Pulse is a wearable metronome designed to help musicians improve their timing in a smart and customisable way. Chris Mackin gets into the groove…
Soundbrenner Pulse key features:
- Wearable metronome
- LED lights up in sync with vibrations
- 2 different-sized straps
- Tap tempo
- Companion app for iOS and Android
- Sync up to 5 devices via Bluetooth to mobile phone or tablet
- Create your own time signatures, subdivisions, accents and vibration power
- DAW support via MIDI (Mac only)
- Uses Bluetooth 4.0
Two hundred years since its inception, the metronome has never before taken the form of a wearable accessory. When you hear it, the idea seems so simple, and yet you wonder how it’s never been created. That all changed with the arrival of the Pulse, the debut product from Soundbrenner.
Feel the rhythm
No bigger than the face of a wristwatch, the Pulse comes with two different-sized straps and can be placed on your wrist, arm, leg or chest, though you’ll need the separate body strap for the latter. Best of all, the strap material is malleable, and also sweat-proof, meaning extended practises and performances won’t leave you with a smelly strap. It’s advised that you experiment with strap placements before really getting stuck in, as playing along with the Pulse takes practise. Also included is a charging dock, USB cable, user manual and Soundbrenner guitar pick.
A twist and double tap of the face turns the device on and begins vibrating at 120 bpm. The outer dial can be used to fine tune, or you can tap the face three times, after which it’ll track your tempo. It’s a relatively easy way to get started, but the Pulse really comes into its own when paired with the companion iOS/Android app.
Once synced up, the amount of variables you can tweak skyrockets.
Over the app’s three screens you can set your exact tempo, the time signature, note subdivisions, vibration intensity, beat duration and even change the colour of the light that illuminates on the face.
The app also allows you to add your own songs to its library and even create a setlist for them, making it ideal for ensemble practise and performance. Mac users can also take advantage of Soundbrenner DAW Tools, which allows you to sync the Pulse with your DAW via MIDI Clock signal.
For the solo musician, the Pulse is a fantastic companion. After spending an extended period practising live guitar looping with the device, we found ourselves nailing the loops much more frequently. Despite the rather steep learning curve, the satisfaction when track and device remain in time can’t be beat (sorry).
It’s worth noting that when wearing the Pulse on the picking hand, the vibrations transmit through the guitar’s body and pickups. It’s a problem that’s easily remedied by shifting the device further up your arm, and can also spark your creativity. By placing the device directly above the pickups whilst vibrating you can record a simple guide beat.
With the right combination of effects and no short amount of experimentation you can create some really interesting looped patterns and can even attempt to overlay different rhythms.
For all its innovation, the Pulse will not be for everyone. Soundbrenner themselves warn users that it takes time to comfortably play along with the device, and it’s sure to put some people off. The lack of any DAW support on Windows is also disappointing. However, if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to it, the Pulse is a great way to improve your timing.
MA-1 digital metronome £10
A much cheaper option to the Pulse, Korg’s digital metronome features tap tempo, eight rhythm types, a headphone jack for silent use and 290 hours of battery life! Plus it’s the perfect size for a trip on the road.
All major DAWs come equipped with a click track, which can be used as a basic metronome, and if you’re looking to practice and perform with one, this may be the best solution. Similarly, a free metronome VST is only a click away.