When it comes to the tools needed for any drummer to do their job to a high level, one piece of equipment that is an often overlooked-yet-crucial ingredient in any musicians toolbox is a reliable metronome. Whether it’s for live use, rehearsals or solitary practice, working to a metronome is a must for maintaining as near-to-perfect tempo as possible (arguably a drummer’s most fundamental job). Often, however, having an audible click on stage is not something that is desirable, and unless you go down the route of some form of IEM’s (and the necessary ways of connecting to your metronome/smartphone) it’s often a stumbling block to regularly using a metronome in a live setting. This is where the Soundbrenner Pulse that we have here today offers something new to the market.
Upon first glance, the Pulse looks not dissimilar to a smart watch, albeit slightly chunkier, with a robust feeling rubber strap designed to allow you to wear it on your wrist without too much inconvenience. However, we found that this can be a little too restrictive whilst wielding the sticks, being slightly too large and somewhat cumbersome while you’re perfecting your paradiddles or powering your band. But this is easily and quickly overcome as Soundbrenner have thoughtfully included a larger strap so that the Pulse can be worn on other areas of your body– my particular favourite was either on the bicep or thigh – and you can even wear it on your chest thanks to a separately purchasable chest harness (although having tried this at a band rehearsal I’m now forever nicknamed Iron Man!!!).
Once in situ, the Pulse is controlled by an easy-to-use app via your smartphone/tablet, which once paired gives you control over basic functions such as tempo and time signature as well as more advanced functions such as varying the strength of vibration emitted by the Pulse, with each beat separately assigned a choice of strong, medium or weaker pulse. You also have full control over the colour of each beat – either no colour whatsoever or your choice of colour for each strength of beat. There’s also a number of further features, including a really cool way of storing tempos into the app’s library as named songs which can then be collated together into setlists and loaded into the player (on main page of the app), with each song following the last at the simple touch of a button.
The Pulse itself also has an element of control: tap the middle pad lightly twice in quick succession to start/stop the metronome, while constant tapping will pick up the tempo and adjust the app accordingly. The outer wheel of the Pulse acts as a dial for adjusting the tempo, however, it can be slightly over-zealous, and we found it often missed the required tempo with anything other than the slightest of turns.
Overall the Soundbrenner Pulse is a fantastic bit of kit. We preferred operating it via the comprehensive app (which in itself works as one of the best standalone metronome apps we’ve seen) rather than via the Pulse itself, and it does take a little time to find your favoured settings and the most comfortable area of your body on which to wear. Once you do however, it’s a rewarding, enjoyable and incredibly useful tool that we’d highly recommend checking out.
RRP: Soundbrenner Pulse Wearable Metronome – £89.99, Body Strap – £26.99