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If there’s one thing that all musicians tend to fret over, it’s pitch. That's a little easier to hear than to try to describe, but when you’re listening to your favorite song being tortured at a local karaoke spot, you’ll know when it’s not being kept in tune by some buzzed bar patron. There are more than a couple of competent iOS apps that use the built-in microphone and/or incoming audio signal, sample it, and check to see if it is indeed in tune, but Tunable puts a truly new, innovative spin on the overall concept. In the process, it delivers on the promise of being a one-stop tuning shop.
The look of Tunable is a study in clear, cohesive interface design, with the main feature being a real-time pitch graph that displays the incoming signal as a white line plot running from the top of the screen down. As you play your instrument (or sing into the microphone), the app plots the pitch and shows you exactly how far you’re straying from your desired note. This approach – which gives you a visual representation of how the pitch changes over time – is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any tuner, and is a truly useful evolutionary step forward in this important task. Instead of being optimized for a specific need, as many tuners are designed only for use with guitar or wind instruments, Tunable is flexible enough to be used to tune a variety of different musical instruments. We found its response quick and precise.
There's also a note array that can be displayed on screen, allowing you to trigger reference notes as audible tones, plus a sustain button that keeps the notes playing, letting you experiment with chord construction and harmony – a nice touch and an educational detour. If timing is also a concern for you (as it is for all musicians), the visual metronome feature is beyond cool, graphically counting off the beats with a flash effect and displaying a different color burst for the downbeats. Tunable definitely could have been marketed as a standalone professional metronome; it’s that slick.
The bottom line. Tunable is the best tuner on iOS and a pitch-perfect bargain for any musician.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Visual interface perfectly suited to task. Fast and accurate. Visual metronome is outstanding.