Boss TU121 Chromatic Tuner
All tuners look much alike: the big meter, some indication of sharpness or flatness and so on. In this way, Boss's brand new fully chromatic TU121 is no surprise, although it has a busier control surface than most. Actually, it's a little more expensive than usual, since the busy control surface means extra worthwhile facilities.
The TU121 has three modes of operation:
AUTO — A signal is input through the jack socket or integral mic, and the tuner chooses the note closest to that being input; if you're within 50 cents (a semitone) of the note you want to be playing then the TU121 will choose correctly. An indication of the input signal's tuning in relation to that choice is shown on the meter and the flat/sharp LEDs. Tune your instrument, and watch the meter move to the centre, and both the flat and sharp LEDs light together. Your note is in tune!
MANUAL — The user selects the note s/he wishes to tune with the note button. The octave of the note is selected automatically by the TU121 when you play into it. A range between A0 (27.5Hz) and B7 (3951.1 Hz) is available — if you play contrabassoon or piccolo, this is the tuner for you. Of course, piano tuners and pipe organ technicians will welcome easy, compact access to such a wide range.
SOUND — The TU121 outputs a tone through its integral speaker, with variable volume level, between C2 and B6. The meter is inoperative in this mode since tuning is by ear, but this is fine for providing large ensembles with a loud tuning reference. If you need more volume, the only way to further amplify the tone is to connect the headphone socket to an amplifier of some kind.
The wide tuning range means that it will pick up notes in any register of virtually any instrument — for example, if a particular valve combination (in the low register, or whatever) of a brass instrument has tuning problems, you can select the note on the TU121, tune it, and make a mental note of the slide positions for those occasions when it is important (during a slow passage, say) that the note be exactly in tune. Of course, the TU121 can be used with guitars and basses — the manual even provides a list of relevant frequencies and note numbers, including the high C and low B of a 6-string bass. The tuner detects notes quickly, and the 'out' socket allows the tuner to be patched in-line between the guitar and amp or processor; the signals still pass through when the unit is turned off to conserve the battery, a problem that won't arise if you use an external PSU. Lastly, you're not tied to a fixed reference of A=440Hz; choose any frequency between 438Hz and 445Hz.
At £129, the TU121 may seem just a little on the wrong side of cheap. However, for the money you get a very sophisticated device in a compact and friendly package — using it is obvious without the manual. If you need a tuner that can do just that little bit more, then Boss's TU121 is the one for you.
Boss TU121 £129 including VAT
Roland UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Review by Derek Johnson
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