As a professional musician and music educator, I have used quite a few metronomes over the years – including mechanical, electronic, and software-based ones. A simple search for metronomes on the internet will produce many results. It is hard to know which one will fit your needs.
A free computer metronome with a lot of nice features is available from NCH Software. (I am in no way associated with this company so this article is unbiased.)
According to NCH Software's website, the metronome software works on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Android. I use it on Windows 7.
It has most of the features you would probably want:
- Accents in various measure groups from none to 8, including 5 (3 + 2), 5 (2 + 3), 7 (4 + 3) and 7 (3 + 4).
- Subdivisions from none to 8. (This might more correctly be called "divisions" depending on the type of meter you're using, but who's complaining?)
- Tempos from 10 to 280 beats for minute
- Customizable sounds. Try a dog accent, a bird beat, and a duck click. It makes practicing seem like you're on a farm! The wave files have to be quite short for this to work though, so be prepared to use an audio editor if you want to use wacky sounds. I found that using a cow sound didn't work because bovines need some time to produce a moo. When I edited the cow sound so that it was shorter, the cow came out sounding like a sick monkey. (We didn't raise cows on the farm I grew up on so I missed out on that tidbit of agrarian waveform knowledge.)
- Selectable default playback device.
- Built-in adjustable volume. No need to assemble a search party to find your computer's software volume control.
- Saving and loading preset tempo / beat / subdivision settings.
I've been using this metronome for a few years and it works great.
There are a couple of downsides, but they are to be expected for a free product. You might get some spam from the company but you can unsubscribe. Also the company may create a folder on your computer with free versions of other software programs it provides. You may have to delete this folder, plus delete a registry entry, to remove this side effect of using their free software.
They provide a lot of free and for-sale products so their website is worth checking out.