This Dr. Beat proves itself very useful during pre-production tempo work.
The production of modern music often requires intricate tempo mapping of a click track; this is where nothing beats the detailed control found in our DA Ws. However, for recordings with less pre-production and more spontaneity (or for musicians with less experience and more performance problems), an outboard metronome can be really helpful. I just discovered the $179 (street) Boss DB-90 Dr. Beat and am finding it to be a helpful little studio tool in unexpected ways.
It starts with the metronome, which has a pendulum-type visual indicator (on a LCD display which can be backlit or not), plus two red LE Ds (one for the downbeat and one for the measure’s remaining quarter notes). The Note Mixing function provides a mini fader for each of five rhythms (quarter note, eighth note, 16th note, triplets and an accent on the one), allowing a customized count and feel to the click track. Sonically, three tones are offered for the notes, plus the human voice — yes, she can speak “a-one-eeand- a-two-ee-and-a,” and much more. You can mute the audio or monitor the notes via a built-in speaker or via headphones (via quarter- or eighthinch TRS output), but there is no linelevel output. You can arrange the unit’s tones into beats ranging from a 1-1 to a 9-9 at tempos from 30 to 250 BPM.
You can store up to 50 metronome settings into memory and then program them to play in a programmed series via the Loop function, allowing the creation of precise tempo maps. There is a built-in mic, as well as an input that allows the Coaching mode, a rhythmic training guide. The input offers an amp simulator for better guitar rehearsal.
There is a built-in tuner that sounds tones from a C2 to a B6 (five octaves) and it is pitch-tunable from A438 to A445. There is a start/stop footswitch jack, a MIDI input, a trigger input, a mic/drum stand mount, power via 9V battery or DC input (via Boss PSA-120S power adapter), and an auto power off function.
The DB-90 solves a load of performer/ performance issues. Dialing in a beat, even other than 4-4 or 3-4, is easy and fast with a good display and logical functions. So is using the Note Mixing to make the desired feel obvious to the drummer and band; you might even fade up the 16ths when the arrangement calls for it, for example. For accelerandos or rallentandos, the Tempo wheel allows smooth changes without glitching, aided by the Tap tempo button.
I wish there was a line out — the headphone jacks will do, but it’s less than ideal. You’ll need to run the signal into a mic amp to boost it to +4, to interface with professional systems.
In a perfect world, I’d have the spare change to give one of these DB-90s to every troubled drummer or instrumentalist who couldn’t stick their parts to the click and relied on me way too much for DAW correction. I’d show them the coaching modes which allow checking one’s time (with a push/pull indicator), maintaining time when alternating click and quiet, gradual speed ups/downs and steps up/down. In my actual reality, I plan to keep one DB-90 in the studio and buy another to loan to the rhythmically challenged I identify in pre-production, giving them song-specific clicks in memory for band rehearsals.
All in all, it is small enough, portable enough and versatile enough to provide me some seriously needed assistance keeping musicians in time and in tune, from pre-production, through evaluation, through rehearsal, to tracking. Plus, it turns itself off, which I would always forget to do (saves me a whole lot of 9V batteries or power from the grid).
Price: $233.50 list
Contact: Boss | bossus.com