Apple’s iPhone is an amazing piece of kit, and owes its success to its hardware, software, and of course the iTunes app store. There are many great apps in the store, including those for guitar players.
One of the greatest apps available is the Peterson iStrobosoft strobe tuner app. For only $12.95 you get a fully functioning strobe tuner with 1/10th of a cent tuning accuracy.
This seems quite cheap considering the equivalent software package for your computer will cost about USD$50. And the physical stomp box and rack tuners are a great deal more than that.
So, does $12.95 seems a little too good to be true? Normally yes, but Peterson seemed have packed the goods in iStrobosoft.
Understanding the strobe tuner screen isn’t too difficult. There is a bit more going on than what you would have with a regular chromatic tuner, but once you play with it a bit it is very simple.
The main component of the screen is a box with a bunch of other boxes in it. This moves up and down when tuning your guitar. Up if the strings are sharp, and down for flat. There are also arrows for when the string is really sharp or flat, and a + or – cents read out.The key is to get the boxes to stop moving completely, or at least just slightly wavering.
To see how accurate iStrobosoft is, and how well it functions with the iPhone’s microphone I’ve compared it against another cheap tuning option, the Boss TU-80 chromatic tuner. I used only the on-board microphones, and used two guitars as the test subjects. Both guitars are in standard E tuning.
First up I tuned up my custom Ibanez JEM style electric guitar (see the blue custom in the My Guitars page). This has a Gotoh licensed Floyd Rose trem, alder body, and maple.rosewood neck/fretboard.
I used the Boss TU-80 to tune up first, starting on the D string, then to the G and made my way outwards. Once I had checked over a couple of times and founds all strings in tune according to the TU-80 , I started up iStrobosoft and checked each “in tune” string again. The results were as follows:
- E -7 cents
- A -5 cents
- D -8 cents
- G -10 cents
- B -5 cents
- e -3 cents
These results are approximate rounded results. You can see though how much more accurate your tuning can be by looking at those figures though. This sort of accuracy is especially important when setting up the intonation on your guitar. You are more likely to have all the notes on the guitar closer to correct tuning when checking with a strobe tuner.
My next test subject was the Ibanez GA5TCE nylon string guitar (also seen on the My Guitars page). It is also tuned to standard E tuning. It has a rosewood sides/back and neck, and spruce top.
Again I tuned up the guitar with the TU-80, using the same tuning order as on the electric, and went over each strings a few times to ensure they were “in tune”. Once again I started up iStrobosoft and checked each string with the following results:
- E -2 cents
- A +1.5 cents
- D -2.7 cents
- G +1 cents
- B +4 cents
- e +2 cents
The interesting thing to note from this is that the electric guitar was consistently flat, whilst the acoustic had both flat and sharp strings. I’d imagine this would have something to do with the microphone on the TU-80, which is not the greatest at the best of times.
iStrobosoft on the other hand seems to pick up notes quite well, even an unplugged electric guitar. As expected the treble strings lose signal on the screen a lot faster than the bass strings, but this is to be expected with an unplugged electric guitar.
The great thing with iStrobosoft is that it has built in functionality just for these sorts of problems. Peterson saw fit to add in a noise filter and an input boost. The other fantastic thing that Peterson have done is make an adapter cable, thus allowing you to plug in a microphone or guitar directly in to your iPhone. This is also reasonably price which makes it a no brainer to add to your want list. I hope to get one soon.
If you already have an iPhone, or are thinking of getting one, the Peterson iStrobosoft strobe tuner is one of those apps you want to get from the iTunes App Store as soon as you get your phone. It offers unmatched tuning accuracy in a cheap (software wise), compact package.
I have also reviewed this on Jemsite’s comparison shopping. Go check it out for more reviews on this product, and prices at different online stores.