If you’re ready to jump to the next experience level, then you’d better start playing with a metronome. Use it in every scenario: for practice, jams, rehearsals, songwriting, and playing live.
Not every metronome is cut with the same degree of quality, though. That’s why we intend to deliver the top 10 metronomes you can buy right now. On top of that, we’re providing a quick buyer’s guide so you can make an informed decision.
Why should you use a metronome?
The best metronomes are crucial tools for musicians. They produce stable beeps you can follow to master a song’s tempo and rhythm. Without the metronome, you and your band could lose the song’s tempo, as well as each other’s tempo.
Moreover, playing without a metronome makes the rest of the band depend on percussion. The percussion might not be following the right timing.
You may know metronomes as “click tracks.” These are the beeps you use to record instruments and voices perfectly.
The beeps of a DAW are digital, but most metronomes work with a mechanical design. Others are eñectronic and offer extra features. Most of them are personal, so you’d have to plug in headphones to hear the beeps. The price then varies depending on the metronome’s features.
Overall, becoming a great musician requires practice. I could say the same about a band. And practicing without a metronome creates bad habits. Practicing and playing with a metronome makes mastery, no matter which instrument you use. Even singers need it.
Vintage and old-school metronomes, analog metronomes, have a pendulum that creates the click on the tempo.
What does a metronome do?
Rhythm is a crucial part of any musical instrument. As such, a metronome is also an important tool, as it’s the single item that can track the tempo on the go.
In essence, metronomes create an audible click that follows the tempo of your choosing. You choose the rhythm by selecting the BPM (beats per minute) plus the time signature. Then, you can plug the click into your ears with headphones or into monitors/speakers through a 3.5mm output.
There’re also classic options, which are analog models. These have a pendulum that produces an audible click, so you need to hear it on top of your instrument. However, following the pendulum with your eyes helps you better follow the song’s rhythm. It’s a soothing experience.
Either model provides an advantage every musician craves, which is cognition over and better motor performance. You can check this study for more information about it.
Some musicians like to collect or display mechanical metronomes because of their aesthetic value.
Metronome buyer’s guide
Metronomes have been around for hundreds of years. Digital versions are newer, but they’ve been present since, at least 1816, when a German inventor patented the design.
Metronomes create a tick in the BPM and time signature you choose. It makes sure you don’t speed up or slow down subconsciously. Alternatively, a metronome can raise speed after a certain time, which allows you to accelerate (or slow down) when the song needs it.
That means it’s a serious tool for musicians of all skill levels.
Digital vs. mechanical metronomes
A computer audio-recording software always has a metronome, and digital metronomes work similarly. Unlike computers, though, you can take this around with you, and sometimes these are so small they could fit in your pockets.
That said, some digital keyboards and electronic drum sets also pack built-in click features. Other musicians may still need an extra one.
Digital metronomes work with AAA or AA batteries. You turn them on, select a tempo, and start playing. You choose a time signature, tempo, and sometimes a timer before the click goes on. Others can change the tempo mid-song, let’s say after three minutes or after 36 compasses.
You can also set the downbeat or the downbeats. That way, the strong beat of each compass will have a significant accent. Simpler models will do this automatically, though, so if you choose a 4/4 signature, you’ll hear a strong beat once every four beats.
Additional features include built-in tuners, as well as conventional, audible beeps you can hear without headphones. Even so, we recommend guitar tuning pedals for all guitar and bass players.
These tuners may be for strings or reference tone generators. The latter hears your instrument and indicates the note. A string tuner “hears” the vibration of each string to tell the tone.
Then, you can plug a digital metronome into your ears with headphones. In a band, it’s usual to see the drummer playing with a metronome, and so the drummer keeps the time for the rest of the band.
Mechanical or analog metronomes have a pyramid shape. They have a clockwork mechanism, and it includes a swinging pendulum plus a weight that you use to choose the tempo.
Other mechanical models have a bell that indicates the downbeat. You can change the time signature by pulling out a particular knob on the unit’s side.
Overall, pendulum metronomes look great. It has the aesthetic and stylistic advantage. Moreover, current pendulum metronomes swapped wooden cases for plastic materials, making them lighter and easier to carry around.
Electronic models are more accurate, though. Moreover, they have various features not available on the classic model. Lastly, they are small enough to fit o a guitar case.
“Metronomes 101” by James F. Perry, CC BY-SA 2.0 Digital metronomes can’t lose the tempo. However, the pendulum needs maintenance to function properly.
Aside from DAW beeps, there’re options for Android and iOS mobile devices. These are convenient, often inexpensive or free, and work with precision.
There’re situations where you would want something else, though. For example, your smartphone can run out of battery quite fast. Moreover, phones are small boxes of distractions, and you may want to play and practice without distractions.
Still, we’ll choose a couple of software metronomes if that’s what you’re looking for.
How to use a metronome?
Using a metronome depends on the kind of metronome you use.
Digital metronomes have various buttons. There’s an on/off switch, a BPM button, and a time signature button, commonly.
Others have dials to turn, like a telephone. Classic metronomes have dials as well, and you have to dial the mechanism to select the BPM. Also, you have to tap the pendulum, so it starts moving.
Some metronomes have tuning tones or built-in tuners. It works differently across brands and models, so you’d have to check the instructions. Commonly, you engage the tuner by pressing a button combination. Then, through the model’s LCD screen, you’ll see the notes and adjust them properly.
Even though metronomes have one job (ticking at a particular speed), there’re some features you should be on the lookout for.
The tempo range (BPM) determines how slow or how fast the metronome can go. Digital models allow you to easily set a specific tempo. For example, some models can go as slow as 30bpm and go as high as 250bpm.
Mechanical versions provide preset values across an interval (like 80, 100, 120, and 140 BPMs). Moreover, you’d need to keep up with classic musical terms for tempo (like allegro and andante) to keep up.
The best metronomes have a tap tempo feature. It allows you to tap a button or pad to create the BPM. This way, you can easily find the BPM of any song you hear to create a rhythm by heart and instinct.
Metronomes can indicate down and up-beats in their beeps. Mechanical models use a bell, whereas digital variants use a high-pitched sound or a louder tick for the up-beat.
That’s a handy feature for playing on a 4/4 time signature. However, playing on odd time signatures, like 7/4, ¾, or 12/8, is another thing.
The best metronomes can handle a wide array of time signatures. These place the downbeat correctly after the correct number of sub-beats. Even more, they allow you to edit or select beat variations and subdivision patterns to suit the song.
Some models allow you to edit or select the volume and sound of the model. For example, you can swap between ticks, beeps, and others (like a traditional pendulum sound). It allows you to adapt the device to different environments and create a sound you can hear without earplugs.
Digital metronomes offer modern options and commodities like built-in tuners, time signature selection, and tap tempo.
The third option: silent metronomes
Some musicians don’t like audible ticks, as they can become an unwanted distraction after hours of practice. Moreover, it can create ear fatigue for some.
Some brands have created an alternative to the endless tick-tick-tick. The choice is a technological solution that, instead of ticking with rhythm, vibrates with rhythm. These are known as vibrating metronomes.
A similar option is quartz metronomes. These use blinking lights to signal the beat. However, some of these can activate auditory cues as well. Another common characteristic of quartz metronomes is a dial that sets the tempo.
The best metronomes reviews
We’re reviewing the top 10 metronomes you can buy right now. We’re choosing options for guitar/bass players, drummers, piano players, and more.
We’re considering various budgets, thus looking at both digital and mechanical options. Additionally, we’re also sharing a software metronome if you don’t want to buy a new gadget right now.
Lastly, we’ve covered a couple of silent metronomes for those looking for the mute option.
Best overall: BOSS DB-90 Talking Dr. Beat Metronome
The Boss DB-90 does everything a metronome can do and more. It’s the king of the pile.
First, it has three different click sounds, all of which are nice and loud. It has a tick, a beep, and a human voice count. The latter is less stressful and quite helpful for beginners.
Various drum machine rhythms allow you to practice to a more fun tempo-keeper. You can even program the beats yourself.
Similarly, there’s a “Rhythm Coach” within the device. It’s a follow-along feature with training modes to help you create accuracy, endurance, speed, and cognition.
Secondly, it has an input for basses, guitars, and microphones. You can plug it into your instrument and then plug headphones for silent practice or keep the tempo to yourself.
Drummers can also connect to the device via Roland V-pads or via the internal microphone.
Its features are a built-in tuner, tempo dial, tempo-signature selection, and MIDI sync for external sequencers. An external sequencer would allow you to create more beats.
Overall, it’s the most advanced metronome in the market, ideal for beginners and experienced players. There’s nothing else we could add to the machine because it’s already in the future.
Top value: MOREYES Mini Digital Metronome
Moreyes creates affordable musical accessories. They offer quality, portability, and ease of use.
Their mini digital metronome follows these ideas. It’s a multi-functional device you can clip on your belt. Because of the clipping feature, you can use it with almost any instrument.
Then, it packs an LCD screen that displays its functionalities and easy-to-use buttons.
Specs-wise, it has a 30 to 280bpm tempo range, various strong beat values (0,1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), volume adjustment (max, medium, minimum, mute), and near-perfect accuracy.
To set the tempo, the Moreyes model has a tap tempo feature via its tap tempo button. Otherwise, you can use the up and down buttons to select a specific tempo.
Selecting the beat is a matter of pressing the Select button. The LCD screen indicates the number of beats per bar and the rhythm in musical figures.
Other than the beep, the metronome has a LED indicator to cue the rhythm. That means it can work as a Quark metronome as well. The LED even indicates down and strong beats by brightening less or more.
This mini metronome comes with a built-in coin battery. To save power, it powers-out after three minutes without operation.
Lastly, the model has a 3.5mm audio jack to plug the beat on your ears.
Overall, the Moreyes Mini Digital metronome is an outstanding little device. It’s packed with features, great precision, and clear buttons. The one thing it lacks is a built-in tuner.
Best for strings players: Artisan Clip-On Metronome
The Artisan Clip-On is two things at once: it’s both a tuner and a metronome, and you clip it at the headstock. Easy, right?
There’s nothing else to it, as it’s as the name suggests. Simple, effective, and super cheap. You can use it on any instrument with strings, like basses, guitars, cellos, violins, contrabasses, and everything else.
The tuning feature has 12 different modes, plus a chromatic mode. That covers any string instrument you can imagine, as well as wind instruments. Moreover, it uses vibration tuning instead of mics to deliver accurate results without noises interfering.
Then, the metronome functionality has eight time signatures (rhythms), nine beats, a BPM selector, and a time range that goes from 30 BPM to 280 BPM.
Best for non-stringed instruments: Korg KDM-2 Digital Metronome
If you play loud instruments like percussion, drums, harmonicas, and similar, the Korg KDM-2 is the best option.
This model has a cylindrical speaker plus a resonator design that makes it very loud. So, no matter how loud you play, you can still hear it.
Then, the tempo can go from 30 to 252bpm. It also has 19 beat patterns and 3 types of sounds.
Also, you can change the volume of the device or plug in headphones.
There’s more: the device has a backup memory that remembers the tempo, beat, time signature, and reference tone you’ve been using. It works even when turning the device on and off.
As per usual, this digital metronome has an LCD screen that allows you to see all of its features clearly.
Lastly, the device can change the frequency between 410 HZ to 480 HZ. It’s useful for playing with a piano, which covers a slightly higher or lower frequency chart.
Overall, the Korg model it’s the best for both professionals and amateurs playing on non-stringed instruments. It’s also an alternative for those who like to hear the metronome without headphones.
Best classic: Wittner 811M Pyramid Mahogany Metronome
The Wittner 811 is the best option if you’re looking for a mechanical alternative. Of course, as an old-school design, it’s way more expensive than the options above.
Specs-wise, it’s not as capable either. It doesn’t have tap tempo, different tick sounds, or any other features. Moreover, the tempo range goes from 40 to 208 BPM, so it’s shorter than most.
If you’re looking for its aesthetic features, you will be pleased. It’s a gorgeous, mahogany-made system with a pyramid style and a pendulum.
The model features a blend of antique plus modern build quality. Within its enclosures, you will find extreme precision, ease of use, but bare-bone features.
That said, the 811 is one of the brand’s most popular metronomes. It’s part of the German Company’s Maelzel series, which delivers wooden finishes, classical tempo notations, and a gorgeous pendulum for timekeeping.
The bell can follow 2/4, ¾, 4/4, and 6/8 time signatures as a modem inclusion. It chimes on the downbeat, no matter the tempo you choose. Also, pulling the ball selector disables the bell to get a constant metronome tick.
Overall, the 811 offers timeless quality and elegance. It’s both a gorgeous display and a metronome.
Best budget classic: Wittner 836 Taktell Piccolo Metronome
The Wittner 836 is a budget model that still features the gorgeous aesthetic and design of classic models. It packs a 40-208BPM range but no other extra feature.
This metronome doesn’t look as vintage as the 811M. It also doesn’t have a wooden construction, rather a plastic enclosure. These two elements made it more wallet-friendly, so it’s the obvious choice for those on a budget.
With retro-enough looks, it can sit elegantly atop pianos, keyboards, and tables. Moreover, the item is available in various colors, bright, dark, and funky options alike.
The device has a clockwork mechanism with a traditional click, a tempo-graded pendulum, and formal tempo notations alongside clear indications. It’s very easy to use, it doesn’t need batteries, and it’s quite cheap.
Lastly, it has a wind mechanic. You have to wind the pendulum to make it sing, but a single wind can last for a long time.
Sadly, though, the Witter 836 can only follow 4/4 time signatures. But because it doesn’t mark the downbeat, you could use it to play on ¾, 5/4, 8/4, and similar.
Entry-level classic: Amazon Basics Mechanical Metronome
Amazon Basics covers a wide array of product categories, and they commonly offer the lowest prices.
Their mechanical metronome is as simple as it gets. It has a pyramid construction, a plastic enclosure, a bell, and a wind-up spring mechanism on the side. The accuracy has a 1% error, so I would only recommend it for practice.
Either way, the tempo can go from 40 to 208 BPM. Moreover, it can mark the beat you decide, including beats 0, 2, 3, 4, and 6. That gives you some extra leeway in terms of time signatures. Pricier options (like the one above) don’t have something like this.
The sound is a loud mechanical click, plus the pendulum swinging left and right. More importantly, downbeats have a different tone than the strong beat you selected.
Best quartz (silent): Seiko SQ50-V Quartz Metronome
The Seiko SQ50-V is a “quartz” metronome. As I said, it uses blinking lights to cue the tempo.
In particular, the SQ50 model is ergonomic, small, and economical. It fits in the palm of your hand, and you can use your thumb to move the dial and set the tempo.
Once you choose the tempo, you can place the unit on the included flip-out kickstand. You need to see it follow the rhythm, as it has flashing LED lights at the top of the device to help you. If you need the click, it has two woodblock-like click sounds you can engage (high and low-pitched sounds).
Elsewhere, this quartz metronome has a volume control, a 3.5mm headphone output, and a tone generator that can produce A and Bb pitched tones. The latter is a basic feature, but it can help experienced and intermediate players fine-tune their instruments.
Once again, this particular model can only follow a 4/4 time signature. That should be enough for most musicians, though, as it can follow similar tempos like ¾ and 5/4. Similarly, the tempo range goes from 40 to 208 BPM.
Overall, the Seiko SQ50-V is cheap, simple, and fast. You can take it out of your pocket and set it up in a couple of minutes.
Best vibrating (silent): Soundbrenner Pulse
Soundbrenner created a unique watch that works as a vibrating metronome. That means you can carry around an easy to control, non-intrusive time-keeper.
You only need to tap the beat onto the watch’s display, and it will follow you. You can also download the companion app to set a precise BPM.
The companion Pulse metronome app is free, by the way. It’s very minimalistic, but it can sync with the watch or and other Bluetooth haptic devices to keep your timing steady. Also, it can beat if the vibration is not enough.
As for the Pulse watch, it can vibrate at the rhythm of your choice. Vibrations are “7X” times more powerful than a smartphone’s vibration. Then, you can customize time signatures, accents, and time divisions with the app or with the tap tempo.
Another feature it has is saving your rhythms and recalling them from the setlists you create.
You can connect about 5 devices to the pulse via its Bluetooth/NFC. It can sync up with your friends and bandmates, so everyone can follow the tempo during rehearsals and live presentations.
Lastly, it’s compatible with most DAWS via a USB MIDI plug. That includes Ableton, Pro Tools, and Logic.
Oh, by the way, the Pulse is a gorgeous tool as well. And there’s an option that works as a watch as well, the CORE.
The Soundbrenner Core is a 4-in-in tool:
- Vibrating metronome (the same as Pulse)
- Chromatic Contact tuner: you can detach its bezel and connect it to any instrument. Then, follow the LED display to fine-tune the pitch.
- Decibel meter: it stays aware of sound levels around you. Therefore, it displays when volumes exceed dangerous dB thresholds.
- Smartwatch: it can work like any other smartwatch by displaying time, date, and notifications. It can sync with your smartphone.
Best software: Tempo / Tempo advance
Our last recommendation covers an app metronome. We recommend Tempo Advance for iOS or Tempo for Android devices.
Tempo Advance is a full-featured option, but it’s only available for the Apple brand. Both options are quite popular either way, offering a wide range of options and features.
The usual range of options includes time signatures, compound meters, a wide BPM range, custom rhythm presets, the ability to edit and save custom rhythms as presets, various beep sounds, and the ability to keep beeping even if your phone is locked.
The advanced version offers more customization options, plus extra touches like controlling the volume of the app aside from the phone’s volume.
Overall, playing with a metronome has three core advantages:
- Improving your sense of time and time cognition.
- Helping you track your progress.
- Helping you stay on time with other players.
Playing out-of-tempo is the same as playing out of tune. Luckily, there’re tons of options to help you, from the free Pulse app to the digitally-enhanced Boss version.
Having a click, a beep, a tick, a light, or a vibration indicating the tempo is always a nice touch. It helps you achieve higher and higher musicianship levels.