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Review: Bandimal – get your animal groove on with this superb sound toy

Price: $3.99/£3.99
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 202 MB
Developer: YATATOY
Platform: iPhone and iPad

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One of the best things about the iPhone is its ability to be a great equalizer. Because of the App Store and affordable apps, anyone can have a crack at being a digital artist or writing a blockbuster novel. Music, though, remains intimidating to many people, despite the existence of user-friendly fare like GarageBand. Yet everyone likes making a noise. This is where Bandimal comes in.

Although theoretically an app for kids (the App Store listing recommends it for “Ages 5 and Under”), don’t believe a word of that. Instead, think of Bandimal as a hugely accessible app for anyone who wants to make a noise; and one that just happens to feature cartoon animals bopping along to the music.

Tap the + button and Bandimal immediately kicks off a beat, and you’ll see an animal nodding along. Along the bottom of the screen, a playback bar loops over a grid of dots. Tap to set a loop within each of the eight available slots. Want to try a different animal? Swipe the current critter left or right. All your previous efforts will still be there should you decide you’re not keen on a sheep that sounds like an accordion, and instead want your bouncy bassy bear back.

Tap the drums to change the background rhythm

Tap the animal and you return to the main mixing screen. This enables you to add two more tracks, and also make basic adjustments to existing ones. Tap the speed dial and you toggle between slow and fast playback for that track. The other toggles effects, some of which dramatically alter what you hear, and sound great.

The final thing you can mess around with is the background beat. On iPhone, you need to tap the metronome at the top-right of the screen to access the three drum buttons; on iPad, they’re always at the top of the screen. You can switch the three drum types between four different loops, or turn them off entirely.

The brown bird hits a high note

The only real drawback to Bandimal is you can’t export any of the sounds you make. However, the developer has promised support for recordings in the future, and in the meantime you can always use iOS 11’s screen recording to share videos of your compositions. Fortunately, the app saves everything, so your efforts are never lost. And, brilliantly, whenever you open a saved song, the animals all count in before the music starts playing.

Right from the off, then, Bandimal is a joyful experience. Sure, it’s a touch limited in that you’re effectively triggering canned loops at any given moment, but it’s loads of fun swapping between animals, trying out new rhythms, and experimenting with effects. And that goes whether you’re a kid, an adult newcomer to music, or even a seasoned musician looking for a fun, noisy sound toy.