Price paid: $ 15
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Features: This is the first stand-alone metronome that I've owned after a couple of years of playing guitar. I always understood the benefits of playing in time while practicing. I just never actually had the thought of getting a metronome. So, when I finally got this one delivered, it pretty much blew away my expectations. I was expecting a tuner-sized box that could click to a certain BPM and could be adjusted with "increase" and "decrease" buttons.
What I really found was a plethora of useful features. The time signature can be adjusted from 2/4 to 9/4 (there is also an option to use no time signature). The rhythm can be switched between quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, triplets, shuffle feel, and more. The BPM can be adjusted from 45-200 and there is an option to use tap tempo, though I felt that this feature wasn't too accurate in figuring out the tempo I was tapping. The BPM can also be adjusted in increments of a single BPM or by a standard, physical metronome increment, which varies though it usually is 4 BPM at normal speeds.
In terms of external features, there is a 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) headphones out, a volume knob, a little stand that comes out from the back, and a calibration button that emits the sounds of each of the twelve notes for tuning purposes. The volume knob is somewhat useless because it must be set at near maximum to be audible when not using headphones and it must be set near minimum when using headphones to ensure that your hearing isn't destroyed. My only other gripe in terms of features is that the on/off button is hard to push (though the metronome will shut itself off after twenty minutes of inactivity). Overall, this is a features-packed metronome that will cover most, if not all, of your practice needs. As with any product, there are some negatives, but the negatives are negligible.
As a side note, the metronome comes in a killer red on black or black on blue finish/color. This doesn't have any bearing on the quality of the metronome, but a decent color scheme is always appreciated. // 9
Sound: This category doesn't really apply for a metronome, even though its primary purpose is to emit a sound. What I can say about the metronome's sound is that the click is relatively high pitched, not so high that it is annoying, but not so low that it is lost in the hullabaloo of a non-quiet situation. I guess my little complaint with the impracticality of the volume wheel could be filed under here. // 7
Reliability & Durability: In terms of power, this metronome runs on two AAA batteries that last almost indefinitely. I'll just say as a polite warning that no batteries can truly last indefinitely and that in an efficient device like this metronome, the batteries may leak before they go dead. And it goes without saying that leaky batteries can ruin anything.
The metronome itself feels sturdy. Like its tuner sibling, the metronome is all-plastic, so I wouldn't necessarily try to throw it off a bridge as I might with a wah pedal. However, since I can't imagine putting this metronome into a perilous circumstance, I don't harbor any worries in this department.
Overall, Korg really seems to know how to balance cost and quality in this metronome. // 8
Ease of Use: Korg incorporates a simple interface to complement the copious features of this metronome. The only menu flipping that needs to happen is flipping between tempos and rhythms; they cannot be adjusted independently. Other than this inconvenience, the Korg MA-1 is easy and intuitive to use. // 9
Overall Impression: The Korg MA-1 metronome is one of, if not the best metronomes on the market today. Sure, you could spend over $50 and get a real wooden metronome or some other expensive digital one, but for under $20, this dedicated metronome packs in almost anything you could want. I mean, it's not the greatest guitar product ever invented or something like that, but it is definitely a solid value, certainly above the competition. Korg really thought this product through, down to the color scheme and the engraved tempo ranges (andante, moderato, presto, etc.) on the back. Due to the plethora of features in this metronome, you will soon appreciate having a dedicated metronome as opposed to an integrated one such as a tuner/metronome combo or a metronome app. // 8
- Parker Abt (c) 2014