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Best Metronomes for Drumlines + Marching Percussion

There are a million metronomes out there, but what’s the best metronome for drumlines?

You’ll find plenty of “Best Metronomes for Drummers” guides, but marching percussion is unique. This guide is for us.

Before we go any further, I should tell you that this post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission fee if anyone clicks a link below and buys one of the products.

We still mean every word of our reviews below. But thought you should know!

 

Best Drumline Metronome BOSS DB90.

BOSS DB-90 Dr. Beat Metronome

Best Drumline Metronome: BOSS DB90.BOSS, the manufacturer, lists the DB90 as “the most advanced metronome available.” And I believe it.

On Amazon, they list these as the met’s features:

  • Trigger input to access unique Rhythm Coach exercises
  • MIDI in for syncing to external sequencer tempos
  • PCM sounds with “drum machine” style patterns
  • 50 memory slots
  • Human-voice count

I can tell you from personal experience that the only one of those that a drumline will care about is the 50 memory slots.

And I wish it had 500.

 

Thumbs Up!

Pros: Why Dr. Beat is the best drumline metronome

The DB90 Dr. Beat is the absolute gold standard in marching percussion (and all marching music, really). Here’s why—

  1. It’s powerful
  2. It’s simple
  3. It’s programmable
  4. It’s big & sturdy

A few years ago, the perennial powerhouse Concord Blue Devils drum corps did a demo video with the BOSS company, showing their use of the DB90.

And their endorsement is far from unique. Nearly every drumline or marching ensemble that needs a good metronome uses a Dr. Beat.

1. It’s powerful

Even if you never use the tuner, the rhythm trainer, or the drum machine, the standard time-keeping functions are really great.

In my experience, a typical high school or college marching show might have ~10 different tempii. Save each one in a memory slot, and your group can rehearse at consistent tempos every time.

And we haven’t even covered Loops yet.

2. It’s simple

The functions available are almost hidden behind an easy-to-use interface. Important info is displayed clearly. Options are easily selectable with simple buttons.

There are no overly-complex moving parts or redundant displays. You get what you get, and the met does the rest.

3. It’s programmable

Basic memory is covered above. Loops are next-level. Want the met to count 4 bars of 4/4, and then switch to 7/8? Loops can do that.

Need to accel from 120 to 180 over the course of 8 bars? Loops can do that. Complex polyrhythms? Loops can do that, too.

4. It’s big

It may sound silly, but having big buttons and controls makes the DB90 ideal for marching percussion.

In a physical activity like drumline, musicians are rarely ever in one place for very long. Performers and staff need to be able to read and manipulate the controls on their metronome in a split second.

The size of the DB90’s controls make that possible.

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Cons: How Dr. Beat could be a better drumline metronome

Dr. Beat might be the standard marching percussion metronome, but it’s far from perfect.

  1. No battery, no memory
  2. Programming is hard
  3. No digital data input
  4. Not enough memory

Here are some of the improvements we wish BOSS would make to the DB90.

1. No battery, no memory

When the battery dies or comes out, you lose all your memory and programming. This one is an absolute killer.

Sure, you can buy a BOSS Power Adapter for your DB90, but it’s $30 extra. Shouldn’t that be included?

Especially because…

2. (Advanced) programming is hard

Simple memory slots for saving tempii is easy. Loops for complex time signatures or accellerandos are hard.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad. But learning is difficult at first, and memory entry is always tedious.

3. No digital data input

Want to change the tempo? Spin the wheel. Need to switch memory slots? Spin the wheel. Want a new tuner pitch? Spin the wheel.

Spinning the big yellow wheel is the only way to input data. A few extra buttons to type in mm = 120 would be pretty awesome.

4. 50 memory slots isn’t enough

Especially if you use a lot of Loops, you can run out of memory slots pretty fast. Seems like it wouldn’t be that much harder to add some extra memory storage to allow for more saved settings!

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Amazon Product Description

The versatile and professional Dr. Beat: practice in style with the flagship of the dry beat metronome line.

The DB-90 is loaded with quality sounds and drum patterns to make your practice sessions less mundane and more musical.

There’s a rhythm coach function with an onboard mic, a reference-tone function for tuning, an instrument input, MIDI input, and other handy tools to make learning fun and effective.

Better Beats, Better Practice

The Note Mixing function allows you to instantly create a variety of beats by adjusting the levels of five different note values. Front-panel sliders, buttons, and a large rotary dial provide instant, hands-on access to edit parameters.

Select four different click sounds, including a human voice-counting sound that will help you know your place in the bar. The DB-90 is also equipped with realistic PCM drum patterns, for developing your accuracy and rhythmic feel effectively.

Many Uses

Drummers can connect to the DB-90 via Roland V-Pads or the internal microphone. Guitarist and bassist can directly plug into the DB-90 without any other gear required, and monitor via connected headphones — practically any type of instrumentalist can benefit from the DB-90’s features.

And for those who wish to sync to an external sequencer for more elaborate accompaniment, they can do so with the DB-90’s MIDI input. This stage-oriented feature is especially useful for drummers.

Plug Into Rhythm Coach

Expand your rhythmic horizons with Rhythm Coach. This innovative follow-along feature has four training modes to help build your accuracy, speed, and endurance.

With the DB-90’s onboard microphone, you can use the Rhythm Coach functions with acoustic drums, or plug a Roland V-Pad into the Trigger input. Play along, and chart your progress.

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Best Drumline Metronome: TAMA Rhythm Watch RW200.

Tama RW200 Rhythm Watch – $89.99

Best Drumline Metronome: TAMA Rhythm Watch RW200.TAMA Drums, the manufacturer, lists the RW200 as “The first timekeeper designed specifically for the band’s timekeeper.” And I believe it.

On their website, they list these as the met’s features:

  • Tempo & Beat Memory: 30 songs
  • Beat: 0-9
  • Display: LCD display with BACK LIGHT
  • Size: 127x35x150mm (5″x1.4″x 6″)
  • Weight: 285g including battery
  • Power Supply: 9V Battery (S-006P) or DC9V 200mA adapter

 

Thumbs Up!

Pros: Why the RW200 is a good drumline metronome

The RW200 is a very strong option for marching percussion metronome (and all marching music, really). Here’s why—

  1. It’s powerful
  2. It’s simple
  3. It’s programmable
  4. It’s big & sturdy

TAMA won’t like hearing this, but the RW200 is a strong second-place. If you can’t get a Doctor Beat, this is your next best option.

1. Good features

The RW200 covers all the basics that a drumline metronome needs: tempos, subdivisions, etc. A clear cut above the basic beep-beep-beep metronomes out there.

2. Flexibility

You can change sounds, modes, and volume combinations on subdivisions, which make listening to (and playing with the met) more interesting and helpful.

3. Sturdy & power supply

Like the DB90, the RW200 has big buttons and controls. They make it an ideal metronome for marching percussion, at least in usability. In marching percussion, metronome buttons have to be big and obvious—the the RW200 delivers.

But unlike the Dr. Beat, the RW200 has its own external power source! That means that the dreaded 9-volt death is much less of a concern for the RW200.

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Thumbs Down!

Cons: How the RW200 could be a better drumline metronome

TAMA’s RW200 is a good marching percussion metronome, but it could be better.

  1. Limited rhythms
  2. Limited programming
  3. No digital data input
  4. Not enough memory

Here are some of the improvements we wish TAMA would make to the RW200.

1. Limited rhythms

The RW200 lacks the ability to play many compound meters (7/8, for example), which is not made clear in the product description.

For the price, you’d think there would at least be a method for programming in non-symmetrical time signatures.

2. Limited programming capacity

Learning how to program your RW200 metronome for your drumline’s rehearsals is easy. But the options for what you can program are fairly limited.

You basically have to stick to static tempo slots— no luck with accellerandos or compound meters.

3. No digital data input

Want to change the tempo? Spin the wheel. Need to switch memory slots? Spin the wheel. Want a new tuner pitch? Spin the wheel.

Spinning the big yellow wheel is the only way to input data. A few extra buttons to type in mm = 120 would be pretty awesome.

4. Not enough memory

You can run out of memory slots pretty fast, if you’re using them for complex stuff.

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Amazon Product Description

 

TAMA’s Rhythm Watch has everything a drumline needs to make sure they stay on tempo.

Like the original Rhythm Watch, the RW200 features plenty of volume to use while playing real drums, a dial for quick tempo adjustments, separate volumes for quarter notes, eighths and triplets.

And now it features a large, easy to read backlit display, a more durable housing and keypad, and even more memory for pattern storage.

According to Sweetwater

If you’re a drummer, Tama’s RW200 Rhythm Watch metronome is just for you! Every drummer at Sweetwater knows timing is everything whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for years.

The RW200 is versatile, programmable, and customizable, so it’s great for your solo practice, band rehearsals, and gigs – when the pressure kicks up in the studio or at the show, your nerves won’t make the tempo creep up.

With Tama’s RW200 Rhythm Watch you know you’re playing exactly what you’re supposed to be, and you’ll never miss a beat.

Tama RW200 Rhythm Watch Metronome for Drummer Features:

  • Tempo ranges from 35-250 BPM for slow jamming or double kick thrashing
  • Tempo and beat memory holds 30 songs
  • Customize the subdivision of your beat
  • LCD display with Back light
  • Powered by 9V battery or optional adapter
  • Mountable with optional hardware clamp

Tama packs every must-have tool you need into the RW200 and gives you the control you need to customize your beat-keeping.

It’s great for practicing your chops when you’re on your own – and also for making sure you’re jamming at the right tempo on all of your band’s tracks.

Store your favorite grooves into memory – the RW200 lets you store 30 different tempo/beats into memory for instant set recall, so you can get right into the groove.

To avoid that stale, always-the-same metronome sound, you can also use separate volume controls to customize the way you hear the beat divisions.

The start/tap button is easy to reach, even when the RW200 is mounted on your kit.

The large, easy-to-see fly wheel lets you make fast tempo adjustments and scroll through your settings and the big and brightly backlit LCD display helps you keep an eye on it all!

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Best Drumline Metronome TAMA: Rhythm Watch RW30 - Banner Wide.

Tama RW30 Rhythm Watch Mini – $34.99

 

 

BOSS DB-30 Dr. Beat Metronome – $39.99

BOSS DB-60 Dr. Beat Metronome – $66.98

Korg KDM-3 Digital Metronome – $52.92

Seiko DM51 – $41.95

Korg IE-1M Ultra-Small In-Ear Metronome – $16.34

 

https://sound-unsound.com/8-best-metronomes-for-drummers-compared-reviewed/

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