What kind of metronome do you use: mechanical or electronic? What for?

September 9, 2017, 7:58 AM · Hi,

I normally use an app for Android in my smartphone, but, although my phone is new and powerful, I still miss a louder click. Using an app is the easiest thing in the world for me, and also the possibilities are infinite. With a few touches you can change the click sound, the rhythm, tempo, accents, etc...

In the other hand, I've always loved the classic wooden metronomes, like those from Wittner. They look fantastic and, although I'm not old enough to feel nostalgic about them, I can feel their "magic", beautifully made, a piece of hardware that I admire.

I'm thinking about buying one wooden metronome, probably from Wittner. The problem is, a decent one starts at about $50, and it will have much less options than any app out there. The other solution is to buy a bluetooth speaker.

I've read that a lot of people switched after months or years using a mechanical on to an electronic one, and they all say that electronic ones are way more portable and let you do more things.

Should I buy a mechanical one, or you normally get tired of them after few months?

Also, what do you normally use the metronome for?
I have good timing, and when I play with other people I sync with them pretty well. I'd use it for practicing scales slowly and may be to play passages of a piece once I play it comfortably, to ensure everything is packed well.

Replies (37)

September 9, 2017, 8:02 AM · I like my mechanical wittner, I like the movement I can see during practise. The click is not really louder than on my smartphone though. If I need it really loud, I connect my phone to my hifiberry.
I use it for all sorts of practise.
September 9, 2017, 8:40 AM · I have a selection of mechanical metronomes and a couple of electronic ones including a Dr Beat, which can count out-loud and subdivides brilliantly. However these days I mostly use an app on the iPhone.

Cheers Carlo

Posted under my own full name in accordance with the rules of Vcom.

Edited: September 9, 2017, 11:23 AM · I use an app in my smartphone, and just one Bluetooth earbud in my right ear. I'm a violinist, and of course my left ear is closer to the instrument. This system gives me a really visceral beat. It's as if the beat is right inside my head, which in fact it is. I can leave my smartphone on the table and not have to deal with a tangle of wires. It's the most effective metronome I've ever used.

I've owned and then sold several Wittner wooden pyramid metronomes over the years. I sold them because they were relatively inconvenient, and therefore never got used. And they're not particularly well made in my opinion. The cabinetry is quickly produced from pretty humble materials, and if you open one up you'll find that the "movement" is made of stamped metal and plastic parts. They're adequate for the task but there's nothing elegant about them. I do think Wittners are the best currently made mechanical metronomes, so if you must have one they're the ones to get.

September 9, 2017, 8:58 AM · There are better ones out there, but way more expensive.
September 9, 2017, 9:11 AM · I like my wittner mechanical metronome. If I use that or my phone app depends on where I'm practicing.

The swing and click of a mechanical metronome is just so satisfying.

September 9, 2017, 10:38 AM · I use the metronome built into my digital piano. I use the metronome to prevent myself from practicing to fast (teacher recommendation) and for rhythmic practice.
Edited: September 9, 2017, 11:14 AM · I have a Sabine Zipbeat. Cheapest one I found but has the best, loudest, adjustable beat of the ones I checked out. The beat is more like a very loud mechanical metronome. It also kicks out a nice A, easy to tune to. The cost, 7 bucks- can't beat it. I do have metronomes and tuners on my smart phone but the sounds they make seem weak and too digital(if you can use that as an adjective). I have two others, a Korg and some generic cheap thing that aren't good for much more than door stops.

One of the tuners on my iphone is the Plusadd Tuner. The company recently upgraded it with a more accurate pickup. It has promise I think. I need to try it a few more times before a verdict is reached.

Edited: September 9, 2017, 11:24 AM · Bluetooth your phone to your stereo or TV sound bar and you can make it as loud as you like. Or, if your phone is not crippled by having no headphone jack, connect it by means of a 1/8" cable to the Aux input of your stereo and there will be no lag.

Like Ella I have also used the metronome built into my Yamaha digital piano. That's pretty loud too.

September 9, 2017, 11:25 AM ·
September 9, 2017, 11:45 AM · Question! Is the tone generation and metronome volume of the Kliq metropitch loud enough to hear easily when playing violin?
September 9, 2017, 11:59 AM · Go on, wanna read more opinions about this.

Paul, you know, I've never been to a practice cabin that includes a TV, but I'm open to travel to whatever city you live in and test them out, hahahaha.

Wow, a bluetooth earbud, never thought about it, sounds nice (literally)

One question about your method, wouldn't it be more beneficial to use your left ear since this way you would hear the metronome perfectly plus you would reduce the sound stress your left ear is used to?

Mark, I actually owned a Wittner entry level plastic metronome, it was an old one, may be from the 80's or so. I opened it up and saw how it worked, and yeah, some pieces were made of plastic, but some others from metal, for example the metal rod that beats the case. I suppose their top metronomes ($50-80) will have better materials and design, right?

Do you know where I can see the guts of one of them? A video or something?

Edited: September 9, 2017, 1:39 PM · Tim, since the Bluetooth earbuds are sold as a pair, you're free to use the left or right one as you wish. It would work either way, and I agree that protecting your hearing is a smart thing to do. You can accomplish this same thing with your set of wired earbuds if you want to try the effect out. It's just a lot more convenient to get rid of the wires.

The more expensive Wittners use essentially the same materials and design for the movements as the less expensive ones. Just the scale of the parts is different. And I don't know where you got the idea that more expensive Wittners were "$50-80." Check, and you'll find that they're a lot more than that.

Also, you can go to Wittner's own website to look for a page of metronome spare parts, and you'll find photos of metronome movements. One of the interesting things you'll find there is that the movement used in a circa $60 simulated wood plastic cased metronome is the exact same one used in a circa $160 wood cased one. The higher price just gets you a more elegant look to grace the top of your Steinway. I don't mean to imply that Wittner metronomes are "cheap." They are very proud of the quality of their products. But they are just utilitarian devices, made to reliably do the job and no more.

September 9, 2017, 1:33 PM · Thanks Mark. Damn, you're right, I thought they were like $80, but I see they are more than $100. Then may be I should go for a plastic finished one, since the mechanisms seems to be the same, right?

I've tried to use my metronome app using in-ear headphones, but as you've said, the wire was incredibly annoying. The bluetooth idea is the only way for a practical method. I guess there are thousands of bluetooth headphones to choose, right? Any brand or model you like?

September 9, 2017, 1:42 PM · I like the apple AirPods, but they're expensive and there's a wait time to get them because the demand exceeds the supply.
September 9, 2017, 1:56 PM · For price vs volume and performance maybe the better Seiko "Quartz" Metronomes. Their two more expensive ones seem excellent, and not too pricey.

I am currently using the Taktell Piccolo (Wittner). I never understood their value until I got "older". As usual, the only con is if you forget to wind it during a long practice period for certain pieces or extended scale practice-but no need for batteries or thinking about plugging in cables. The other con is that they are not the loudest when you are practicing super loudly, but the their real click IS clear, and the pendulum is a really helpful visual cue (also no fancy subdivisions, etc., but those are not the essentials of metronome use, IMHO.) I love their lightness and small size, aforementioned pendulum, and "just set and play", "old-school" approach.

I tried the Smartphone metronome apps. I LOVE smartphones, and these can sound "loud" (many don't, however), but I do not enjoy using the apps, plus the phone "gets in the way" of practice, even on airplane mode. Much like I dislike "tablet sheet music" (well no, I hate that much more than metronome apps), I can't get used to using that tech to replace "proper" metronomes.

I still have an old DB-66 "Dr. Beat" that is super loud, but is not seeing much use. Disappointed that the current products of the same brand never surpassed that product and they still discontinued it. The expensive one with the fancy counting and subdivisions isn't as loud, and is more about the gimmicky features I have no use for (though I admit, these could be useful for some musicians-just not me.)

September 9, 2017, 2:04 PM · A Seiko SQ50 has two tones, one of which is more like a wooden metronome. It's also operable with one hand and plenty loud. The Matrix brand has leds that provide the pendulum visual cue. They are also very loud.

Both are much better than a phone app imho.
September 9, 2017, 2:20 PM · I didn't know you were practicing in a cabin. Not sure how I should have known that. Anyway, a TV is surprisingly useful. Often I practice my orchestra parts whilst listening and semi-watching a YouTube of the piece. And sometimes people buy TV sound bars even though they don't have TVs because it basically functions as a bluetooth speaker that you can mount in unobtrusive ways.
Edited: September 9, 2017, 2:44 PM · I never liked to play along to an orchestra without a conductor infront of me. I tried it a couple of times but I really disliked it.
As bluetooth device I prefer my analog stereo hifi combined with a hifiberry dac+ pro.
The sound is way superior to any soundbar I tried. Only thing I miss is an open alternative to apt-x.
Edited: September 9, 2017, 3:52 PM · I use two stand-alone metronomes after struggling with the iPhone app ones (too soft and those wires...).

This no name Chinese one is brilliant - tiny, very loud, and lots of subdivision options. Only draw back is the sound is a very digital click.

Because I find the digital click very intrusive at times, I also use an old Matrix which has a "wooden block" sound.


September 9, 2017, 5:20 PM · Marc playing without the conductor is harder, yes. But if it's a string chamber orchestra you can usually hear your part and follow the pros! Definitely depends what you're trying to play. Elgar Serenade for Strings ... awesome.
Edited: September 9, 2017, 7:54 PM · I've been using Intelli IMT-301 Metronome and Tuner for years and I quite like it. Recently my husband bought me a Soundbrenner Pulse, which has the shape of a watch that I can put on my wrist or ankle. It is silent but sends out pulses via vibration. It supposes to help one to develop rock solid inner pulse. I love it and wear it a lot. Like the usual metronome though, my brain would start to ignore the pulses after wearing it for some time. So I don't keep it turned on all the time.

For more details on Soundbrenner Pulse, go to this site: https://www.soundbrenner.com/

September 9, 2017, 8:27 PM · I have that Intelli somewhere, but can't locate it. I remember it being good for the money, many years ago when I purchased during my Conservatory years. I already had the Dr. Beat, but still bought it for its possible drone-tone possibilities (one of those things that are not really "needed" but nice to have.) It also has an humidity and weather sensor, though I wouldn't know if it really is that accurate.

In total, I have the DB-66, that Intelli, and the Taktell Piccolo. Had a cheaper Quartz type eons ago (Matrix MR-500? but older model, with more boxy shape.)

September 10, 2017, 4:04 AM · whatever the type, we must see the beat coming, not wait for it.
September 10, 2017, 5:40 AM · Matrix MR600. It makes a nice tock sound, dial control (increments of 3) mimics a pendulum action with its lights and volume control. So far works great (1 month old).
September 10, 2017, 5:52 AM · I have a little electronic metronome that has been dropped a thousand times; it's amazing it's even still operational. But typically, I use the metronome on the keyboard because it's the loudest. I will stoop to a metronome app if necessary, but I really don't like them, primarily because I don't want contact with my device while practicing unless I'm going to use it to record myself.
September 10, 2017, 6:07 AM · I pretty much always use my phone. When I first started, I used a battery operated metronome, but never the wind up ones.
September 10, 2017, 7:50 AM · I use a Dr. Beat (it's loud enough to be heard over a quartet, and it can be hooked up to speakers if you need even more volume, and it has a million useful features), but in a pinch, an iPhone app will do (I've got a few and don't love any of them but they get the job done).
September 10, 2017, 8:18 AM · Lydia, the Dr. Beat is simply great. It sure got me through quartet rehearsals of Bartok quartets, when no one had brought their score with them, and other metronomes weren't loud enough.

I simply adore all of the sounds you can choose for the click, especially the one with the person yelling. I really should get one.

September 10, 2017, 9:49 AM · I'd recommend a mechanical "tick-tock" one like the old Maelzel I use. As Adrian pointed out, it is easy (and important) to see the beat coming.
September 10, 2017, 1:56 PM · My experience with mechanical metronomes is that they all eventually go tick.....tock.tick....tock.tick

I like to use subdivisions and/or emphases on certain beats, so electronic for me.

September 10, 2017, 5:58 PM · I use the Seiko SQ50. I can hear it over my viola.
September 10, 2017, 6:50 PM · Dr. Beat is amazing. I'm jealous that Lydia has one.
September 11, 2017, 8:15 AM · I most often use a cheap Korg metronome hooked to a set of amplified Bose roommate speakers.
September 11, 2017, 10:48 AM · I use a stand alone Korg KDM-2 metronome when I use a metronome.I really like that it has different sounds, adjusts timing and downbeats with a knob on the front. Has a visual light that comes on and off with the beat, so you could use it silent.

I don't use it much anymore because it throws my timing off.

September 13, 2017, 7:37 PM · A drum machine is much more inspiring and musical. Plenty of drum machine apps costing a dollar or so. For hardware I can vouch for the BeatBuddy at $300 or the mini at about $100. For the bigger BeatBuddy you can get virtually any style (downloadable styles and kits are available). It even sends and receives midi clock so that you can sync it to other things like a looper if yours has that capability. It's designed so that you can do everything with your feet like tap tempo, start, transition, outro, stop etc.
September 13, 2017, 7:40 PM · I use a digital one with earbuds because I can't hear both my wittner or my digital if I don't use earbuds. (Maybe my hearing is just poor)
Edited: September 14, 2017, 6:21 AM · I use an old Franz metronome that I've had forever. It produces a loud and crisp "click" and has a beacon light on the top. It's fantastic. They are no longer a company unfortunately.

I carry a little Snark in my case, but I tend to use it more for determining tempo than playing along with.

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