Soundbrenner PULSE – Smart Vibrating Metronome
I was very pleased to receive the Soundbrenner Pulse, a wearable smart metronome. The company has done an impressive job and built a styling product filled with innovation. I’ve listed some great ways people might use this product and I think the possibilities are pretty endless. Also, their new Core model looks even more packed with options and upgrades so make sure to check it out (it’s only available in pre-sale via Indiegogo). Full video review Youtube link.
Super cool, innovative, and interesting product. Very useful for some people and situations but not everyone will want one. An additional accessory rather than an essential tool. Product works well, the awesome app makes it a useable metronome, but no sound from the device itself is a bit of a miss. The vibrating aspect is another interesting way to engage with rhythm which is worth exploring. I’m looking forward to the upgraded Core model.
- Cool design, innovative ideas, fun to use.
- The app setup/tutorial is fantastic, guides you through the options and can tell if you’re successful.
- The app also works great in terms of usability as a metronome (accent the beat, change the tempo, time signature, beat value, etc). You can also change tons of settings from the lights to creating playlists with different preset tempos and settings for your various songs.
- The app will sync up to 5 Pulse devices (useful for bands/ensembles)
- The vibration is adjustable from weak to powerful (thank goodness)
- The tap controls are awesome. They work well and are easy to just start using and get to work.
- Love the twist dial for tempo changes and the tap-the-tempo option.
- The charger station is magnetic and minimal.
- Decent price at $99 USD (although, see below under ” the competition”). It’s a dedicated tool designed for musicians (unlike your phone or Apple watch). This is an important point regardless if you buy one or not. Pros want dedicated tools that work for their specific needs.
- Comes with multiple straps to wear it anywhere or not at all (some won’t want it on the wrist)
- Works with all major DAW’s for recording, editing, producing and live performances.
- I’m dazzled by pretty glowing lights, kind of hits the spot.
Cons and considerations
- The device itself doesn’t make sound. You need to have your phone (with app) to make a ticking sound. Why would it not also function as a normal sounding metronome? I suppose it would need speakers. That said, who doesn’t have their phone around all the time and who doesn’t already own a normal metronome? Plus, if you place the vibrating device on any surface or the music stand it definitely makes a rattle that works acceptably well.
- Do I want a vibrating metronome? I’m not sure but then again, why not? It’s yet another way to engage with rhythm and any engagement with the beat is always a good thing. I imagine the vibrations are something you get used to after awhile. I found it very intuitive and normal right off the bat. Sometimes during lessons I tap my students gently on the shoulder for a tactile response which is similar. Also, you can turn the vibration off and just keep the lights going. The settings for the strength of the vibration are a great option. I did not like it on my wrist at all, it was too close to my hand and far too distracting. On the right arm it felt good though.
- Without the app you have no idea what the BPM is. I like to keep specific track during practice. The Core model might solve this.
- It’s a bit big for a watch but I’m a super small guy so don’t take this very seriously. The Core looks like it will be smaller.
- Do I want tech gear when playing an acoustic instrument? Well, at least it’s fun, useable, and the tap function is about as simple and low profile as it gets.
What’s the competition?
- There are apps for your phone that sound, vibrate, and/or flash. Some of them even sync with other phones and are free. This is pretty thick competition. But a phone is pretty bulky to wear and the vibration is not specifically designed for musicians. As I said before, musicians want dedicated tools for their trade and your phone is full of crazy insane distractions not related to music. $99 is not much to pay for a dedicated tool.
- Apple Watches have metronomes that sound, vibrate, and/or flash. Plus they do a lot more. That said, Apple Watches cost from $500-1000 and I’m growing sick of giving Apple my money.
- My Seiko metronome is beautifully simple and enough for me but has no options so it’s not really comparable. I think every musician should have a basic metronome, the Pulse is an extra accessory that will be useful for certain people and certain situations.
Some very useful situations for the Pulse
- Amplified bands, although, drummers are usually pretty loud time keepers. I could see applications for this in band and recording settings where a sounding ‘tick’ is not an option. Also late night practice on electrics with headphones where a silent metronome is preferred.
- Abstract situations – There was a crazy new music piece my trio played a few years back where no one really played on the same beat so we either needed a conductor or crazy gestures indicating the beat for 10 mins. Human error was rampant. The pulse might have worked well for this situation. Also, I’ve been to some new music concerts where people are scattered around the hall and you can’t hear each other so the Pulse might do the trick.
- It occurred to me that the hearing impaired might find the vibrating metronome useful. Not sure. Anyone have experience with this?
The Core model
I think Soundbrenner’s next model the Core will really cover a wider range of usability. The features look much more enticing to me:
- Vibrating Metronome
- Magnetic Tuner
- Decibel Meter
- It’s an actual watch (as in a clock)
I hope it has speakers for a normal metronome function too.