Last updated: August 10, 2021

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You are a dancer or musician and want to take your performance to a new level? Then you should think about buying a metronome. With this rhythm device, you'll never be out of time and you can also adjust the speed with pinpoint accuracy. What are the advantages of practising with a metronome? What are the different types of metronomes you can buy?

You can find answers to the most frequently asked questions here in the big metronome test 2022. We present different metronomes to help you decide which one to buy. In addition, you will find helpful tips and tricks in our guide on how to use your metronome correctly and on which things you should pay special attention when buying. No matter whether you choose a metronome of digital or mechanical origin, we will tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of both types of metronome.




Summary

  • The metronome is an indispensable rhythm device for musicians and dancers alike. With the help of the built-in weight, you can set the metronome to any speed.
  • A distinction is made between mechanical and digital metronomes. Depending on the type, the beat is set or programmed mechanically or electronically.
  • The most important criteria when choosing a metronome are the type of construction, the adjustable beats and reference tones, the volume control and the design.

The Best Metronome: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying a metronome

What are the advantages of practising with a metronome?

A metronome can be a worthwhile investment for just about any musician. As you may know, keeping to an exact tempo is not always easy. A metronome allows for slow, gradual rehearsal of even difficult rhythmic passages. It helps you learn the beat and keep it throughout the piece.

Advantages
  • Precise indication of the beat
  • Enables exact keeping of the tempo
  • Acts as a playing aid and support during practice
  • Trains the interaction of hearing and motor skills

If you rehearse piano pieces with the help of a metronome, you can reach your personal goal faster. This way you train the motor skills of your fingers, your hearing and the resulting interaction of fingers and hearing. If you want to rehearse your pieces of music cleanly and technically correctly, you should use a metronome. A metronome serves as a playing aid and support.

What do I have to consider when buying a metronome?

Basically, the most expensive product is not necessarily the best. However, inexpensive models can sometimes turn out to be a bad investment because of their short life span. There are also some aspects you should consider when buying a metronome. Below we present the types of metronomes. First, you should consider which features and benefits are most important to you, and then decide on a type. What exactly you should consider when buying a metronome and which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate metronomes can be found below in the buying criteria.

A metronome helps musicians to keep time when practising. When singing, dancing or playing an instrument, the metronome can be used to keep the tempo steady. (Image source: pixabay.com / teddytantt)

How do I use a metronome?

Metronomes usually have two scales with tempo indications, both in beats per minute and in Italian tempo markings. In most pieces you can read off which is the intended tempo. This is the optimal tempo to reach. At the beginning of the practice process you should start a little slower and then gradually increase.

Once you have set the tempo on the metronome, the beat will be the one you have chosen. You must wind up a mechanical metronome before you use it. Also note that it must be placed on a straight surface. Any slant will affect the swing of the pendulum and thus the precision. Before using a metronome for the first time, you can do some exercises to get used to it. For example, you can start by "tapping" the beat with individual fingers on a tabletop.

How much does a metronome cost?

Metronomes are available in many price ranges. You can get simpler models for as little as 10 euros, but you can also find metronomes that cost 200 euros. When buying a metronome, you should always consider the price-performance ratio. Inexpensive models can often turn out to be a bad investment because of their short lifespan. In the case of mechanical clocks, the precision of the pendulum movement is the most important factor in ensuring that the clock strikes evenly. When buying a metronome, it is therefore worth spending a little more money on a high-quality product. On average, you can expect to pay between 50 and 150 euros for a quality product.

Decision: What types of metronomes are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, two types of metronomes can be distinguished:

  • Mechanical metronomes
  • Digital metronomes

The two types of metronomes differ in appearance, functionality and selection options. Depending on what demands you have on your metronome, a different model is best suited for you. We will help you find out which type of metronome is right for you. Below we present the different types of metronomes and explain their advantages and disadvantages.

How does a mechanical metronome work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A mechanical metronome is the original and simplest version of a timpani. If you have a penchant for nostalgic things and are a stickler for visual appeal, you'll like a classic metronome. Mechanical metronomes work much like mechanical clockwork. A pendulum is driven by a spring that has to be wound up. You can set the desired tempo with a weight on the pendulum. The further you push the weight up, the slower it becomes.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Visual eye-catcher
  • No battery/power source needed
Disadvantages
  • Inaccurate over time
  • Partly only gradual regulation
  • No individual setting
  • Rather unwieldy

From an aesthetic point of view, a mechanical clock is the absolute favourite. The antique design of classical metronomes makes them look very noble and of high quality. However, experience shows that mechanical metronomes can run irregularly over time.

How does a digital metronome work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A digital metronome allows you to set the beat very precisely. With electronic metronomes, the beat signal is triggered by a quartz. You can imagine this as a kind of chip that consists of electronic circuits. In order to generate stable frequencies, a constant voltage supply is needed.

Advantages
  • Very precise
  • Many regulation possibilities
  • Very handy, always take it with you
  • Inexpensive
  • Can also be used as a tuner
Disadvantages
  • Danger of "hanging up"
  • Battery/power source required
  • More complicated operation

A clear advantage of the digital metronome is that you can regulate the volume of the ticking. This allows you to drown out louder musical instruments. In many cases, you can also use an electric metronome as a tuner.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate metronomes

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate metronomes. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable metronome. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Construction / mode of operation
  • Adjustment of speeds / beats
  • Volume control
  • Strokes per minute
  • Reference tones
  • Design

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to buy a metronome under these aspects or not.

Type of construction / mode of operation

We have already explained in detail how the two types of metronomes, mechanical and digital, differ from each other. Nevertheless, we would like to remind you once again that this is probably the most important criterion when buying a metronome.

Metronome Features
Mechanical Metronome Mechanical metronomes are easy to use, look good and work without electricity. However, they lose accuracy over time and can only be regulated in steps, so you can't adjust them individually. Their shape and size make them rather bulky.
Digital metronome Digital metronomes are very precise, can be regulated variably and are very handy so that you can always take them with you. They are also cheap and can be used as a tuner. However, they can hang up and need electricity. They are usually more complicated to use than mechanical metronomes.

You should therefore first ask yourself what kind of assistance you need. If you are more of a classical type who places a lot of value on attractive design, you should choose a mechanical metronome. If you want the full range of functions from volume control to reference tones, then a digital metronome is the right choice for you. It's up to you what you choose - but you should definitely have looked at the alternatives.

There are mechanical and digital models of metronomes. Mechanical metronomes are easy to use and don't need electricity. Digital metronomes are cheaper and more practical to take with you. (Image source: pixabay.com / Sebastiano Rizzardo)

Setting the speeds / counting times

With mechanical metronomes, the correct arrangement of the tempo lines determines the quality of the beat. The tempo line marks the position to which the weight must be pushed in order to set a certain tempo. If the tempo line and the weight are not exactly aligned, undesired deviations can occur. On most digital machines, the setting is made by the indication on the display. In some cases, there is also a wheel that you can use to make adjustments.

Volume control

The volume of mechanical instruments can be adjusted by distance alone. The closer the metronome is to the player, the louder it is. With many digital devices, you can adjust the volume individually. Some devices can also be connected to loudspeaker systems. This way you can make the beat audible for a whole group. With electronic beats, it is a good idea to do a listening test. Some devices only emit assertive "beeps". High-quality metronomes are equipped with a pleasant, "acoustic" clicking sound.

Strokes per minute

Through its regular sound, a metronome helps the musician keep time and play the rhythm correctly. The pulses are measured in beats per minute (BPM). Normally, metronomes are capable of reproducing beats from 35 to 250 BPM. If you want to play pieces of music at many different speeds, be sure to buy a metronome with a wide range of beats per minute.

Reference tones

Digital instruments can often be used as tuners. To tune an instrument, you need a reference tone. This normally vibrates at 440 Hz and serves as a reference value for tuning all instruments. With the help of the electric tuner, you can simply have a reference tone given to you. This reference tone can be used to derive other tones.

Design

The design plays an important role, especially in the case of bar tones, which you do not put away in a cupboard after every use. Two elements play an important role here:

  • The material of the instrument
  • The shape of the metronome

Most metronomes are made of plastic or wood. Mechanical clocks made of wood are probably the most visually appealing. Their elegant and nostalgic design makes them a real eye-catcher, not only as an object of daily use but also as a decorative element. As far as the shape of the metronome is concerned, you basically have the choice between a modern, functional design and the classic, mechanical metronome with a nostalgic look.

If you opt for a digital device, it will be kept rather simple and functional in most cases. Mechanical timers made of wood are probably the most visually appealing. Thanks to their noble and nostalgic design, they are a real eye-catcher not only as a practical object but also as a decorative element. However, in both cases there are also devices that have a different design - you decide what you like best.

Facts worth knowing about metronomes

When was the metronome actually invented?

The question of when the metronome was invented is controversial and cannot be answered with a definite date. In 1676, the idea of a thread pendulum metronome for keeping an exact tempo was presented for the first time. In 1815, however, the instrument maker and designer Johann Nepomuk Mälzl developed the first metronome in the form of a mechanical automaton. He was also the first to differentiate the Italian tempo markings, which had been common until then, into beats per minute.

Why was a metronome invented?

Without a metronome as a beat generator, there would be no precise definition of a tempo. So before there were aids like the metronome, musicians had to determine the appropriate tempo on the basis of time signature and note values. Of course, this left a lot of room for manoeuvre in the interpretation of a piece of music. Specially determined tempo systems were passed on from generation to generation. But it was only through the metronome as a time signature that an absolute tempo could be given.

What else is a metronome used for?

Metronomes are not just clocks, but are also used in many other ways. In 1840, the British military built the so-called "Army Perceptor". This was a large metronome that was used to set the marching speed. Sometimes metronomes are also used as instruments in their own right. This is the case, for example, with Ravel's "Spanish Hour".

The most popular metronome apps

With the development of smartphones and other similar devices, metronome apps are becoming increasingly popular. If you don't want to buy a metronome, you can also download one. There are various metronome apps for IOS and Android. Many are available for free or at a very reasonable price. Many are also equipped with various additional functions. The following table gives you an overview of different metronome apps.

App Description
Soundbrenner This app for Android and IOS is easy to use and has a minimalist design. You can set beat presets and has many setting options.
Andronome This app for Android is very simple. You can only set speed and sound. It is very easy to use.
Smart Click This IOS app is characterised by its simple design and easy operation. This app also has a visual beat generator.
Metronome Plus This app offers you the most important features. One highlight is that you can adjust the tempo directly with your foot.
Tuner and Metronome (by Soundcorset) This app offers you a tuner, metronome and recorder in one. This app records when you practice and creates statistics.

Image source: pixabay.com / Pictureman2014

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