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Tue, Sep 02, 2014
Peterson Tuners: Why Use A Strobe Tuner?
Thank you for stopping by and spending the time to learn how tuning with a Peterson tuner can improve the way you hear your instrument.
At Peterson, tuning is our business and has been for over 60 years. We have taken this earned expertise and designed products that cater to every corner of the industry.
In order to understand why strobe tuners are an excellent choice when tuning your instrument, it is important to realize the differences between a true strobe tuner and other tuners on the market today.
The way they process and display this information are vital to the final outcome; your tuning, i.e., your signature sound.
Video: What is a cent? It is important to understand how tuners are evaluated in terms of their accuracy. The 'cent' is the standard unit of measurement referred to when referring to a tuner's accuracy.
Peterson tuners are accurate to 1/10th of a cent throughout their entire range!
LED "Emulated " Strobes Tuners Are Not The Same.
Typical imitation "strobe pattern" tuners attempt to emulate the image produced by an authentic rotating strobe disc by using an array of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) which are simply turned ON or OFF in sequence so as to "appear" that the light image is drifting left or right. Unlike our Virtual Strobe™ tuners, these emulation schemes necessarily have one thing in common: a digital decision must be made to interpret when to indicate an "in tune" signal either by lighting a green LED or creating a non- sequencing pattern on the LEDs.
This "digital decision" is referred to as the "dead band" problem. The circuitry to form an "in tune/out of tune" decision demands that some amount of "out-of-tuneness" must be accepted when making an "in tune" indication. This is because a frequency that is EXACTLY in tune is an infinitely narrow point. If a circuit could be made to react to only this point (which is impossible by the way), getting a "green LED" to turn on would be impossible. In fact, given the normal pitch fluctuations in a real instrument, the light would simply never be on (or at best be turned on for such short periods that you would never see it).
High Definition Tuning
As the manufacturers of such tuners widen the band of "out of tuneness" around that ideal frequency to allow for an indicator of an "in tune" state to be triggered, the deviation from perfect tuning that they decide is "in tune" is what you are left with. This "dead band" typically gives up at about +/- 1 cent deviation and may allow several times this degree of inaccuracy before the "in tune" signal reverts to an "out-of-tune" indication.
The +/- 1 cent tuning deviation provided by the more reputable tuning brands may not seem like much on paper but it is a really a 2 cent window of inaccuracy you have to deal with. Multiply this margin of error across all your band mates and you will truly hear the difference but not in a good way! Less prominent tuning brands provide a standard +/- 3 to 5 cent deviation allowing for up to a 10 cent swing in accuracy!
All Peterson tuning products, hardware and software, offer a 1/10th of a cent tuning resolution. The highest standard that provides a visible and reproducible indication of being "in tune".
How Do Mechanical Strobe Tuners Work?
In a true mechanical strobe tuner, a spinning disc with a strobe pattern is backlit by a bank of LEDs. These LEDs blink at a rate directly related to the audio frequency that is being input while the strobe disc centers on a speed relative to the note. As you get closer to tune, the speed at which the LEDs blink becomes better synchronized to the strobe disc's speed of rotation, ultimately producing a static stroboscopic image.
Video: Want to know how a strobe tuner works? This short video explains how the mechanical strobe works and how it reacts to different incoming frequencies.
Learn why using a strobe is a superior form of tuning.
What is Virtual Strobe™ Technology?
The scrolling image of the Virtual Strobe display is driven by the input signal in real-time; its speed of movement is in direct correlation to the distance from the target pitch. No circuitry makes a decision of "in tune/out of tune"—and no discrete decision takes place. Your eye simply interprets the effect of the pattern in relation to the target pitch. Thus, the response to the user as the input pitch is adjusted is literally at the speed of light!
This level of precision in a Peterson strobe tuner not only allows unprecedented accuracy in tuning to "standard" pitches, but permits one to utilize the subtler shades of altered temperaments and Sweeteners™ found as presets in our tuners and allows user-programmed tunings with up to 1/10th cent resolution settings to be achieved.
What Are Sweetened Tunings?
"Sweetening" a tuning is the art of using consonance and dissonance to affect the sound of an instrument, and therefore aid the creation of tension and release in music.
Because most tuners can't 'see' better than ±1 cent, they can only offer one bland inconsistent flavor of tuning. The high-definition tuning resolution Peterson strobe tuners provide allows for a totally different tuning experience. Many of our tuners are loaded with presets that see a particular tuning as a group of notes (not just individual pitches). A Peterson can therefore optimize the notes within these groups to be much more consonant with one another and pleasing to the ear; in a word - sweetened.
The term 'Sweetener' was coined by us here at Peterson to make a clear distinction between temperaments and these 'other' sets of offsets.
A temperament, by definition, implies the use of no more than 12 offsets, one for each pitch in the 12 tone chromatic scale. These offsets form a "template" octave. C0, C1, C2 through C8 for example, will all have the same cent offset that has been defined for 'C'. For the most part, temperaments tend to lend themselves more heavily towards a key - most commonly C.
Equal temperament became widely used for the purpose of catering to all keys and tonalities equally, in order to not sound better in any one given key than the other.
The problem with Equal temperament is twofold. Because it is equally out of tune for all keys, there is no "sweetness" to it. Equal temperament also makes no allowance for a particular instrument's individual characteristics and limitations.
'Sweeteners' are sets of optimized offsets designed with a particular instrument in mind to help combat the bland tone equal temperament tuning provides.
For example, the GTR® Sweetener is designed to battle the common tuning problems inherent to a 6-string guitar and ONLY a 6-string guitar. Unlike temperaments, when looked at separately, these Sweetener offsets do not make any musical sense; only when applied to the intended instrument will they have any musical benefit.
Over the years, we have developed Sweetened Tuning presets for a variety of instruments. These tuning presets are exclusive to Peterson products as only Peterson strobe tuners can provide the accuracy required to 'dial' them in on your instrument.
(Click tabs to view Sweetened Tunings™ by product.)