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Author Topic: Tuner accuracy  (Read 3669 times)
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ronnies
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« Reply #60 on: Nov 23, 2017, 07:16AM »

I'd speculate most of us would not be able to tell the difference between 440 & 442 if we heard them played apart by an hour or so.  I think the way to resolve this is to train yourself to tune by ear.  The director should pick a wind instrument (oboe or clarinet) and have everyone tune by ear to it. Perhaps more than once per practice so that everyone gets used to adjusting as they go.

Doesn't everybody do that?

Ronnie
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« Reply #61 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:19AM »


Might also be that I like to use a tuner to check a whole buncha notes throughout my range. It might be fine for a simple A=440 tuning pitch, but it craps out when I try to play anything outside a narrow mid-range of pitches.

Could be the tuner on those other notes, but, could it also be you?

Somebody, I think it was Brad Edwards? recommended occasional tuner use for the purpose of recalibrating your ear.  That makes sense to me.  I've been doing it with the pBones I'm playing (some hand pain is limiting my ability to play the 42B) and I might have drifted a bit on some notes.

Also recording a rehearsal can be enlightening.  I'm hearing myself play a tiny bit sharp when I could have sworn I was playing under pitch. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #62 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:30AM »

Doesn't everybody do that?

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You would think.
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« Reply #63 on: Nov 23, 2017, 09:56AM »

Doesn't everybody do that?

Ronnie

OP wants to but has 440 stuck in his head, along with the entire orchestra other than the oboe player.
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« Reply #64 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:15AM »

Could be the tuner on those other notes, but, could it also be you?

Could it be me re: I'm out of tune? Of course I'm out of tune!! Otherwise I wouldn't be bothering to use a tuner at all.
I should have been clearer; when I say it "craps out," I mean the needle becomes either completely unresponsive or wildly spastic (like, between an octave or two's worth of notes, not just the usual "spastic" problem where it can't tell if I'm playing a really flat C or a really sharp B).
I don't have this problem with my Korg tuner.
But this is an off-topic issue.
I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

Somebody, I think it was Brad Edwards? recommended occasional tuner use for the purpose of recalibrating your ear.  That makes sense to me.  I've been doing it with the pBones I'm playing (some hand pain is limiting my ability to play the 42B) and I might have drifted a bit on some notes.

This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.
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« Reply #65 on: Nov 24, 2017, 05:19AM »



This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.


That's what I do too, but also I've recorded the last couple rehearsals.  Since I've been the only trombone showing up, if I'm out of tune it's pretty obvious.  I'm hearing myself play a little sharp on the recorder when I was hearing it okay when playing.  It's  not a lot sharp, but even a tiny bit is wrong.

Obviously I need to bring a couple more recorders and see if one of those is inaccurate.  <hee, hee>
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« Reply #66 on: Nov 24, 2017, 06:48AM »

That's what I do too, but also I've recorded the last couple rehearsals.  Since I've been the only trombone showing up, if I'm out of tune it's pretty obvious.  I'm hearing myself play a little sharp on the recorder when I was hearing it okay when playing.  It's  not a lot sharp, but even a tiny bit is wrong.

Obviously I need to bring a couple more recorders and see if one of those is inaccurate.  <hee, hee>

Just out of curiosity - what is the acoustics of your rehearsal space like? I am not always in tune either, but I think at least for me it's usually when I can't properly hear the rest of the group, and people next to me (i.e., trumpets) are also sharp but the only clear pitch reference due to what the room propagates.
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« Reply #67 on: Nov 24, 2017, 07:47AM »

Just out of curiosity - what is the acoustics of your rehearsal space like? I am not always in tune either, but I think at least for me it's usually when I can't properly hear the rest of the group, and people next to me (i.e., trumpets) are also sharp but the only clear pitch reference due to what the room propagates.


Very live, loud and echoey, and people playing way too loudly at the same time. 

I leave my H2 on a table behind me and to the left.  But I'm very present in the mix, even with the mini pBone.  Maybe I should put it out in front and see.  The pBone doesn't give much feedback and I may be playing too loudly also. 

Maybe I can snip a couple segments today and see what you all think. 
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« Reply #68 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:01AM »

I'm the one who has talked about using a tuner to calibrate your ear when your own hearing is inaccurate.

The real problem is that when you're playing there are three pathways of sound - bone conduction, right ear, and left ear.  Perception of pitch can be slightly different in each.  That's why you can think you're in tune when you're playing but the recording (and the tuner) tell you otherwise.

Using a tuner helps to get accustomed to the actual correct pitch sounding correct.
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« Reply #69 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:11AM »

I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

On a side note, we in the early music world all are big users of phone tuner apps, because of the huge flexibility they offer in terms of reference pitch and temperaments. The only traditional tuner that can compete with them is the Korg Orchestral Tuner. Which sells for ~$80.....(it is a great machine and I love the analog needle with adjustable sensitivity - but it's a bit large to carry around when you can just pull out your phone and have something almost as good and even more flexible).

And so these apps are extremely useful to us. Also very useful to tune a harpsichord or organ on the fly. Yet, there are some issues with that, one of them is, as you say, reliability - there is some variation based on what phone you have - I have noticed some differences between my two phones and my Korg, with all three giving me different readings for the same note even if calibrated to the same frequency and tuning system. Also, some of the tuning apps (including the most widespread, Cleartune) have mistakes in some temperaments, and now that many keyboard players will use their phone tuners instead of tuning by ear and/or comparing the raw frequencies to a tuning chart, you find that these mistakes sometimes make their way in actual daily use, where some notes are no longer exactly where they should be...
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« Reply #70 on: Nov 24, 2017, 08:55AM »

I'm the one who has talked about using a tuner to calibrate your ear when your own hearing is inaccurate.

The real problem is that when you're playing there are three pathways of sound - bone conduction, right ear, and left ear.  Perception of pitch can be slightly different in each.  That's why you can think you're in tune when you're playing but the recording (and the tuner) tell you otherwise.

Using a tuner helps to get accustomed to the actual correct pitch sounding correct.

Great point!  Way cool

Sorry to harp on it, but this is another reason why it's pretty useful to learn the colors of harmonic tuning - getting those pure 3rds/5ths/etc. because locking in those kinds of intervals doesn't depend on this kind of perception. The "color processing" for intervals and how sound waves form chord-ish patterns is a different level of processing in our brains.

Speaking of tuners, if I remember correctly, it's a fun little physics quirk that someone almost matching a tuning note at the unison versus almost matching someone at an octave produces two different kinds of interference patterns. At octaves, very close pitches produce standard binaurnal beats, where the beats represent a cycle of the change in amplitude caused by the interference pattern. At the unison, the effect is different: the beats represent a cycle of the change in frequency as well as amplitude.

I think unison beats are easier to hear, so in terms of having an oboe or similar instrument tune up an orchestra, one interesting variation in the tuning ritual would be to give separate tuning notes in separate octaves.
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« Reply #71 on: Nov 24, 2017, 10:32AM »

I think unison beats are easier to hear, so in terms of having an oboe or similar instrument tune up an orchestra, one interesting variation in the tuning ritual would be to give separate tuning notes in separate octaves.

In a band I used to play in (and whose director is very interested in trying different approaches to intonation and blend), for a while we tuned in unisons and octaves from the bottom up, having a single tuba give a Bb, then the other tubas would tune to it, then some of them would switch octaves, a trombone would come in and tune to that, the others would come in and tune to him, and the tuning note would gradually move up the brass line like that, passing from principal to principal and octave to octave, with every principal taking their note from the previous on a unison, and members of the section taking their note from their principal, also at first on a unison. The same would happen with an A in the woodwinds.

It was interesting. I don't know how much difference it made in the tuning itself (it was a very good semi-pro band and intonation was not a big issue generally), but I think that and other elements intended to raise awareness to the sound concept of a pyramid based on the basses did improve the blend and the ensemble sound quite a bit.
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« Reply #72 on: Nov 28, 2017, 09:21AM »

The audience (and the people paying you to play) aren't listening with a tuner, they're listening with their ears.

You have to play in tune with the musicians and instruments you're making music with, not with lights or bars on an electronic device.

Unless you have perfect pitch A=430, 435, 440, 441, 442, 444 or WHATEVER doesn't make a lick of difference. The oboe is your reference over the tuner if that's what your ensemble tunes to. If you're playing with any kind of fixed pitch instrument, i.e. a keyboard/piano/synth/percussion or samples, then you tune AND TEMPER the rest of the ensemble to those instruments in the sections they're involved. Possibly with a tuner set to match the non tunable instruments if you need to save time.

If the oboe isn't in tune with the piano, you have bigger problems than just pitch. Do your best to match with what you believe to be the lead voice in that section of music, which is usually your section leader.

Just or Pythagorean or equal temperament should only ever come into play if you're the only person on stage playing that pitch, otherwise you compromise to be in tune with the other musicians. The listeners would much rather hear you match the equal tempered third in the chord than create beating between voices because you're worried about being "right", and you think the oboe is wrong.

Use a tuner when you practice by yourself to stay aware of your tuning habits, and not let them influence your ear. Being able to hear if you're in tune or not is just as important as being able to play in tune.
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« Reply #73 on: Nov 28, 2017, 11:59AM »

Could it be me re: I'm out of tune? Of course I'm out of tune!! Otherwise I wouldn't be bothering to use a tuner at all.
I should have been clearer; when I say it "craps out," I mean the needle becomes either completely unresponsive or wildly spastic (like, between an octave or two's worth of notes, not just the usual "spastic" problem where it can't tell if I'm playing a really flat C or a really sharp B).
I don't have this problem with my Korg tuner.
But this is an off-topic issue.
I'm just sayin' I don't trust phone tuners.

This is what I use it for. At home. Often supplemented by a drone/autotune. To see where my G is these days, to check my B-natural, etc.


The issue with phone tuners, as far as I can tell, is more an issue of speed than it is of accuracy, per se. Your Korg/Boss/Peterson/etc tuners have discrete circuits built for the purpose of finding the pitch, isolating it, and figuring out exactly where it is in relation to the chosen reference pitch.

The phone tuner runs everything through the DAC and then the phone's CPU, and is going through your phone's built-in microphone which may not have a microphone balance for which the tuner is ready.

I've had better luck with the $10 Peterson iStrobosoft app than I have with a lot of the free options, and with the free options (in particular DaTuner), you can try screwing around with the speed/accuracy balance, microphone sensitivity (are you clipping the mic? Are you picking up resonances outside of your trombone in particular?) to find the best results.

The last tip is one that I personally don't like, but it seems to help: Get the most popular phone, so the app developers can set up a profile for the particular microphone in use by the app. I had nothing but trouble with the tuner/SPLMeter/etc apps on my Droid Turbo (I loved that phone, but Verizon offered me a deal to get 2 for the price of 1 if I traded it in, and a family member desperately needed a new device), but with the Galaxy S7 (probably the most popular phone at that time) it seems much more stable. iDevices don't have this problem to such a large degree since there's only one made per generation, but if you're using Android it bears mentioning.
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« Reply #74 on: Nov 28, 2017, 12:11PM »

An occasional tune-up with a tuner is pretty useful, especially moving between horns. Yes, on my Yamaha 691 third position is that close.
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« Reply #75 on: Nov 28, 2017, 12:58PM »

TE Tuner app on my phone is the best tuner I've seen, with a lot of other nice functions.  I have no reason to doubt its extreme accuracy.
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« Reply #76 on: Nov 28, 2017, 02:47PM »

The oboe got a new tuner!

Someone talked to her and got her to get a new one. I think they put several tuners on her stand and showed her.

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« Reply #77 on: Nov 28, 2017, 05:19PM »

The issue with phone tuners, as far as I can tell, is more an issue of speed than it is of accuracy, per se. Your Korg/Boss/Peterson/etc tuners have discrete circuits built for the purpose of finding the pitch, isolating it, and figuring out exactly where it is in relation to the chosen reference pitch.

The phone tuner runs everything through the DAC and then the phone's CPU, and is going through your phone's built-in microphone which may not have a microphone balance for which the tuner is ready.

I'm no electronics specialist, but I doubt most modern phones have any issue with speed with regards to use as a tuner. They will instantaneously complete far more complex operations without trouble, all the time. Plus, aside from speed, the hardware in most modern phone would be much, much higher quality and precision than what's in a $10 tuner.

I've had better luck with the $10 Peterson iStrobosoft app than I have with a lot of the free options, and with the free options (in particular DaTuner), you can try screwing around with the speed/accuracy balance, microphone sensitivity (are you clipping the mic? Are you picking up resonances outside of your trombone in particular?) to find the best results.

TE Tuner app on my phone is the best tuner I've seen, with a lot of other nice functions.  I have no reason to doubt its extreme accuracy.

I've heard good things about that TonalEnergy app.

Some great phone based options out there, many for free. Probably the most used and popular one is Cleartune. My personal favorite is PitchLab (don't be fooled by the silly marketing presenting it as a "Guitar tuner"). The free basic version is the most complete tuner app I've seen. More temperaments, more settings to play with, plus the possibility to create your own temperaments or modify the existing ones (if you find a mistake in them, for instance), which Cleartune only offers in the Apple version, not the Android. The only downside of PitchLab is the visualizations are not great. You can get more advanced options for a small cost (among other, a very cool "pitch spectogram" feature that displays your pitch in relation to time, so you can see when you have a tendency to go attack sharp or go flat at the end of notes, for example - I hear TonalEnergy has a similar feature as well).
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« Reply #78 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:05PM »

The oboe got a new tuner!

Someone talked to her and got her to get a new one. I think they put several tuners on her stand and showed her.



In community groups, there is some humor involved in tuning to an oboe.  The oboe player plays their A, and we wait for the note to settle.  When the note finally settles, we can say that is the note we use to tune.  The concert master wears a wonderful look of seasickness when it takes extra long for the note to settle.
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« Reply #79 on: Nov 28, 2017, 07:51PM »

I'm no electronics specialist, but I doubt most modern phones have any issue with speed with regards to use as a tuner. They will instantaneously complete far more complex operations without trouble, all the time.

You are right there.  The processors in today's phones run the the GHz range.  That means, for the layman, they live at billions of cycles per second.  Music deals with hundreds or thousands per second.  While tuning your trombone, the phone is basically asleep.  Unless, of course, the programmer was incompetent. Which is, of course, a distinct possibility.
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