Speech Synthesis for your Atari 2600 and Vectrex!
The AtariVox+ is a self-contained speech/music synthesizer and memory card for the Atari 2600 and 7800, Vectrex, and other video game consoles with compatible controller ports.
The heart of the unit is the SpeakJet--an amazing chip with phonetic speech, preset sounds and a five channel music synthesizer. All of these are controlled by the console via a serial interface emulated through the driver software.
Similar to chips used in 80s speech synthesizers but with extended capabilities, the speech retains a nice retro quality, making it a perfect partner for classic consoles.
Also onboard the AtariVox+ is 32K of non-volatile memory which can be used as a memory card. The flash memory will retain data without power for 200+ years.
An allocation scheme has been devised so that no file is ever overwritten, allowing many different games to store data on just one unit.
Dip Switch Settings
The AtariVox+ contains a bank of dip switches that allow you to select which mode the AtariVox+ will operate in:
- AtariVox - for the Atari 2600 and 7800 (default setting)
- VecVoice - for compatibility with earlier Vectrex speech synthesis - mainly for the speech-hacked version of Berzerk (Verzerk) and Y.A.S.I.
- VecVox - for the Vectrex.
AtariVox+ Supported Games
- Assembloids 2600
- Duck Attack
- Elevators Amiss
- Fall Down
- Go Fish!
- Juno First
- Strat-O-Gems Deluxe
- Super Cobra Arcade
- Thrust+ Platinum
- Wall Jump Ninja
Vectrex (via VecVox):
- Brecher 
- Color Clash
- Debris Revisited
- Space Frenzy
- Spike's Circus
- VecVox X-Mas
Vectrex (via VecVoice):
- B.E.T.H. (Boulder Escape Terror Hazard)
- Deathchase 
- NOX 
- Pythagorean Theorem
- Y.A.S.I. (Yet Another Space Invaders)
If you're developing a new homebrew game for the Atari 2600, 7800, or Vectrex and you'd like to add AtariVox support, we maintain a memory allocation list for games wishing to use the save feature of the AtariVox. Blocks are allocated in 64 byte chunks, useful for saving high score information, game state information, user settings, and so forth. Games can be allocated more than one block if necessary, but we ask that you be efficient in the storage of any data your game must save to the AtariVox, as a limited number of blocks are available.
Please contact us if you'd like us to reserve space for your game. Also, if you've written a game that takes advantage of the AtariVox, please let us know and we'll add your game to the above list, as well as the AtariVox+ manual!
Atari 7800 and Vectrex Users
If you want to use the AtariVox+ with an Atari 7800 or Vectrex console, you will need to purchase an appropriate controller extension cable. Original Sega Genesis extension cables work well, and some third-party cables that match the Sega cable may work as well. However, the commonly available Retro-Bits Sega Extension Cable does not work, as the AtariVox+ cannot be plugged into the cable (the fit is too tight). You can also remove the AtariVox+ from its shell, and it will then fit in the 7800 controller port without issues.
The AtariVox+ includes the AtariVox+ and full-color, four page manual.
As is stated in the description it doesn't fit a 7800 with its chunky (yet aesthetically pleasing) case intact so I used a cheap extension cable. The cable I used was moulded for the trapezoidal shape of the original controllers whereas the AtariVox is built with a more rounded connector so it was necessary to shave a sliver of plastic out the extension's socket to make it fit, but I was honestly expecting to have to do a lot more so I'm happy with the result.
I'm liking that the volume control is easily accessible with a small screwdriver so that when mixing the audio it doesn't overpower the console or vice versa.
You're not going to be mistaking the speech synthesis for a real person and I love it for that, it fits perfectly. Who would still be quoting Berzerk if the robots sounded exactly like your average supermarket cashier?
There's only going to be more games made that make use of the voice and flash memory so I'd say it's a good investment for the person who wants more from their Atari.
Basically the AtariVox is two devices in one. It functions as a high score save device for many VCS homebrews as well as a voice synth chip. I wish more games utilized the voice synthesis but I'm glad to see it available in the store since the more people buy it, the more likely programmers will support it and visa-versa. At least for the games I own which support the voice synthesis, the effect is fantastic. It's like your 2600 is talking to you in a very retro-ish robot sounding voice.
I play most games solo so I have no problem leaving the AtariVox plugged into the right player port. Be aware that two-player gameplay is not possible with the Vox connected because it uses the player two port.
One other issue if you wish to use the AtariVox voice chip, you will need to supply an external speaker. One reviewer lamented not having a speaker to hook up but it is quite easy. The amp inside the Vox is dual mono and plenty strongbenough to support an external speaker without amplification. I used an old 4-ohm satalite speaker (2.5") from a defunct surround set. Get a regular male-male stereo headphone link cable and cut it, then separate the wires. Twist the white (L) and red (R) wires together and connect to the plus or red terminal of a speaker, and connect the black or bare wire to the minus or black terminal. Get a small screwdriver and twist the volume pot all the way clockwise (max volume) and it will be plenty loud enough to hear over the TV. The amp inside the Vox is strong enough to drive a single 4-ohm speaker or a pair of 8-ohm speakers, which is impressive.
score , but be warned, it will not speak or have
sound without hooking up speakers to the earphone jack, which I have no speakers with a headphone jack to hook it too.
Plus, if you put your fingers on earphone jack, I found out it's easy to jiggle it a lot, it's very lose inside., don't know if that's normal.
I read about this device two or three times, no mention that you have to hook up speakers to make sound work. Because of this I would have to give it a rating of 3.