Review: Ruismaker Noir Breaks New Ground in iOS Beatmaking

Bram Bos has done it again. Known for an ever expanding line of iOS music apps, his latest joint, Ruismaker Noir, takes iOS beatmaking in a new direction. An intuitive and innovative user interface combines with great sonics to reward experimentation, all while giving your beats a modern sheen.

Ruismaker Noir Features

  • A Hybrid of a Drum Synth and Bass Synth
  • Deep Monophonic Synth Engine Designed for Rhythms
  • An Intuitive User Interface and Great Sound
  • Flexible Sequencer
  • AUv3 Support and Standalone Version
  • Universal App Compatible with iOS 10+
  • Small CPU Footprint
  • Available at the iTunes App Store

Ruismaker Noir belongs in the app collection of every forward-looking iOS musician. Its AUv3 support makes it easy to add effects to mindfreak your rhythmic creations. It’s definitely one of the best iOS music apps of 2018.

22nd Century Beatmaking on Your iPad or iPhone

Noir is truly a groundbreaking beatmaker. Like the rest of Bram Bos’s app collection, the user interface is striking. Sure, familiar elements, like a sequencer and synthesizer dominate, but the dark color scheme definitely fits the style of the app’s sound.

Ruismaker Noir

Ruismaker Noir in action in a bouncy 9/8. Screenshot by author.

A few strategic finger swipes are all that’s necessary to begin a beat. An intuitive interface makes this process rewarding – the vertical axis controls pitch while the horizontal one controls velocity. Embrace trial and error with an empirical mindset, yo.

The way the monophonic synth blends the tonal bass notes with the more percussive ones makes you think there are separate drum and bass synths. This architectural approach gives the rhythms created in Ruismaker Noir a unique flavor. Of course, the sequencer provides enough flexibility for odd time signatures and other interesting polyrhythmic patterns.

Note that its low CPU footprint makes it easy to spawn multiple instances within one container app, like Beatmaker 3. Using one instance for bass and another for percussion is only one obvious use-case.

A Dark and Gritty Synthesizer Engine

Remember, the app is called Ruismaker Noir. Thus, it makes perfect sense for the app’s synth engine to bring a gritty feel to the proceedings. Well, Noir’s VCF does include a grit knob. Tweak it, grasshopper. The same rule applies to the bit driver knob; it’s a combination of a bit crusher and overdrive.

Simple control of the envelope slope for the three oscillators (2 VCOs and noise) facilitates the creation of drum sounds. The Drop knob serves as a pitch envelope in a similar manner. Ring modulation, cross-ring modulation, and FM are all part of this unique synth engine.

The bipolar pitch and velocity modulators are an essential part of Noir’s synth engine. It responds to data from either the internal sequencer or an external one. This effect is obvious when creating beats using the Noir sequencer.

Drop, FM, Noise, Cutoff, VCO balance, and the overall level are all controllable in this fashion. Note that all of Noir’s parameters are controllable using an external source when used as a plugin.

Ruismaker Noir Preset Management

The app includes a host of presets to give you a better idea of what’s possible with Noir. Of course, it’s better simply to dive in and experiment. Exporting and managing both user and factory presets is simple.

What’s left? In addition to its intuitive feel, the Noir sequencer also includes Bram’s typical mangling functionality. Shuffle, Random, and Mutate are all in there. I prefer the subtle randomness of the Mutate function. The sequencer also sends MIDI output data when used as an AUv3 plugin.

Bram’s gone and done it again. Ruismaker Noir ranks at the pinnacle of iOS beatmaking apps. Its ease of use and simplicity mask the depth of the internal synth engine.

I am currently working on orchestrating the next Church of Hed album, but Noir is inspiring enough to distract me into beatmaking work. This is one reason we give it our highest recommendation.