A 5K Java Guitar Tuner

So after writing a 5K Twitter Client, a 5K TODO app and a 5K Fullscreen Text Editor I thought that'd be enough example apps to get things started. However while adding a list of app ideas to the 5K App page I suddenly decide that one of the ideas really appealed. The idea was to write a guitar tuner, that would listen on the computers mic and show the user what pitch it thought the note played was. I'm not much of a guitar player, but when I do play it's always nice to have a guitar that's in tune. As I'm unable to tune a guitar by ear I rely on guitar tuners and I always seem to be out of the 9V batteries my electronic tuner needs. Given my laptop is usually nearby, being able to use it as a guitar tuner would be most useful.

Check out the video below or download 5KTuner for yourself (requires Java):

The app is more or less non-interactive. It simply starts up tries to work out what note is being played. It shows a simple slider that moves according to what note is being played and indicates how close to that note you are. In addition the raw frequency (in hz) is shown, as well a chart that shows the autocorrelation function of the input sound. A red line is drawn on this chart when a "valid" note is heard and indicates the wavelength of the overall frequency.

The vital statistics are:

  • Final (obfuscated) app size: 3538 bytes
  • Final (un-obfuscated) app size: 4649 bytes
  • Final Source-code size: 8532 bytes
  • Lines of code: 245

This was my first foray into audio programming and I'm grateful that in the end it wasn't too tricky. Initially I'd been looking into using the Fast Fourier Transform to work out the frequencies, but the autocorrelation function was much easier. It's essentially just two for loops and a bit of maths. You listen for a certain amount of audio and then compare the first half of the sample with itself, but shifted. By working out the amount of shift where the difference is smallest you can find the overall frequency of the sample.

It could probably be made more robust, but if you want to see how it works (or improve it) you can download the source code.