Bram Bos’s Ruismaker is making waves as the first exclusively AU-compatible drum synth for iOS. While Oliver Greschke’s excellent Elastic Drums (available at keyboardmag.com) is arguably a deeper drum synthesis app, Ruismaker takes a different approach that may have a wider appeal, especially for artists looking for familiar drum-machine sounds. Since Ruismaker’s percussion models run the gamut from vintage Roland to Yamaha-flavored FM percussion, its sounds are an obvious choice for synthpop and dance music producers.
Because Ruismaker is AU-only with no standalone version, clicking on its app icon simply opens a quick start guide for integrating it with sequencers such as GarageBand, ModStep and a few others. To actually use the app, you’ll need to open your AU-compatible DAW and add it to a track. GarageBand, Cubasis and ModStep are all compliant with iOS’s new AU standard, so there are quite a few host options right out of the gate.
Once you’ve got Ruismaker running, you’ll be greeted with an interface that evokes Roland’s TR-8 drum machine, which makes a lot of sense as the underlying tech bears a strong resemblance to Roland’s innovative approach to modeling—not sampling—their classic drum machines.
Each of Ruismaker’s eight pads can contain any of its drum models, which include 8 kicks, 9 snares and claps, 8 toms and congas (with high, mid, and low tunings for each), 13 percussion sounds, and 3 hi-hats. These models include impressive recreations of TR-808, TR-909, CR-78, and classic FM drum sounds, along with a few original tones that are quite useful, too.
Each sound can be individually customized via five parameters, including tuning, decay, drive, bit-crushing, and a Personality knob that varies in function depending on the selected drum model. For example, on the Roland kick emulations, Personality adjusts their specific attack characteristics, whereas for the hi-hats, it governs either bandpass cutoff or the metallic components of the sound, depending on the selected model. There are also controls for volume, panning and send level to the integrated delay for each drum.
Globally, there are additional parameters for delay time, feedback, and randomization, which gives each drum hit a slight change in character, much like you would get from real analog gear. There are also reverb and compression knobs that affect the kit as a whole. And in an interesting touch, nearly every parameter has its own MIDI CC assignment, allowing you to change parameter values via continuous controller messages, which is awesome if you’re using a compatible control surface like Korg’s nanoKontrol.
Obviously, the bottom line for any plug-in, iOS or otherwise, is its sound and Ruismaker doesn’t disappoint. Though the TR-inspired sounds aren’t 100 percent identical, they’re fantastic emulations that serve the same purpose, and many listeners won’t hear any significant differences in the context of a mix. That said, I would have loved to hear the 909 dual-oscillator toms included in this collection, though the Simmons-like models are excellent alternatives. As for the more original drum sounds, they’re all useful for electronic music production.
While I wish Ruismaker included standalone operation and the ability to save entire kits, these features could come in an update at some point. Until then, Ruismaker is a fantastic value at five bucks and deserves a home in every compatible iOS DAW. It’s flexible, easy to customize and really hits the sweet spot for electronic music production.
PROS Comprehensive array of classic beatbox instruments. Essential macros such as tuning, decay, and Personality allow for quick customization of drums. AU format allows integration with GarageBand, ModStep, and other iOS DAWs.
CONS No standalone operation (AU only). Definitely need to crack the manual to get started.
A must-have drum synth for electronic music lovers on iOS.