If you’ve done any practice with a metronome, you’ve likely used something that emits a beep or light that you follow. Now imagine that metronome being something that you can feel instead.
A New, Tactile Option
The Soundbrenner Pulse is a wearable metronome that vibrates in tempo. The metronome comes with a charging station, instructions, and two bands (one large enough for a wrist or forearm and a larger one for an ankle, calf, or bicep). The metronome easily snaps into either band, and it charges wirelessly. Battery life is six hours of continuous use. Pairing the free Soundbrenner app with the Pulse via Bluetooth is quick and painless, and you can sync up to five units from one iOS/Android device. I tried using two at once and noticed no latency or connection issues.
The app has all of the features we’ve come to expect from any high-quality metronome. Need different time signatures? No problem. Need to create a set list of tempos for a gig or rehearsal? That’s easily done in the app, which includes a lot of other great features as well. One great feature of the app is its ability to change the vibration intensity of each beat. If you want the Pulse to vibrate 8th notes in 4/4, you can change the intensity of any of those beats to create whatever pattern you need.
While abundant in features, the app is not a requirement to use the basic settings of the Pulse. Through a series of tap functions on the metronome itself, you can set it to vibrate at any desired tempo. You can also make fine tempo adjustments by turning the dial on the Pulse left or right. The app is required, however, to access advanced functions, such as the ability to connect with other apps via Ableton Link, assign foot-pedal inputs, and link with additional Pulses.
While practicing at light volume on a mesh-headed kit or practice pad, I found it easy to feel the Pulse vibrating when it was set at its lowest intensity level. At higher volumes, however, I needed to raise the vibration and volume level. (The Soundbrenner app can play an audible click as well.) At its highest setting, the Pulse vibrated with more intensity than any mobile phone I’ve used. I found no latency between the app’s click and the device’s vibration.
It took a little while for me to get used to the Pulse, since I’m accustomed to referencing a click sound for tempo. As I continued working with it, I was able to reduce the click volume and focus more on the vibration, depending on where I had the metronome placed on my body. I found that the Pulse was easier to feel when I wore it somewhere on my body that wasn’t constantly in motion, such as my calf, upper forearm, or bicep. You might consider wearing a wristband just below the Pulse to prevent it from slipping down your arm or leg as you play. You can also forego the band altogether and keep the Pulse in your pocket.
One other thing to keep in mind: If you play on a big stage or riser that shakes under you, the Pulse might not provide enough vibration on its own, so you’ll likely want to use it in conjunction with the audible click in your ears. The app also works great without the Pulse, making it a powerful standalone product.
Although not included with the basic package, Soundbrenner has released a body strap that allows you to wear the Pulse around your chest ($29). The street price for the Pulse is $99 for one and $449 for a five-pack.