Five Best Tuner Apps

Intonation is a tricky thing, and sometimes a matter of great debate. But out of tune is out of tune, and a tuner app can come in handy when we need to make sure our ears are not playing tricks on us.

But with a wide variety of apps to choose from, which is best?

Earlier this week I asked which tuner apps you found most helpful, and you nominated 23 of your favorites. Based on your feedback, here are your top five:

Cleartune

Cleartune - top five tuner apps
Cleartune (iOS – $3.99; Android – $3.99) is a simple and easy-to-use tuner and tone generator with a nice big display that is easy to read from a distance (even on your phone). It also offers a variety of pitch and temperament settings – with custom presets – which can be handy for those who frequently have to switch between modern and baroque instruments, for instance. Several readers praised its ease of use for beginner-level students.

 

TonalEnergy

TonalEnergy - top five tuner apps
TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner and Metronome (iOS only – $3.99) is an all-in-one app which includes a metronome function in addition to a tuner and tone generator. It is sensitive to a wide range of pitches, has different “difficulty” settings (i.e. or how close to the pitch you need to be for your note to be considered in tune), and allows you to record yourself while using the tuning or metronome function (so you can do a run-through and actually focus on playing, instead of staring at your phone the whole time).

The interface is a bit more cluttered and less intuitive perhaps, but many mentioned enjoying the green smiley face that appears when you are in tune. Sometimes a little encouragement can go a long way when we’re struggling to get a note to sound just right.

 

iStroboSoft

iStroboSoft - top five tuner apps
Peterson’s iStroboSoft (iOS – $9.99; Android – $9.99) is the priciest app in the top five, but comes from a company known for its strobe tuners (said to be the most accurate and precise type of tuner). It is sensitive to a wide range of pitches (the whole range of a harp, for instance), has an input boost (iOS only) if you want to use an external mic, and also includes a noise filter (iOS only) so you can tune you, not the other folks sitting around you in orchestra. The strobe display may be a matter of personal taste however, as some love it while others find it to be distracting.

 

Tunable

tunable - top five tuner apps
Tunable (iOS – $2.99; Android – $1.90) is another combo app, incorporating a tuner, tone generator, metronome, and recording capabilities in a very simple and clean design. Like TonalEnergy, it allows you to set the difficulty level from beginner (within 10 cents of the pitch) to advanced (within 2 cents) and has different temperament settings as well. It has adjustable vibrato settings, and utilizes color (but no smiley face…boo) to indicate how well you are able to sustain a pitch in tune. An out of tune note makes the screen red, and the more in tune, and steady your pitch is, the more of the screen turns green. Strangely satisfying. As far as range goes, a tuba player noted that Tunable continues to recognize pitches at the low end of the tuba’s register, past the point where Cleartune conks out.

 

insTuner

insTuner - top five tuner apps
insTuner (iOS only – $3.99) boasts a clean, modern-looking interface, a set of presets optimized for different instruments, and a variety of tuning modes. When using Instant-Tuning mode, for instance, the display flashes green if your note is in tune, and if you’re out of tune, the app uses a red bar and displays text telling you to go up or down. There is also a Fine-Tuning mode (similar to Cleartune’s look) and a Strobe mode.

 


Votes are in!

Cleartune ended up as the overall favorite, taking in more than a third of the total votes. But TonalEnergy brought in quite a number of votes as well, with iStroboSoft and Tunable garnering quite a bit of support in a tie for third place.

At the end of the day, the “best” tuner app may not be as clearcut as it is with metronome apps, and seems to be a matter of personal preference combined with the specific needs of one’s instrument (e.g. range).

Have something to add about one of the finalists? Is there anything we missed, or do you want to make a case for your favorite even if it didn’t make the top five or finish as high as you felt it should? Sound off below!

What's the Best Tuner App?

  • Cleartune (38%, 101 Votes)
  • TonalEnergy (22%, 58 Votes)
  • iStroboSoft (15%, 40 Votes)
  • Tunable (15%, 41 Votes)
  • insTuner (9%, 25 Votes)

Total Voters: 265

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Comments

49 Responses

  1. I love ins-tuner for my public school orchestra students. The lite version is free and it is so intuitive, my beginners are tuning their own instruments with confidence in no time.

  2. Thanks for all your blog content , I look forward to each weekly issue!
    As you’re reviewing apps, is there a recommended app for writing music scores? Ideally, I’d like to easily write a score for piano using touch screen features to place notes on a score. Any direction would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  3. Hello Noa, do you know if any of these tuners also have violin option for sound? That is can I pick it to play the tones with a realistic (or as realistic as reasonably possible) violin sound?

    By the way, should you do another posting could you consider a Scales app? I found the Scales Practice by the Stonekick website (Android and probably iOS too) has a great violin sound and does all the scales we are learning. Helps us learn scales like B flat melodic major and D melodic minor as my daughter and I learn violin, allowing us to pick the octaves to be only the notes the violin can play (ie the upper octaves not the cello or viola octaves).

    1. Ricci Adams’ “Tenuto” app allows you to choose note ranges for the instrument you wish (customize exercise). He has very challenging tutorials for scale/mode/chord identification.

    2. Hi Paul,

      Tonal Energy has different presets, and there are also other apps which are specifically geared towards generating violin sounds (one which actually uses actual recorded violin sounds, not synthesized ones). Personally, however, I’m partial to the generic tones that don’t even pretend to sound like an instrument. We’re generally going to have to tune to a piano’s A, or the cellist’s A in an ensemble, or the oboe’s A in an orchestra, etc., so it may be helpful in the long run to get used to tuning to the timbre of an instrument other than our own.

      1. Thank you Noa and Lee, I checked and Tenuto is not ready yet for Android but Noa I feel what you are saying is right….we are better off learning to tune to other instrument timbres than our own….better to start now as I cannot just pull out an app during a recital 🙂

    1. Why were there no free tuner apps included in the survey, e.g., “gstrings”? I use this all the time in my private lessons… but, am I missing something with the top 5 you listed?

        1. I would recommend pitchlab for Android. I like it better than clear tune which I have on the Ipad. It has a variety of instrument presets along with a half dozen really interesting visualizations. Highly recommended.

      1. If you are looking at good free tuner app options, I have been using Pro Guitar Tuner for awhile and it seems to work great for me. This is on Android – not sure if Apple has it to but I would guess that they do.

    1. Also, As of the writing of this comment, ClearTune will not work in iOS 11 as it is 32 bit only. The developer hasn’t updated it in 2 years so don’t hold your breath because all iOS developers were warned 3 years ago of the eventual shift to 64 bit only. So if you really want to keep using it for the foreseeable future, do not update to iOS 11 on iPhone and iPad. I believe the android version is still functional though.

  4. Some of you might be interested in a blog that I write about apps to help your music practice.
    PracticeApps
    I’ve written about iStrobosoft & Tunable. Both great apps.

    Thank you for your blog! I look forward to reading and sharing your posts.

    1. Karen, have you seen Quantz Tuner? It is available on all three platforms, plus, if you go to the website you can use it in the browser for free, It is a Music visualization tuner, it uses graphics to show pitch, vibrato etc.

  5. Thank you for this post! I needed a metronome/drone, and the comments and top 5 list were very helpful. I chose Tunable and am now practicing Kreutzer 2 with a lovely C drone:)

  6. Do any of the tuners help you with tuning intervals? One thing that consistently amazes me is how few students, even very advanced ones, know about how intervals need to change when tuning. For example, if you’re trying to tune thirds…if you are trying to tune an E with a C, the E needs to be about 14 cents low, and if you’re tuning an Eb to the C, it needs to be around 18 cents high. It would be great if there was a tuner app that somehow helped students understand this!
    Some hand-held tuners have the little “triangles” marked at the 14-cent-low mark and the 18-cent-high marks (the Korg tuner has this) and I’d be curious if any of these apps do too.

  7. If you are really serious about playing in tune go take a look at Quantz Tuner for iOS, Windows and Android devices. It uses a completely new concept for visualizing pitch and is lightening fast. You can even see your vibrato! Also, you can play an entire piece and then scroll back and observe what your pitch did while you were playing.

  8. Are there any tuner apps you can recommend for Windows devices? All of the ones listed are for Android & Apple. Thank you!

  9. I heard that it doesn’t work very well for iPhone6 plus. Can you please comment on this?

    Thanks,
    Pauline

    1. Actually InsTuner, which I realized I already had, works *fairly* well for this, so I’ll try a few of the others listed here. I’ll also check out Shelly’s Quantz Tuner.

  10. Thanks for the post. Would you know of an IPad Tuner app that allows one to change the frequency of a key on a music keyboard. The keys on a keyboard are equiempered and I’m looking to make the scale non-equitempered and set the keys in a way that meets the frequencies required for Indian Classical Music. Thanks for your time.

  11. I made a more specific comment about this in a reply earlier in the thread: looks like Cleartune may have been abandoned by the developer, at least on the iOS side.

    1. Yes, check out the free version of Quantz… it is very fast and records your pitch over time. Great for voice and looking a vibrato as well.
      Shelly

  12. There is this new tuner App that is great
    So I was Navigation throw google play and find that new awesome App it’s totally free and got many features and very easy to use.

    1- support 4 langs.
    2- Great visuals affects and UI.
    3- Change the Concert A from stander 440Hz to any other frequency that you like.
    4- change notes name A B C To Do Re Me.
    5- support guitar tuning and any other instrument.
    6- support Auto or Manual note detection So you can focus in one string or let the APP do the work for you.
    7- Switch between two visual effects for equalizer.

    Download from google play

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.anyinstrumenttuner.kiwi

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