yet Audiobus as this does not meet that requirement. I did the majority of my own testing of the app within Cubasis and AUM and, from a technical perspective, it performed flawlessly, multiple instances and all.

Replicant 2 – I bet Harrison Ford would love this….

Replicant 2 is a universal app and requires iOS9.3 or later. Like all Audio Damage’s iOS offerings to date, it is modestly priced….  this time around just UK£4.99/US$4.99. It is a tiny 8MB download so very easy to find a home for even on a tightly packed iOS device.

Get creative

In terms of describing what Replicant 2 does, there are three underlying elements to get your head around. First, this is a delay-based app so, at it’s heart, there is ‘echo’. However, the second element is that, rather than repeating everything that passes through the app (as a more conventional delay app such as Dubstation 2 might), with the app’s knowledge of beat/bar position and tempo, it divides each bar into 16 slices and allows the user to get creative in terms of selecting just how many, and which, of those slices are actually repeated. Finally, the app allows you to get creative with the tonal/sonic properties of those repeats, with stereo placement, filtering, length, and number of repeats all part of what you can adjust.

What all these means is that Replicant 2 is very much in the ‘creative’ effects category. If you want conventional delay treatments then look elsewhere (er….  Dubstation 2 for example); is is an app that’s much more about ear-candy and getting creative with your rhythms. That probably means it will appeal most to those into electronic music styles but I’m sure it would also appeal to those interested in more conventional sounding pop/singer-songwriter tunes, providing you like to add some cutting-edge elements to the production.

THe app worsgreat when applied to drum sources…. but it can be used with almost any audio source in the right musical context.

The obvious target for some ‘replication’ would be a drum loop/pattern or three and, having given that a try with various drum sources, it really can be very effective. However, don’t rule anything out; applied to vocals, guitars, synths – or indeed any sound that perhaps needs a bit of a hike in the ‘interest’ quotient – Replicant 2 can do a very good turn. And, despite the obviously ‘creative’ nature of the effect, you can do subtle as well as ‘notice me!’ depending upon how you configure the settings.

Nice slice

The full control set for Replicant 2 is contained on a single screen and, while the UI is certainly busy, it is easy enough to use when within a more compact AU host sub-windows. The UI is divided into six sub-panels – Repeater, Stutter, Selector, Panner, Filter and Output – but it makes most sense to start with the Selector panel.

This is dominated by the circle of 16 toggle buttons and these allow you to chose which of the 16 slices with each bar of your audio are going to be used to trigger repeats. As the app is fed audio, these light up to show which is the currently active slice. You can toggle individual slices on/off by tapping but the two central sliders then influence things further. The Selected Beats slider controls the probability that those slices you have selected will actually trigger repeats. Fully right and every selected slice will repeat in every bar. However, dial it back a bit and a more random element starts to creep in….

Ready to slice and repeat?

The Random Beats slider then add more variety buy applying a probability that any slice will be repeated. Fully left and this is turned off….  but move gradually to the right and you get increasingly more slices added randomly to the mix. The two sliders obviously interact so you can keep it simple (just the slices you choose) or let luck guide you :-)

The ‘Manual’ vertical column of buttons allows you to use hand-on control of the Loop Size and manually trigger repeats. These button can apparently be triggered via MIDI note messages if you prefer that to stabbing at the compact buttons with a sausage-sized digit :-)

Repeat after me

The Repeater section’s key controls are the Loop Size knob (controls the length of the repeated audio) and Repeats knob (how many repeats you get). Again, you get sliders to add a random element to both of these settings if you wish. The Ignore button is also worth experimenting with as it acts like a ‘hold’ function; if you press, the slice currently being repeated continues to repeat and the app ‘ignores’ any other upcoming slices that are also due to repeat until you press again to release the button.

There are plenty of creative options on offer within the control set.

Trips can add a triplet feel while the Dir Random and Dir Scatter options provide options for reversing the audio within the delays. This can get very cool if just a low slider value is used so the reverse effect just pops up occasionally.

St-st-stutter

The Stutter section lets you sub-divide the repeated audio into even shorter segments. Essentially, this acts as a gate with the Length knob controlling how long the gate stays open while the Division knob controls how large a sub-slice of the audio is repeated.

You can also pitch-shift the audio slices and, again, the Str Random know allows you to change the probability that your Stutter settings will be applied (or not).

Down the pan

The Panner and Filter sections offer some extra trickery in terms of the stereo treatment applied to the repeats and their tonal properties. The panning options basically offer an auto-panner for the repeats and you can decide where they might start, the width of the stereo spread used, the speed of the pan and whether the repeats ‘wrap’ around the stereo image or bounces back and forth. If Width is set to zero then the auto panner is effectively switched off.

The control set might look a little busy at first glance but this is simply a lot of fun to experiment with.

The Filter is simple to use but rather cool. You get low-pass and high-pass filters but the graphics represent frequency (the X-axis) and resonance (Y-axis; not gain as you might find on a conventional EQ). With the Filter Static button engaged, the filters stay fixed at the settings defined on-screen. However, toggle this off and the filters sweep from fully open to the defined settings as a slice repeats and therefore changing its tonal character.

Going out

The Volume knob controls the volume of the processed audio while the Decay knob, as you might expect, controls how the volume of subsequent repeats decreases. Rather cool is the Bits knob though….  yep, it change the bit depth used and you can turn this to lower values for some nice crunchy end results.

The two ‘random’ buttons here are also fun to experiment with. Rand All simply randomises a bunch of the app’s key settings; hit and repeats until you get something that cranks your handle. However, the rand Hold button is useful if, suddenly, the various probability options in Replicant 2 throw up something your really like; toggle the button on and all those settings get ‘locked’ so the pattern plays over exactly the same on each pass.

Finally, don’t miss the FX Mode pop-up menu. This allows you to switch between Mix, Duck and Send modes of operation. Mix is best suited to use when the app is an Insert effect within your DAW. Duck mutes the input signal so you only hear the repeats generated by the app. Finally, Send mode doesn’t pass any of the audio input to Replicant 2’s output and would be the best mode if using the app as a Send effect within your host DAW.

Multiple instance of Replicant 2 ran very smoothly…. as shown here within AUM.

Deckard time

Thankfully, despite the full-on control set, Audio Damage’s latest app is not as scary as chasing replicants in the world of Blade Runner. Yes, you even get a Deckard preset (and other Blade Runner references) amongst the small selection included to get you started….  but, with an excellent PDF manual available, this is an app simply to dive in and enjoy experimenting with. I did find myself scratching my head a couple of times trying to work out how the various controls interacting….  but, overall, this is just a huge amount of fun.

Given the creative nature of the effect, what perhaps surprised my most is that it is not all about shouty end results; depending upon how you configure it, you can just add the most delicate of spice to an audio source. Used in that way, it really is an app that you could lightly dust onto almost anything. Vocals can work well (perhaps as a spot effect in a single song section?), while it is absolutely great for spicing up almost any sort of guitar or synth sound (providing the musical context is comfortable with the occasional trippy delay).

You get a selection of useful presets to get you started.

However, the most obvious targets are rhythmic loops and, in particular, drum parts. Here you can get as experimental as the source part allows and, in fact, Replicant 2 is easier to get started with if you stick to a fairly simple (er….  boring!) loop and just try to bring it a little extra life. In this context, the app is really at its best….  and can do some magical things to the dullest of drum parts. Again, this is maybe not for some musical styles….  but it you like a bit of technology to invade your music making, Replicator 2 is a pretty fine way to do it.

In summary

Replicant 2 is an unusual thing; a creative audio effect plugin that can do subtle. For EDM, electronica or other more cutting edge musical styles, this is an app well worth having in your iOS kit bag. Essential? Well, perhaps not….  Highly desirable? Most certainly.

And then there is the price. Software this capable has no right to be sold for UK£4.99/US$4.99. The desktop version is about 10 times this price…  and it is still a bit of a bargain. Replicant 2 is a lot of fun…..  Feel free to check out the desktop demo video below….  and then hit the App Store download button to find out more.

Replicant 2

Download from iTunes App Store

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    Comments

    1. I liked the look of this, the interface design, the price….everything but the sound. Not saying there is anything wrong with it, just that in all the demos I’ve seen, the end result sounds worse to me than the original.

      • Hi Zen, I’m sure this kind of effect is not for everyone or every style of music…. but for those into the occasional bit of electronic trickery, I think it has a lot to offer. By ‘worse’ do you mean ‘musically’ (i.e. the effect didn’t suit the musical context) or ‘sonically’ (the quality of the audio sounded degraded)? Obviously, the musical side is a matter of personal/creative taste…. but, having played around with the app quite a bit, I have no complaints about the audio side…. although the bit depth control does allow you to choose to get crunchy if that’s your thing :-) Best wishes, John

        • Hi John. ISTM that the app degraded what was there. But then, with bitcrushung, I suppose that is what is intended. I love delays, which is why Inwas looking at this in the first place. No doubt it will be well regarded by those whose ears it pleases,

    2. This is one if my favourite plugs on my tower. Right after I post this I will be grabbing this iOS version. I’ve got to stop visiting musicappblog – every time here I find something I think I can’t live without. Not complaining mind you!
      Plus I like to support Audio Damage as I like their approach to plugs and their sense of humour.

    3. App looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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