If you’ve ever worked with a music teacher before, chances are they’ve told you to practice with a metronome. From my experience, I think they’re tired of repeating themselves. Metronomes are crucial for feeling and understanding time. Speeding up the tempo is common among new musicians.
Playing along with a click helps one internalize the beat and feel the tempo rather than guessing and hoping it’s consistent. Today I’ve found five of the best metronomes for drummers along with my thoughts on each.
The best metronome, by far, is Dr. Beat. While it’s a bit more expensive than others, you’ll see university students and professionals using these all the time.
Dr. Beat is larger than your typical metronome, featuring a sleek, grey casing with various buttons for controlling parameters. I think Dr. Beat is most famous for its voice setting. You can use a robotized woman’s voice to count time.
The front display shows the tempo, voice selection, style, subdivisions, and has a needle for visual aid. The mixing faders below the screen allow you to adjust what notes you hear when it plays — very useful for complicated triplet or sixteenth subdivisions.
The big yellow rotary knob on the right controls the tempo, allowing you to practice very slow BPMs or fast ones.
The Rhythm Coach feature is beneficial for those struggling to keep good time.
By either using the external microphone or by plugging in a Roland V-Pad to the trigger input, you can use the training mode.
Rhythm Coach has four training modes to help your speed, accuracy, and endurance.
- Built-in Rhythm Coach
- Human Voice Counting
- MIDI Input
- 50 Memories
- PCM sounds with drum-machine patterns
- More expensive than most
- Somewhat bulky
I love my Dr. Beat — it’s been an essential component of my practice routine over the years. I can’t recommend one more if you’re learning percussion and drums.
Everyone these days seems to use a smartwatch. But there weren’t any good options for us as musicians — until now.
Soundbrenner’s Smartwatch, at its core, is a vibrating metronome. The watch is pulse-driven, allowing you to feel the beat, rather than hear it audibly.
- 3+ days of battery life
- Lightweight and durable design
- Pair with smartphone
- Decibel meter
- Vibrating metronome
- Crisp OLED display
- Rugged mineral glass screen
While I haven’t used one in practice, I can envision it being a useful alternative to traditional metronomes.
Soundbrenner’s Smartwatch features Multiplayer Sync over Bluetooth, allowing up to five devices to connect. Bands using backing tracks might be able to avoid the high cost of wireless systems and in-ear monitors.
Click tracks are often piercing to the ear, so there’s no risk to your hearing when wearing a vibrating metronome.
Full tempo control is available from your wrist by spinning the wheel and either double-tapping or triple-tapping to make adjustments.
One other robust feature is the built-in decibel meter — perfect for concert-goers weary of the volume of any given PA. Soundbrenner packs a pair of earplugs with the smart metronome.
To make things even more attractive, the Soundbrenner Smartwatch pairs with your smartphone. An update coming in 2020 will allow you to accept and decline calls right from your watch.
Korg’s KDM-3 digital metronome looks like something from the past, with updated internals. For those looking for a simple metronome with an unusual design, look no further.
The KDM-3 features a tempo range from 30-252, 19 beat patterns, reference tones, tap tempo, LED indicators, a timer, and 1/8″ output.
The design is a little cumbersome for most drummers, but if you’re a percussionist practicing, the KDM-3 works excellent.
Pro Tip: Use a music stand with a towel to hold extra sticks, mallets, and your metronome while practicing if you’re a percussionist.
- Traditional design
- Powerful onboard speaker
- Dedicated buttons
- 30-252 bpm
- Tap tempo functionality
- Eight metronome sounds
- 19 beat patterns
- 1/8″ output for headphones
By far, the most affordable metronome on my list is the QT-3. There are no bells and whistles — it’s just an easy to use metronome.
The QT-3’s tempo ranges from 40-250. The up and down buttons on the metronome adjust the tempo, as you’d expect.
For percussionists, Qwik Time provides Italian tempo markings, like andante and largo, when pieces aren’t specific.
While there is only one provided click sound, it is loud and audible. For those practicing drums and percussion, you may need to use a pair of headphones.
A red flashing light indicator blinks along with the click. You can turn off the sound in the event you’d like to practice with the red light alone.
Drummers aren’t usually the exclusive target demographic of metronomes — Tama’s RW30 changes the game.
The RW30 is relatively affordable and has plenty of features for up and coming drummers looking to practice with a metronome.
- Backlit display
- Nine beat divisions
- 35-250 BPM
- Beat division volume control
- Pocket clip
The most prominent feature to me? The pocket clip. Just like wearing a wireless in-ear pack, the RW30 easily clips to your pocket.
If you use headphones, you won’t have to worry about the cable reaching the ground or a trap table. It’s also small and compact enough that it won’t ever be in your way.
Many metronomes (even some I’ve listed here) are just too complicated. A metronome provides a solution to a simple problem — timekeeping.
There’s no bells and whistles on the RW30, but that may be perfect for your needs.
Sure, there may be some complicated pieces out there that require the use of something like the Dr. Beat, but for most, Tama’s metronome gets the job done fine.
I’m currently using either my Dr. Beat DB-90 or an application on my iPhone (the app is called Metronome, and it’s free).
Soundbrenner’s pulse metronome idea is innovative, but I don’t see myself using one shortly (though, I do love that it’s a smartwatch).
What do you think? Let me know down below in the comments. I’d like to hear which metronome you’re currently using or even any metronome apps you’ve found that are useful! Thanks for reading.