There are wearables that measure your heart rate, your sleep patterns, and your blood oxygen levels. But then there’s a wearable that will let you know if you’re rushing or dragging on “Caravan,” which could be a life-saver in its own right.
The $329 Soundbrenner Core Steel is designed primarily for musicians. Soundbrenner’s wearable is a metronome and tuner that you can wear like a regular watch. When you’re ready to play, you select the Metronome feature, set your time signature, and let it rip. The watch lights up and vibrates in time and can even tell you when you’re at a certain point in the bar. You can even tap on the watch and it will match your desired tempo, which is a very clever way to slow things down or speed them up on the fly.
You can wear the watch around your wrist or easily snap it off the band and attach it to a strap around your chest or thigh, a clever little feature that hides the watch away if you don’t want a blinking, buzzing thing on stage.
The watch also has a contact tuner built in, which allows you to snap it onto your guitar using a removable magnet. To use it, you simply pull the watch off its band and then pop it onto the magnet.
Finally, the Core Steel has a built-in decibel sensor that signals when ambient sound is too loud. It’s a nice feature for musicians worried about hearing loss (which should be all of them.)
Keeping good time is essential in music and I see this product, which is arguably quite expensive for a metronome (that Seth Thomas to the left set me back $50 on eBay). That said, the entire system is aimed at the mid-level to early gigging musician who might need a bit of help keeping in time. I’m learning jazz guitar and this watch definitely kept me on the beat as I explored various tempos and styles. That said, a mechanical or app-based metronome will probably do about the same.
The real benefit of this wearable is the double threat of a metronome and tuner in one.
The kit includes a small disk with sticky tape on one side and a magnet on the other. You can place the Core Steel on the disk and it senses the vibrations in the instrument to help tune the strings. It works with violins, guitars, and bass guitars, and will work with ukulele soon.
The biggest question is: How does this work as a watch? When you aren’t using the tuner or metronome, the watch wakes up with a single tap to display the time and battery level. To move from function to function you turn the bezel, which rotates freely around the screen. The case is made of PVD-coated steel and is very rugged, although I wouldn’t wear this thing surfing or snowboarding.
The Soundbrenner app rounds out the package. The app allows you to set the tempo right from the phone and it also includes a 3-month subscription to Soundbrenner’s “Plus” service, which includes music instruction from some of the company’s musicians.
But the real question is: How much will you use this product?
If you’re a musician and you need a metronome at all times, this thing is perfect. You strap it on, wear it, and charge it every few days using the included cable. If you’re not a full-time musician or music student, this might be overkill. The Soundbrenner app might be sufficient for most beginning musicians. However, if music is your life, you probably need a wearable that matches that obsession. Spending $329 on a tuner and metronome is hard. Spending $329 on a unique wearable that really connects you to your music is easy.