Click tracks have always annoyed me. The beeping of a metronome is one of the most uninspiring noises made in the studio and yet it’s often there at the genesis of new music. Maybe it’s time to laser it in it’s perfectly annoying tic-tic-tic-tac.
In comes a little unassuming 3D printed box. On one side is a 5 pin MIDI port. In another is a small aperture that emits a time dominating laser. The LaserMetronome swings a laser beam back and forth in time to your DAW, drum machine or any other device capable of outputting MIDI sync. Instead of a beep you get a constant beam moving from side to side. It reverses direction on every beat and you can visually follow the position between the beats (see video below).
Why do this?
Hatred of the infernal click aside the LaserMetronome eliminates the possibility of the click making it onto recordings via headphone bleed. It can remove the need for wearing headphones at all. Most DAW metronomes do have a visual element but these are usually very small on screen and difficult to see if you are playing an instrument. They also flash in time rather than the continuous movement of the LaserMetronome so it’s difficult to judge exactly where you are. The laser can paint it’s beam over a wide surface making it easy to see for everyone in the band.
This sounds like a great idea to me. I’ve often been frustrated with metronomes when performing live. I like to play guitar and sing and then bring in a larger arrangement around me. In order to be in time with the coming pre-programmed part I would have to wear headphones to hear a click. It can be so confining that I usually end up having some sort of accompaniment running all the time just so I don’t have to use the headphones. I’ve been on the lookout for a visual metronome – just a simple flashing light in Ableton Live or Bitwig that can be viewed from a distance but I’ve not seen one. The LaserMetronome could be just the thing.
Currently they are made by hand by a couple of “guys” in the USA and cost a whopping $179. It’s not an impressive looking box. It could really do with a USB port (for power and DAW connection) and a cool laser warning type sticker on the top. But it’s an interesting piece of work begging for investment. Maybe it needs a bit of a Kickstarter?
More information on the LaserMetronome website.