Ruismaker update – both of Bram Bos’ iOS AUi plugin drum machines go to v.2.0

Download from iTunes App StoreIt’s almost exactly a year since Bram Bos launched both Ruismaker and Ruismaker FM, his two iOS drum apps that are delivered in an AU plugin format. Both are interesting not because they feature some uber-complex and sophisticated drum programming options but perhaps because they are designed to be the opposite of that; drum synths that are easy to program, have modest demands on the iOS hardware host and very easy to get to grips with. And Bram has not let the grass grow under his feet; the PhasemakerTroublemaker and Ripplemaker synth apps have all been released since and are proving to be very popular. All three are AU compatible.

Given the potential that Audio Units offers, it is perhaps this element of the specification of the Ruismaker/Ruismaker FM apps that will have really got the attention of iOS musicians as much as the spec of the actual drum machines themselves. That said, both do a very good job and, with a suitable AU host and sequencing environment these compact apps are a great sound of synth drum sounds.

Ruismaker and Ruismaker FM – the two apps have both similar elements and design ethos… but different sound engines…  and both other AU support.

One aspect of both Ripplemaker and Troublemaker that really grabbed user’s attention was the incredibly well-designed pattern sequencer tools both apps offered when used in stand-alone mode. I’m sure I’m not the only Ruismaker owner who wondered whether Bram might add such a feature to the two drum apps…..

Well, now you can stop wondering as both Ruismaker and Ruismaker FM have been updated to v.2.0 today and the highlight new feature is – yep – a pattern sequencer for use in stand-alone mode. Before getting into that, it’s also worth noting that the updates bring some upgrades to the synth engine (=better sounds), access to the preset manager within the AU plugin and a bunch of more routine fixes and tweaks.

Ruismaker 2.0 now includes a brilliant Euclidean pattern sequencer when used stand-alone.

So, the pattern sequencer….  Well, Bram could just have added a 16-step pattern grid and I guess lots of folks would have been happy enough…  expect, perhaps, Bram himself….  as what we have here is actually a Euclidean sequencer where you can set different step numbers of the each lane (drum sound) and different number of ‘hits’ within each lane that are uniformly spread across the number of steps. For example, if you set 16 steps for the kick drum and four hits, then you get a four-on-the-floor kick. However, set five hits and things get a bit more interesting rhythmically as those 5 hits are then divided amongst the 16 steps. Combine the same approach with the other lanes (sounds) in the sequencer and things can get really funky.

While you can easily configure some fairly conventional beats, there are all sorts of options for polyrhythms here. Equally, there is also a switch between a loop sync mode (where, regardless of the number of steps, each sequence is restarted at the beginning when the longest sequence reaches its end) or switch that off (where each loop just runs freely and each lane just loops when it reaches its own end). This latter mode is absolutely great for creating patterns that evolve over time and is not dissimilar to what can be done with Patterning’s sequencer.

Ruismaker FM gets the same treatment…. and note the different step lengths used here for each lane within the pattern.

There are other options also. You can add accents and the Mutation setting allows you to set the probability that a step will actually do what’s in the sequence. Again, used subtly, this can ad a really nice sense of variation to patterns as they cycle. And, if inspiration has disappeared down the pub, then the Random option will generate a random pattern (or 10) for you to get you started.

Usefully, tempo can be controlled via Ableton Link but MIDI Clock is also supported. You can also export MIDI from the sequencer into your DAW/sequencer if you wish, although these don’t include the shuffle or swing settings contained in Ruismaker; you have to set those in your DAW/sequencer to match the feel of the project as required. Audio export is also available for the current pattern….  although if you have a pattern that makes use of the polyrhythm potential, then recording the audio directly into your DAW/sequencer from the stand-alone version (for example, via Audiobus or AUM) might be a better bet to capture all that variation over time.

Anyway, while I’ve only had a brief play with both apps, the sequencer is a brilliant new addition and I can see it appealing to lots of iOS music makers….  including those who had not yet taken a punt on the two apps previously. The synth front ends ramin pretty much as before and both provide a good range of synth-based drum sounds without being too challenging to program.

Obviously, for AU use, Ruismaker and Ruismaker FM, both apps require a suitable variant of iOS (v.9.3 or later is listed), suitable iOS hardware plus a suitable AU host. The apps are, however, universal and, at just 10MB or so, it should be possible to squeeze both of them in almost anywhere. Both are priced at a very modest UK£4.99/US$4.99. And the new sequencer mode makes using them as stand-alone apps a very attractive proposition; it’s brilliantly implemented and very creative.

Small, compact and easy to use, provided you are buying into them for exactly what they are – a solid, compact, source of cool electronic drum, percussion and more experimental bleeps, bloops and blats – Ruismaker and Ruismaker FM come highly recommended….  and, in v.2.0, they are even better value for money thanks to the very clever pattern sequencing option now included.

Ruismaker FM

Download from iTunes App Store


Ruismaker

Download from iTunes App Store

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