The Soundbrenner Core is a smartwatch made for musicians.
In 2016 I reviewed an innovative wearable metronome called the Pulse from Soundbrenner, a brand‑new company from Germany, born out of a crowdfunding campaign. In the subsequent five years they’ve gone from strength to strength and, alongside the Pulse, have introduced the Core. Similar to the Pulse, it’s a wearable metronome that vibrates and flashes to indicate tempo, but Soundbrenner have taken things a stage further by streamlining the physical design and adding several musician‑friendly features including a tuner, dB meter and even Smartwatch features. The Core packs a lot of functionality into a small package and offers something for almost anyone involved in music and performance, from musicians through to sound engineers.
The Core packaging is very swish and certainly gives you the feeling that it contains a quality product, before you even open the box. The kit inside comprises the Core itself, a charging cable, a silicon watch strap, a larger body strap, a magnetic tuner mount and a set of rubber earplugs (contained in a very cool screw‑top metal container). The supplied comprehensive manual details everything you need to get started and operate the Core, along with QR‑code links that take you to a range of very informative video tutorials.
The first step is to charge the Core via the included USB cable. The Pulse ships with a magnetic charging dock, but the Core takes a more elegant approach — a simple two‑pin connection on the side of the watch that locates onto the charging cable, via two magnets, with a satisfying click. It might be a small thing, but this is so much better than trying to locate a tiny USB plug into an equally tiny socket... which is invariably upside down. Once charged, the Core can be locked onto the wrist strap by hovering the unit over the strap where, once again, magnets do their job and almost magically fix it in place.
The Core itself is controlled using two buttons on its side: the top button moves you forward through the functions or, as Soundbrenner call them, ‘apps’ (not to be confused with the separate app that you can use alongside the Core) and the bottom button moves you back. Navigation within each screen is achieved by turning the watch bezel.
The default screen is the Smartwatch, which displays the time, day, date and battery percentage, and is automatically activated when you raise the Core or tap the screen. This is also where you’ll see any smartphone notifications, such as text messages, emails and so on. At present the Core will display the same notifications as appear on your smartphone — you can’t currently configure a different set of notifications to appear on the Core. Although the features are fairly basic, you can read the text of messages on screen and scroll through each notification. You can also accept or decline calls via the Core but, as it has no speakers or microphone, you’ll need to use your phone to actually take a call.
Pressing the ‘Forward’ button on the Core takes you to the app screens, the first being the metronome. A second push of the forward button displays the Metronome parameters: tempo, time‑signature, click division and beat strength. The forward button moves through each parameter and rotating the watch bezel adjusts the value. In a matter of seconds, you can set up a 130 bpm eighth‑note click in 7/8 with a stronger vibration on the first beat. A quick double tap on the face of the Core starts and stops the metronome, and you can also tap the tempo directly on to the screen, which can be very useful in a live situation.
Inside the Core is a large Eccentric Rotating Mass vibration motor (ERM) that produces a vibration 700‑percent stronger than you would find in your mobile phone. To harness this vibration power and give it accuracy, the Core incorporates a patented Haptic Driver, enabling the device to produce its distinct and powerful vibration on each beat. It can take a while to get used to a vibrating metronome rather than an audio one, but very soon I was comfortably ‘feeling the beat’. The body strap enables you to wear the Core pretty much anywhere, so it’s worth experimenting with different placements to see what works best for...