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This article was originally published in issue #44
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Ah, Metronomes! Love them or hate them we all know we should be using them, whether for working on technique, improving time, or having to play to a click track for a recording session or show. Whatever the situation, metronomes are here to stay. There are thousands on the market, not to mention the new breed of app-based ones where you can change everything from time signature, removing beats, accents etc. etc. They all have one thing in common, that audible tick. No matter what the options, click, tick, beep, wood block, after an extended period of time it can become pretty annoying. This is where the Peterson BodyBeat Pulse Solo hopes to change your metronome experience.
With the Pulse Solo there is no audible click, it vibrates. You can clip it to anywhere on your person where you think you will feel it best.... The argument being that its best to “feel” the pulse rather than hear it, which makes sense. It comes with a headphone size lead that you can plug into any metronome or mobile device that has a metronome app, so that you can then feel the pulse that the metronome is generating - pretty cool!
The Solo is rechargeable battery powered and you recharge via a USB cable (also supplied). A one to one and half hour charge will give eight hours use, the manufacturer says, which seems fine. In use it does what it claims: you can feel the pulse quite clearly and it makes for a different experience. The cable is fairly short (57” 1.45 metres), so if you want to put your metronome on a music stand and clip the device to your pocket you are going to be out of luck without some kind of extension. It did work fine with a few metronomes that I tried, including apps I have. There is also a specific Peterson app that you can download for free, and this app can deliver accented beats to make subdivisions easier though it is iOS only, so Android users are out of luck so far.
So there you have it a metronome that you feel rather than hear. Will it catch on? I'm not sure. It's cool for silent practice and I sort of get the “feel” it rather than hear it concept, but if you play in a band you have to experience both. I never really have a problem with the click of a metronome and I play shows, so I have to listen to one pretty much every day, I don’t think the BodyBeat vibrates hard enough to use in a live situation to be totally reliable but that may be a minority use for a device like this, which is possibly not really intended for that sort of gigging use.
In conclusion I think the BodyBeat Pulse Solo a pretty cool idea I'm just not sure how practical it is in real life use other than being great for silent practice. Then again, if you really can't stand that click then this may well be the best invention ever for you, so give it a try.