AutoValve: Retro Love for the Digital Age

Price: $1.99

AutoValve: iPhone App Video Review

AutoValve for iPhone

Reviewed by Luke Patrick

We’ve seen plenty of apps that offer a retro twist on your iPod’s content, but we have yet to see an app that offers quite as much vintage flavor as AutoValve by developer MEA Mobile. The app comes loaded to the gills with various analog effects, customizers, and details guaranteed to take you right back to the glory days of ye olden audio. The app isn’t perfect (we had quite a few issues getting our media loaded in the first place) but if you’re a hardcore audiophile junky with a dedicated analog fetish, this two dollar gem is right up your alley.

Concept and Functionality

As you might expect, AutoValve acts as a sort of facelift for your iPod, allowing users to access their music as they normally would, only with a different set of parameters resting on the front-end. What makes AutoValve worth looking into are these analog primary effects. The app allows you to play your iTunes tracks as normal, only with a vinyl, reel-to-reel, cassette deck, or even car speaker effect thrown on-top. Even better, each of these effects comes with a personalized list of settings. If you’d like to add just a few more hisses, cracks and pops to that vinyl song from your youth, a simple knob allows you to do so. Likewise, if you’d like to up the traffic sounds on the in-car speaker, you’re at liberty to do it.

All in all, we can hardly complain about the app’s playback functionality. The effects booted up nicely and ran like champs, and we even enjoyed the various effects options. However, it’s worth noting that no DRM-protected tracks will load. This means any songs you downloaded from the days of the iTunes DRM Gestapo are no-goes: A downright drag for some, or only a minor annoyance for others.

Design and Layout

AutoValve for iPhone

AutoValve for iPhone

That being said, we can hardly fault AutoValve for its stellar layout. The app comes with two unique skins, one for the 60s and one for the 70s. Our favorite was the sunny 60s feel, but both are top-notch. Likewise, we greatly appreciate the easy control wheels, with the one along the top controlling effects while the bottom pinwheel covered playback. Loading our songs, aside from DRM issues, was a snap, though we wish the app plugged directly into the iPod, rather than through a playlist. Small complaints aside, though, AutoValve truly is a blissfully retro experience.

Overall Value

Clocking in at two dollars in the App Store, AutoValve certainly won’t break the bank. However, the real value you get out of the app largely depends on your love of retro effects. If this sounds like exactly the cup of tea you’ve been missing, AutoValve will be a real bargain. Otherwise, it’s quite the hard sell, as the effects are somewhat compromised by a strict DRM system.

AutoValveAutoValve requires iOS 4.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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One Response to “AutoValve: Retro Love for the Digital Age”

  1. Tut says:

    It would’ve been nice to head the actual audio by plugging it into something that would record directly to your video instead of having to hear the sound of the speaker (which made all 4 mode sound identical in the video).

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