RiotFX for the iPhone

Welcome to the first of my iPhone Amplifier Simulator/FX review articles. Knowing I needed to start somewhere, I looked for a structured way to start the process. What better way to start, than by starting in reverse order! Reverse order from my alphabetical More Impressive List that I shared yesterday that is. It made sense to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s not the normal thing to do and secondly, it allows me to quickly review an app that I only recently purchased. I was keen to try something new. Luckily for me, when I started to play around in RiotFX, my keen level remained fairly high.

That’s always a good thing.

At this point in my article I’ll issue my regular warning. This website is developed with all colour removed from it. The screenshots below are black and white, but the app is in full living colour when you buy it. Check out the developer’s website for proof of colour.

I tested RiotFX with GuitarJack, GuitarConnect Cable and AmpKit Link. Each system worked perfectly well, with the GuitarJack (Series 1) seeming to lower the output for me compared to the other cable systems.

I was doing all of my testing using headphones and not plugging the iPhone into an amplifier. If I ever sort myself out in regards to the capturing of video I might share some of the sounds that are possible with RiotFX. But today, no sounds.

One of the reasons for no sounds today is that RiotFX doesn’t have a built-in recorder or a way to copy audio into another app such as FourTrack. Having said that, this app cost me $0.99. I’m certainly not going to complain.

But enough talking (typing). What does RiotFX actually look like and do (when converted to black and white)?

RiotFX doesn’t provide you with amps, speakers, mics or high-end fancy graphics. What it does provide though is a virtual effects-rack that you can use to plug into your favourite amplifier. The main screen is very basic, but don’t let that fool you. With a few clicks you can be customising your sound like nobody’s business. When you click the icon on the right of each effect’s level, you open (or close if you are already open) the effect’s settings. See screenshots below.

Each effect’s settings are different and allow you to manipulate your guitar’s sound with ease. You can keep all of the effect’s settings open if you like or you can close them when your settings are made. This is easier as there is less scrolling to do on the screen. Once you see how many effect options there are in this app you’ll see how it could become difficult to manage with all effects open.

I will point out at this stage that I could not use the Phaser. Every time I tried the app crashed. This happened with all three of the connectors I tested with. Perhaps the Phaser is more of the Star Trek kind and simply wipes out the app when used.

When you do add a new effect, it appears under your existing effects on your main screen. You can then edit that effect’s settings as you would do with any other effect. In one of the screenshots below I’ve added Chorus to the default settings I started with.

At this stage of the review, you may have noticed that all of the effects are off. Turning them on is as simple as switching the off switch to the on position. If you’ve used an iPhone/iPad/iPod before, you know what to do.

Changing the settings for each effect is not where the customising ends in this little app. You may notice the Edit button in most of the screenshots below. Clicking on that takes you to a page where further edits can be applied. See below.

If you click on the three bars on the right of any effect, you can then drag it to alter the order the effects appear in the chain. Just like on a real pedal board. You can also click the circular edit button to the left of each effect to open the option for deleting the effect. See below.

Delete, rearrange the order or add another effect. You can do most of your customising from this screen. Not effect specific, but app specific is the Settings button also found on this page of the app.

RiotFX allows you to enable noise reduction and turn on anti-aliasing to improve the quality of the effects. I did turn this on and the sound quality did improve for me (using headphones). Audio Fidelity is set to Low and I kept it there. I was testing to see how the app went with multiple effects running at once.

One thing I do believe is not a glitch, but certainly something that could use fixing is the way the app shuts down when the iPhone goes to sleep. Other apps I have don’t allow the phone to go into sleep mode. With my phone settings I could only play guitar for two minutes before all went silent.

After running through all of the settings there was one vital thing to test on an app like this. Sound quality. I’ve got to say, this is where I was pleasantly surprised. I did not expect much from this $0.99 app. But the effects’ qualities were amazing. My least favourite was the distortion. It was really good if you like fuzz/overdrive and came with a wide range of sounds, but I’m a heavy metal fan. I like my distortion to be incredibly meaty.

There you have it. That is RiotFX as I saw it. For $0.99 I must say I was pretty happy. It would of course be a much better app if it allowed you to save your settings (presets), didn’t allow the iPhone to go to sleep and included the ability to record or export sounds to other apps. But for the price, you’d be mad to not give it a try. I’m certainly glad I did.

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