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I am getting a metronome, and I need to know what traits separate good metronomes from bad metronomes. I'm not looking for a subjective "I like this metronome" discussion, but rather an answer that tells me how to separate one metronome from another and helps me determine which is best for me.

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How loud are the clicks/ticks/bonks?! How flexible is the rhythm selector? Good metronomes also have tuners or, at least, tones. –  Jimi Oke Jan 14 '11 at 0:47
    
I wonder if you are better off getting drum machine rather than a metronome... –  Adrian Jan 14 '11 at 13:22
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Also, what do you want to use it for? Personally, I only use a metronome for a few beats to determine the intended pace for a piece. –  Jeffrey Kemp Sep 10 '11 at 1:28

6 Answers 6

  1. It must be loud enough, so you can hear it above your playing. I play really loud folk guitar, so I bought myself a really loud mechanical one.
  2. It must be exact. Usually metronomes do not have any problems with it - they are counting their time intervals very exactly.
  3. It is portable, if you are planning to take it with you somewhere to practice.

And the most important - the good metronome is the one you will use during your practices. For me, if an item is good, if I like it esthetically, I will use it more likely, because it's a pleasure to take it out of the closet and turn it on. Personally i go for the mechanical ones, because they have a certain aura. But an electric one works just as fine.

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Some metronomes can show tempo names (Allegro etc.) as well as time frames. This might be useful if you have sheets that give only a named tempo, and not numeric time.

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I think you have a fairly good point with that remark. –  Anonymous Jan 14 '11 at 14:31

All the points of Silver Light are valid. For some extra features You can look for:

  1. What kind of divisions and metrums it supports (mechanical metronome must be equipped with bell for this feature)
  2. Also note that mechanical metronome is vulnerable. If it hits the ground :( it might loose it's accuracy
  3. Electronic ones sometimes comes with headphones output - which might be very usefull if You're a drummer.
  4. I personally like to look on metronome pointer when playing. This is easy in mechanical, and with electronic ones this the question of display quality/features
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Your choice may differ based on what instrument you're playing. For example, metronomes intended for drummers are often larger, more expensive and have more complex beat patterns available. But if you're playing an orchestral instrument or guitar for example, there's a good chance you won't need the extra drummer-intended features and can go with a slightly simpler and more portable model.

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It depends on what you need it for.

I purposely looked for one with a bright light since I play a brass instrument that often overpowers the ticking. I also like a metronome that can subdivide and accent certain beats/parts of the beat. My undergraduate band director had one that could tick louder than our symphonic band...so check out the features and pick one that does what you need it to do.

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I'm convinced that the best metronome is the one you always have with you. For that reason, among others, I use an application for my iPhone. If you have an instrument with lots of room in the case, this might not be an issue for you, but for some folks, including me, it is.

An application has several distinct advantages:

  • It can be as loud as you want. (You can plug in speakers or headphones)
  • You often have a lot more flexibility in terms of beat divisions, groupings, and even emphasis. Some apps will let you set your choice of sound/light combinations for each possible beat/division.
  • It's truly portable, and there's no forgetting it.
  • It's cheap. (Provided you already have the smartphone or iPod touch).
  • It can be updated and changed by the developer (almost always for the better)

With some applications you may need to worry about the apps ability to keep a perfectly steady beat, especially on older devices, however I've tested my app against several metronomes, including the one musikliebhaber203 mentioned, an extremely expensive, not-so-portable metronome, and it kept time just as well at all but the most extremes of fast and slow. (Fast like 250-400, slow like 25-40).

I really think that it depends a lot on what you're using it for primarily. Many people, including me, just set the metronome to the correct time signature/tempo, and go. Some people need more customizability, and that's where an app comes in handy. The best part is that you could buy 5 apps to see which is best, and still spend far less than any physical metronome.

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