The saying in old musician’s circles is that if you wanted to get to Carnegie Hall, then you had to practice, practice, practice. Practicing is a de facto requirement of a musician’s daily regimen. Whether you are an eager amateur or seasoned professional, it’s something you must do. Regardless of your instrument of choice, a portion of your daily warm ups will be dedicated to intonation, scales, turning and rhythm. What if there was an app that could help you build and practice those skills just as well as if a teacher were in front of you? Tuned XD promises to cover all bases and help you become spot on in all of the aforementioned areas.
A Practice Mecca
Tuned XD clocks in $6.99, which is priced low compared to similarly featured music apps. Included are several essential tools. The startup screen displays these tools in the center of the screen. These are: 1) Tuning Tool, 2) Intonation Tool, 3) Scale Development Tool, 4) Two Track Audio Recorder, 5) Stopwatch Timer and 6) Metronome. There are apps available dedicated to these specific tasks. Tuned XD brings them all under one umbrella packed with lots of parameters and unexpected features for the asking price with a sleek intuitive interface to boot.
Two tools are provided for working with tuning. The Tuning Tool consists of a playable keyboard or guitar fretboard based on open strings. Beneath this is the tuning wheel. Notes to tune can be selected using the overhead keyboard or fretboard, or by scrolling the pitch wheel to select the pitch of choice. By pressing the power icon in the middle of the wheel, you activate an audible tone representing that pitch. This tuning tool works with or without the tone allowing you to use the tone as a gauge against your efforts, or just relying on your ability to produce a tone that will stay on pitch. With the tuning tool activated, it is always in listen mode. Play into your device’s microphone and the meter will move up or down indicating whether you are sharp or flat. Additional displays show the decibel level of the tuned sound along with a readout in Hertz.
You have control over the octave of the audible pitch. By selecting a number between one and six above the underlying keyboard, the octave will shift accordingly. This is perfect for switching between low and high pitched instruments, or between say a soprano and baritone voice. Tapping on the settings menu will open up other parameters, such as the sound theme, which will change the audible tone from a pitch pipe to a voice among others.
The Fat Lady Sings
Ever see those exhibitions or commercials where the opera singer sings a high pitch and shatters a glass? Tuned XD brings this concept to a unique intonation tool. By selecting a desired pitch using the scroll wheel, and setting up the number of seconds and decibel level required to shatter the glass, you can work on intonation. The objective is to shatter the glass by singing in pitch perfectly for the specified time. Once the desired pitch, the glass will shatter and you will be rated on a star system from one to five how to indicate how well you did with intonation.
Step On The Scale
For those scale warriors, Tuned XD features a scale development tool that may prove to be useful for vocalists who wish to work on pitches within a certain octave range. When the tool is selected, a keyboard is displayed at the top of the screen and highlights the pitches of the respective scale within a preset octave range. Tapping on the power icon in the top left corner plays a chord, then the scale, then the chord again. The settings menu for these tools allows adjusting of the scale. There are dozens of scales available. You get Majors and Minors as expected, but also Isolation Scales (Siren, Falsetto Slide, and Staccato), Power Scales and many more. There are literally too many to list; Dozens at the least.
You choose the starting note, octave range (two to four), scale reps, underlying metronome sound and the root note. We see vocalists getting more mileage out of this tool than anyone else, but if you are looking to learn scales, you might find this to be a convenient tool.
The most exciting offering in Tuned XD is its Two Track Audio Recorder. With an endless amount of possible applications, this could be used for anything from DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) style recording to an idea pad. Each track has a level meter and can be named like in most DAWs. Tracks are laid out horizontally from top to bottom and extend right via a timeline. Recording is as simple as pressing the record icon beneath the tracks. Once a track is recorded, you can play it back, or swap the audio out for previously recorded audio or to leave space to record new audio. Track 1 is colored blue. Track 2 is colored orange.
Honestly, the app could be $6.99 just for the Audio Recorder. It’s just that good and so simple to use. Did we mention that a reverb effect is included? You can switch reverb on and off. We would love to see in-app purchases available to extend the number of tracks and for some more effects. Recording on your iPad could not be any easier than this.
The final tools in Tuned XD are the Tabata Timer and Metronome. The Tabata Timer is an advanced stopwatch which allows you to set up preparation time in the form of a countdown, workout time and rest time. This works well in warm up situations. If you are a singer working on scales, you could prep the timer to allow for rests in between scales and sets.
Finally, the Metronome is standard flair. You can tap tempos into the metronome by tapping on the display or set tempos manually. The metronome displays the tempo and tempo marking. 136 BPM would be Allegro and 90 Moderato for example. Additionally, you can set up different time signatures. Everything from 2/2 to 9/8 is doable. Complex and compound time signatures are not present.
There is too much to like about Tuned XD and it is hard to believe that it only goes for $6.99. If you compare the functionality to what these individual tools would have cost prior to the smartphone and tablet era, you could have easily dropped over $500 for software like this. The Two Track Audio Recorder and Tuner are the app’s strongest components with functionality that one could argue is too feature extensive for this measly asking price. Musicians of any level would find this to be an invaluable tool that will get a lot of use.