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Want to fulfill your Kraftwerk fantasies with a $12 iOS app? iVoxel is cool little app that's deceptively modest at first glance -- it takes a few minutes to work through the menus and appreciate the powerhouse of voxel magic. But that power becomes less surprising when you consider that the technology is based on the Matrix vocoder from the same developer which is notably used by Kraftwerk among other well-known names.
Developer VirSyn describes it as a “combination of a voice-optimized synthesizer and a vocoder,” and it definitely works as advertised. The tricks it performs with your voice recordings (voxels) is amazing, or you can pick one of the 200 that come prerecorded. The dials are a bit tricky to use, especially on the iPhone or iPod touch; they're tiny and sticky and sometimes ping back in the opposite direction to the one you wanted. But aside from that, the interface is generally smooth and it’s easy to access all the many controls to play with the voxels. You can change the gender of the voice, slow it down, add “breath,” adjust the amount of consonant noise, add vibrato, adjust tempo, and much more. If the whole idea of voxels is just too '80s for you, you can just distort them further until they become simply synthed noises, some of which are very dirty indeed!
iVoxel is an impressive synth in its own right - voxels can also be assigned to keys for live playing. Whilst earlier users have noted the lack of MIDI support, this has been attended to with version 1.4 adding functionality for DJs and live play. Given the power of the app and the fact that it’s really for professionals, the $11.99 price tag doesn’t seem so outrageous, although it will prevent curious amateurs from buying it.
The bottom line. Fantastic synth with huge vocal versatility. Great interface apart from the dials which need work both on all devices. With MIDI connectivity the sky really is the limit.
iPhone, 2nd- through 4th-gen iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.1 or later
Can do a lot with your voice recordings. Easy to export to other apps for further processing. Smooth interface. Great library of sounds.
Relatively high price precludes casual shoppers. Dials are sticky and take some getting used to.