The New Metronome Tuner
From Planet Waves
Now that tuners are compact and electronic, manufacturers are working to add features. Such is the case with the new Metronome Tuner from Planet Waves (model PW-CT-08). But is small better? How many features do guitarists need? How well does this tuner perform? Those were some of my questions as I opened the package containing my newest tuner.
To begin with, I was surprised by the size of the box containing the tuner. It was quite small, and did not have all the excessive packaging too frequently used these days. A simple, recyclable box, with instructions printed on plain paper. Nice.
The first thing you must do is install the included CR-2030 battery. I was happy to see that the battery was small. Even more important, this is a battery that is easily found in most stores, so replacement will be hassle-free.
One common problem with electronics where the consumer installs a small battery is opening the battery compartment door. I suppose the engineers who use most electronics rarely have to use the devices they design. Luckily, the battery door on the metronome tuner was easily opened with a twist of the latch, and a slight pry with my thumbnail. Planet Waves recommends a coin for this, but I found it unnecessary to hunt one down.
To activate the tuner, you press once on the Mode button. This is the only button on the device colored red, to indicate 'power'. Even without instructions, most people would naturally press this button. This same button activates the metronome and the included "pitch pipe" for tuning by ear.
The tuner is very responsive. The display includes a very large LCD readout of the note, as well as a moving series of bars that act as a digital needle which moves in response to changes in pitch as you tune. If you like the Korg CA-30, for example, you'll love the larger note name aside the digital needle.
The digital needle on the package, and in photos I had seen of the metronome tuner (such as the one above), show a single 'needle'. However, on the unit I received the needles to the left of the current position remain on. I can't tell if this is by design, but it actually makes it easier to read the display.
You can use the built-in microphone, or plug directly into the tuner (1/4" plug). Plugging in disables the microphone, eliminating distracting sounds.
The tuner has one of the widest calibration adjustments I have seen anywhere. You can adjust the in-tune pitch up to +/- 30 Hz (410-470). I've never had to use such a wide variance from 440, but it's nice to know that I can.
If you press the power/mode button again, the tuner enters metronome mode.
Unlike most of the electronic metronomes I've owned, you can adjust the volume of the metronome tuner. In addition to having complete control over volume (including MUTE) you can adjust the speed from 20 to 250 beats per minute, stop the beat (continuously press the down arrow), change the beats per measure, and change the type of beat (quarter note through 32nd note).
The metronome has both audio and visual indicators. The first beat of every sequence is emphasized with a slightly louder tone and a red light. All other beats are accompanied by a green light and a slightly softer tone. Simultaneously, a digital needle swings back and forth with the beat.
There is also a convenient flip-out stand on the back of the metronome tuner, so you can set it down but still clearly see the display.
If you press the power/mode button a third time, you enter Pitch Pipe mode. While most people will use the chromatic tuner, some may have a use for an audible pitch. For example, if you're trying to learn how to tune by ear, you could turn on Pitch Pipe mode and tune by ear. Then, switch over to the automatic tuner mode to see how well you did.
Just as with Metronome mode, you can adjust the volume. You can also change the pitch from C2 to C8. If you have changed the tuner calibration, the Pitch Pipe pitch is changed as well.
The Metronome Tuner from Planet Waves is very compact (about the size of an iPod Nano) but packs two key features into a very usable package. On top of that, you get a pitch pipe thrown in. I think it will end up in my gig-bag, and stay there for a long time.
The Planet Waves Metronome Tuner (PW-CT-08) has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $49.99. If you'd like one, I recommend Select Sounds LLC. You can check the latest price by clicking here.