Not a usual compressor, because it adds distortion. Sometimes the sound of the effect reminds me on a transient shaper. You can not use it on every signal, but I really like this one for it's "rough" flavor. Can bring many things to live. For the reason that someone might say it distorts too much, I would refer to take a look at the plugin's and developer's name. This company is not known for clean effects, and that's perfect.
Vers. 2 is not available anymore, but since the developer made many of its plugins legacy in spring 2022, you can get vers. 1 and the "Pro" (3-band multiband) version (both as well in 64-bit) of it for free, too. Very nice addition because they not only have difference in features but also the sound, so you might even prefer vers. 1 over vers. 3 in some cases.
Vers. 3 is the latest and still developed plugin, which has many new features like dedicated knobs for input & output level, a Sidechain high-pass filter, which you even can feed by external input, and a resizable GUI even in the VST 2 version.
Only downside is that you don't have a numerical input for parameter values. That means you need to click and drag to set the parameters, but that is not a big dealbreaker for me.
I can recommend this plugin for everyone who is looking for a more "kick-a$$" compression than you will get on clean and transparent compressors.
Rough Rider is miles away from being a "clean" compressor that you want to use on every project. It's more like an "experimental" compressor suitable for "mashing shit up".
So here's some stuff you were dying to know:
* It has a really sexy GUI. Seriously, this is one of the best-looking GUI's I've ever seen on a compressor. I wish this was something I wanted to use a lot because it sure is hot.
* Not sure if it's on purpose but the plug rolls off frequencies above 10hz. Even when it's not compressing at all. If you were even remotely thinking about using this in any "normal" way you may as well stop now.
* I would prefer numbers. Does that mean I'm not hardcore? Ratio is 1 to 1000 logarithmic. Attack sounds like it goes right down to microseconds. Release seems to have a pretty standard range (1ms-1s?) Sensitivity aka threshold goes down to -60db. Of course you don't really need to know what anything does at all. Just turn the knobs. Audio gets mashed.
* The GR gauge isn't the best ever but it strikes me as fairly accurate. The range is 30db so each one of those thin lines is 1db.
* There's a hardclip on the output at 0db. Generally not something you want in a compressor. But it helps to create some crunchy effects.
* The "active" switch is actually a wet/dry variable that you can alter within your daw. This is one of the most useful parameters. Why can't I change it on the GUI? Seems like a bad decision to hide it behind a switch.
*The dry signal bypasses the makeup and the hardclip. I find this a good arrangement. Unfortunately the gauge measures the gain reduction across the wet/dry. I find this counterintuitive and atypical for compressors.
In conclusion: It would be a big mistake to try and use Rough Rider all over your tracks like a "normal" compressor. In fact I'm not sure it belongs in the compressor category at all. It might sit more comfortably alongside distortion plugs. Also I don't think Rough Rider is really a great example of what Audio Damage do. If you don't like this plug you should check out some of their others regardless.
This plugin is extremely useful with the right mixing and can get your drums to sound super punchy (that's what I use it for). It seems to muffle the highs a tad however. of course that can all be solved with equalizing before and after the compressor. I haven't had Rough Rider for more that a couple of days, and it is already one of my absolute favorite plugins. However, I feel that drum compression is as far as this goes in my style of music. Still, a great plugin! I recommend it.