One of the main reasons I wanted to write this review is to highlight the strength of the unit's built-in DI, which I discovered accidentally. We were evaluating a new preamp for a separate review, and I wanted to check out the instrument input. So, we set up a blind listening test using various DIs for bass guitar. Included in the tests were Mercury Grand Pre, Behringer 12-channel mixer, Horizon Active Bass DI, Ampeg Tube DI, and Peterson StroboStomp2 tuner. We threw in the Peterson just for the heck of it. Good thing we did. All I can say is, "Wow!" The Peterson was like using a high-end preamp and comparing it against entry-level preamps. Bass recorded with it was clear, detailed, full-ranged, and resistant to overload. The headroom and fidelity were astounding. Head to head with the Horizon made us put the Horizon on eBay.
Of course, the main reason Peterson made this device was to provide a portable strobe tuner. And in that capacity, it is awesome. Accuracy is to one-tenth of a cent, which is up to thirty times more accurate than inexpensive tuners. Any issues we had when using it were not the fault of the unit. First, if the instrument is out of alignment, you'll have a heck of a time tuning with the Peterson. Guess what? That's good! Otherwise, you'll be recording a band that will be drifting in and out of tune all the time. People used to tuning with a cheap/imprecise tuner are often tricked into thinking they are in tune. In fact, their instrument might be in tune at the open position, but chances are, tuning goes out as they play higher on the neck. In that respect, the tuner serves as a roadblock for messed up guitars (and there are a lot of them out there).
If you are into alternate tunings, the Buzz Feiten system, or drop/capo transposition, the StroboStomp2 can accommodate you. There are custom tuning profiles built into the memory, including electric guitar (obviously), bass, acoustic, 12-string, steel guitar, Dobro, and violin. If you've developed your own tunings, they can be saved via user-programmable banks.
Many studios keep one or more guitars on hand. You can use the StroboStomp2 to do a pretty good in-house setup. In fact, Peterson has an inexpensive DVD that can show you how to use their products to set up a variety of stringed instruments (Fender Tele and Strat, Gibson Les Paul, Floyd Rose fitted electrics, as well as acoustics and 5-string basses). The DVD is informative, well-produced, and worthwhile for any guitar-playing recordist.
So, if you are considering a reference tuner for your studio, it would be a good idea to look into the Peterson StroboStomp2. Not only do you get tuning accuracy to one-tenth of a cent, you get one of the best sounding DI boxes available. Just make sure to keep an eye on it, else it might go home "accidentally" with one of your clients! (Tuning DVD $29.99, StroboStomp2 $310 MSRP; www.petersontuners.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.