Rough Rider 2 review – Audio Damage port their desktop compressor plugin to iOS

Download from iTunes App StoreI’ve reviewed a number of compressor and limiter style iOS effects apps here on the Music App Blog over the last few years. While there perhaps still isn’t the plethora of choice desktop music makers might have available, we do have some good options and, thankfully, these include a number of apps that support the AU plugin format.

And we now have another one….  and this addition is quite interesting on a number of counts. First, Rough Rider 2 is from Audio Damage and it represents the first of their desktop plugins to make the transition to iOS….  there are more in the pipeline apparently. Second, if it mirrors its desktop counterpart, this is a ‘character’ compressor designed with the idea of being heard rather than being a more subtle, transparent, tool for gentle dynamics control. Third, it runs stand-alone or IAA but (yay!) also in a suitable AU host. Fourth, it’s free….  as is the desktop version and this is probably a bit of a marketing teaser by Audio Damage to entice you into the brand (no harm in that).

Rough Rider 2 – it’s new, it’s AU and it’s free. What’s not to like?

So, while I’ve given the ‘it’s a compressor’ game away, aside from sounding like it might be a  brand of non-PC 1970s contraceptive, what does Rough Rider 2 have to offer? Let’s find out….

Rough outline

Notable price aside, Rough Rider 2 requires iOS9.3 or later, is universal and a tiny 7MB download. I spent most of my time testing in AUM and, aside from the fact I had to enlarge the default AU windows size slightly to see the full control set, the app performed very well indeed. I also had no problems running multiple instances.

The user interface is clean and tidy with a large circular gain reduction meter in the middle. This moves in real-time as the compressor does it’s thing. This is useful to see how much and how quickly the compressor is responding and, without wishing to look a free horse in the mouth, it would have been great to see some numbers around the outside of this meter to get a further visual cue as to exactly how much gain reduction was taking place. Yes, you should use your ears – if it sounds good then it is good – but for less experienced users, knowing when you are being sensible and subtle (maybe 3-6dB max of gain reduction?) is no bad thing. That said, maybe this isn’t a processor intended for sensible and subtle?

We are beginning to gather a good crop of AU-based effects options now…..

The six dials offer a pretty standard set of compressor controls; ratio, attack, release, sensitivity (threshold), make-up gain and mix. It’s great to see the latter option. As with DDMF’s NYCompressor, this means you can adjust the wet/dry balance directly within the plugin and, in effect, mimic some (if not all) of the options available when using parallel compression.

The rest of the dials do pretty much what you would expect and, as the ratio scale goes from 1:1 (no compression) right up to 1000:1 (pretty extreme limiting!) on a non-linear scale, you are certainly given lots of dynamics options. If you want to seriously smash your drum mix, this is a pretty good way to do it!

Multiple instances of Rough Rider 2 via AU worked very well.

My only other wishlist item would be a bypass button….   other than that, this is something for nothing that really ought to cost something; as a free app this is an instant download.

Squeeze me, please me

In use within AUM, I tried Rough Rider 2 with a number of different sound sources. It did a very respectable job with almost anything I threw at it and, with the Mix control, despite Audio Damage’s suggestion that this is an app for some serious squashing, you can actually do subtle quite easily; just dial back the ratio and sensitivity or reduce the Mix amount…. or both.

This was fun. Battle of the drum apps… all beautifully squashed with a little Rough Rider…. and Groovebox thrown in for good measure.

That said, it did do a rather nice – and extreme if required – job on various drum apps. Used with electronic drums – where an ‘artificial’ sound is not always a problem (just part of the character) it was particularly effective. However, it also sounded pretty good applied across a full mix (for example, created in Groovebox) and, if you want to give your EDM tracks a little extra ‘pump’ then this is certainly an app to experiment with.

In summary

Most of the time when reviewing iOS music apps, when I get to this point, I try to say a little about who the app in question might most suit. In the case of Rough Rider 2, I think it is perhaps likely to be of most interest to those working with electronic music styles. However, that’s simply because, pushed harder, this is a compressor that can take things to extremes. But you don’t have to….  and while it might not be its primary intention, subtle can easily be done. As such, this is an app worth a place in almost anyone’s effects tool kit.

Yes, I’d love to see a scale in the gain reduction meter and a bypass button….  but this is a freebie that quite easily need not be. Rough Rider 2 makes for a very worthwhile addition to your iOS music app collection and, unlike the aforementioned 1970s contraceptive, this is an item you will want to use more than once. Given this excellent start, here’s hoping Audio Damage bring some further ports to the App Store soon. Watch this space….

Rough Rider 2

Download from iTunes App Store

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    1. Luis Silva says:

      Thank you John and thank you very much Audio Damage for this fantastic free audio compressor with Audio Units. Wow this is really good. Works great on Cubasis and in Garageband. I will buy the next delays, reverbs, etc from Audio Damage. The Audio Units (AU) is essential. It would be nice if all others companies that develop music apps for IOS knew that the AU is absolutely important. Thank you very much :)

      • Hi Luis…. yes, as a free ‘taster’ to what might be to come, this is a great introduction. Fingers crossed for more soon…. best wishes, John

    2. Artem Moroz says:

      Yeah! Thanks!

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