I’m not sure exactly why, but the recently released Retro-Fi app by Romanian company Onyx Apps makes music on your iPhone sound like it’s on an old AM radio. Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot in my heart for music on AM radio, at least partly fueled by memories of listening to the classic New York City AM top 40 stations as a young kid in the late 1970s. But I’m not quite so crazy about it that I have a hankering to simulate it on my iPad.
According to Onyx,
For those who loved listening to rock’n roll on tiny transistor radios, those who find modern digital audio too clean, and those who want to create a retro mood with music, Retro-Fi is the solution!
Looking at screenshots at the App Store, it appears Retro-Fi gives you the ability to adjust parameters labeled “ambiance” and “static noise,” just in case you decide you don’t really want to understand those song lyrics any longer.
Now, I do understand why an artist or record producer may want to add a AM radio effect to elements of a song, as an aspect of a larger sonic palette. But it must be obvious that I’m having a hard time seeing why anyone would want to use this app for more than a few minutes, making it barely worth its 99 cent asking price.
Maybe Retro-Fi fits into the Instagram/Hipstamatic trend in iPhone photography, where these apps add effects to make your photos look like they came from forty year-old Kodak Instamatic camera. Honestly, though, I see more value in these photo apps, because the iPhone cameras are not necessarily high fidelity to begin with, and photographers have actually been embracing these effects for years before iPhones were invented.
Perhaps I’m just being a curmudgeon. If the idea of making your indie rock playlist sound like it might have been played by Wolfman Jack on a border blaster station, it will only cost you a buck.