These days you rarely walk into someone’s house and find a stack of messily wired hi-fi separates sitting in a corner of the living room. More likely you’ll find a micro system or speaker dock. And increasingly you’ll see 9.7 inches of iPad screen beaming Cover Flow at you. It’s nice and all, but don’t you just miss the heft of a well-weighted, machined volume knob?
If your response to that question was an appreciative sigh, Stereolizer may help you find your lost hi-fi mojo. Either that or it’ll drive your inner purist to despair.
The iPad app presents three components – a tuner, amp and tape deck – in matching brushed aluminium. The tuning dial displays up to 10 internet radio stations on each of three presets, and shifting between them is rewarded with the warm crackle of synthesized modulation shift. Selecting stations is more work than it should be, but more because of the unregulated sprawl of internet broadcasting than through any fault of the app. And there are a pair of social media buttons for sharing what you’re listening to via Facebook or Twitter.
The amp is the poorest of the three separates, offering only one working knob (a satisfyingly large volume wheel), while bass and treble controls are dumb showpieces, as are the twitchily-rendered VU meters that make little effort to bounce in time to your listenings. There’s also a source switch that toggles between the tuner and our final component: the tape deck.
This is the highlight, and proof that Stereolizer’s developer, Lesmobilizers, aimed higher than an eye candy-heavy internet radio app. You can record and play back internet radio or mic input and label or rearrange your ‘tracks’ (a word that didn’t really enter the stereo lexicon until CDs came along, but we’ll let it slide on account of a sweetly-rendered three-digit counter clock).
Stereolizer is almost everything an app should be – lovingly designed, functional, fun and – as far as we’re aware – unique. But it asks too many questions. Why can’t you share ‘tapes’? Who forgot to make the tone controls work? Why is there a headphone jack? And – most importantly – will you ever use it once the thrill of novelty has worn off?
If you can afford to throw away the £1.19 asking price, it’s well worth a turn. But if Lesmobilizers could fix the niggling glitches and omissions, we’d abandon the caution.