By Craig Anderton
It’s not like the Great Tuner Shortage has hit our planet, so if a company is going to introduce a new model, they better have something compelling . . . or at least, compelling enough to make me say “hey, this is definitely worth reviewing.” And it is—here’s why.
The SN-10S is designed to sit on the floor, and is appropriately beefy for that kind of application (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: The SN-10S, currently showing that a guitar’s high E string is in tune.
It’s relatively heavy, and includes stick-on pads to discourage sliding around. There’s an input jack, and output jack that’s muted when you tune. The footswitch (which is a true bypass type) has a positive feel and seems quieter than many footswitches when you engage/disengage it.
The rear panel (Fig. 2) has dual power jacks so you can daisy-chain power, along with three small pushbuttons for setting the tuning.
Fig. 2: Two power jacks allow for daisy-chaining, and three pushbuttons set tuning other than the default of A=440Hz.
he SN-10S defaults to 440HZ, but you can change this by hitting the Pitch Cal button, then pressing the Up or Down button to change pitch. Note that the pedal doesn’t memorize this setting; it’s retained only while powered-up.
Speaking of power, the company recommends using an AC adapter (9V, center negative, 100mA) . . . and so do I. In quiescent mode, with the tuner simply plugged in, the current drain is about 8.4mA. While tuning, it jumps to around 45mA—that’s asking a lot from a battery if you plan to do a lot of turning.
So why does it draw so much power? Well let’s talk about the display, which is outstanding.
The multi-color LCD is big, bright, unambiguous, and looks great. I took the SN-10S outside around noon, at an elevation of 7500’ without a cloud in the sky, and sunlight shining directly on the display. I could still read it, and still tune.
Pitch analysis is very fast, with excellent stability—there’s hardly any jitter. These qualities make tuning both fast and painless. Red bars to the left of center indicate a string is flat, and yellow bars to the right of center indicate the pitch is sharp. The goal is to tune so that the center bar is lit. Done.
You can find less expensive, high-quality tuners—no doubt about that. But, this one is rugged (Fig. 3) and also, has aesthetics that give it a “wow factor” you wouldn’t expect from the average tuner.
Fig. 3: The insides have a clean layout and design.
The biggest downside is the power consumption; although you definitely want to use an adapter, a line with a -9V tip may or may not already be present in your pedalboard. However, there’s a reason for the power drain—the ease of reading, and tuning speed, counts for lot. Overall the Snark SN-10S Stage & Studio Tuner is a deluxe, overachieving tuner that also has a pretty cool cachet.
Craig Anderton is Editor in Chief of Harmony Central and Executive Editor of Electronic Musician magazine. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.