BOSS Tuner review – free guitar pedal tuner in an iOS app from BOSS

Download from iTunes App Storeboss tuner logo 1I’ve said a number of times that one category the iTunes App Store is not short of supplies in is the ‘synth app’ category. OK, so most of us are happy to have a number (heck, even a very large number) of synths at our disposal, especially given the very modest price point of many of these virtual instruments in an app. However, there is another iOS music app category that isn’t exactly short of a few candidates; the tuner app and, in this case, most of us might get by with just one or two in out app collections.

Yes, the app store has a lot of tuners and I have reviewed a few of them previously on the blog. Some of these are ‘generic’ and aimed at any instrument type be it guitar, bass, violin or something similar, while others are aimed at a specific instrument type, with the guitar being the most common option. And, if you are into guitar rig simulation software such as Mobile POD, BIAS FX, Tonestack or AmpliTube, then these types of apps generally include a tuner option as well.

However, if you are still new to the while iOS music app world, or simply have not yet found a tuner app that suits your own preferences, then how about one of the most popular hardware guitar pedal tuners – the BOSS TU-3 – in an iOS music app format? And how about getting it for free?

BOSS Tuner - a foot-pedal tuner in an app format.

BOSS Tuner – a foot-pedal tuner in an app format.

Yes, BOSS have recently released their BOSS Tuner app (and with thanks to regular Music App Blog reader Scott for bringing it to my attention), while this is probably going to be the shortest review I’ve ever published on the blog (yay!), if you are a fan of the BOSS/Roland take on these things, then the BOSS Tuner will be well worth checking out.

The app is as easy to use as you might imagine. It runs as a stand-alone app and will detect audio input from either your iOS hardware (its a universal app so will work with both iPhone and iPad) or from a connected audio interface (for example, it worked fine for me via my iRig Pro) and it automatically detects the closest incoming note and starts indicating how flat/sharp you are from that. Apparently, it is accurate to +/- 1 cent (that’s more accurate than my ears then) and, as it covers a tuning range from about 30Hz up to 6Hz, you could obviously use it for instruments other than just a standard guitar.

You can tweak a number of settings for the app... but, otherwise, this is about as simple as things can get.

You can tweak a number of settings for the app… but, otherwise, this is about as simple as things can get.

The UI is a pretty faithful reproduction of the very popular TU-3 pedal and, as my son has one of these in his hardware pedalboard setup, I’ve used it plenty of times. I’ve not done and side-by-siding testing of pedal vs app but, to my ears at least, the app produces perfectly acceptable results. The app also includes an audible tone that can be toggled on/off if you prefer to tune by ear.

The UI includes a couple of buttons found on the original hardware and, while you can press these, at present, in the app, they don’t actually do anything. I’m not sure if there are plans to add features here but, these aside, a quick flip to the Settings page does allow you to tweak certain aspects of the display and tuning behaviour. In addition, you can also use the app in portrait or landscape mode and you get a change in the ‘zoom’ level to the tuning indicator between the two views.

In portrait mode you get the full pedal view....

In portrait mode you get the full pedal view….

Anyway, that’s pretty much it. The app requires iOS8.0 or later, is a 3MB download and, as it is free, there is no harm in giving it a try. BOSS’s only attempt at ‘hard sell’ on the back of the app is that it contains an option to view their latest news feed…  but only if you choose to. Otherwise, this is a freebie, ‘no strings attached’, tuner app that does a decent job with a minimum of fuss. If you like your hi-tech ‘tuner in an app’ to actually look like old-school hardware, then BOSS Tuner is well worth a look.

BOSS Tuner

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    1. This brings back a lot of happy memories from my gig playing days even if it is ‘only’ a guitar tuner app. What I am more interested to see now is if this marks the start of Boss doing more guitar effects on iOS. For sure we already have some good apps but having more competition here from Boss probably wouldn’t hurt…

    2. I love Boss, the quality and the sounds. Wanted to like this app, couldn’t get it to do anything. SO, I’ll keep using Positive Grids Tuner, for now.

      • Hi Jayson…. that’s strange…. It worked fine on both my iPad and iPhone. Were you just using the internal mic or with a particular audio interface? Very best wishes, John

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