Soundbrenner Pulse: the first wearable vibrating metronome for musicians
Know what a metronome is? It’s a nasty little torture device for musicians whose sole purpose, besides helping you keep exact time, is to make a hole in your skull and leave a burning scar in your subconsciousness, rendering your brain utterly useless. As this guy put it, “when you spend 48 hours in one weekend in the studio and you hear this click, you have dreams about it in the end.’ Well, okay, we don’t hate metronomes that much, they’re a necessary evil. Heck, we even created one for Drooble users. Everyone from RockSchool teachers to world famous players tells us to use a metronome if we want to become great musicians. Still, it would be great if we could somehow get rid of the maddening clicking sound. As always, we bring you the solution.
Presenting: Soundbrenner Pulse
Unlike your phone, whose wimpy vibrations cause you to constantly miss calls, Soundbrenner Pulse, a.k.a. the first smart wearable vibrating metronome is loaded with top-of-the-line vibration technology. Its ultrapowerful pulses will help you develop a rock-solid inner sense of rhythm with none of the ticking and the agony and the madness. We liked the idea so much, we decided to contact the Soundbrenner team and ask them a few questions about their life-improving creation. We are proud to have no other than Florian Simmendinger, CEO and Co-Founder of Soundbrenner:
Hey guys, we totally see where you were coming from when creating the Soundbrenner Pulse but nonetheless – tell us more about how it came to be.
We are all musicians ourselves. I play piano and my co-founder plays the drums. The starting point of the idea was the ability to synchronize multiple musicians via vibrations. We then proceeded to talk to over 50+ musicians and tested our products. Based on all the feedback we learned from real world testing we developed feature by feature until in the end we had a really compelling product concept that we were excited about!
The SB Pulse is very customizable, right? What options and settings does it have? You managed to crowdfund the Soundbrenner Pulse – tell us about the experience. What did you learn?
Yes, we didn’t want to build a gimmick – we wanted to build a tool. Tools for musicians need to be customizable & we love to give options, which means with the Soundbrenner Pulse you can customize just about anything. For the rhythms, you can set time signature, subdivision, and different accents. On the app level, you can add a click via the smartphone, change the sound, turn it off, make the screen blink and much more. The Soundbrenner Pulse has 9 different vibrations and you can assign one to each accent type. You can also change the LED color the Soundbrenner Pulse blinks in and assign a different one to each accent type. That means you can feel and see when a new bar starts. We also allow to pre-program rhythms & setlists via our iOS and Android app.
Everyone who ran a large crowdfunding campaign probably learned so much about it that he can write a book about it. The most important thing I learned is that they are hard work. From the outside, it often looks like these campaigns are an overnight success. A bunch of guys put something up and they get a million dollars. That’s how I viewed it before. Now that I know countless people who did it and did one myself I know that’s only true in 5% of the case. The 95% other success stories took months of preparations, countless failures, and really hard work. The good news is: You can make it happen, it’s in your hands – you don’t have to wait for the stars to magically align. But you need to hustle.
SIX TIMES the vibrating power of a modern smartphone? What sorcery is this?
We actually improved the motor further and now it’s 7 times 😉 We use a special component called haptic driver to control an extremely powerful vibration motor. You can’t fit the motor in a flat smartphone or a smartwatch that already fit a supercomputer and a lot of sensors inside a fashion accessory. And the haptic driver allows us to make the vibrations really distinct, so it feels more like a pulse instead of like a buzz. That’s the beauty of the Soundbrenner Pulse: It has one dedicated purpose and so every single design decision we made supports this use case: Being a useful practice and performance tool for musicians to play with rock-solid precision. Or in other words, sorcery!
How did you pick the right pieces of technology? You said you traveled around a lot?
Yes, even though we are a small startup we already have 3 offices around the world: In Berlin, in Hong Kong and in Los Angeles. This allows us to benefit from the advantages of each location. It also allows us to work 24/7 hours per day which can be exhausting at times but we get a lot done For the hardware Asia was the obvious choice. Many people think you go to Asia to cut costs, but this is only partially true. At this point, there is such an insane amount of experience with developing and manufacturing consumer electronics here that no one else in the world can compete.
Germany is a good location to build a car, but not to manufacture wearable electronics.
What kind of feedback are you getting from people who have actually tried your product?
That’s the most exciting part! We just shipped around 3000 units that were pre-ordered and now we finally get to see our product out there in use. I loved being at NAMM in Anaheim where maybe roughly 1000 musicians stopped at our booth to try a demo of the Soundbrenner Pulse. Almost everyone got really excited about the thing we’ve built and totally understood the value. This is different when you talk to non–musicains who don’t understand the importance of timing and rhythm in music. So yes, feedback from musicians is what we care about most, what makes us proud and at NAMM we actually left with the “Best Accessory in Show”-Award out of over 2000 exhibitors!
What do you think of Drooble?
I think Drooble is a fantastic concept and what’s been missing from the internet. Ideas that make you think “Why has no one else thought of this before?” are usually very promising and this is what I thought when I learned about Drooble.
Any future projects? What’s next for Soundbrenner?
We have huge plans for future hardware and software products. They will all center around the topic of mastering rhythm and timing – ultimately that’s where we think we can add the most value. However, I won’t be more specific, we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, would we?
Thanks, Florian, we will be eagerly awaiting your next awesome invention