Old Information Here! (Jan 23, 2013)
Some of the information and screenshots on this page are for an older version of DaTuner. I am updating this page right now, and will delete this comment when the help page and screenshots are completely up to date.
DaTuner is a highly rated chromatic instrument tuner for Android. It is designed to be very easy to use and to tune your instrument (guitar, ukelele, violin, bass, cello, mandolin, piano, harp, saxophone, balafone, harp, motorbike timing belt, wheel spoke, harmonica, kazoo) quickly and painlessly.
Android Central: For the Android-loving musician, I think DaTuner Pro is easily the best tuner you can have on your device. I used to give that title to gStrings, but DaTuner has proven to be so powerful, easy to use, and accurate, it’d be foolish to not use it. AndroidPIT: I can recommend Tuner – DaTuner to all musicians, particularly to guitarists. The results are surprisingly accurate and the app is a chromatic tuning device, meaning it can help tune unusual tones, too. This review is of the lite version, which I’m totally happy with. I will be buying the paid version very soon.
A Chromatic Tuner is an instrument tuner that can tune an instrument to any note in the chromatic scale. DaTuner is a Chromatic Tuner for Android. The goal of DaTuner (the chromatic tuner) is that it should “Just Work” without any configuration or messing about with the phone. It accomplishes this via a wide frequency range, self-adjusting microphone sensitivity, and a precise, accurate, and responsive pitch detection algorithm. Tuning with DaTuner should be quick and painless. You simply play the note you want to tune, and DaTuner will tell you which note it is and how close that note is to “perfect.” Let’s go into the details after we present some screenshots…
Description of DaTuner Screen
The donate version screen is a superset of the free version screen, so all features on the free version are also present on the paid version.
1.) Main Note Display
This giant display shows the best guess at the note that is currently being played. If the tuning of a note is more than a semitone off, you will need to use this to tune up or down to within 50 cents of your desired tuning before using the error bar. For example, if you are tuning the low E string of a 6 string guitar, but the display says “D#”, then you need to tune up until the display says “E” before you can start using the error bar.
2.) Microphone Level (dB) and Sensitivity Level
This bar shows the following information:
2.1) Peak Signal Envelope
The “envelope” level, shown in a darker colour, rises quickly with peaks in the input signal and then drops slowly, giving you a good idea of the overall “strength” of the input signal that you are tuning. Note: This indicator has been removed in recent versions of DaTuner.
2.2) Trigger Point
The “start tuning” trigger point is a little yellow triangle indicating how strong the input signal must be before DaTuner will start analyzing the input waveform. When “Automatic Sensitivity” is enabled, this line will rise and fall as the input signal level changes. To conserve power and reduce confusion with background noise, DaTuner will only begin tuning when the instantaneous input level rises above both the “envelope” level and the “start tuning” trigger point. Hysteresis is used (adjustable in the advanced menu) to prevent noise when the signal from the instrument is hovering around the trigger level.
2.3) Instantaneous Signal Level
This shows the instantaneous microphone input level, and it is shown in a lighter color. It changes instantaneously as the strength of the note changes.
Automatic Microphone Sensitivity
In Automatic Sensitivity mode, DaTuner will take care of adjusting the sensitivity so that tuning can be performed from any distance away from your instrument (obviously, closer is better) and you shouldn’t even have to touch the phone while tuning. DaTuner will ensure that the trigger point will always be a little bit above the background noise but below the peak signal level envelope. With automatic sensitivity disabled, the trigger level is controlled completely by you – you choose at which point the tuner should start analyzing by touching the Microphone Senstivity bar at a level above the average background noise but below the peak signal produced by your instrument. This allows you to fine-tune the input level in cases where DaTuner’s own level adjustment in Auto-Sensitivity mode just isn’t cutting it.
3.) Error Bar
The bar at the bottom of the screen displays the amount that your instrument out of tune compared with “ideal.” The goal is to tune so that this bar becomes a thin line right in the middle of the screen. When the pitch is flat (frequency lower than perfect), the bar will extend out to the left of the screen, and when the pitch is sharp the bar will extend to the right. When the incoming pitch is “close enough” to perfect, the display will turn green and you can move on to the next note. You can tweak the “close enough” point at which the display turns green in the settings menu.
4.) Frequency Display
Displays the incoming frequency, in Hz.
5.) Error in Cents (donate only)
Displays how much off of ideal tuning the instrument is, for the currently playing note.
6.) Pitch Pipe and Note Selector (donate only)
This bar, on the right-hand part of the screen allows you to “lock” to a note for tuning and for pitch pipe output. For instance, if you want to tune the high “E” of your 6-string guitar (E4 at 330Hz) by ear, you can “lock” the display, scroll it until E4 is in the center of the screen, and then hit the pitch pipe button at the top right of the screen to make DaTuner start playing the note you wish to tune to. You can then shut off the pitch pipe and play E4. Since the display is locked to E4, even if your guitar is way out of tune at D# or F, the note display will be locked at E4 and the Error Bar will be maxed out at +/-50 cents. PitchPipe AutoTone (donate version only)The idea with AutoTone is to provide the “Just Works” no-touch concept of DaTuner but for the pitch pipe, too. DaTuner enters AutoTone mode when the pitch pipe button is enabled but the lock button is unlocked. In this mode, DaTuner will wait for an input note, analyze it, and then when it is once again quiet, play the ideal version of the same note back. It also incorporates an “erroneous” output at the beginning of the note playback, but gradually plays the ideal note at the end of playback. This is to allow those who are horrible at tuning by ear (like me) to, with this feedback, actually hear the error between your instrument’s tuning and the ideal pitch.
7.) Current Reference Frequency
If the reference frequency is something other than 440Hz, then it will be shown in the top-right part of the screen.
8.) Current Temperament
If the current temperament is something other than “Equal,” then it will be shown in the top-left part of the screen.
X.) Emulated Strobe Display (donate version only)
Hidden by default, when the emulated strobe display is on, DaTuner will show a circular, strobing pattern while analyzing. The pattern will spin to the left when your instrument tuning is flat, and to the right when your instrument tuning is sharp. When your instrument tuning is perfect, this display will stop spinning. This strobe output is emulated today, although a real strobe tuner is almost working, so stay tuned.
Quick Start: How to Tune a 6-string Guitar with DaTuner
Standard tuning for a 6-string guitar goes like this (from the high notes to the low notes): E4, B3, G3, D3, A2, E2. Start by plucking the low E string (E2) and check DaTuner’s display to ensure that E2 is shown and, if so, what the error (+/-) is. Pluck again, and adjust the string while DaTuner is analyzing to get as close as possible to the target frequency. If the error bar shows flat (error bar to the left of center) then you need to tighten the string, producing a higher note. If it shows sharp (error bar to the right of center) then you need to loosen the string, producing a lower note. Keep plucking and adjusting until you can get the tuning as close as possible to the target and the display is green. When finished, move on to A2, D3, G3, and so on.
We can start by saying that you probably won’t need to mess around with any of the configuration settings, since DaTuner should just work out of the box. That said, if you feel adventurous, here is a run-down of which settings are available and how to tweak them.
The “Giant Knob” is a gadget created to allow quick and precise adjustment of various settings that have a wide range but also require precision. It is used for all settings, even for those that it doesn’t suit. I take credit for developing this extremely intuitive UI that half of the users don’t understand 🙂 (really, you’re not alone). Anyway, for the sake of code reuse, many of the settings in DaTuner require you to turn the giant knob and then confirm your selection with a click of the green check mark. Clicking the green check means “ok, confirm what I have selected with the giant knob” and clicking the red cross means “no, cancel my selection.”
A4 Calibration (Reference Frequency)
“Standard” A4 is at 440Hz, but music can be played using A at almost any other frequency. As long as the exponential relationship between the notes stays the same, it’s all good. The reference frequency of A4 can be adjusted up or down in 0.1Hz increments by the giant knob, from 220Hz all the way to 880Hz.
Allows you to transpose notes. This is accomplished by adding a modifier to the reference frequency, so transposition can be accomplished while maintaining any custom temperament settings. (ie it doesn’t just remap notations, it actually does a mathematical transposition.)
Auto Sensitivity (off/dB)
By default, this setting is set to 12dB. With auto-sensitivity mode on, DaTuner will try to automatically adjust the trigger point so it lies between the background noise envelope and the signal envelope, isolating the sound of your instrument from background noise. Any setting except for “OFF/Manual” turns auto-sensitivity on. The “dB” setting chooses sets the minimum level of signal to background noise before analysis will start. If you find that DaTuner is constantly picking up background noise, try to adjust this seeting to a higher dB value.
When Auto Sensitivity mode is off, this dial can be used to adjust microphone sensitivity. You may also tweak microphone sensitivity by touching the signal bar on the left hand side of the screen; this latter method is recommended since you can see the strength of the input signal there.
By default, DaTuner starts out in “precision” mode. The tuning algorithm used by DaTuner can be set for either responsiveness mode or precision mode. In responsiveness mode, less of the input signal is used for each analysis, resulting in a faster turnaround time, but with less resolution. More calculations can be averaged per second in responsiveness mode, but each calculation will be slightly more prone to error since less data is used. You can try both modes, and see which one gives you better results.
Averaging Time (ms)
Since no single analysis is perfect, averaging is applied to the analysis results, with more recent results weighted higher than older results. If you experience “twitchiness” in DaTuner, where the note seems to jump around a lot, try increasing the averaging time. On the other hand, if you experience lagginess, try decreasing the averaging time.
In-tune range (cents)
This controls the +/- range where the display will turn green, indicating that the pitch is close enough to center to move on to the next one.
The default screen color used when a note is flat is orange, but it can be changed so that the display for Sharp, In-Tune, and Flat all have different colors.
Flat Color (donate only)
The color for flat notes can also be adjusted.
Octave Display Offset (A4) (donate only)
By default, 440Hz is A4. Octave Display Offset controls which subscript number follows “A” at the reference frequency. For instance, if this is set to “3”, then when the reference frequency is detected, DaTuner will display A3 instead of A4.
Strobe Tuner Display (donate only)
Set this to SHOW to show the strobe tuner, or HIDE to hide it.
Pitch Pipe Min. Sine Frequency (donate only)
Speakers on mobile phones have poor frequency response, and trying to output a low-frequency sine wave (like E2 at 82Hz) will result in almost complete silence. For this reason, you can adjust the minimum sine frequency up to where a perfect sine is audible on your speakers. Below this level, a square wave will be used in the output instead of a sine wave, which should be audible on all mobile phone speakers.
Pitch Pipe AutoTone Time (ms.) (donate only)
When the pitch pipe is in autotone mode, it switches automatically between listening for an input tone and playing an output tone. This setting controls the length of tone playback when DaTuner is playing a tone.
Pitch Pipe Error Multiplier (donate only)
In AutoTone mode, this multiplier amplifies the amount of error between the detected note and the ideal note before playing it back, playing back the error in pitch at a significantly higher or lower frequency and then adjusting the output tone up or down in pitch until it finishes “perfect”. The purpose of this is to allow those of us who have no ear for musical notes (like me) to hear an amplified difference between your instrument’s tuning and the ideal tuning. When set to zero, no error will be played back and DaTuner will play only the ideal tone back.
Custom Temperament (donate only)
Custom temperaments can be applied to DaTuner. You can also provide your own custom temperament files – after the first execution of DaTuner a .csv will be created, and you can manually open this and add your own temperaments using a computer or local file editor.
Troubleshooting & FAQ
Problem: When I play a note, nothing happens! It looks like DaTuner is locked or doesn’t pick up any sound.
Solution 1: Either turn on Auto-Sensitivity mode in the settings menu or, if you want it off, ensure that you calibrate the microphone sensitivity by touching the bar on the left hand side of the screen at a level below the peak input level.
Solution 2: Try rebooting the phone. Sometimes, other applications neglect to release their lock on the audio input hardware. There is currently no warning in DaTuner if this happens – the microphone just won’t start up!
Solution 3: The hysteresis range may be too large for your device. Enter the advanced settings menu and try turning it down.
Solution 4: If the environment that you are tuning in is noisy, the identical notes filter may be preventing the display from being updated. You can try turning this percentage down in the advanced menu.
Solution 5: As a last resort, try uninstalling and reinstalling.
Problem: None of the settings in the configuration menu can be applied. I also can’t bring up the big knob.
Solution 1: Disable the task killer that you have running on your phone. It is killing off the main DaTuner activity when you enter the settings activity, and killing off the settings activity when the BigKnob activity is starting. If you don’t run a Task Killer, then you might have the Debug->kill unused activities immediately setting set to TRUE in your Android debug settings.
Problem: background noise, especially low rumbling, detected instead of the note playing.
Solution 1: This is due to the wide frequency range of DaTuner and the way that harmonics are used to help detect pitch. You can try turning on noise reduction. If that doesn’t work, go somewhere quieter.
Problem: DaTuner doesn’t work very well or at all after an upgrade.
Solution 1: Try uninstalling and re-installing. This has solved the problem for many people. Also, if there is a directory called “DaTuner” in your external storage directory, delete it.
Problem: In the configuration menu, I push the green check mark and nothing happens.
Solution 1: I take credit for developing this extremely intuitive UI that half of the users don’t understand 🙂 (really, you’re not alone). Anyway, for the sake of code reuse, ALL of the settings in DaTuner require you to turn the giant knob and then confirm your selection with a click of the green check mark. This even applies for simple “on/off” settings. Clicking the green check means “ok, confirm what I have selected with the giant knob” and clicking the red cross means “no, cancel my selection.” At some point I will update the settings menu to be more android-like, but am too busy currently to spend time on it. So, for example, if you want to turn on auto sensitivity, then you turn the knob until you find the auto-sensitivity setting you want and the click the green check mark.